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The Coachella Valley



VOL.1, NO.11




More than 40,000 readers throughout the Coachella Valley

Growing along with the valley

5 0 NOVEMBER 2012

I N S I D E …


By Connie George The Coachella Valley was a very different place when Judy Vossler moved here in 1980. Now senior vice president of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, she has participated in the development of the area for more than 30 years, while experiencing her own evolution as a businesswoman. There were nine distinct communities in the valley when she first arrived, separated by expanses of open, undeveloped land. “You could very easily feel [it] when you left one city and drove across the desert and then came to another city,” she said. In addition, the valley was “very seasonal,” she said. “Everything closed after Easter.” But that began to change after 1980, and Vossler began a professional course that positioned her as a central figure in the growth of the valley for both its residents and its worldwide visitors.



Costa Rica’s myriad natural wonders; plus, a festival of lights in Riverside and ways to avoid price gouging at the holidays page 27

From the mid-South to the West Graceful and statuesque, with a soft Texas drawl remaining from her Fort Worth upbringing, Vossler, 63, said she had originally intended to work in retail management. After attending Oklahoma State University, she went to work for the J.C. Penney Company in 1968 in Oklahoma City’s first shopping mall. Soon she was invited into the store’s management program as the first female recruit and was assigned to oversee the junior fashion department. “I loved the retail side of the business,” she said. If she’d stayed in the field, she said, “I probably would have ended up as a human resources manager in a big corporation like that.” But change came about in 1972 when Vossler was introduced to the Coachella Valley through her father’s business involvements. Professional golfer Ernie Vossler played on the PGA Tour and participated annually in the valley’s Bob Hope Classic, now called the Humana Challenge. Subsequently, he became senior vice president of Landmark Land Co., Inc., which specialized in golf course master plan development. Among the firm’s local developments were La Quinta Resort, PGA West and Mission Hills.

Judy Vossler, senior vice president of administration for the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, has been a central figure in the development of the Coachella Valley for more than three decades. Her business and civic involvements in the area have garnered her numerous recognitions for her work promoting the valley’s value to residents, tourists and industry.

Vossler, the family’s only daughter and oldest of five siblings, said she and her younger brothers all eventually joined the company as well, and she made repeated visits to the valley as a result. “I spent a lot of time here between 1972 and 1980, and that made me want to move here,” she said. All her brothers moved here as well. She relocated in 1980 with her 9-yearold daughter, Lisa, and began working with La Quinta Resort, learning the scope of its business. Three years later she was named manager. By the time she left the resort in 1993, she had overseen the expansion of the fa-

cility’s hotel rooms from 76 to 640, plus its additional retail and restaurant outlets.


The valley honors Native American culture with events and exhibits; plus, an experienced artist finds a new way to create page 31

Development across the valley La Quinta Resort was just one of the valley’s entities experiencing rapid growth in the 1980s. More apartments were being built, more streets and other infrastructure were being put into place, and hotels and resorts were becoming year-round establishments. “It was like everything in the valley was booming in the ’80s,” she said. Yet, while businesses and communities See VISITORS BUREAU, page 25

FITNESS & HEALTH 3 k Is your online pharmacy legit? k A bull market for testosterone LAW & MONEY k Today’s best investments k Saving money and energy COACHELLA VALLEY VOLUNTEERS





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N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 2 — C O A C H E L L A VA L L E Y B E A C O N

Giving thanks for our blessings this year By Michael Brachman ley in the course of doing business — both As most Americans are doing this time those featured within our pages and others of year, we here at the who represent the myriad orCoachella Valley Beacon are ganizations here who serve preparing for our nation’s sinour 50-and-older residents. gularly unique holiday of We are grateful that our Thanksgiving, and taking growth will continue into 2013 stock of all that we are gratewith a number of new projects ful for at this time in our lives. designed to support the lives We are especially grateful and work of our readers and for the opportunity to conassociates, and we look fortinue to build the Beacon enward to announcing them terprise with the support of FROM THE within these pages. our growing number of loyal PUBLISHER And, as importantly, we are advertisers and more than By Michael Brachman grateful for the successful 40,000 monthly readers. Beworking relationship we enjoy cause of you, this November issue is our every day with the staff at the national Bealargest this year. con office in Kensington, Md., and equally We are grateful for the positive feedback thankful that region of the northeast surwe have received all year on our editorial vived the catastrophic destruction wrought content, including the local features that we recently by Hurricane Sandy. have expanded in the last few months. In Hard times, such as those being experithis issue, our local news will introduce you enced right now by so many on the East to additional fascinating people, plus a Coast who have been devastated by the range of ideas for activities, outings, re- storm, can be humbling to those of us in warding opportunities and helpful services. the Coachella Valley who are enjoying the We are grateful for all the wonderful in- beginning of our beautiful, comfortable and dividuals we have met throughout the val- very active high season.

Beacon The Coachella Valley






The CV Beacon is recognized nationally This year we are also gratified that articles from our Coachella Valley edition have now contributed to the recognition of the Beacon newspaper chain. In existence for nearly 23 years, the Bea-

con chain has established a long history of winning numerous significant awards for its content, design, service to 50+ adults, etc., most from the North American Mature Publishers Association. I am pleased to share with you that two cover stories by our local feature writer Connie George captured the attention of this year’s NAMPA judges, who awarded second place prizes to each. The first was in our premiere issue in January and profiled photographer Bill Kobrin, whose iconic photograph of Marilyn Monroe standing over a New York subway grate is now represented in the enormous Monroe statue at the heart of downtown Palm Springs. The article so pleased the Beacon’s national publisher, Stuart P. Rosenthal, that he ran it in our three East coast sister-papers in Baltimore, Howard County and Washington, DC. The second, on the topic of “love after 50,” appeared on the cover of our February issue and examined the experiences of two singles and two couples here in the valley, along with the input from a nationally respected book author on the topic. We have received very positive feedback on all our local features this year, some of which has appeared in our “Letters to the Editor” column on this page, and we are thankful for every bit of input we receive. If you are new to Beacon readership, have missed an issue, or would like to retrieve an article from our archive, you can find online copies of each issue at We wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

5 0

The Coachella Valley Beacon is a monthly newspaper dedicated to informing, serving and entertaining the citizens of the Coachella Valley area, and is independently owned and operated by On-Target Media, Inc. under authority of the Beacon Newspapers, Inc. Other Beacon editions serve Howard County and Baltimore, Md., as well as Greater Washington, D.C. Subscriptions are available via third-class mail ($16), prepaid with order. Send subscription order to the office listed below. Publication of advertising contained herein does not necessarily constitute endorsement. Signed columns represent the opinions of the writers, and not necessarily the opinion of the publisher. • Publisher ............................................................Michael Brachman • Feature Writer ..........................................................Connie George

The Coachella Valley Beacon, 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite 203J, Palm Springs, CA 92262 Phone: 760.323.3338, x224 • Email: Other content and design provided by The Beacon Newspapers, Inc., Kensington, Md. • Publisher............................................................Stuart P. Rosenthal • Graphic Designer ........................................................Kyle Gregory Submissions: The Coachella Valley Beacon welcomes reader contributions. Deadline for editorial is the 20th of the month preceding the month of publication. Deadline for ads is the 15th of the month preceding the month of publication. Please mail or email all submissions. © Copyright 2012 On-Target Media, Inc.

Sometimes all we can do when faced with adversity is to remember to be mindful of what is still right with our lives. We may have experienced significant personal loss, but can be thankful for the loved ones we still have with us who are staying close to us while we heal. If our health is suffering, we can be grateful for the services and individuals who are helping to improve it. Our financial situation may be stressed, but if we still have a roof over our heads, a warm bed at night and enough to eat, we can be aware that at least our basic needs are being met until our circumstances improve. As I have often mentioned in this column, among the biggest reasons that the Coachella Valley is an ideal place for older adults to live — no matter what any of us may be going through at a particular time in our lives — is that there are hundreds of resources here to support us. In addition, for those of us who are in more ideal circumstances, there are hundreds more opportunities to give back by supporting those who need help getting back on their feet. Repeatedly, the valley shows itself to be a place of mutually beneficial interaction among its residents and a fine place to grow older. And that is something for which to be very thankful.

Readers are encouraged to share their opinion on any matter addressed in the Coachella Valley Beacon as well as on political and social issues of the day. Mail your Letter to the Editor to The Coachella Valley Beacon, 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite 203J, Palm Springs, CA 92262 or e-mail to Please include your name, address and telephone number for verification.


Dec. 1


The 21st annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade will travel down Palm Canyon Dr. at 5:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1. The route begins at Ramon Rd., ending at Tamarisk Rd. Marching bands and other entertainment are scheduled in the lineup, along with the Budweiser Clydesdales, holiday floats, famous cartoon figures, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. More than 80,000 parade watchers are expected; lawn chairs and blankets are recommended for all who attend. For more information, call (760) 323-8276 or visit

Dec. 8


The Eisenhower Medical Center Auxiliary will present the Eisenhower Five Star Gala at 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, at Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, 41000 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage. The event will include dining, dancing and entertainment. Proceeds will help support the acquisition of a state-of-the-art da Vinci Robotic Surgical System. Tickets are $300. Dress is black-tie optional. For reservations and more information, call (760) 7731810, email or visit

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She now believes her purpose for coming to the valley was to create an adapted tap dance-based set of exercises that could be used to help support seniors’ brain function, particularly in those suffering from memory loss. Combining six simple dance steps, she creates a variety of movement and rhythm exercises. “Whatever I teach, I teach mathematically,” she said. She counts aloud while repeating each step in front of her classes in order to demonstrate its rhythm. Medical research supports the use of sensory stimulation as a means of building and protecting mental strength. “We don’t just have to give up” on our often slowing brain-power as we get older, she said. “We can still use it.”

With a doctorate in the performing arts, Turner-Archer is well educated in how entertainment can be inspiring for an audience. “I’m a motivator,” she said of her classroom style, in which she involves everyone, regardless of See DANCE, page 5 Professional dancer Mary TurnerArcher, right, leads an adapted tap dance class for the residents of Vista Cove Memory Care Center in Rancho Mirage, beginning with a series of clapping exercises designed to stimulate their rhythmic abilities. She is assisted by two of the residents.


By Connie George With 66 years of professional dance experience, Mary Turner-Archer knows a lot about how to entertain a crowd. But last year the dynamic, energetic 74-yearold found a new calling as a dance and rhythm teacher at assisted living facilities where residents with significant memory loss are responding to her classes. With a combination of entertainment, education and inspiration, she is helping her students sharpen their ability to focus and their coordination skills. Turner-Archer relocated to the Coachella Valley from Fort Lauderdale after feeling called to the area. “I always feel like wherever I go, I’m spiritually led there for a purpose,” she said.



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FDA warns of risks of online pharmacies By Linda A. Johnson The Food and Drug Administration is warning U.S. consumers that the vast majority of Internet pharmacies are fraudulent and likely are selling counterfeit drugs that could harm them. The agency has launched a national campaign, called BeSafeRx, to alert the public to the danger, amid evidence that more people are shopping for their medicine online, looking for savings and convenience. Instead, they’re likely to get fake drugs that are contaminated, are past their expiration date, or contain no active ingredient, the wrong amount of active ingredient, or even toxic substances. Such drugs could sicken or kill people, cause them to develop a resistance to their real medicine, cause new side effects, or

trigger harmful interactions with other medications being taken. “Our goal is to increase awareness,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said, “not to scare people away from online pharmacies. We want them to use appropriate pharmacies.”

Which ones are legitimate? That means pharmacies that are located in the U.S., are licensed by the pharmacy board in the patient’s state, and have a licensed pharmacist available to answer questions. In addition, the pharmacy must require a valid doctor’s prescription for the medicine. Online drugstores that claim none is needed, or that the site’s doctor can write a prescription after the customer answers some questions, are breaking the law.

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Research by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which represents state pharmacy boards, found that of thousands of online pharmacies it reviewed, only about 3 percent follow state and federal laws. Most consumers don’t know that. An Internet survey, conducted by the FDA in May, questioned 6,090 adults. It found that nearly one in four Internet shoppers has bought prescription drugs online, and nearly three in 10 said they weren’t confident they could do so safely. The campaign comes after some highprofile cases of counterfeit drugs reaching American patients earlier this year from their own doctors. In February and again in April, the FDA warned doctors and cancer clinics around the country that it had determined they had bought fake Avastin — a pricey injectable cancer medicine, from a “gray market” wholesaler. The fake Avastin vials originated in Asia or Eastern Europe and were transferred through a network of shady wholesalers before being sold to clinics by a wholesaler claiming to be in Montana. In another case, the FDA issued a warning in May after learning consumers shopping on the Internet had bought fake versions of generic Adderall, a popular medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. No deaths or serious injuries have been linked to those fakes, but Hamburg notes

that when drugs don’t help patients get better, doctors usually blame the disease or assume a different medicine is needed. That means most fakes aren’t detected.

How to spot the fakes So the FDA, which has put increasing focus on the counterfeiting problem, launched a website,, that shows consumers how to determine if an online pharmacy is safe. It includes tips on how to spot illegal pharmacies, links to state databases of licensed pharmacies, and explanations of all the dangers of rogue pharmacies. Besides likely getting fake drugs, dangers include the risk that they will infect your computer with viruses, sell your personal and financial information to other rogue websites and Internet scammers, or charge you for products you never ordered or received. Many rogue pharmacies claim to be in Canada — because Americans know medicines are cheaper there and assume that’s why they’re getting a deal. Many fraudulent sites even put the word Canada in their name, or display the Canadian flag prominently on the site. Their web storefronts are slick and look professional. And they all offer prices that are unbelievably low. “If the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are,” Hamburg said. — AP

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Health Shorts Exercise is good for your memory If there weren’t enough good reasons to exercise, here’s another one: A new study finds that exercise improves memory and reduces the risk for cognitive decline as we get older. The study included 86 women ages 70 to 80, some of whom had mild cognitive impairment — a loss of memory and mental function that often precedes Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The women were randomly assigned to do re-

Dance From page 3 the degree of memory loss. During a recent class at Vista Cove Memory Care Center in Rancho Mirage, she and two residents presented a series of clapping exercises to upbeat music, followed by dance routines. While most classroom participants were chair-bound and initially appeared lethargic, most responded to the rhythmic movements and cheerful songs as soon as they began, clapping along and watching closely, many smiling throughout the program. Because of the ages of most of the partic-

sistance training, aerobics, or balance and toning exercises twice a week. After six months, 77 women remained in the study. Women in the resistance-training group performed much better on tests of attention, conflict resolution and memory than those in the balance and toning group, according to results published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The aerobic training group didn’t see as much of an improvement in mental function, although their physical function did improve. This study suggests that firming your muscles can also tone up your mind. Before starting any resistance training program, check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to exercise. — Harvard Women’s Health Watch ipants in her classes, Turner-Archer uses musical selections that were popular in their younger years — “42nd Street” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” for example. Participants also lived during eras in which tap dancing was especially popular. “When we think of tap dancing, we think of it in the past,” she said, “so I speak to their spirit through the words of their songs” and the dance steps of their youth. Turner-Archer is also conducting senior and intergenerational dance classes at other facilities in the valley, aiming to spread the therapeutic benefits of dance to everyone who may benefit from it.

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Knee replacements soar among older adults

adults have seen a surge in knee replacement surgeries, driven partly by a desire to stay active and by joint-damaging obesity. The findings are in a study of more than 3

Just like age-defying baby boomers, older


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N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 2 — C O A C H E L L A VA L L E Y B E A C O N

got artificial knees from 1991 through 2010. Almost 10 percent of the operations were redos — replacing worn-out artificial joints. The number of initial knee-replacement

surgeries each year on these older patients more than doubled during that time, rising to nearly 244,000 in 2010. Patients were in their mid-70s on average when they had surgery. The aging population and rising numbers of Medicare enrollees contributed to the increase. But the per capita rate also increased, from about 3 surgeries per 10,000 enrollees in 1991 to 5 per 10,000 in 2010. “There’s a huge percentage of older adults who are living longer and want to be active,” and knee replacement surgery is very effective, said lead author Dr. Peter Cram, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa. The pace of growth slowed in more recent years — possibly because increasing numbers of younger adults have also been getting artificial knees, which typically last 15 to 20 years. The troubled economy may also have slowed demand for an operation that costs about $15,000, the study authors said. About 600,000 knee replacement surgeries are done each year nationwide on adults

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pen enrollment for Medicare is happening now through December 7th. If you want to make changes to your coverage, this is your window of opportunity. Medicare is a wonderful thing, but making the right decisions can seem like a 30 foot putt for par. It’s more than simply picking a plan; it’s selecting the right doctors. Empire Physicians has been one of the premier medical groups in the Coachella Valley for more than 25-years. We’re a network of more than 300 local, Board Certified Primary Care doctors and specialists, and we believe our group provides access to the finest family medical care in the valley. We have decades of Medicare experience under our belt. So, if you want to make changes during open enrollment, we can help. Or, if you are about to turn 65 and are new to Medicare, we can help. We offer FREE, no obligation seminars, meant to inform, to answer your questions, and to put you at ease. They will help you make the best decisions about your coverage. Medicare is a wonderful thing, especially when it’s a tap in.

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of all ages, costing a total of $9 billion, the authors said. A journal editorial said measures are needed to control costs of these operations, noting that demand has been projected to rise to as many as almost 4 million knee operations annually by 2030. — AP

Consumer group sues over safety of Alzheimer’s drug A consumer group pressing the Food and Drug Administration to remove the highest dose of an Alzheimer’s disease drug from the market is suing the agency for what it calls “foot-dragging.” Public Citizen said that the FDA’s own medical and statistical reviewers found that high-dose Aricept doesn’t work better at controlling symptoms of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s than two lower dose levels. However, the group said the high dose has more dangerous, potentially deadly, side effects including vomiting, which in Alzheimer’s patients “can lead to pneumonia, massive gastrointestinal bleeding, esophageal rupture or death.” Other side effects more common at the high dose are nausea, diarrhea, anorexia and confusion. Public Citizen filed a petition in May 2011 with the FDA. The group urged the agency to halt sales of the 23-milligram dose of Aricept and put safety warnings about the highdose risks on two lower doses, 5 and 10 milligrams. The low doses are available under both the Aricept brand, made by Japan’s Eisai Co. Ltd., and as inexpensive generic pills. The FDA has yet to act. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, asks the court to declare the FDA’s failure to act unlawful and to order the agency to decide within 30 days of the court’s ruling whether to approve Public Citizen’s request. The suit also seeks attorneys’ fees. Marcia Diljak, a spokeswoman at drug company Eisai Inc. of Woodcliff Lake, N.J., said the company was aware of the complaint filed against the FDA but won’t comment on the litigation. “We stand by the FDA’s decision” to approve high-dose Aricept as a safe, effective Alzheimer’s treatment, she wrote in an email. According to Public Citizen, Eisai sought approval of the higher Aricept dose ahead of the November 2010 expiration of the patents for the two low doses. The ensuing generic competition would have slashed their sales. — AP

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Ten ways to reduce chronic inflammation By Holly Pevzner Chronic inflammation plays a significant role (as either a cause or effect) in many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, and the three top killers in the United States: heart disease, cancer and stroke. And emerging research is focusing on the link between inflammation and brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The good news is that diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can be powerful tools against inflammation. Here are 10 ways you can help stave off — or tamp down — inflammation: 1. Balance your omega fats. Americans are gorging on too many inflammation-promoting omega-6 fats (found in vegetable oils, such as sunflower and corn, and processed and fast food made with them) and not consuming nearly enough inflammation-soothing omega-3 fats (found in salmon, tuna, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola and olive oils). In short: a diet high in omega-6s and low in omega-3s increases inflammation in the body, said Chilton. To better balance your omega fats, opt for as much fresh, unprocessed food as possible, swap your omega-6-rich corn or sunflower oil for omega-3-packed canola, and load your plate with omega-3-rich foods. If it proves difficult to get the recommended 1 to 4 grams of omega-3s daily

through food (3 ounces of salmon delivers about 2 grams, 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed has 3 grams), ask your doctor about taking a supplement. A 2011 Ohio State University study found that taking fish-oil pills daily (at a dosage of 2.5 grams/day of omega-3s) reduced stressrelated production of interleukin-6, a prominent inflammatory marker, by 14 percent. 2. Get your om on. A 2010 study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that women who had regularly practiced 75 to 90 minutes of Hatha yoga twice-weekly for at least two years had markedly lower levels of interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP), two key inflammatory markers, compared to those who were new to yoga or practiced less frequently. Researchers think that yoga’s benefit is that it minimizes stress-related physiological changes. 3. Up your soy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has indicated that eating 25 grams of soy protein daily helps reduce your risk of inflammation-driven cardiovascular disease. But according to two 2009 studies, even as little as half that may be helpful. “We saw a reduction in inflammation after drinking just two [12-ounce] glasses of soymilk a day for three months,” said study co-author Elvira de Mejia, Ph.D., associate professor of nutrition at the Univer-

sity of Illinois at Urbana. Apparently, lunasin, a peptide found in soymilk and tofu, in combination with other soy proteins, can quell inflammation. (If you have a hormone-sensitive condition, such as breast cancer or endometriosis, check with your doctor before increasing the amount of soy in your diet.) 4. Enjoy a massage. A massage isn’t just a treat — it can be part of staying healthy. Receiving a 45-minute Swedish massage can greatly lower levels of two key inflammation-promoting hormones, according to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. “Massage may decrease inflammatory substances by [appropriately] increasing the amount of disease-fighting white blood

cells in the body,” said Dr. Mark Hyman Rapaport, M.D., co-author of the study. “It may also lower stress hormones. Either way, these inflammation-lowering results can be seen after just one massage.” 5. Limit bad fats. The famed Nurses’ Health Study out of Harvard University (well known as one of the largest and longest-running investigations into women’s health) found that trans-fatty acids are linked to a significant bump in total body inflammation, especially in overweight women. Trans fats can be found in items including fried foods, packaged cookies, crackers, margarines and more. And buyer beware. “Even if a food label See INFLAMMATION, page 9


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Testosterone mass marketed to older men By Matthew Perrone “Are you falling asleep after dinner?” “Do you have a decrease in libido?” “Have you noticed a recent deterioration in your ability to play sports?” “It could be Low-T.” Welcome to the latest big marketing push by the nation’s drug companies. In this case, it’s a web page for Abbott Laboratories’ Androgel — a billion-dollar selling testosterone gel used by millions of American men struggling with the symptoms of growing older that are associated with low testosterone, such as poor sex drive, weight gain and fatigue. Androgel is one of a growing number of prescription gels, patches and injections aimed at boosting the male hormone that begins to decline after about age 40. Drugmakers and some doctors claim testosterone therapy can reverse some of the signs of

aging — even though the safety and effectiveness of such treatments is unclear. “The problem is that we don’t have any evidence that prescribing testosterone to older men with relatively low testosterone levels does any good,” said Dr. Sergei Romashkan, who oversees clinical trials for the National Institute on Aging, a part of the National Institutes of Health conglomerate of research centers.

Normal? Or a condition to treat? Low testosterone is the latest example of a once-natural part of getting old that has become a target for medical treatment. Bladder problems, brittle bones and hot flashes have followed a similar path — from inconvenient facts of life, to ailments that can be treated with drugs. The rise of such therapies is being fueled by both demographics and industry market-

ing. Baby boomers are living longer and looking for ways to deal with the infirmities of old age: Life expectancy in the U.S. today is 78 years, up from 69 years a half-century ago. And so companies have stepped up their marketing to the older crowd: Spending on print and television ads promoting testosterone by firms like Abbott and Eli Lilly has risen more than 170 percent in the last three years to more than $14 million in 2011, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media. Doctors say that’s led to an increase in men seeking treatment for low testosterone. Prescriptions for the hormone have increased nearly 90 percent over the last five years, according to IMS Health. Last year, global sales reached $1.9 billion. Former marathon runner Damon Lease, 50, had been complaining of low energy and depression, for which his doctor prescribed a combination of four psychiatric drugs. But

since he started taking twice-a-week testosterone injections in May, he said he’s been able to stop taking two of those medications and hopes to eliminate them completely. He said he has more energy, improved mood and concentration. “I spent 27 years running long distances, I like biking, I like hiking, and I guess every guy wants to have an active sex life ... I want to keep doing those things as long as I can,” said Lease, who works as a software company executive. “I feel 20 years younger.” Despite its rising popularity, testosterone therapy is not completely new. Testosterone injections were long used for men with hypogonadism, a disorder defined by low testosterone caused by injury or infection to the reproductive or hormonal organs. But the latest marketing push by drugmakers is for easy-to-use gels and patches that are aimed at a much broader population of otherwise healthy older men with low testosterone, or androgen deficiency. The condition is associated with a broad range of unpleasant symptoms ranging from insomnia to depression to erectile dysfunction. Drug companies peg this group at about 15 million American men, though federal scientists do not use such estimates. Watson Pharmaceuticals now markets its Androderm patch, which slowly releases testosterone into the bloodstream. Abbott has its gel that can be applied to the shoulders and arms. And Eli Lilly’s Axiron is an underarm gel that rolls on like deodorant. Androderm, launched last year, had $87 million in sales, and Axiron, which was launched in 2010, had sales of $48 million last year. “All of a sudden you’ve got these big players with a lot of money using consumer-directed marketing to change the landscape,” said Dr. Natan Bar-Chama, a male reproductive specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “They see the potential, they see the market growth annually and it’s very impressive.”

What level is too low? But government researchers worry that medical treatments have gotten ahead of the science. Male testosterone is mainly produced in the testes and affects muscle mass, sperm production and various sexual characteristics. The hormone can easily be checked with a blood test, but doctors can’t agree on what constitutes a low reading in older men. Typical testosterone levels for younger men range between 300 and 1,000 nanograms per deciliter, but once levels begin dropping there is little consensus on what makes a “normal number.” Some doctors believe testosterone levels below 300 lead to sexual dysfunction in older men, but the rule does not cover all cases. A 2010 study by researchers at the University of Manchester and other European institutions found that 25 percent of men with testosterone levels above that threshold had the same sexual problems See TESTOSTERONE, page 11

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Inflammation From page 7 reads 0 grams trans fats, it can still contain less than 0.5 gram per serving, so if you eat multiple servings, you could be eating a few grams,” warned Erin Palinski, R.D., C.D.E. Instead, check the ingredient list for partially hydrogenated oil. If you see this, the product contains trans fats. While you’re trimming the fat, cut back on the saturated variety, as well, replacing butter with olive oil and being choosy about your protein sources. 6. Eat your greens. Here’s yet another reason not to skimp on green leafy vegetables, whole grains and nuts: they are all rich in magnesium, a mineral that about 60 percent of us don’t consume enough of. “I encourage anyone who’s susceptible to inflammation to assess their magnesium intake,” said Forrest H. Nielsen, Ph.D., a research nutritionist at the USDA’s Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota. (Ask your doctor to check your magnesium levels with a blood test.) “There’s a lot of evidence that people with high inflammatory markers often have low magnesium levels. Plus, people who have conditions associated with inflammation, like heart disease and diabetes, also tend to have low magnesium levels,” Nielsen said. [See “Most of us don’t get enough magnesium,” on page 14.] 7. Keep stress at bay. Frequently frazzled? You may be opening the door to inflam-

mation. A recent study in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity found that people who have a strong emotional reaction to stressful tasks (you bite your nails when you have to make a presentation at work or get tense when someone presses your buttons) experience a greater increase in circulating interleukin-6 during times of stress than those who take stressful tasks in stride. While stress harms your body in many ways, Cannon puts it like this: “Stress increases blood pressure and heart rate, making your blood vessels work harder. Essentially, you’re pounding on them more often and creating damage. If that damage happens over and over, inflammation persists.” 8. Sleep more. If you’re not clocking at least 6 hours of restful sleep a night, you’re more susceptible to inflammation than those who have a solid night of slumber, according to research presented at the American Heart Association 2010 Scientific Sessions in Chicago. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep was linked to significantly increased levels of three key inflammatory markers — interleukin-6, CRP and fibrinogen. 9. Exercise often. Losing excess weight via exercise (or eating better) is a great way to lower inflammation. Working out, however, can lower inflammation even if you don’t drop one single pound. The reason? Exercising at about 60 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate — think brisk walking where you can still talk but it would be difficult to carry on a conversation — low-

ers levels of the key inflammation marker CRP, Chilton said. 10. Drink green tea. Even if coffee is your beverage of choice, you might not want to bag tea altogether — especially the green variety. Green tea is full of potent antioxidants that help quell inflammation. In

fact, researchers from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock recently found that green tea can inhibit oxidative stress and the potential inflammation that may result from it. © 2012 EatingWell, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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Blood pressure pills may keep you awake By Dr. Michael Hogan Dear Mayo Clinic: I was recently put on medication for high blood pressure. Does it matter what time I take it? I thought I was supposed to take it before I go to bed. But when I do, I’m up all night using the bathroom. Also, is this medication something I will have to take for life? Answer: It usually is not necessary to take your blood pressure medication at night, unless your doctor has told you to do so. Whether or not you have to take the medication for the rest of your life depends on a variety of factors. In some cases, lifestyle changes can lower or eliminate the need for blood pressure medication. What you eat and how much you exercise can help control blood pressure. Lowering the amount of salt in your diet

and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains and low-fat dairy foods, also can have a positive effect. Regular physical activity can also help lower blood pressure and keep your weight at a healthy level. Weight is a big factor in high blood pressure. Research has shown that, in people who are overweight, lowering one’s weight by just 10 percent can lower blood pressure. Regarding the timing of when you take your medication, in the past many doctors did recommend taking blood pressure medication at night. That was based on the fact that heart attacks happen most often in the early morning. In theory, bringing blood pressure down during the night lowers the risk for a heart attack in the morning. The reality does not match up with that theory for several reasons. First, blood

pressure naturally tends to drop during the night in people who do not have high blood pressure, as well as in most people who do. That means there’s typically not a critical need for medication to lower blood pressure during the overnight hours. Second, today’s blood pressure medications last quite a while. In many cases, they only need to be taken once every 24 hours. When you take the medications during those 24 hours should not matter, as long as you take them at the same time every day. Experiencing disturbed sleep when taking blood pressure medications before bedtime is a common issue. Diuretics are the most frequently prescribed blood pressure medications. They work by helping your kidneys get rid of extra salt and water. They are often quite effective in lowering blood pressure. But they can make you go


From October 15th to December 7th you will have the opportunity to choose or change your Medicare Advantage health plan. B-++$*%,-*%0!"#%)6,-%,-*%4*#*5,$%,-",%4*$,%$:6,$%/+:.%-*"!,-<".*%#**9$C

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to the bathroom more often, especially in the hours right after you take them. To avoid this problem, you may want to start taking your blood pressure medication in the morning.

More self-help steps How long you will need to take blood pressure medication is hard to predict. Once they start taking medication to lower blood pressure, some people do continue to take it for the rest of their lives. However, there are steps you can take that may reduce your need for blood pressure medication. In addition to the diet and exercise changes mentioned above, if you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount you drink. Women and anyone older than 65 should not have more than one alcoholic drink a day. Men younger than 65 should have no more than two drinks per day. Also, try to manage stress in healthy ways. Although stress by itself does not cause high blood pressure, having a lot of daily stress does make it more difficult to treat the condition. These self-care steps may help bring your blood pressure down. If that happens, you may be able to take less of your medications or eventually stop taking blood pressure medication completely. Talk to your doctor about making lifestyle changes that can help. Do not make any changes in your blood pressure medication until you talk to your doctor. Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic is an educational resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. To submit a question, write to: For health information, visit © 2012 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc


Nov. 17+


Desert Regional Medical Center will offer health screenings for body mass index, blood pressure and blood sugar, along with six physician lectures during the Desert Woman’s Show, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17 and 18, at Westin Mission Hills Resort. Lectures will address bariatric surgery, lung screening, early breast cancer detec-

This is an advertisement. A sales person will be present with information and applications. For accommodation of persons with special needs at sales meetings, call TTY/ TDD 711. SBHIS represents various Medicare Advantage (MA) and Prescription Drug !"#$%& ' $(%"$%)*!!%"$%+,-*.%,/0*$%+1%-*"!,-%0!"#$2%%3-*%4*#*5,%6#1+.7",6+#%0.+869*9% 6$%"%4.6*1%$:77"./;%#+,%"%<+70!*,*%9*$<.60,6+#%+1%4*#*5,$2%=+.%7+.*%6#1+.7",6+#;%<+#,"<,%,-*%0!"#2%>*#*5,$;%1+.7:!"./;%0-".7"</%#*,)+.?;%0.*76:7%"#9@+.%<+A0"/7*#,$@ co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. H5928_13_223_MK CMS APPROVED

tion, salt risks, bunions and hammertoes, and stroke risks. The resort is at 71333 Dinah Shore Dr., Rancho Mirage. For more information, call 1800-491-4990 or visit

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Side effects and serious risks

Testosterone From page 8 used to diagnose low testosterone. Adding to the ambiguity is that testosterone levels change by the hour, so a man who takes a blood test for testosterone in the morning may get a completely different reading when tested in the afternoon. Adding to the confusion over what defines “low testosterone,” there’s not much understanding of whether testosterone replacement therapy actually improves men’s symptoms. Evidence of the benefits of testosterone is mixed, and the potential health risks are serious. The largest study conducted to date, a 2008 trial involving 230 patients in the Netherlands, found no improvement in muscle strength, cognitive thinking, bone density or overall quality of life among men taking testosterone. Muscle mass increased 1.2 percent, but not enough to improve physical mobility. The National Institute on Aging is currently conducting an 800-man trial to definitively answer whether testosterone therapy improves walking ability, sexual function, energy, memory and blood cell count in men 65 years and older. But those results aren’t expected until 2014.

In addition to concerns about testosterone’s effectiveness, the long-term side effects of the hormone are not entirely understood because most trials to date have only followed patients for a few months. But the most serious risks include heart problems and prostate cancer. In 2010, researchers at Boston University’s school of medicine halted a large study of testosterone in senior men because patients taking the hormone were five times more likely to suffer a serious heart event, including congestive heart failure, than those taking placebo. And a review of 19 testosterone trials in 2006 found that prostate cancer was significantly higher among men taking testosterone. All testosterone drugs carry a warning that the hormone should not be given to men who have a personal or family history of prostate cancer. Also in 2006, the Endocrine Society published the first physician guidelines for prescribing testosterone for men with androgen deficiency. All six of the co-authors had received consulting fees or research funding from drugmakers that market testosterone. Despite those ties, the authors took a cautious tone, stressing the difficulty of ac-

curately diagnosing low testosterone and acknowledging that they were unable to reach an agreement about when doctors should begin therapy. They also recommend doctors have an “explicit discussion of the uncertainty about the risks and benefits of testosterone therapy.”

History has shown that hormone replacement therapy can be dangerous. That hit home for women in 2002 when a landmark study shook up the conventional wisdom about the benefits of estrogen replacement therapy for menopause. — AP

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Are you experiencing any of the following? Migraines • Headaches Fatigue • Dizziness Depression • Anxiety Irritable Bowel • Ringing in the Ears Jaw Clicking & Popping Limited Jaw Opening

Jaw Misalignment May Be Causing Chronic Pain, Including Fibromyalgia


ibromyalgia is a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened, painful response to pressure. Symptoms are not limited to pain, however, leading to the term Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) for this condition. Other major symptoms include chronic fatigue and weakness, sleep disturbances, sleep-disordered breathing, joint stiffness, difficulty swallowing, irritable bowel and bladder abnormalities, numbness and tingling, dizziness, fainting, imbalance and ringing in the ears. In addition, fibromyalgia often coincides with depression and anxiety disorders. To make a fibromyalgia diagnosis, a physician will consider the presence of widespread pain lasting more than three to four months, affecting the body above and below the waist, including the temporomandibular (jaw) joint. The patient must feel pain at 11 or more of 18 designated points for fibromyalgia to be considered. The medical cause of FMS is not known and while not degenerative or fatal, it is pervasive and persistent. In addition, the most reproduced laboratory findings in patients with fibromyalgia have many of the above symptoms.

Sharing similar symptoms with FMS is CranioMandibular Disorder, also called TemporoMandibular Joint Dysfunction, and commonly known as “TMJD.” With TMJD, the jaw is misaligned. The trigeminal nerve, which runs through the jaw joint socket and is associated with headaches and pain throughout the body. The trigeminal nerve is the fifth cranial nerve, composed of three divisions that exit the skull below the eye and inside the lower jaw. It is unusual in that it has motor, sensory and receptive capabilities. Twenty-eight percent of the sensory cortex is devoted to it alone. It has an extremely high density of pain fibers, thus causing it to have a major effect on pain. Clinical experience has shown that a high percentage of symptoms diagnosed in fibromyalgia respond to orthopedic jaw-alignment therapy that uses a removable dental appliance. If you are experiencing symptoms listed in this summary, or have already received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, please call our office for an appointment to determine whether you are a candidate for jaw-alignment therapy. No surgery or medications are needed.

For more details on Dr. Feld’s services, additional articles on oral health and educational videos



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Home Medicare coverage to be expanded By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar Thousands of patients with severe chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s would get con-

tinuing access to Medicare-funded rehab and other services under a change agreed to by the Obama administration.

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The proposed agreement in a national class action suit would allow Medicare patients to keep receiving physical and occupational therapy and other skilled services at home or in a nursing home so they can remain stable, said Gill Deford, a lawyer with the Center for Medicare Advocacy. That’s been a problem for some because of a longstanding Medicare policy that says patients must show “improvement” to keep getting rehab. Deford’s group and other organizations representing patients challenged it. “If you have a chronic condition, by definition you are not improving,” said Deford, the lead attorney on the case. “Our view is that Medicare regulations were intended to allow people to maintain their health status. They don’t have to show they are getting any better. The point is to allow them not to get any worse, if possible.”

those who are growing weaker because of advancing age, placing them at greater risk of falls and other problems. The impact on Medicare’s budget is unclear, partly because program rules are not always rigidly enforced. Even with a requirement that patients must continue to show improvement, billing contractors sometimes defer to the clinical judgment of doctors and therapists. A patient’s underlying disease may be advancing, but therapy might help them keep up strength up and do more to take care of themselves. Still, that’s no guarantee that Medicare will pay. “That’s what the point of this case is,” said Deford, adding that his center has represented many people repeatedly denied coverage for rehabilitation services. “This will allow them to have access.” Advocates say Medicare could break even financially, if patients don’t have to go to the hospital.

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The agreement was filed with Chief Judge Christina Reiss of the U.S. District Court in Vermont. It is expected to affect tens of thousands — maybe hundreds of thousands — of patients nationally. Those who stand to benefit include not only people with intractable conditions like Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and chronic lung disease. It could also help

Semantics spell change In court papers, Medicare denied that it imposes an inflexible standard that patients must continue to improve to keep receiving rehab services. Indeed, there is no such requirement in law. Medicare said other factors come into See MEDICARE, page 13

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The best breakfast foods for weight loss By Brierley Wright Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve always been a breakfast eater. It gives me a much-needed energy boost â&#x20AC;&#x201D; along with a cup of coffee, of course â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and it helps me from being so famished at lunch that I end up overeating. But eating a morning meal is also a healthy habit if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re watching your weight. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why: Research shows that regular breakfast eaters tend to be leaner, and dieters are more successful at losing weight â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and keeping it off â&#x20AC;&#x201D; when they eat breakfast. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more, people who typically eat breakfast also get more fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, zinc and iron â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and less fat and dietary cholesterol. Perhaps itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because they often eat cereal, which is fortified with vitamins and minerals, and fruit, which is naturally nutrient-rich. But that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mean you have to eat cereal to stay â&#x20AC;&#x201D; or get â&#x20AC;&#x201D; trim. Instead, mixup your morning meal and try one or more of these five breakfast foods that help you lose weight. 1. Raspberries A cup of raspberries delivers a whopping 8 grams of fiber. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more than double whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in a cup of strawberries and about the same amount in a cup of some types of beans. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s so great about all that fiber? Recent research in the Journal of Nutrition suggests eating more fiber is a way to prevent weight gain or even encourage weight loss. Over the course of the two-year study,

Medicare From page 12 play, such as the patientâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s medical condition and whether treatment is reasonable and necessary. Government lawyers called the policy change a clarification. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This settlement clarifies existing Medicare policy,â&#x20AC;? said Erin Shields Britt, a spokeswoman for the federal Health and Human Services department. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We expect no changes in access to services or costs.â&#x20AC;? Nonetheless, the Medicare policy manual will be changed to spell out that coverage of rehabilitation services â&#x20AC;&#x153;does not turn on the presence or absence of a beneficiaryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s potential for improvement from the therapy, but rather on the beneficiaryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s need for skilled care,â&#x20AC;? according to the proposed settlement. Deford said it could be several months before the settlement is finalized in court, and perhaps another year before Medicare formally completes the policy change. But patients may start seeing a change sooner. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m hoping the new coverage rules will de facto take effect before they are formally revised,â&#x20AC;? said Deford. Most of the immediate beneficiaries will be the parents of the baby boom generation and younger disabled people, who are also entitled to Medicare coverage. But the change could have its greatest significance for the boomers, many of whom are expected to try to live independently into their 80s and 90s. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; AP

the researchers found that boosting fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories resulted in about 4 1/2 pounds of weight lost. 2. Oatmeal Oatmeal can help you lose weight in two ways. First, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s packed with fiber and it keeps you feeling fuller longer. Second, a recent study in the Journal of Nutrition reported that eating a breakfast made with â&#x20AC;&#x153;slow-releaseâ&#x20AC;? carbohydrates â&#x20AC;&#x201D; such as oatmeal or bran cereal â&#x20AC;&#x201D; three hours before you exercise may help you burn more fat. How? Eating â&#x20AC;&#x153;slow-releaseâ&#x20AC;? carbohydrates doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t spike blood sugar as high as eating refined carbohydrates (think: white toast). In turn, insulin levels donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t spike as high. Because insulin plays a role in signaling your body to store fat, having lower blood sugar levels may help you burn fat. 3. Yogurt A recent report out of Harvard Univer-

sity, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed which foods are correlated with weight change, including the top five foods that promote weight loss. Yogurt was one of them. Another reason to eat yogurt: The protein in it may give you an extra edge if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking to get leaner. When researchers fed two groups of mice a high-fat diet for 11 weeks, the mice that got water spiked with whey protein (a type of protein found naturally in yogurt and other dairy) packed on 42 percent less weight and nearly a third less body fat than the mice who just drank plain water, despite the fact that they ate roughly the same number of calories. The whey eaters also gained 7 percent more lean body mass (e.g., muscle mass). Save calories â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and unnecessary sugar â&#x20AC;&#x201D; by choosing plain yogurt. If you need a little

extra sweetness, try fresh fruit (maybe raspberries?). 4. Peanut butter Nuts were also among the top five foods that Harvard researchers said promote weight loss. I love to slather a tablespoon or two of peanut butter onto whole-wheat toast (ahem, a â&#x20AC;&#x153;slow-releaseâ&#x20AC;? carbohydrate), but you could also add nuts to your oatmeal (another â&#x20AC;&#x153;slow-releaseâ&#x20AC;? carb). 5. Eggs Eggs deliver protein, which is great for dieters. Compared to carbohydrates and fat, protein keeps you satisfied longer. Plus, in one study, dieters who ate eggs for breakfast felt fuller longer and lost more than twice as much weight as those who got the same amount of calories from a bagel for breakfast. Š 2012 EatingWell, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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Most of us don’t get enough magnesium By Hara Estroff Marano The mineral magnesium is an essential nutrient that sustains every cell of the body. It helps power all cell functions and is critical to over 300 biologically active enzymes. The more it is studied, the more important the mineral proves to be for general health. New research stresses the value of magnesium in averting heart disease and stroke, and calls outright for clinical trials of the mineral in preventing cardiovascular disease and curbing the increase in metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Despite magnesium being one of the most abundant minerals in our bodies, deficiency is on the rise. At most, 40 percent of us get enough from the foods we eat. Deficiency manifests in symptoms as diverse as insomnia, muscle spasms, arrhythmias, insulin resistance and anxiety. Magnesium levels in foods are declining, so

your best bet for getting enough is to make a deliberate effort to consume a magnesium-rich diet.

Protects against stroke The less magnesium in your diet, the greater your risk of stroke, say Swedish researchers who conducted a meta-analysis of several studies that enrolled nearly 250,000 participants and followed them for up to 13 years. Magnesium protects the brain against reduced blood flow in several ways, the investigators report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It lowers blood pressure, diminishes the risk of diabetes, a known contributor to stroke, and slows the oxidation of fats in the bloodstream. A study of more than 14,000 middle-aged men and women in different parts of the U.S. showed that increased levels of magnesium

in the blood — a more precise measure than dietary intake — are inversely associated with the incidence of ischemic stroke. Those with the lowest blood levels of the mineral had the highest rates of hypertension and diabetes, an association that held through the 15-year follow-up. Those who had higher levels of magnesium had a 36 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke.

May help prevent diabetes What public health officials call an “alarming rise” in Type 2 diabetes may begin in childhood with low intake of magnesium. Researchers find that magnesium deficiency directly creates insulin resistance in obese children. Magnesium is a co-factor for multiple enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism, and mineral lack impairs insulin uptake by cells. One study showed just how

prevalent magnesium deficiency has become; it affects 27 percent of healthy children and 55 percent of obese ones. Give healthy people a four-week trial of magnesium supplements and what happens? There are widespread shifts in many metabolic and inflammatory markers, and changes in the expression of 58 genes, report researchers from UCLA and Harvard University. The pilot trial of magnesium in 14 healthy overweight volunteers suggests that the mineral increases the body’s insulin sensitivity and directly affects pancreatic cells to reduce insulin secretion. The pattern of gene effects parallels improved insulin sensitivity. In general, the best food sources of magnesium are whole grains, nuts and green leafy vegetables. Specific foods with high magnesium content include pumpkin seeds, spinach, swiss chard, soybeans, sesame seeds, halibut, black beans, cashew nuts and almonds, among others. Yet a number of studies suggest that the magnesium content of foods, especially vegetables, is falling and has been doing so for decades. Experts point to mineral depletion of soil by pesticide use; fertilizer magnifies the effect. © 2012 Sussex Publishers. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.


Nov. 27


Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a lecture at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 27, at the Palm Springs Public Library will address why caring for oneself is so important while caring for a loved one. Representatives from Senior Helpers and the American Red Cross will conduct the presentation. The library is at 300 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs. For more information, call (760) 322-7323.

Nov. 28+


will offer an ongoing course, Seated Wellness, beginning Wednesday, Nov. 28. Classes begin at 8 a.m. and will continue each Wednesday. Instructor Lynn Simonson, a certified senior fitness instructor, will combine yoga, breath work, strength building and brain-charging exercises. Cost is $4 per class. Mizell is at 480 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs. For more information, call (760) 323-5689.

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Processed meats increase diabetes risk Q: I know sausage and other processed restaurants use in some dishes is extremely meats are linked with colon cancer risk. high. Steer clear of options like moussaka, Is it true that they’re linked with rich ground meat and oilwith risk of diabetes, too? drenched eggplant baked in a A: Yes, several large populacreamy sauce. tion studies now link greater conFocus on lean, vegetablesumption of processed meats laden choices like chicken souwith increased risk of type 2 diavlaki or fish served with grilled betes. Processed meats are those vegetables, or the many lentilthat are salted, cured or smoked, and bean-based soups. or contain preservatives such as For a delicious Greek salad nitrite- or nitrate-based products. without excessive calories, Common examples of order it light on the feta processed meat are bacon, NUTRITION cheese (especially if you are sausage, hot dogs, processed WISE ordering another dish that will canned meats, ham and pack- By Karen Collins, supply your protein). MS, RD, CDM aged lunchmeats. Just because you’re offered Scientists have identified seva large portion of rice and uneral potential mechanisms that could explain ending pita bread does not make it a good the convincing link between processed idea to eat it all. Although tzatziki sounds meats and greater risk of colorectal cancer. healthy (Greek yogurt with cucumber and Risk of type 2 diabetes increases with being overweight, so processed meats’ high content of fat (and therefore calories) could explain part of the link to diabetes risk. However, even after adjusting for weight and some other aspects of eating habits, people who consume the most processed meat show at least 45 to 60 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers hypothesize that nitrite-based preservatives form nitrosamine compounds within our gut that increase cancer risk. These nitrosamines may also damage the cells of the pancreas responsible for producing insulin. Another potential explanation for the diabetes link involves formation during meat processing of compounds called advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) that seem to increase low-grade inflammation and oxidative stress. Both of these conditions promote a metabolic environment that can lead to type 2 diabetes. Q: I love to go out for Greek food, and I know the Mediterranean diet is ver y healthy. How reasonable are the calories in the restaurant options? A: Traditional Greek and other Mediterranean eating patterns are extremely healthy because they focus on plant foods like vegetables, beans and grains (which traditionally were nutrient-rich whole grains). The primary source of fat is olive oil, a healthy choice. Unfortunately, the amount of fat that


Dec. 15


The all female Celtic Woman ensemble will bring their holiday show, “A Christmas Celebration — the Symphony Tour,” to Fantasy Springs Resort Casino at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15. Tickets range from $49 to $89. For reservations and more information, call 1-800-827-2946 or visit

garlic), it’s often made with full-fat yogurt that’s concentrated in calories, so watch your portion. Greek restaurants offer delicious meals that may inspire you with new ideas for preparing beans and vegetables at home. Just don’t let the “halo” effect of how healthy it seems lead you to forget the impact of portion size if you are trying to keep calories moderate. The American Institute for Cancer Re-

search offers a Nutrition Hotline, 1-800-8438114, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST Monday through Friday. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will return your call, usually within three business days. Courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research. Questions for this column may be sent to “Nutrition Wise,” 1759 R St., NW, Washington, DC 20009. Collins cannot respond to questions personally.


Dec 13

FREE HEARING TESTS AT INDIO SENIOR CENTER EARS Hearing Health Care will offer free hearing tests from 10:30

a.m. to noon on Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Indio Senior Center, 45700 Aladdin St., Indio. For an appointment and more information, call (760) 391-4170.


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Treating severe dry eyes, loss of hearing By Dr. Robert Shmerling Q: I’ve been diagnosed with recurrent corneal erosion. My eyes are dry all the time. One eye doctor suggests putting small plugs in the ducts that drain tears from my eyes, which should make the tears stay in my eye longer and make my eyes moister. I use artificial tears all day long and an ointment at night. Will the plugs help prevent further eye damage? Also, I have a dr y mouth and wonder if I have Sjogren’s syndrome. If I have it, would the plugs still help? A: Placing “punctal plugs” has become a common procedure for patients with severe dryness of the eyes. These plugs block your tears from draining, so the tears you make last longer in the eye. Your condition sounds severe enough that this approach seems appropriate to consider. The dryness could be an isolated problem or part of Sjogren’s syndrome (see below). Whatever it’s from, punctal plugs can help relieve symptoms and protect the cornea. Other ways to help avoid dry eye include: • Using artificial tears frequently • Steering clear of low-humidity environments • If possible, avoiding medicine that makes dryness worse (such as diuretics, antihistamines and certain antidepressants).

There are a variety of eye drops that may reduce irritation and help prevent corneal damage from not making enough tears. Doctors commonly recommend artificial tears and cyclosporine (Restasis). Your ophthalmologist can determine the best care for your eyes after a full evaluation.

Sjogren’s syndrome Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease. That’s a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks its host. People with Sjogren’s syndrome have dry eyes and mouth, and inflammation in multiple organs, including the eyes, joints and skin. Antibody tests can help diagnose this condition. Diagnosis is important because you may need more than just eye drops. For example, drugs that stimulate saliva production or drugs that suppress the immune system may be helpful. Dry mouth increases the risk of cavities. So your dentist may recommend frequent dental cleaning and an oral rinse with fluoride. Based on the symptoms you describe, I would suggest you see an ophthalmologist, dentist and rheumatologist for evaluation. Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is a practicing physician in rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass., and an associate professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Hearing loss is common You’re not alone if you have trouble hearing and you’re not doing anything about it. An estimated 27 million Americans could benefit from the use of hearing aids but aren’t currently using them, according to a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers found that from 1999 to 2006, only 14 percent of adults 50 and older who needed a hearing aid actually used one. “There’s a stigma attached to wearing hearing aids, suggesting one is aging,” said Dr. Robert Schreiber, a geriatrician and instructor at Harvard Medical School. “Accepting this fact is often difficult for some people.” But hearing loss is a fact for 10 percent of people ages 65 to 75, and 25 percent of people age 75 and older, according to Schreiber. We are able to hear conversation, music or an airplane overhead because sound waves cause tiny bones in the ear to move and stimulate nerve endings. Hearing loss is often caused by conductive hearing problems (affecting the tiny bones) or by sensorineural hearing loss that is the result of nerve damage. A common type of sensorineural hearing loss is a progressive inability in both ears to hear high frequencies. It often affects the ability to hear speech in a noisy environment, or high-pitched sounds and voices. All hearing loss can have serious consequences. When driving or walking across

busy streets, for example, it can be dangerous. More subtle but important problems also can result from uncorrected hearing loss. “You may not be able to hear conversations, or important directions or reminders. That can lead to family discord, social isolation, and loss of self esteem,” said Dr. Schreiber.

Consider hearing aids If there is hearing loss in both ears, you may be a candidate for a hearing aid. The devices come in different styles and sizes, with a wide range of features. Some have digital or analog features. Some are programmable. Analog devices are less expensive than digital hearing aids and provide acceptable quality for many people. Newer digital devices have better sound, are smaller, and are more easily customized. Hearing aid costs range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Some insurance plans pay for the devices. Medicare generally does not. The audiologist who examines your hearing can help you find an option for your budget. While hearing aids do not restore hearing to normal, they usually improve hearing by half of the loss, Schreiber said. Restoring even that can profoundly impact your quality of life. © 2012 President and fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. —TMS

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Biotin deficiency is frequently overlooked Dear Pharmacist: min) deficiency. Please write about biotin deficiency. Poor immunity. Biotin deficiency reThis is what killed my hussults in more frequent bacterband. No one detected it, ial or viral infections, and I want to alert everyone. anywhere, even in your eye Love your work, hope to (conjunctivitis). meet you one day. Cognitive problems. The — J.P. brain needs biotin to make neuDear J.P.: I’m sorry about rotransmitters that keep you your loss. Today, I will write feeling mentally alert, happy about it. Together we will be and attentive. Low biotin can preventing more deaths. cause fatigue and depression. The problem is that physiHigh cholesterol. Animal DEAR cians and consumers think of bistudies have shown that biotin PHARMACIST otin — also known as vitamin H, (along with chromium) can reBy Suzy Cohen or B7 — only as a “beauty” vitaduce cholesterol and triglycmin to improve nail strength and erides. Low biotin increases risk hair growth. The sad part is, thousands of for fatty liver. medications are “drug muggers” of biotin, Anorexia. You’re not hungry if you have meaning they prevent absorption or diminish biotin deficiency. Sounds like a dream, our ability to make it in the body. right? But it can actually contribute to deHere are signs that suggest biotin defi- pression, lethargy and weakness. ciency: Anemia. The hemoglobin cells lose their Nerve pain. Numbness, tingling, prickly ability to tote oxygen, leaving you feeling sensations, pain or any other “paresthesia.” winded, short of breath, inattentive and faIt can occur by itself, or as part of kidney dis- tigued with little exertion. Prolonged anemia ease, insulin resistance or diabetes. raises risk for heart failure. Skin conditions. Eczema, psoriasis, sebCardiac arrhythmia. Biotin deficiency orrheoeic dermatitis, itching, flaking, scaly, can cause you to suffer palpitations, dry or inflamed skin, sores in or around the skipped beats and other electrical disturmouth, burning mouth/tongue. All of these bances that can cause a fatal heart attack. problems suggest biotin (or another B vitaYou must get as irritated as I do to read

Internet posts from so-called experts saying that biotin deficiency is “rare” or that we get enough from foods. I believe biotin deficiency is extremely common and covered this nutrient in Chapter 6 of my book, Drug Muggers. Biotin is made by yeast and bacteria, the same friendly microorganisms found in our intestinal flora. Keep in mind, all medications strip away our probiotics, reducing our biotin stash. Antibiotics are huge drug muggers, as are estrogen-containing hormones, acid blockers, antacids, anti-convulsants, steroids, anti-virals, breast cancer drugs, anti-inflammatories and certain analgesics. Also people who smoke, drink alcohol or coffee, or take alpha lipoic

acid run out of biotin quickly. Biotin supplements are sold over-thecounter, but of course ask your doctor if it’s right for you. About 1,000 to 5,000 mcg. per day should help. Your body washes away excess biotin. Good food sources include organ meats, nuts, cashews, dairy, liver, eggs, cauliflower, leafy greens, legumes and seafood. This information is opinion only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Consult with your doctor before using any new drug or supplement. Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist and the author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist and Real Solutions from Head to Toe. To contact her, visit


Nov. 16+

FRIDAY NIGHT DANCE PARTIES Palm Springs Dancers has begun holding Weekend Gypsy Dance

Parties for older adults, 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Fridays, at locations throughout the valley. “Gypsy” refers to the varying schedule of venues. Upcoming locations include Caliente Springs, 70200 Dillon Rd., Desert Hot Springs; Palm Springs Pavilion Ballroom, 401 S. Pavilion Way, Palm Springs; Royal Palms, 34851 Date Palm Dr., Cathedral City; and Emerald Desert RV Resort, 76000 Frank Sinatra Dr., Palm Desert. Admission is $5 per person. For more information, email or visit

Special for Beacon Readers: PFM NON-PRECIOUS CROWN: $499 Expires Dec. 31, 2012; for cash patients only

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Am I a saint or sucker if I take him back? quickly and helped me up after carefully Dear Solutions: I’ve been separated from my husband seeing that I was basically OK. One man even stopped his car, got out for six months because he and offered to drive me to an cheated on me and lied emergency room if needed. about it. (He says if he was Although I was pretty going to cheat, he had to lie.) shaken up I felt that nothing Now he wants to come major was wrong, so I back, and he says he’ll thanked everyone, and they never act that way again. went on their way and I I really believe what he went home. These people did is very wrong. Would I are all from my community, be a good person if I take him back, or would I just be but I have no idea who they SOLUTIONS are since there are several foolish? By Helen Oxenberg, thousand people living here. — K. MSW, ACSW Dear K: They went out of their way with kindness, and I would In other words, would you be like to thank them somehow. What do a saint or a sucker to take back the sinner? Forget the labels and the images. What’s you suggest? I think there aren’t enough important here is not what’s wrong with thank-yous sent these days. — Emma him or what’s wrong with you but what was Dear Emma: wrong with your marriage. This is a thank-you note to you! We conDon’t take him back until the two of you sit down — with counseling help if neces- stantly hear of the awful, hurtful things sary — and figure out what went wrong being done by people to people, but there isn’t enough recognition of the kind things and how it can change in the future. Without that understanding, neither saint people do. How to thank these people? I am guessnor sucker can make a difference. Good luck. ing that you have a community newspaper. Dear Solutions: I took a tough fall recently while doing Put an announcement in describing the ina morning walk in my community. Sev- cident and offering much thanks and appreeral people who were nearby came ciation to those mysterious helpers.

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And watch how you walk — those people are not always around. Dear Readers: Recently, I answered a question from a grandmother whose granddaughter asked for financial help so she and her “serious” boyfriend could move into an apartment together and save money until they could afford a place on their own. Grandma was conflicted and wanted to make sure her relationship with granddaughter wouldn’t suffer if she said no. I advised her to make it a formal loan with definite arrangements for repayment. One of my readers disagreed and sent me this note expressing her opinion: “I think this young couple ought to learn to wait and to pay for what they want. Sex and

living together are adult activities. Work and saving come before pleasure, even if saving money is part of their motivation. If they are as emotionally mature as they ought to be, the relationship with Grandma will survive. If not, that’s useful information. —S.K.” Thank you for your input, S.K. This raises another question to think about. Are parents, and especially grandparents, afraid to say no to their children because they are afraid of losing them? (To be continued.) © Helen Oxenberg, 2012. Questions to be considered for this column may be sent to: The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915. You may also email the author at To inquire about reprint rights, call (609) 655-3684.

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New LED light bulbs may seem pricey, but they last for more than 20 years and cast a warm glow. See story on p. 23.

The best investments when rates are low By Mark Jewell Risk-averse investors, prepare to be disappointed a good while longer. Expect interest rates to remain low at least three more years, with investments earning very little unless you’re willing to accept plenty of risk. Money-market mutual funds are likely to continue paying barely above zero, with 10year U.S. Treasurys yielding less than 2 percent. That’s the outlook after the Federal Reserve’s latest move to stimulate the economy by prodding Americans to spend and borrow more, and invest in stocks again. The program announced in September has been dubbed QE3 — a third round of what economists call quantitative easing, aimed at

helping a slow recovery gain momentum. This program goes further than previous ones. The Fed made an open-ended commitment to buy $40 billion of mortgage securities per month until the job market improves “substantially.” The central bank also extended its pledge to keep short-term interest rates super-low at least into mid-2015. That’s six months longer than the Fed had previously planned.

Many shun stocks Chairman Ben Bernanke made it clear after the announcement that the Fed’s bond-buying is intended in part to lift stock prices. Stock gains increase Americans’

wealth, he noted, which makes people and businesses more likely to spend and invest more. Yet reluctance to invest in stocks, a likely source of frustration for Bernanke, has been a hallmark of a market recovery that’s been under way three and a half years. Stock prices have doubled from the market’s low in March 2009, but Americans are still withdrawing cash from stock mutual funds in favor of less risky options. The latest evidence: Stocks rose 7 percent from June through August. Yet investors pulled cash from stock mutual funds each month — $24 billion in net withdrawals, according to industry consultant Strategic Insight. Some of that cash went into bond funds, which offer less potential for sharp gains or losses. Indeed, bond funds have attracted cash for 12 consecutive months. The movement of cash illustrates how nervous investors are about market volatility and the economy four years after the financial crisis. “Stock investors remain in a holding pattern, with many watching the rising stock prices with regret or disbelief,” said Avi Nach-

many, research director with Strategic Insight. That cautious mindset is one reason Wasif Latif doesn’t expect the Fed’s latest move will be enough to get average investors to return to stocks. “You need to have sustainable stability, both in the economy and in the markets, for the traditional long-term investor to get back in,” said Latif, a co-manager of asset allocation funds at USAA Investments that invest in stocks and bonds. “And that is not necessarily going to happen overnight.” He notes that the stable returns that most bonds generate are likely to continue to appeal to the growing ranks of riskaverse investors. Many are retired, and rely on investment income to help cover living expenses. They worry about the possibility of another sharp decline in stock prices.

Lower-risk investments If that describes your current attitude about investment risk, but you’re also looking to generate income, here are three relatively low-risk investment options to consider in this low-rate environment: See INVESTMENTS, page 22

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RivCo educates locals on tax savings By Connie George Riverside County’s Community Action Partnership (CAP) is seeking to educate and support local individuals and families through a program promoting special tax credits that could put more money back in taxpayers’ pockets, benefiting the local economy with greater consumer spending. CAP is accepting applications for volunteers to become IRS-trained and certified in order to support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). The volunteers will provide education and tax return preparation assistance during the upcoming tax season at no charge to households with less than $50,000 in annual income. Volunteer training begins in December, and tax preparation starts at the end of January, concluding in mid-April. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or Disabled are examples of advantages


Nov. 26+


Tips for shopping online at the eBay and Amazon websites will be covered in a two-part class at Mizell Senior Center, 10 to 11:30 a.m., Mondays, Nov. 26 and Dec. 3. Finding and reading e-books will also be covered. Students are encouraged to bring Kindle and iPad devices, if they have them. PCs will also be available for classroom use. Registration is limited to six students. Mizell is at 480 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs. For more information and class registration, call (760) 323-5689.

Dec. 15


Agua Caliente Casino will host the Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Show, featuring the renowned saxophonist and multi-Grammy nominee, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15. Also performing will be pianist and composer David Benoit; drummer, percussionist and singer Sheila E.; and Javier Colon, winner of this year’s television talent search, “The Voice.” Tickets range from $50 to $75. The casino is at 32250 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage. For reservations and more information, call 1-800-585-3737 or visit

available to qualified taxpayers, but not all such taxpayers may be aware that they are eligible for the credits. For example, last year alone taxpayers in Riverside County failed to claim more than $87 million in Earned Income Tax Credits for which they were eligible. “The VITA program is an opportunity to give back,” said Program Manager Kareem Gongora, “and to bring more money back into the communities as well as educate taxpayers” about credits and other tax advantages available to them. Gongora said 20 to 30 VITA volunteers are being sought for the Coachella Valley, and that each must commit to serving a minimum of 25 hours throughout the tax season. The county now requires all volunteers to be live-scanned for background checks, which can be completed at any sheriff’s office for a $42 fee.

For more information on the VITA program, call (800) 511-1110 or (951) 955-4900, or

visit Volunteer applications can be downloaded from the website.




The State of California’s Department of Insurance now offers a consumer protection tool for seniors through a new website. The site is designed to educate seniors and their advocates about how to avoid becoming victims of personal or financial abuse, is called “Senior Gateway,” and is sponsored by the Elder Financial Abuse Interagency Roundtable. Visit the site at



Palm Desert residents who want to become more energy efficient and save money may participate in the city’s Set to Save program. Pool owners can obtain a new, variable speed pump for $875 and save money immediately by calling (877) 811-8700. The program also offers free in-home energy surveys to qualifying Southern California Edison customers until Dec. 31 by calling (855) 878-6209. For more information, visit


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Investments From page 20 1. Dividend stocks Invest in dividend-paying stocks or funds that specialize in them and you can expect

steady income, along with potential gains from rising stock prices. Dividend-payers tend to rise more slowly during market rallies, but suffer smaller losses when stocks decline. So if a market downturn is around the corner, dividends


Nov. 16+


The first exhibition this season in the Galen building of the Palm Springs Art Museum’s annex in Palm Desert, titled “Make It Work: Material Matters in Art and Design,” will run Friday, Nov. 16 through Sunday, Jan. 20. The show explores the relationship between materials and forms in the creative process by juxtaposing a range of dynamic art and design objects from the 1960s to the present. Admission is $5; $4 for those 62 and older. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday through Sunday; and noon to 8 p.m., Thursday; closed Monday. Admission is free from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays. The museum is at 72567 Highway 111, Palm Desert. For more information, call (760) 322-4800 or visit

N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 2 — C O A C H E L L A VA L L E Y B E A C O N

will offer some protection. Just remember that companies often cut dividends when the economy skids, as they did in large numbers to conserve cash after the 2008 market meltdown. Still, many investors are finding the potential returns and income worth the risks. Investors deposited a net $22.5 billion into dividend-stock funds — usually labeled “equity income” funds — over the 12-month period through August, according to Strategic Insight. During that period, a net total of $114 billion was withdrawn from all other stock fund categories. 2. High-yield bonds These bonds are issued by companies with credit problems. High-yield investors expect higher returns because there’s a greater risk of default than with companies possessing investment-grade ratings. And they’ve gotten them recently. Mutual funds specializing in high-yield bonds have produced an average return of 15 percent over the latest 12-month period, according to Morningstar. That’s the best performance among all bond fund categories, and only slightly lower than the average returns for most categories of diversified stock funds. High-yield bonds are typically less volatile than stocks, but they’re a high-risk option relative to other bonds. Current risks include the possibility that Europe’s debt problems will spin out of control. That could put the domestic economic recovery

at risk, potentially leading to a spike in corporate defaults and losses for high-yield investors. 3. Municipal bonds Investments in the bonds issued by state and local governments typically won’t make you rich, because returns are generally low. But muni bond interest payments are exempt from federal taxes. That protection may extend to state taxes if the munis are issued by the state in which the investor lives. Those tax breaks can be especially important for those in higher income brackets. Munis have been strong performers recently. Returns have averaged of 6.4 percent over the last 12 months for funds investing in intermediate-term munis, according to Morningstar. That’s roughly double the return that funds investing in intermediate-term U.S. government debt have posted. Muni bond prices have rebounded from a market scare in late 2010, when the poor financial condition of many states and cities left investors nervous about a surge of defaults. Although many governments remain troubled, there has been no default surge, and municipal bankruptcies declined last year. Risks include a setback for the economic recovery, which could put more pressure on government budgets, possibly leading to a jump in defaults. Any rise in interest rates also could crimp bond returns. — AP

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Some facts about the new LED light bulbs By Patricia Mertz Esswein They’re pricey, but they promise to shed a lot of light and cost you less over time. 1. Incandescents are dead. As manufacturers phase out traditional light bulbs that don’t meet new federal standards for efficiency, the first to go are 100-watt bulbs in 2012. The phase-out continues with 75watt bulbs in 2013 and 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs in 2014. You could substitute halogens or compact fluorescents (CFLs), but LEDs (short for light-emitting diodes) will take you straight into the future of lighting. 2. Long live LEDs. Well-designed and well-manufactured LED bulbs are rated to last 25,000 hours — or at least 22 years based on three hours’ use a day — and use about 80 percent less energy than incandescents to produce the same amount of light, as measured in lumens. (CFLs use about 75

percent less energy; halogens, 30 percent less.) 3. They’re not cheap. The cost of an LED bulb — $15 to $40, depending on the equivalency — may give you pause. But the cost per bulb has fallen from just two years ago, and it will continue to fall with improved technology and ramped-up production. The Department of Energy (DOE) found that CFLs (which cost about $5 per bulb) beat LEDs by only $10 in net savings over their lifetime. 4. What you’ll like. LED bulbs can be designed to cast a warm glow or a bright, white light. They emit no ultraviolet radiation and produce very little heat. Flip a switch, and the bulb comes on instantly and fully. When dimmed (the bulb must be compatible with the dimmer in your fixture), it won’t hum, flicker or change color.


Nov. 23+


The 2012 Palm Springs Open Tennis Tournament will be held from Friday to Sunday, Nov. 23 to 25. The event is free to the public, with a portion of the proceeds from a silent auction and dinner benefiting the AIDS Assistance Program. Tournament matches will take place at Plaza Racquet Club, 1300 E. Baristo Rd., Palm Springs; Mission Hills Country Club, 34600 Mission Hills Dr., Rancho Mirage; and Rancho Las Palmas, 41000 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage. For more information or to donate to the event, call (760) 3258481 or visit

LEDs are resistant to vibration and breakage, and they come in a variety of specialty styles and shapes. Replacement bulbs for lamps are available in 40-, 60- and 75watt equivalents; 100-watt equivalents are likely by early 2013. 5. Research your investment. Look for manufacturers that have Energy Star endorsements, and manufacturers and retailers that participate in the DOE’s LED Lighting Facts program (see the fact sheet at The bulbs should carry a war-

ranty of three to five years. 6. Start slowly. Try using LED bulbs in hard-to-reach spots or heavily used areas, such as the kitchen, family room and porch. LEDs may seem brighter than the incandescents they’re designed to replace, so instead of a 60-watt-equivalent bulb, try a less-costly 40-watt-equivalent. You may ultimately need to buy and try a few LEDs to find a model that works for you. Patricia Mertz Esswein is an associate editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. © 2012 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance


Nov. 30


Country music legend Reba McEntire will headline the McCallum Theatre’s 25th annual anniversary fundraising gala on Friday, Nov. 30. The event will honor former McCallum president and chief executive officer Ted Giatas. Festivities begin with cocktails at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will follow at 6 p.m. at a choice of four venues. The concert begins at 8 p.m. at the McCallum, 73000 Fred Waring Dr., Palm Desert. Tickets are $500. For tickets and more information, call (760) 346-6506, ext. 126.

Dec. 8+


More than 300 vendors in 19 different categories, plus celebrities, entertainment, and fashion and travel presentations, will fill the Palm Springs Convention Center for Canada Fest, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9. Admission is $10. The convention center is at 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, Palm Springs. For more information, call (760) 202-4007 or visit


N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 2 — C O A C H E L L A VA L L E Y B E A C O N

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Coachella Valley


If so and you’d like to be considered for a story in our Coachella Valley Volunteers section, please send an e-mail to

Seniors helping seniors at 7 local centers At present, openings exist at all the centers for new team members to fill key positions or to serve as on-call volunteers when others are temporarily called away. Here are some of the opportunities.

Desert Hot Springs Senior Center The Desert Hot Springs Senior Center needs substitutes to staff its front desk, assistants in the Nutrition Division who can obtain a food handler’s license, clerks for its Happy Bargains thrift store, and individuals with special talents who can teach classes. With only four paid staff members, “This whole place is dependent on volunteers,” said Center Manager Erin Begley. “It’s proven that if you get out and socialize and

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improve your community, you’ll have a healthier aging process” yourself. The Desert Hot Springs Senior Center is at 11777 West Dr., Desert Hot Springs. For more information on the center and its volunteer needs, call Begley at (760) 329-6411, ext. 213, or visit

desk receptionists, a music host, a resale store clerk, and assistance with mass mailing projects. “Mizell Senior Center has been serving the greater Palm Springs area for over 35 years and is the community focal point on healthy and active aging,” said Volunteer and Events Coordinator Thomas Hengy.

Mizell Senior Center The Mizell Senior Center needs front

See SR. VOLUNTEERS, page 26


By Connie George Members of the Coachella Valley’s seven senior centers have learned that a wealth of services, along with social, educational and recreational outlets, are available to adults 50 and over for only a small annual fee, if any. Clubs, classes, health screenings, financial and legal assistance, shared meals, parties, entertainment, etc. — the list of resources at these critical facilities is endless. Yet, according to administrative staff at each, none could continue to provide services at such reasonable rates if not for their reliable teams of volunteers. Their volunteers, in turn, experience the social and intellectual benefits of contributing their skills to a valuable operation.

Members of the Indio Senior Center’s Stitches for Kids group, which creates bedding for the Visiting Nurses Association, show that volunteerism can extend beyond center staff positions and involve service to the broader community.

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Visitors bureau From page 1 were growing at the time, Vossler was observing relatively few women involved in leadership roles during the expansions. “There was a lot of development, but there were really not a lot of females involved, and I thought it was my duty to get involved,” she said. With about 1,000 employees at La Quinta Resort, Vossler thought it was important for her to set an example for both men and women employed there. “I didn’t really find my voice to speak up until I was about 50,” she said. “Before that, I would just listen and watch and try to figure out where a female executive fit in. So to set that example and lead them, I ended up getting involved in a lot of things.” Chief among her new activities was serving on the governing boards for some of the growing number of nonprofit organizations forming across the valley, including the La Quinta Historical Society and the Boys & Girls Club of Coachella Valley. Vossler left La Quinta Resort in 1993 and spent the next five years in fundraising, community relations and real estate marketing capacities for KLS Recreation, increasing her management skill range and community involvement. In 1999, Vossler returned to the family business, becoming vice president of an offshoot of Landmark Land Co., Inc., called Landmark Golf. Her responsibilities included tournament management and marketing for such events as the Skins Game, the Betty Ford Invitational Pro Am, the Giddings Cup and the Frank Sinatra Golf Tournament.

A blending of experiences All of her personal, professional and civic experiences intersected in 2010 when Vossler was hired by the Greater Palm

Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, the valley’s leading tourism resource. Vossler saw that her prior work and volunteer involvements “ended up being handy because I got to meet a lot of community leaders, and that was directly related to convention bureaus and their activities.” In her capacity as senior vice president of administration, she is primarily responsible for human resources management, with an employee force of about 40, along with other projects. Her hospitality and human resources interests may come naturally. In her teens, she said, her friends pegged her as a people person. “When I was growing up, all my friends told me I would either become a sorority house mother or run an orphanage,” she said. She attributes much of her easygoing disposition and determined nature to her upbringing. “I had the beauty of this athletic father and this girly-girl mother,” she said. “It all worked.” But, no less importantly, the wisdom of age and experience counts as well. “I’ve loved having some age behind me,” she said, adding with a smile, “and I don’t feel old — I feel like I’ve matured to about the level of a 32-year-old!” Wisdom has taught her that in business, every detail counts. “If you don’t take care of everything from the ground up and keep your staff happy,” she said, “the whole thing doesn’t work.” After beginning work for the CVB, Vossler remained with Landmark Golf until 2011, but she continues to serve on nearly a dozen local boards for such organizations as the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation/Healthy Family Foundation and the Desert Town Hall lecture series. She is also on the Museum Associates Council Board of Directors for the Palm

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Springs Art Museum, where her now grown daughter, Lisa Vossler Smith, is deputy director. For her extensive personal and professional contributions, Vossler has received numerous recognitions, including being named twice by the Desert Sun as an outstanding community and business representative, and by Palm Springs Life as one of the valley’s most notable woman leaders.

Finding downtime With 12-hour workdays devoted to the CVB and her civic involvements, Vossler said she likes to keep her personal life simple and


relaxing, and spends her vacations traveling. “But I’m not a resort traveler,” the Palm Desert resident said, “because there’s no place better than here. Give me a big old city and I’m really happy.” With decades of experience in the hospitality industry, Vossler said she is very observant about any hotels or resorts she stays in. “When I walk in the front door of a hotel, I can’t help but see what the public sees.” She also wants to look behind the scenes, into the banquet areas, the kitchen facilities and the conference rooms. “It’s in my blood,” she said, “so I’ll always be this way.”


Dec. 14


The County of Riverside is seeking nominations for its 21st Annual Senior Inspiration Awards. Nominees should be 70 years of age or older with a demonstrated zest for physical and mental well-being through volunteerism and active engagement in the community. A recipient will be selected for every city in the Coachella Valley. Nominations are due by Friday, Dec. 14, and may be submitted to the Palm Desert office of 4th District Supervisor John J. Benoit, 73710 Fred Waring Dr., Suite 222. For more information, call (760) 863-8905.

Nov. 24+


The Indio Performing Arts Center’s Expo Theater will feature a special presentation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol from Saturday, Nov. 24 through Sunday, Dec. 23. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. General admission is $23. For more information, call (760) 775-5200 or visit


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From page 24 “This is a place where active seniors can come together for service and activity that enhances dignity, supports independence and encourages involvement in and with the community.” The Mizell Senior Center is at 480 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs. For more information on the center and its volunteer needs, call Hengy at (760) 323-5689, ext. 117, or visit

Cathedral Center The Cathedral Center needs help with its monthly rummage sales on the second Friday of every month. Volunteers are also needed on the previous Thursday afternoon to prepare items for sale. “We couldn’t run this place without the

volunteers,” said Program Director Judie Stone. “They’re the backbone of the place.” The Cathedral Center is at 37171 W. Buddy Rogers Ave., Cathedral City. For more information on the center and its volunteer needs, call Stone at (760) 321-1548 or visit

Joslyn Center The Joslyn Center needs front desk receptionists for its newly expanded hours, serving on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, and also delivery drivers for its Meals on Wheels program. Volunteers “are a great support for us because without them, the center would not operate as efficiently as it does,” said Volunteer Coordinator Edie Willard. “They like the social aspect as well as what they can do for the center.” The Joslyn Center is at 73750 Catalina Way,


Dec. 2

TOY DRIVE FOR KIDS OF AIDS ASSISTANCE CLIENTS New, unwrapped toys and donations for age-appropriate toys are

sought for children of AIDS Assistance Program clients. Minimum toy value or donation is $15. Deliveries should be made between noon and 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2, at the Trio Restaurant, 707 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. All donors will be treated to beer, wine and holiday treats. For more information, call (760) 325-8481.

Palm Desert. For more information on the center and its volunteer needs, call Willard at (760) 340-3220, ext. 103, or visit

La Quinta Senior Center


Sr. volunteers

N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 2 — C O A C H E L L A VA L L E Y B E A C O N

The La Quinta Senior Center needs volunteers to monitor its open-use computer room and to provide simple computer assistance, drivers to support its bread delivery, and general help with its Wii bowling programs. “When you help others, you lighten your heart and you help yourself,” said Recreation Coordinator Caroline Doran. The La Quinta Senior Center is at 78450 Avenida La Fonda, La Quinta. For Volunteerism at senior centers provides the opportunity more information on the cen- to match skills with interests, such as for this bingo ter and its volunteer needs, hostess at Palm Spring’s Mizell Senior Center. call Doran at (760) 564-0096 Coachella Senior Center or visit The Coachella Senior Center needs help monitoring its coffee stations, decoIndio Senior Center The Indio Senior Center needs back-up rating for special events, assisting recepstaff for all of its programs and departments, tions, and providing back-up for the front desk. as well as teachers for additional classes. As with many other senior centers, vol“We would not be able to run the center without our over 100 volunteers,” said Com- unteers in Coachella are recognized at anmunity Program Administrator Nancy nual gratitude events. “The [recognition] Vance. “Some of the things they do are lead luncheons are really nice and held at counand teach classes or groups, help at the front try clubs,” said Senior Center Coordinator Maria Arcos. desk, and serve at lunches and parties.” The Coachella Senior Center is at 1540 The Indio Senior Center is at 45700 Aladdin St., Indio. For more information on Seventh St., Coachella. For more informathe center and its volunteer needs, call tion on the center and its volunteer needs, Vance at (760) 391-4170 or visit call Arcos at (760) 398-0104 or visit

C O A C H E L L A VA L L E Y B E A C O N — N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 2

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Leisure &

The 20th annual Festival of Lights in Riverside brightens the night with 3.5 million lights. See story on p. 29.

Costa Rica preserves its natural wonders


miniscule country is preserved in its natural state, human development is never far from Mother Nature. More than 1,000 species of butterflies dot the landscape with myriad colors. About 850 types of birds have been spotted, more than 600 of them permanent residents. Fortunately, we escaped encounters with the nearly 100 different kinds of mosquitoes that find Costa Rica’s damp environment to their liking. Even wildlife that prefers to live in isolation has few places of refuge unreachable by people determined to admire animals on their home turf. Wishing to experience as much as possible of what Costa Rica has to offer in the limited time we had available, my wife Fyllis and I chose to go there with a tour operator we had traveled with before. We went with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT), the self-styled “leader in small groups on the road less traveled.” The trip itinerary allowed us to pack as many experiences as possible into every hour of every day. And packed with action every waking hour was. For example, one typical day included a visit to an OAT-sponsored school where the children greeted the group with a charming folkloric presentation, a traditional lunch with a local family, and a guided horseback ride through a dense forest. Another began with a hands-on tortilla-making lesson followed by two opportunities to view giant crocodiles at close range, and ended with a visit to one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches.

A preservation pioneer

Costa Rica’s remote Monteverde Cloud Forest covers 26,000 acres and is home to 3,000 kinds of plants, including 500 types of orchids, the most anywhere on Earth.

Much time was spent being introduced to the country’s major claims to tourism fame — animal watching and exploring vast stretches of the unspoiled environment. Those two activities are inexorably intertwined, for the major emphasis the


By Victor Block I knew before traveling to Costa Rica that it has a well-deserved reputation for preserving its magnificent environment. I was aware of the diversity of landscapes and multiplicity of animal and bird life. But only after spending time in what I found to be a virtual Garden of Eden did I fully appreciate the fact that so much variety is compressed into an area slightly smaller than West Virginia. The setting changes quickly and frequently in the compact Central American country. An uphill climb can transport you from an Amazon-like jungle environment to an alpine woodland reminiscent of Switzerland. Both dry stretches of forest and pockets of verdant wetlands lie in the shadow of volcanoes, several of which occasionally remind those within sight and earshot that they’re still active. No matter where you are, an astounding array of animal, bird and plant life is always close at hand. Because so much of the

Two spider monkeys show off their human-like expressions in Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica. They are among the thousands of species of wildlife that live in the country, which prizes its preservation efforts.

country puts on preservation provides the diverse landscapes that sustain the tremendous variety of wildlife. While Costa Rica today is renowned for being at the forefront of efforts to protect and preserve nature, that was not always the case. Several decades ago, it was one of the most deforested countries in the Western Hemisphere, with major problems of pollution. Forests were being cleared by loggers, highlands were threatened by coffee growers, and the Pacific lowlands were being devastated by cattle ranchers and cotton farmers. Reacting to those challenges in a way that could, and should, be a model for other nations, the government responded efficiently and effectively. It clamped down on the export of more than 60 species of trees and began to require permits for timbering. It established a commission to prescribe remedies for the country’s growing environmental problems. The results have been dramatic and successful. About 28 percent of Costa Rica’s land is set aside in national parks, wildlife refuges and reserves. Nearly one-third of funds derived from the tax on gasoline goes toward conservation. Among many laws passed to protect the environment is one that requires people

who cut down trees for certain uses to plant several more in their place. Some credit for these accomplishments must be given to Costa Rica’s army — or, more accurately, the fact that it does not have one. In 1948, the government disbanded its military and redirected funds it had been spending on defense to environmental and social programs. One result of this widespread effort is that in 2009, Costa Rica was named the “greenest” and “happiest” country in the world. This designation was bestowed by the New Economics Foundation, an independent organization in London that promotes innovative solutions to environmental, social and economic issues. In that same listing, the United States was ranked 114th. This emphasis upon preservation is used to market Costa Rica as the eco-friendly destination it is. For example, nearly 250 hotels, tour companies and other travel vendors have received Certification for Sustainable Tourism, a much-sought-after honor that recognizes and rewards their commitment to that goal. The results of these efforts are evident everywhere, and we got to observe a variety of them first-hand. We saw small plots See COSTA RICA, page 28


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Costa Rica From page 27 of wooded land owned by low-income people who in the past would have sold the trees to raise money. Now they receive a subsidy from the government to retain them in their natural state. We hiked in Manuel Antonio National Park, which is both one of the smallest preserves in Costa Rica and one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world. Its varied terrain includes a luxuriant rain forest, bird sanctuaries and four inviting beaches.

A forest in the clouds Most awesome to Fyllis and me was time spent in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, a 26,000-acre preserve that spills down both the Caribbean and Pacific slopes of the Tilaran mountain range. We reached the en-

trance to this jungle-like setting after an 18mile, 90-minute drive over a road that is more ruts and potholes than gravel. Andres Herrera, our jovial and very knowledgeable OAT guide, explained that the road is maintained in that condition as one way of discouraging too many visitors from descending upon the forest and threatening its fragile ecosystem. The environment into which we entered lives up to its name. Warm air rising from the tropical coast condenses into a persistent fog and mist, more like a constant drizzle than rain. Because sunlight has a difficult time breaking through the thick veil of clouds and dense tree canopy, plant life reaches upward, covering every tree trunk and branch with a proliferation of velvet-like green accented by colorful flowers. More than 3,000 kinds of plants call Monteverde their home, including

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N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 2 — C O A C H E L L A VA L L E Y B E A C O N

over 500 types of orchids, the largest diversity of that flowering plant in the world. We explored this dream-like setting by means of six suspension bridges, one almost 1,000 feet long, that wind their way through the high tree canopy about 425 feet above ground level. This provides both a bird’s-eye outlook over the forest below, and close-up views of the plant, bird and animal life that thrives in the mysterious treetop world. Andres explained that the plants that blanket tree trunks are called epiphytes. They grow above the ground, using every trunk and limb as a ladder in their quest for sunlight. Vines that would prompt Tarzan to howl with delight festoon the setting. Adding to the wonder is the opportunity to spot wildlife that thrives in this otherworldy environment. A sign at the entrance to the Cloud Forest notes that 126 species of mammals and 448 types of birds live there. Mammals include jaguars, pumas, ocelots, sloths and tapir. We heard the roar-like sounds of accurately named howler monkeys reverberating from treetops, but had trouble spotting those noisy but elusive critters. When Christopher Columbus reached this land in 1502, he chose the name Costa Rica, or “rich coast,” because he believed the land would yield a vast treasure of gold. However, Spanish conquistadors soon realized they would not discover the mineral wealth they had hoped to find.

Visitors today discover wealth of a very different kind. No matter what their expectations, they — like Fyllis and me — are likely to leave Costa Rica with memories of a magnificent natural setting, extraordinary assortment of wildlife, and people who value and protect the riches that Mother Nature has bestowed upon them.

If you go While Fyllis and I often travel on our own, we agree that some destinations are best visited with a tour company. Group travel combines the convenience of having all logistics and transportation taken care of with the vast knowledge of seasoned guides. Overseas Adventure Travel boasts a 35year history, offers trips to nearly six dozen countries from Albania to Zimbabwe, and limits land excursions to a maximum of 16 people. It will offer a choice of three 13-day itineraries to Costa Rica during 2013, with prices beginning at $2,395 for trips that include airfare. Trips are priced about $500 less if you arrange your own air transportation to Costa Rica. From Los Angeles International Airport, the lowest airfare is $501 roundtrip on Spirit Airlines in early December. Tour prices include most meals. For more information, log onto or call 1-800-955-1925. Victor Block is the Beacon’s travel writer.


Jan. 16


The Indio Senior Center plans a daylong motorcoach trip to the popular annual flea market in Quartzsite, Az., on Wednesday, Jan. 16. Quartzsite’s two-mile market stretch is a particularly good destination for anyone interested in gemology, lapidary, goldsmithing, precious metals, antiques, collectible coins, arts and crafts and other handmade goods, and offers a wide variety of food options. The bus leaves at 7:45 a.m. from the senior center at 45700 Aladdin St., Indio. Early sign-ups for this trip are recommended. For reservations and more information, call (760) 391-4170.

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Festival of Lights makes season bright Avenues, and on the dining and shopping promenade that runs alongside the inn. Festival-related specials will be offered by many of the businesses in the vicinity, and artistic and holiday-themed vendors will also be stationed throughout the area. The Mission Inn & Spa, built in 1903 in the Mission Revival style, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a State of California Historic Landmark. It contains 238 guest rooms and 27 suites, eight dining options and a full-service spa. Special dining and lodging packages are being offered at the inn during the festival, and a 12foot by 8-foot mistletoe will greet visitors at the entrance. For more details on the festival, visit For more information on the inn and its festival specials, call (951) 341-6730 or 1-800-843-7755 or visit The inn is at 3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside.


By Connie George A winter wonderland of freshly fallen snow, horse-drawn carriages, live reindeer, an outdoor ice skating rink, cheerful holiday decorations, 17th-century-style carolers and other live entertainment — illuminated by the brilliant effect of more than 3.5 million twinkling lights — await Coachella Valley residents only about an hour away in historic downtown Riverside. The 20th annual Festival of Lights celebration, sponsored by the majestic Mission Inn & Spa at the heart of the downtown area, will begin the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 23, and continue through Saturday, Jan. 5. An opening day “Switch-On Ceremony” at 4:30 p.m. will draw thousands of spectators to watch not only the swift transformation of the area with the sudden effect of the lighting, but also a fireworks show. Most activities will take place along Main Street between University and Mission Inn

Fireworks shoot into the night sky over the heart of historic downtown Riverside during the opening ceremony for the annual Festival of Lights. More than 3.5 million twinkling lights illuminate the area during five weeks of holiday and wintertime festivities.



Nov. 17

Nov. 25


The Annenberg Theater will celebrate the opening of its 10th annual season with a benefit concert at 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, featuring actress, singer and dancer Sutton Foster, a two-time Tony Award winner. A reception will follow. Tickets are $295 for the performance and reception, or $95 for the performance only. The theater is located in the Palm Springs Art Museum complex at 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. For reservations and more information, call (760) 322-4800 or visit

Nov. 21+


The WildLights Festival will open the holiday season at the Living Desert on Wednesday, Nov. 21, with more than 750,000 twinkling lights illuminating the park after dark. The nightly event, which runs selected nights through Dec. 31, from 6 to 9 p.m., turns the desert into a winter wonderland. Admission is $8 for Living Desert members; $10 for nonmembers. For tickets and more information, call (760) 346-5694 or visit


The Stroke Recovery Center will hold its 33rd annual fundraising Winter Wonderland Ball on Sunday, Nov. 25, at the Westin Mission Hills Resort, 71333 Dinah Shore Dr., Rancho Mirage. A cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m., with dinner and presentations starting at 7 p.m. A silent auction will also take place. Tickets are $325. Dress is black tie. For reservations and more information, call (760) 323-7676, email or visit

Dec. 2


Comedian Steve Solomon will deliver stories and characterizations about his family, friends and other folks who have affected him at holiday-time in a show at the McCallum Theatre, “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, I’m Home for the Holidays,” at 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2. Routines describing familiar holiday oddities and exasperations will drive the program. Tickets range from $25 to $75. The McCallum is at 73000 Fred Waring Dr., Palm Desert. For reservations and more information, call (760) 340-2787 or visit

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N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 2 — C O A C H E L L A VA L L E Y B E A C O N

Coping with travel gouges at holiday time Priceline’s conclusions are generally supported by Hotwire’s TripStarter data (see w w w. h o t w i r e . c o m / t r i p starter/index.jsp). It shows fares actually paid, but the charts do not provide the daily detail that Priceline does. Still, its clear fares to many popular winter destinations increase dramatically. Last year, fares to a handful of warm-weather destinations went up strongly during the TRAVEL TIPS Best days to fly last half of December, with By Ed Perkins Every year, Priceline posts a some more than doubling. report on the “best” and “good” days to fly And, over the years, these year-to-year patduring the holiday season, based on its own terns track very closely. airfare database. (Visit http://travela.priceHotwire’s data show that hotel rates low the same patterns. als.html.) This year, the only “best” day to Rental car companies can really gouge fall within the holiday period is Jan. 1; going visitors at some popular destinations. Last into the holidays, the closest “best dates” are year, CheapCarRental (www.cheapcarDec. 16 and 18, too early for many of you. re“Good” days give you a somewhat better ported that agencies hiked rates for the choice, including Dec. 17, 19, 20, 24, 25, 27, 31 cheapest available car during the Dec. 23and Jan. 2. Not surprisingly, weekend days be- 28 period, compared with January rates, by fore, during and immediately after the holi- outrageous increases of 268 percent in days are neither “best” nor even “good.” Miami, 216 percent in Orlando, and 194 With Christmas and New Year’s Days falling on Tuesdays, many of you will also be taking the two Mondays off from work, meaning two successive four-day weekends and an 11-day period with only three working days. A vacation clearly beckons. But travel suppliers can also look at the calendar, and many hike their rates for what they expect to be top-demand times.

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percent in Honolulu, with increases of 70 percent to 135 percent in Boston, Chicago, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia and San Diego.

What gouges can you avoid? The big question, of course, is how to avoid price gouges and full occupancies. Beyond the frivolous answer of “stay home,” here are some ways you can sometimes avoid the worst gouges: • If you can, try to find an airfare to fly on one of Priceline’s “good” days. Bending the vacation schedule a day or two can have a big payoff on airfare. • Avoid the most popular warm-weather destinations. The year-end holiday period is the busiest time of the year in many destinations — among them Hawaii — and is a very busy season at many others. Airlines and hotels command top dollar. But business travel generally comes to a complete halt during the holidays, so many big-city hotels that normally cater to business travelers are hungry to fill rooms. Some just cut rates; some offer packages that include shopping deals with entertainment. A quick Google search came up with Nutcracker-hotel packages in more than a dozen cities this year, and that’s just a start. • For hotel accommodations, take a look at vacation rentals as well as ordinary ho-

tels. Although most price seasonally, you may find a bit less gouging. • Include air-hotel, air-car, or air-hotelcar packages in your searches. Most big airlines and the big online travel agencies put together packages that can often come to a lower total than arranging the individual parts on your own. On a quick test, for example, I found that an air-rental car package on Allegiant from Eugene, Ore., to Honolulu for the holiday week added $372 more than airfare for a one-week car rental, compared with the best car-only deal available on Expedia at more than $600. In times past, I’ve been able to find air-hotel packages to Hawaii or the Caribbean during the top holiday season when the hotels all showed they were out of available rooms. • Also, consider Europe or Asia. Although airfares to such blockbuster destinations as London, Paris and Rome show a minor spike for mid-December, they’re well under summer levels, and hotel rates are generally low. Clearly, you can’t totally avoid gouges and still travel to an attractive destination. But you can at least minimize those gouges — and still have a great vacation. Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at © 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.


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Events and exhibits celebrate Native American culture. See story on page 32.

An assemblage of varied artistic interests appear whimsical, but actually have deeper meaning. During the creative process, she is able to draw on her other experience, skillfully adding paint, handmade paper and prints, or bits of cloth or metal, balancing all with the careful eye of an experienced artist. One of her assemblage pieces, called “15 Minutes of Fame,” combines an Academy Award, a clock and a stuffed raven. The pieces are arranged in a setting designed to look like an altar. While the work is a curious combination of elements and invites closer examination, Vermeer said the intent of the piece is to illustrate how fleeting fame can be, and how we all face death eventually, as represented by the raven. Vermeer moved to the valley in 1962, and her work has been accepted into all major

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juried art shows in the valley, garnering her numerous awards. Most recently, “15 Minutes of Fame” received the Preston Ormsby Memorial Award at last month’s ACE 2012 exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum. “I love it — it’s fun,” she said of her new form of artistic expression. “And when you win an award like I just won, it’s very gratifying.” Her home in the eclectic neighborhood of Araby Cove is filled with Vermeer’s past, present and inprocess work, and illustrates the artist’s versatility. “I studied to be a teacher because my mother said, ‘You have to have a backup plan.’ But I always wanted to be an artist,” Vermeer said. For more information on Peggy Vermeer and her work, visit Artist Peggy Vermeer prepares one of her assemblage pieces that appear whimsical, but contain deeper meaning.


By Connie George An 88-year-old working artist in Palm Springs with a long history of exhibitions and awards has found an ideal way to combine all of her creative interests into one art form — assemblage. Peggy Vermeer, who spent several decades painting in oils and acrylics while occasionally venturing into sculpture, batik, papermaking and print making, discovered four years ago that her fascination with the potential creative use of random, unrelated objects could be used as the springboard for a new artistic path. Drawing from items as unrelated as rusted springs, old computer elements, parts of dolls, preserved birds, broken jewelry, artificial flowers, plastic skeletons — “anything I can find,” she said — Vermeer combines the pieces into presentations that


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Celebration of Native American culture

31st Indio Powwow The 31st Indio Powwow comes to the Special Events Center of the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino located on the Cabazon Indian Reservation. It takes place during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend of Friday through Sunday, Nov. 23 to 25. Thousands of tribal and non-tribal attendees are expected for this celebration of culture and customs. Historically, Native American tribes came together annually to trade, socialize and honor feats of bravery and achievement. Autumn gatherings celebrated the successful harvest and brought people together to feast, dance, sing and hold ceremonies. As at previous events, this year’s powwow features tribes from across the United States and Canada who come in colorful and elaborate traditional dress to demonstrate skill in dance and singing competitions. Highlights include the Bird Singers and the Grand Entry, when all the dancers form

a procession that winds around the arena. Visitors to the Indio Powwow will also have an opportunity to taste Native American foods such as Indian fry bread and to shop among vendors for jewelry, weavings and other types of Indian art. Admission is free. Hours are: Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight with Grand Entry at 8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight with Grand Entry at 1 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with Grand Entry at 1 p.m. The Fantasy Springs Event Center is at 84245 Indio Springs Pkwy., Indio. For more information, call (760) 342-5000 or visit


By Connie George Three events honoring Native American culture and traditions will coincide in the Coachella Valley this month. One occurs over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, while two have longer runs.

Textiles, basketry, dolls and more “Woven Together: Art and Design in Southwest Textiles,” at the Palm Springs Art Museum, features 64 Navajo, Pueblo and Hopi blankets, rugs and pictorial weavings dating from the 1870s to the 1980s. The show opened Oct. 17 and will run through Thursday, Dec. 20. Examples from the late 19th-century Classic and Transitional Periods through the Regional Rug Period of the first half of the 20th century are featured along with a selection of historic “Germantown” and banded blankets. Fine basketry, pottery, Kachina dolls and other artifacts accompany the textiles. Most

Titled “Yeibeichai Rug with Female Dancers” in the Palm Springs Art Museum’s “Woven Together” exhibit, this example of a Navajo design, circa 1940, was created with handspun natural wool and synthetic dyes.

items exhibited are from the museum‘s permanent collection. General admission is $12.50; $10.50 for visitors 62 and over; free on Thursdays, 4 to 8 p.m., and on the second Sunday of every month. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday through Sunday; noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday. The museum is at 101 N. Museum Dr., Palm Springs. For more information, call (760) 322-4800 or visit

Addressing misperceptions “Where are the Tipis?,” at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, addresses com-

mon misperceptions about historic and traditional Native American lifestyles. The exhibit opened Nov. 7 and will continue for a year. According to museum representatives, the show is intended to educate visitors with humor and optimism, as well as historic facts. Admission is free. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The museum is at 219 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. For more information, call (760) 833-8167 or visit

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Palm Springs Opera Guild fundraiser gala honors Gary Hall of Wells Fargo on Dec. 10 The Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert presents an evening of celebration for Honoree Gary Hall, Senior Vice President/Wealth Advisor Wells Fargo Private Bank, one of the Coachella Valley’s foremost philanthropists. Several hundred cocktail attired guests are expected to attend this fundraising gala on the evening of Monday, December 10 at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort in Rancho Mirage, Ca. Hosted by the Palm Springs Opera Guild Board and cochaired by Jean C. Carrus and Donald Osborne, this event features a California cuisine threecourse dinner, dancing and entertainment by Pat McCaffrey and the Whiz Kids Band. “For the Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert, Mr. Hall’s support has meant increased capabilities for outreach and introduction of the operatic arts to our community’s youth,” said long time Opera Guild Board Member and co-chair Jean C. Carrus. “The Opera Guild works to promote opera and increase exposure for this beautiful and historic art form. Through the tireless philanthropic efforts of people like Gary Hall and the Wells Fargo Foundation, the Guild is able to continue to encourage and support young singers with financial assistance and performance opportunities,” Carrus continued. Gary Hall has long been a donor to the Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert, and has a passion for both charity and the arts. A Southern Californian and graduate of USC and UC Riverside, Hall has been in the financial services business for over 30 years, having worked with many Fortune 500 financial institutions in the Los Angeles and Coachella Valley markets. He has been an important

conduit to the enormously generous Wells Fargo Foundation, which has given so much and significantly benefitted so many local community organizations. Hall continues to volunteer not only money, but precious and untold hours to his community. He is a pivotal force for good in acquiring much-needed capital for struggling Coachella Valley nonprofits, and serves in a num-

ber of benevolent capacities throughout the community. “With his extraordinary contributions of time and money, it was almost too easy a decision to honor Gary Hall,” explained event co-chair Donald Osborne. “In addition to all the work that Mr. Hall has done for the community, his involvement with the Palm Springs Opera Guild cannot be overstated,” Osborne continued.

Distinguished members of the community serving as Honorary Chairs for the December Gala include Mark Anton, Steven Biller, David Brinkman, Ron Calona, James Carona, Peggy Cravens, Bill Fisher, Helene Galen, Frank Garofolo, Jerry Greene, Gloria Greer, Stan Hack, Jamie Kabler, Barbara & Jerry Keller, Andrew Linsky, See OPERA GUILD, page 34


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Harold Matzner, Harold & Dorothy Meyerman, Patrick Mund, Bill Nicholson, John O’Conner, Russ Russell, and Sandra Cooper Woodson. Tickets to the Opera Guild’s Gala on December 10 are $250 per person. Tables of ten (10) can be purchased for $2,500. Numerous sponsorship opportunities are still available, including Platinum Sponsor at $5,000, Gold Sponsor at $2,500 and Silver Sponsor at $1,000. For more information on this event, call the Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert at 760-

325-6107 or visit their website at The Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert is a cultural organization that works to promote opera through the delivery of quality operatic performances to a large and diverse audience throughout the Coachella Valley. The Guild helps ensure the future of the art form by encouraging and supporting young singers with financial assistance and performance opportunities, and through student and adult outreach programs. The organization’s three-fold mission encompasses: • Providing opera outreach

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programs to youth in the Coachella Valley: The Opera Outreach Program presents various artists and programs to students in their school settings. In 2010, the Palm Springs Opera Guild reached over 15,000 youngsters. The organization also provides tickets to students for opera performances at the McCallum Theatre and Annenberg Theater. • Holding an annual opera vocal scholarship competition with cash awards to the finalists: The annual Palm Springs Opera Guild Vocal Competition, held this year on Saturday, December 1 at the Rancho Mirage Public Library, promotes and helps to ad-

vance the careers of young artists. Numerous winners of the competition are now singing with the Vienna Opera, Paris Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera Company of Chicago other world venues. • Presenting the operatic art form to the residents of the Coachella Valley: The Palm Springs Opera Guild promotes and presents a variety of operatic programs in conjunction with the McCallum Theatre, and the Rancho Mirage Public Library. The highlight of these is the “Opera in the Park” program in Palm Springs. This free event enters its 15th year with the 2012-2013 season.

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November 2012 Coachella Valley Beacon Edition