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The Coachella Valley

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VOL.1, NO.12

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More than 40,000 readers throughout the Coachella Valley

Living for giving to others

Changing lives The foundations are governed separately, but they share the same standards, including the Auens’ interest in developing a personal involvement with the organizations to which they donate. H.N. and Frances C. Berger, who formed the foundation named for them in 1961, were instrumental in creating this kind of meaningful connection. The couple was rooted in middle-class upbringings, but built a real estate and banking empire of such magnitude that they believed it was their responsibility to give back to those less fortunate than themselves.

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PHOTO BY CONNIE GEORGE

By Connie George ’Tis the season of giving for many in the Coachella Valley, but for one local couple it’s a year-round tradition. Philanthropists Ron and Sherrie Auen have long been contributing critical funding to charitable programs through two foundations based on the principle of helping people to help themselves. Ron, 80, serves as board president and chief executive officer of the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, which has donated more than $350 million dollars since 1988 to charities throughout Southern California and elsewhere in the U.S. Its main focuses are on education, social services and healthcare. Sherrie, 68, is program director for the Auen Foundation, which has awarded more than 800 grants since 1992 in the areas of education and healthcare, and particularly for senior services. The couple, who live and work in Palm Desert, were seasonal residents with another home in the Los Angeles area before moving permanently to the valley in 1997. After becoming more involved in the area as full-timers, they began learning that in spite of its resort-like reputation, the Coachella Valley has many residents in need of a helping hand. Soon they began investing their experience and funding locally, and now approximately 80 to 95 percent of the foundations’ charitable giving serves the valley. “We moved here for ourselves,” Sherrie said, “but had no idea of the need here. I really believe you should support where you live.”

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Cruising down the Rhine River; plus, Christmas boats light up Newport Harbor, and how to keep costs down with solo travel page 23

ARTS & STYLE Philanthropists Ron and Sherrie Auen stand in the hallway of their Palm Desert office suite, where numerous recognitions for their generous financial support are displayed. The couple manage the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation and the Auen Foundation, which collectively contribute critical funding for healthcare, education, social services and senior needs.

Ron Auen worked closely with H.N.. Berger, and upon Berger’s death in 1988 was asked to take the helm at the foundation. He agreed to take over for a five-year period, but became transformed by the experience and has stayed on ever since. After he began the administrative position, “I was able to research and contribute in a more meaningful way,” he said. “I was able to deal directly with charities and see the positive impact on the charitable entities receiving our grants. Giving became as rewarding for me as it was for the receiving organizations.” Of particular impact was when the Berger Foundation began in 1991 to support

the “I Have a Dream” educational program that follows at-risk youth throughout their young lives. “We adopted a class of third graders in Pasadena and saw them through high school graduation,” Ron said. “This was at an at-risk school that typically graduated a small percentage of students, but by funding the mentoring and oversight of the I Have a Dream program in Pasadena, our classes graduated about 90 percent of their students.” The program grew as a result of its increased funding, beginning intervention earlier and expanding to two other schools. See PHILANTHROPISTS, page 21

A tasty tour offers sights and delights; plus, Women’s Circle raises funds for McCallum, and annual house and garden walk set page 27 FIT NESS & HEALT H 4 k Medicare premium hike k Foods that fight prostate cancer LAW & MONEY 16 k Advice on looming tax changes k Free legal services COACHELLA VALLEY VOLUNT EERS k Lending a hand

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D E C 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

Our first 50+ Expo — coming in March! By Michael Brachman giveaways. And all for free! This December issue is significant for all The Beacon’s East Coast editions have of us here at the Coachella long been offering these Valley Beacon. It makes the unique events, and we are 12th monthly issue we have pleased to begin our own here produced for our region’s in the Coachella Valley. Our older adults since the newspapartner for this inaugural per premiered here last JanuExpo is Desert Falls Country ary! Club, at 1111 Desert Falls Now, with a full year under Parkway, near Cook Street our belts, we have much to and Country Club Drive in draw from in planning our Palm Desert. news coverage and other ac- FROM THE Desert Falls’ spacious clubtivities for 2013. We have also PUBLISHER house facilities will be used listened very closely to the By Michael Brachman for the event. From the front input of our readers and look entrance, into the main lobby, forward to offering you even more helpful following into the tiered events room, adjainformation and opportunities of specific cent restaurant and outdoor patios, the appeal to those of us who are 50+. space will be filled with Expo activities. We have a brisk program planned to keep CV Beacon 50+ Expo the upbeat momentum running throughout We are especially excited to announce the day, and are very eager to meet more of plans for our very first Beacon 50+ Expo, our readers in person at the same time. All on Sunday, March 24! This unique half-day of our Beacon staff will be on hand that day conference, running 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., will to greet you and answer any questions you feature expert speakers, informative ex- may have while you are visiting the Expo. hibits, interactive programs, health screenAmong our other preparations for the ings and immunizations, entertainment and event, we are looking to secure vendors

Beacon The Coachella Valley

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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, Md. 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: mb@otmedia.net Other content and design provided by The Beacon Newspapers, Inc., Kensington, Md. • Publisher............................................................Stuart P. Rosenthal • Graphic Designer ........................................................Kyle Gregory

www.TheBeaconNewspapers.com 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.

and sponsors representing a wide variety of products and services of interest to the valley’s 50+ population. Please email me at mb@otmedia.net if you would like more information on the vendor booths and sponsorship packages available. In the next few months, please keep your eyes and ears out for Expo posters and radio announcements. We will also keep you updated on the event’s developing details in our forthcoming issues.

A new volunteerism award Another new development in the coming year will be the selection of our first “Coachella Valley Beacon Volunteer of the Year.” As I have often mentioned in this column, I am continually impressed by the generous time that is contributed by local residents to the hundreds of service groups here who support the lives and activities of others. So that we can contribute to local volunteerism efforts, each month in our “Coachella Valley Volunteers” section we feature examples of these organizations

and the kinds of volunteers they need. For our new award, we seek nominees who have generously contributed exemplary assistance in any volunteer capacity in the valley and for any organization. Recommendations of nominees for the award should include their name, age, the volunteer service they provide, the organization(s) they have assisted as a volunteer, and an explanation of what makes their help so invaluable. Examples of specific situations in which these volunteers shone are also encouraged. The person making the nomination should also include his or her own name, phone number, email address and relationship to the person being nominated. All nominations will be due to our offices by Nov. 30, 2013. Please send them to me by email at mb@otmedia.net or by postal mail to Coachella Valley Beacon, 1001 S. Palm Canyon Dr., #217, Palm Springs, CA 92263. A very happy holiday season to you all, and may your own new year be filled with fun and fruitful activity!

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 mb@otmedia.net. Please include your name, address and telephone number for verification.


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D E C 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

Health Fitness &

EASING HOLIDAY BLUES A free program provides home visits to check on emotional well-being MEDICARE PREIMIUMS RISE Medicare will cost $5 more per month for most; more for the wealthy PAIN RELIEF Intensive pain rehab programs target chronic pain in a number of ways FEED YOUR PROSTATE Tomatoes, broccoli, garlic and soy may help reduce prostate cancer risk

Robotics can help the blind to navigate By Helen Knight Technologies that help machines navigate are being adapted to help blind people find their way around. Robots need help navigating their surroundings and use sophisticated location systems to keep track of their position. Now the same technologies are being adapted to help blind people navigate indoor and outdoor spaces independently. One such system, being developed by Edwige Pissaloux and colleagues at the Institute of Intelligent Systems and Robotics at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, France, consists of a pair of glasses equipped with cameras and sensors like

those used in robot exploration. The system, unveiled at a talk at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this spring, produces a 3D map of the wearer’s environment and their position within it that is constantly updated and displayed in a simplified form on a handheld electronic Braille device. It could eventually allow blind people to make their way, unaided, wherever they want to go, said Pissaloux. “Navigation for me means not only being able to move around by avoiding nearby obstacles, but also to understand how the space is socially organized — for example, where you are in relation to the pharmacy, library or intersection,” she said.

3D tactile maps Two cameras on either side of the glasses generate a 3D image of the scene. A processor analyses the image, picking out the edges of walls or objects, which it uses to create a 3D map. The system’s collection of accelerometers and gyroscopes — like those used in robots to monitor their position — keeps track of the user’s location and speed. This information is combined with the 3D image to determine the user’s position in relation to other objects. The system generates almost 10 maps per second, which are transmitted to the handheld Braille device to be displayed as a dynamic tactile map. The Braille pad con-

sists of an 8-centimeter-square grid of 64 taxels — pins with a shape memory alloy spring in the middle. When heat is applied to the springs, they expand, raising the pins to represent boundaries. The Braille version of the map is updated fast enough for a visually-impaired wearer to pass through an area at walking speed, said Pissaloux. Seth Teller, who develops assistive technologies at MIT, called the work exciting and ambitious. This is not the only robotics project to be re-purposed. Software that predicts how far a robot has traveled based on information from its on-board sensors is being modified See ROBOTICS, page 6

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

Health Shorts Medicare deadline extended Even though California was thousands of miles away from the ferocious Superstorm Sandy that battered the Northeast, Medicare is allowing all beneficiaries extra time if needed for its open enrollment, which officially ended Dec. 7. That’s because some people looking to change health or drug plans may be relying on a relative or friend in the badly affected areas for guidance. “[The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] understands that many Medicare beneficiaries have been affected by this disaster and wants to ensure that all beneficiaries are able to compare their options and make enrollment choices for 2013,” Arrah Tabe-Bedward, acting director for the Medicare Enrollment and Appeals Group, wrote in a Nov. 7 letter to insurers. Those who need extra time to select a plan should call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800633-4227) to review options, she said. Medicare representatives will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While plans for those who enroll by Dec. 7 will begin on Jan. 1, 2013, later enrollment in

a new plan will start the first day of the month after you enroll. Thus, if you enroll on Jan. 2, your coverage will begin on Feb. 1. — Barbara Ruben

Technology can tell if you’ve taken a pill Figuring out who’s taking their pills is about to get easier. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a “smart pill” that can tell whether a medication has been taken as prescribed. Made by Proteus Digital Health, the small pill is made primarily of silicon and embedded with a microchip sensor no bigger than a grain of sand. When activated by stomach acid, the sensor transmits a signal to a skin patch that indicates that a medication has been swallowed. The patch sends the information to a smartphone app, along with the wearer’s heart rate, temperature and activity level. The battery-operated patch must be changed weekly. With about 50 percent of people not taking their medications properly, U.S. doctors are excited about the potential of this technology, particularly in diseases where medications are vitally important to survival or the prevention of serious side effects. It is also expected to help doctors refine

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dosages and measure benefits. Another smartphone technology helps identify if the right pill is being taken. There are thousands of prescriptions in pill form, but few colors and shapes to choose

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from, which can lead to dangerous mix-ups, especially in hospitals. To help prevent such errors, Jesus See HEALTH SHORTS, page 7


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REGISTER FOR SENIOR GAMES

From page 4

Registration is open through Friday, Jan. 25, for the 13th Annual

to track a person’s movements based on their stride length. The low-cost system, being developed by Eelke Folmer and Kostas Bekris at the University of Nevada in Reno would help blind people navigate around buildings using just a smartphone. The new system uses freely available 2D digital indoor maps and the smartphone’s built-in accelerometer and compass. Directions are provided using synthetic speech. To help the smartphone calibrate and adjust to a user’s individual stride length, the user must initially use touch to detect the landmarks in their environment, such as corridor intersections, doors and elevators.

Palm Desert Senior Games & International Sports Festival. The competition will take place Thursday, Feb. 7, through Sunday, Feb. 10, at locations throughout Palm Desert. Participants must be at least 55 years old. Fees are $40 per entrant and $7 per event. For more information, call (760) 541-4184, or visit www.desertseniorgames.org.

Jan. 12

Virtual assistants

Robotics

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D E C 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

LEARN NEW WAYS OF SLIMMING DOWN Learn new ways to lose weight in “Talk Yourself Thin,” a seminar to be held Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Holiday Inn Express, 74675

Hwy. 111, Palm Desert. Topics will include self-talk, body image, why traditional diets don’t work, setting reasonable goals, and other matters related to weight and activity. For seminar time and other information, contact Debra Shea at (760) 964-1819 or debra@speak4health.com.

A virtual assistant can help blind people explore their surroundings. Developed by Suranga Nanayakkara at the MIT Media Lab, EyeRing consists of a ring equipped with a camera, and a set of headphones. The user points the ring at an object they are holding and uses voice commands to say what they need to know — the color of an item of clothing, say, or the denomination of paper money. The ring takes a picture of the object, which is transmitted wirelessly to a cellphone, where software analyses the image. The required information is then read out by a synthesized voice. It was presented at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Austin, Texas, in May. — © 2012 New Scientist Magazine. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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

Health shorts From page 5 Caban at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and colleagues have developed software that can identify a pill from a phone camera image. Websites such as Drugs.com and WebMD also have tools to help distinguish between pills, but you have to type in a description, making these services time-consuming to use. Caban’s software extracts the shape, color and imprint of a pill from its image and identifies the drug with 91 percent accuracy in less than a second. Future accuracy will be improved when the system learns to recognize a pill from a wider range of angles. The technique is also simple enough to work as a smartphone app so could be used at home. The team tested the system on images of 568 of the most commonly prescribed pills, taken from different angles and in a range of lighting conditions. — Harvard Health Letter and New Scientist

Think younger to feel younger Stuart Burney, 72, teaches and practices karate. “I feel 25,” he said. “Sometimes I feel 13.” Aside from hearing more “sirs” and noticing his thinning hair, Burney never really thought of himself as 70 — until he went to an audition and was paired with a woman who reminded him of his 90-yearold mother. “I didn’t realize that’s my age group,” he said. Burney’s feelings are hardly unique. A trio of studies in Psychology and Aging suggests that we often resist seeing ourselves as old for good reason. Common ideas about old age — weakened bodies, loss of mental faculties — become ingrained in our psyches when we’re still young and spry. When we (ineluctably) age, we risk conforming to our own low expectations and using stereotypes as excuses. “I skipped the gym today because I’m tired” becomes “I skipped the gym today because I’m old.” But while aging is unavoidable, succumbing to long-held stereotypes about what that means is not. People who have the most pessimistic views about old age are, in fact, the most likely to resist seeing themselves as elderly — an attitude that can help stave

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off the very things they fear. University of Zurich researchers found that older adults who psychologically distance themselves from their own age group feel younger and perceive their future as more open-ended. Diane Rodriguez, 58, said she and her husband surround themselves with friends in their early 40s, which helps them act — and feel — “younger than some people [who are] younger than we are.” No one wants to be lumped into an unappealing stereotype. “There’s a lack of a sense of the older person as a full human being, even though our bodies change considerably more than our personalities,” said Andrew Scharlach, a professor of aging at the University of California-Berkeley. “It’s important to focus on individual differences,” agreed University of Zurich psychologist David Weiss, “not to view oneself as just part of this elderly group.” For many seniors, the illusion of youth is not harmful or misguided — it’s protective.

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“They think: ‘I’m not old — old people are old!’” said Weiss. “‘I’m the exception.’” — Psychology Today

Patients overestimate value of chemo Most patients getting chemotherapy for incurable lung or colon cancers mistakenly believe that the treatment can cure them rather than just buy them some more time or ease their symptoms, a major study suggests. Researchers say doctors either are not being honest enough with patients, or people are in denial that they have a terminal disease. The study highlights the problem of overtreatment at the end of life — futile care that simply prolongs dying. It’s one reason that one quarter of all federal Medicare spending occurs in the last year of life. For cancers that have spread beyond the lung or colon, chemo can add weeks or

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months of life, and may ease a patient’s symptoms, but usually is not a cure. This doesn’t mean that patients shouldn’t have it, only that they should understand what it can and cannot do, cancer experts say. Often, they do not. Dr. Jane C. Weeks at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and researchers at several other Boston-area universities and hospitals led a study of nearly 1,200 such patients around the U.S. All had been diagnosed four months earlier with widely spread cancers and had received chemo. Surveys revealed that 69 percent of those with lung cancer and 81 percent of those with colorectal cancer felt their treatment was likely to cure them. Education level and the patient’s role in care decisions made no difference in the likelihood of mistaken beliefs about chemo’s potential. Hispanics and blacks were three times more likely than whites to hold inaccurate beliefs. — AP


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D E C 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

Outreach easing seniors’ holiday blues DREAMSTIME.COM

By Connie George A free year-round outreach program to seniors suffering from isolation and depression is expanded for the holiday season, the time of year when many older adults are at their most emotionally vulnerable. The Home Visit Program, an initiative by Emeritus Senior Living, the largest assisted living and memory care provider in the U.S., is designed to check on the wellbeing of people 60 and older and is available simply by request. In the Coachella Valley, the two Emeritus facilities in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage can provide this service valley-wide, and no paid affiliation with Emeritus is required. “About 20 percent of seniors suffer from full-scale depression or a less severe form of the condition, and the holiday season can be particularly difficult,” said Budgie Amparo, executive vice president of Quality

Services for Emeritus. Memories of happier holidays earlier in life can trigger depression, along with thoughts of the loss of a spouse or close friends, physical distance from family, or diminished physical capacity and health. “Most seniors know little about depression and they are unlikely to seek professional help for it,” Amparo said. “Depression can cause them to eat less, turn to alcohol, stop taking care of their daily needs, and even consider suicide. Knowing this, we felt it would be very important to expand the Home Visit Program during this season.” Anyone concerned about the emotional well-being of an older adult can call a local Emeritus facility and request that a care worker visit the senior’s home, as long as the senior has pre-approved the visit. Mark Maxwell, community relations director at Emeritus Palm Springs, said requests are fulfilled within two days and visits last from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the situation. Care workers bring along a small gift or meal as well. “It really, truly is what you would think about as a come-by, friendly visit for a few minutes to see how they’re doing,” he said. As part of the visit, Emeritus staff assess whether the senior may require additional psychological or physical help, and then contact the senior’s loved ones to make recommendations for proper resources and services. Several hundred such in-home visits are made throughout the valley each year, Maxwell said. To request a visit, call the Emeritus location nearest the senior’s residence. Emeritus at Palm Springs, 1780 E. Baristo Rd., Palm Springs, can be reached at (760) 322-3444. Emeritus at Rancho Mirage, 72201 Country Club Dr., Rancho Mirage, can be reached at (760) 340-5999. For more information on Emeritus Senior Living and its individual locations, visit www.emeritus.com.

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Medicare premiums going up in January By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar Medicare premiums are going up $5 a month in 2013, the government announced in mid-November. It’s less than expected, but still enough to eat up about one-fourth of a typical retiree’s Social Security cost-ofliving increase next year. Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner said the new “Part B” premium for outpatient care will be $104.90 a month. In most cases, it’s deducted directly from a beneficiary’s monthly Social Security check. Currently the premium is $99.90 a month. Earlier this year, the government projected an increase of as much as $9 a month for 2013, but healthcare inflation turned out to be more modest. Still, advocates for older adults didn’t see much to cheer about, particularly since Medicare cuts are on the table in budget negotiations between President Barack Obama and Congress. Obama has promised to protect beneficiaries, but even his plan calls for upper-income retirees to pay more. “These increases aren’t as big as projected, but they are still increases,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a New York-based advocacy group. “Our fear is that as policymakers discuss deficit reduction, they’ll pile even more costs on to seniors.”

Wealthier will pay more High-income beneficiaries, those making above $85,000 a year individually or $170,000 for a couple, will face bigger increases. They will pay an additional amount ranging from $42 to $230.80 a month, depending on income. Most low-income beneficiaries have their premiums paid by Medicaid. Tavenner also announced that Medicare’s hospitalization deductible will increase by $28, to $1,184. The deductible is the amount a person must pay before health insurance kicks in. Many seniors have some form of additional coverage to handle their Medicare hospital deductible. The annual deductible for outpatient care will increase by $7, to $147.

closely watched indicator. In October, the government announced a 1.7 percent cost-of-living increase for the 56 million Americans on Social Security.

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How Part B works Coverage for outpatient care under Medicare Part B is optional, but more than 90 percent of the program’s 52 million beneficiaries sign up. Medicare covers people 65 and older, the disabled and those with serious kidney disease. Part B pays for office visits to doctors, preventive services and medical equipment. It’s a good deal by any measure, since 75 percent of the cost is borne by taxpayers, with premiums set to cover the remaining 25 percent. Still, many beneficiaries are on tight budgets, so the monthly premium is a

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D E C 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

Pain rehab programs target chronic pain By Cynthia Townsend, Ph.D Dear Mayo Clinic: Since a car accident three years ago, I’ve had chronic back pain. Medication

is no longer working. The pain makes it hard for me to get out of the house. Would a pain rehabilitation program be a good next step? If so, what can I expect?

Answer: From your description, it sounds like you may benefit from a pain rehabilitation program. Because chronic pain cannot be eliminated, the goal of these programs is not to get rid of pain. Instead, they can help you take control of your life in spite of the pain. Pain rehabilitation programs usually involve experts from many medical backgrounds. They bring together physicians, psychologists, nurses, physical and occupational therapists and pharmacists to help participants improve their quality of life. Many of these programs are intensive and include full-day schedules that last several weeks. This may seem like a big commitment. But participating in this kind of comprehensive program can give you the tools and confidence you need to start enjoying life again. Pain rehabilitation programs involve a variety of activities. Most have daily physical and occupational therapy sessions. Planning also plays a key role. For example, at Mayo Clinic, we ask participants to set a structure for their days that they can follow even if they have pain. This technique allows people to get past the tendency of waiting to make plans until they see how much pain they have on a certain day. We also ask them to develop a plan for difficult days. Then on days when pain is

more troublesome, they have in mind activities or support that they know will help. Spending time with others who are dealing with pain issues also can be a benefit of a pain rehabilitation program. Even people who have supportive family members may feel isolated when they have long-term pain. Others in similar situations can offer ideas that may help manage pain, increase confidence and provide encouragement. Most people who enter pain rehabilitation programs take pain medication. With long-term use, these drugs may eventually fail to lessen pain and can actually make pain worse. In many programs, participants are slowly tapered off pain medications. Plenty of support is provided to help people through the process. At the same time, participants gain skills that allow them to manage pain and get back into daily activities. While they may be nervous about tapering off the medications, patients often describe feeling and functioning better and thinking more clearly. Although many people do have less pain after they finish a pain rehabilitation program, that is not the primary goal. Many factors can affect a person’s pain level, from the weather to stress. Instead, pain rehabilSee PAIN REHAB, page 11

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Medicare premiums From page 9 for retired workers will be slightly larger. Obama’s healthcare law reins in Medicare spending by curtailing payments to hospitals, insurers, drug companies and other service providers. Congress, however, has frequently voted to avoid imposing such cuts in the past, especially after doctors threaten to discontinue treating Medicare patients. Democrats want to focus the next round of cuts on providers, particularly pharma-

Pain rehab From page 10 itation programs teach participants to focus on the things they can control. Despite having long-standing chronic pain, about 90 percent of participants complete Mayo Clinic’s program. About 80 percent report improved functioning, better mood and decreased pain. Most do not go

11

ceutical companies. But Republicans are looking for significant changes in the program’s costs as well, such as increasing the eligibility age to 67. The healthcare law improved preventive care for Medicare recipients and cut costs for people with high prescription drug bills. It also initiated a multitude of experiments on how to deliver quality care at lower cost for taxpayers. And it set up a cost control board whose goal is to limit future increases in Medicare spending. — AP

back to taking pain medications. In many cases, those who come into pain rehabilitation programs willing to try the various therapies offered and who follow through on their team’s recommendations are able to get back to their day-to-day routines and begin to enjoy life again. © 2012 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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How your diet affects prostate cancer risk By Sharon Palmer “It seems nearly all men will develop prostate cancer if they live long enough,” said Karen Collins, a registered dietician and nutrition advisor for the American Institute for Cancer Research. Thus, scientists have been searching for lifestyle measures that can help stack the odds in your favor. Promising research reveals three important diet strategies that can help you mount a defense: A plant-based diet, moderate dairy consumption, and maintaining a healthy weight. Focusing on a predominantly plant-based diet, which includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, is key to prostate cancer protection, according to Collins. This style of eating means that you fill up at least

three-fourths of your plate with whole plant foods, such as beans, lentils, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Plant foods are rich in thousands of nutrients and compounds. “A variety of vegetable and fruit choices is especially encouraged, because some choices may provide unique protective effects,” said Collins.

Foods to eat more of Here are a few plant foods recently being researched for their role in prostate cancer prevention: 1. Tomatoes. Tomatoes and tomato products, such as canned tomatoes and pasta sauce, are rich in carotenoids that impart red, yellow and orange colors.

The most abundant carotenoid is lycopene, which studies have linked with cancer protection. The lycopene from processed or cooked tomatoes is more bioavailable than that of fresh tomatoes. While lycopene is found in other fruits such as watermelon and guava, tomatoes account for 80 percent of our consumption. There’s a body of evidence to show that tomatoes are associated with lower incidence of prostate cancer. Britt Burton-Freeman, Ph.D., director of the Center for Nutrition Research at Illinois Institute of Technology, reviewed 86 studies related to tomato and lycopene intake and prostate cancer, and concluded that there is a protective relationship between tomato and tomato-based foods and prostate cancer. “An important distinction is that research provides greater support for consuming tomatoes as part of a healthy diet, but does not support the use of lycopene supplements to reduce risk of prostate cancer,” said Collins. 2. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and bok choy, are good choices to include regularly, although we need more research to confirm how much impact their glucosinolate compounds — naturally occurring compounds that appear to have anti-cancer effects — have on

prostate cancer, Collins said. 3. Garlic. Some preliminary laboratory and animal studies suggest that the compounds in garlic, such as the organosulfur compounds, may help slow the development, and reduce the risk, of prostate cancer. 4. Soy. While there is only limited scientific support for soy in prostate cancer prevention — laboratory studies suggest protection, but human studies have shown mixed results — soy clearly offers other health benefits, such as reduced heart disease risk and enhanced bone health. So, it may be a good idea to include more whole soyfoods, such as soymilk, tofu, soybeans, and edamame, in your diet. 5. Green tea. Polyphenols found in green tea arrest the growth of prostate cancer cells in laboratory studies, but more research is needed before recommendations can be made to drink green tea for prostate cancer protection. However, many other benefits, such as heart health and immune system support, are linked to this plantbased beverage. 6. Pomegranate. One clinical trial showed that drinking pomegranate juice may slow the progression of prostate cancer, but “other human studies are seriously lacking,” said Collins. “We just don’t have See PROSTATE CANCER, page 13

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Prostate cancer From page 12 enough data on which to base any recommendations about pomegranate juice.”

Don’t overdo dairy Some research indicates that excess consumption of dairy products may increase prostate cancer risk. The EPIC Study, published in the European Journal of Cancer in 2010, found that dairy consumption above 27 grams of dairy protein and 880 milligrams of dairy calcium per day (the amount found in more than three cups of milk) was linked to increased risk. However, those who consumed moderate amounts — equal to about 1-½ to 2-½ cups of milk— showed a non-significant increase in risk. Collins said, “The bottom line at this point is that men who want to consume dairy products need not be afraid that moderate consumption puts them at risk of prostate cancer. However, excess consumption should be avoided. Two or perhaps three standard servings per day appear safe. “Men who consume dairy products should be cautious about foods that are highly fortified with calcium. Also, adding calcium supplements is not recommended, especially if it brings total calcium intake beyond the 1,200 mg./day that is the highest RDA for men, unless they are personally advised to consume more by their physician.” A standard dairy serving is one cup (8 ounces) of milk or yogurt, two cups cottage cheese, or 1 ½ ounces of hard cheese. One of the key strategies to lower cancer risk is to reach and maintain a healthy weight. “Obesity is only weakly linked to prostate cancer incidence, but obesity is linked to increased risk of dying from prostate cancer,” said Collins. The most effective way to achieve a healthy weight is to increase physical activity — which on its own is linked with a 10 percent lower risk of prostate cancer — and increase the nutrient quality of your food choices.

Supplement watch Research has shown that supplements may not have a protective impact on prostate cancer — in fact, they may even have a negative impact. “At one time, there was big hope for vitamin E and selenium,” said Collins. And then came the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, a large study of vitamin E (400 International Units) and selenium (200 micrograms). The results, which were first published in 2008, showed an increased risk of prostate cancer with vitamin E alone, which continued even after supplements were dis-

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continued, and the trial was halted early. Selenium supplements showed no decrease in prostate cancer risk, and a nonsignificant trend for increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. “It’s not just that these supplements are no longer recommended, it’s that men [now] are discouraged from using them,” stressed Collins. It appears there are more benefits from eating nutrients found in real food, in which countless compounds and nutrients interact, than nutrients isolated in supplements. Some studies link prostate cancer with high amounts of red meat — in particular grilled or fried meats cooked at high temperatures till “well-done,” since carcinogenic compounds may form in meat under these conditions. “The evidence is not nearly enough to make recommendations about red meat consumption or meat preparation in regard to reducing prostate cancer risk,” said Collins. However, an established link

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does exist for red meat and colon cancer, so it might be wise to avoid large amounts. Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of

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D E C 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

Health claims often call for skepticism Q: Is it true that coral calcium is bet- cally active and maintain healthy weights. ter for me than regular calcium supplePromoters of coral calcium say that it is ments? better absorbed than standard A: Promotional material calcium carbonate supplesuggests that coral calcium — ments, but I cannot find any calcium supplements supposscientifically sound studies edly made from remnants of published in journals to supAsian coral — is responsible port such a statement. for the longevity and good According to the Natural health of people on Okinawa. Medicines Comprehensive Okinawans do have low inDatabase, a recognized source cidence of cancer and heart of solid, research-based infordisease, and overall good mation on supplements of all health, but many things about NUTRITION types, “There’s no evidence their lifestyle are far more WISE that calcium from a coral By Karen Collins, likely to be responsible. source has any advantages For example, the Okinawan MS, RD, CDM over calcium from other diet features an abundance of sources.” vegetables and frequent seafood, is low in Furthermore, the safety of ingesting fat, and emphasizes portion control. Fur- coral calcium may be an issue, since some thermore, people on this island are physi- earlier laboratory analyses reported lead

contamination. Finally, some question the potential ecological disruption if coral reefs are disturbed to get this substance. For now, there appears no reason to switch from dairy products and calcium-fortified foods to get calcium, or if needed, economical calcium supplements that have been shown effective. Q: Is it true that beef is now considered heart-healthy? A: Most research shows that frequently eating red meat, which includes beef, lamb and pork, is linked to increased risk of heart disease. This is especially true for processed red meat, such as hot dogs and sausage. You may have heard that beef can be heart healthy from recent news stories. One study of 36 adults with elevated cholesterol, for example, compared a diet high in beef and low in fiber to a diet low in beef and filled with high-fiber vegetables and fruits. Both diets

reduced LDL (“bad”) cholesterol equally well whether high or low in beef. The low-beef diet in this study provided lean beef in amounts equivalent to about two decks of cards (about 6 ounces) per week. The higher beef diet provided lean beef equal to about one to one-and-a-half decks of cards (about 4 ounces) daily. The study lasted five weeks and was funded by the beef industry. It is not enough to support a change in diet recommendations. And although the drops in lipids like LDL were similar, that may not be the whole answer for heart health, as factors like inflammation play an important role. Beef is high in a form of iron called heme iron. One large population study recently linked higher consumption of heme iron from red meat with a 65 percent increase in heart disease. Higher heme iron content is also thought to be one of the reasons that high red meat consumption (over 18 ounces per week) is linked to increased risk of colon cancer. For now, the best move for most of us for heart and overall health, if you want to include beef, is to choose lean cuts of fresh meat and to limit amounts to no more than 18 ounces per week. Q: Are the green and orange colored tortilla wraps more nutritious than regular tortillas since they are made with vegetables? A: No. So little spinach and tomatoes are used to make “spinach” and “tomato” tortillas that the nutritional difference between colored and regular tortillas is negligible. The four to six percent of daily value for vitamin A or C that may be found on labels of some of these specialty tortillas is not enough to qualify them as a good source of these nutrients. It’s more important to choose tortillas that are made from whole grain and not refined flour, and to pay attention to calorie differences stemming from tortilla size and the amount of fat added. Make vegetables a major part of the filling, and perhaps have an extra salad to accompany your wrap to get the important nutritional value vegetables provide. The American Institute for Cancer Research offers a Nutrition Hotline, 1-800-8438114, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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.

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How to increase communication, respect By Helen Oxenberg, MSW, ACSW Dear Solutions: I love to have my grandchildren come visit, or at least I used to. Now, though, when they come they’re busy looking down all the time and typing into a handheld phone, machine or tablet. They never look up, and they’re busy the whole time tweeting, searching or whatever it is they’re doing, and they do it so fast and so much that I get dizzy. They say, “We’ll teach you how to tweet and then you can do it with us.” I don’t want to do that. They think they have something to teach me. Shouldn’t they learn something from me, like how to look up and have a conversation? The Grandpa Dear Grandpa: Ah, yes. There used to be something called conversation. Unfortunately, conversation is now the slowest form of communication. However, there is much for them to learn from the “art of conversation,” and it is an art. Not only do you learn the use of language instead of shortcuts, but there is also much to be learned from looking at someone and watching their facial expressions, listening to their tone of voice, seeing their gestures, etc. These skills help to improve understanding and maintain relationships. Make their visits a learning experience for

them. Set rules. Machines must be turned off at mealtimes. While you are driving they can tweet all they want, but as soon as you get to your destination, all machines must be turned off or, even better, left in the car. Dear Solutions: I own a company, and a few of the people who work for me come from a different culture that always looked down on my people. Now they depend on me for their living, so I pay them fairly, and when I give them their salary every two weeks, I always tell them to remember who gave it to them. I figure that should make them appreciate and like us more and work harder. So far it doesn’t work that way, but I figure it will eventually. Now my son who just got a master’s degree in business keeps arguing with me and tells me I’m inspiring my workers to be resentful and work less, not more. Who do you think is right? — The Boss Dear Boss: Your son is right. Your biggest problem here is not your relationship with your workers but your relationship with your son — now and in the future. You evidently want him in the business, but you’re beginning to feel a loss of control as he gradually takes over.

To make this work, you must stop seeing him as a competitor and start seeing him as a partner who can learn from you at the same time that you can learn from him.

As for those workers, stop “rubbing it in” that they’re dependent on you. This just makes people resentful. Respect is what you want and to get it you have to give it.

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Money Law &

DOWN ON DIVIDENDS Dividend investors face steeply higher tax rates next year unless Congress acts soon FREE LEGAL ADVICE Free legal services for low-income seniors are available through Riverside County’s Office on Aging A HEALTHY TAX HIKE Some investment taxes will rise in 2013 to help pay for healthcare reform; those with incomes over $200,000 will be affected

How to deal with 2013 cap gains tax hike By Dave Carpenter The impending jump in capital gains taxes has prompted a flood of nervous calls to financial advisers in recent months. Less than a month remains until the maximum rate of 15 percent on long-term gains rises to 20 percent unless Congress extends the Bush-era tax cuts. On top of that, the healthcare reform package imposes a new 3.8 percent Medicare tax on the investment income of high-income earners. That means their capital gains tax bill will increase by more than half to 23.8 percent for single filers with incomes of more than $200,000 and couples who make over $250,000. The looming increase poses a tempting reason to sell now for anyone who’s sitting on large unrealized gains in stocks, property or other assets. But pulling the trigger on a sale hastily could be a mistake. A couple of Joe Heider’s clients were in “almost a Chicken Little mode” over the much steeper tax bills they could face, said the regional managing principal of Rehmann Financial Group in Cleveland. One, a corporate executive with stock holdings worth several million dollars, wanted to sell all his shares

until Heider talked him out of it. It’s not just millionaires with money at stake. Plenty of retirees who regularly sell off some of their portfolio for living expenses could face heftier bills on stocks, mutual funds or bonds that have grown appreciably in value over the years. Those inclined to overreact by selling now without analyzing their situation would be wise to heed the old Wall Street adage: “Don’t let the tax tail wag the investment dog.” In other words, don’t become preoccupied with taxes at the expense of the ultimate objective. With that caveat in mind, here are five tips for approaching the possible capital gains tax hike: 1. Don’t hold a fire sale. Do some basic math, or have a financial adviser do it for you. “If you’re selling just because rates are going up, think twice,” said Rande Spiegelman, vice president of financial planning in the Schwab Center for Financial Research. “I don’t see selling just to lock in a lower capital gains rate.” Start by reviewing your portfolio to determine which investments have risen signifi-

cantly in value since you purchased them. Think about when you are likely to sell. Then crunch the numbers on how much tax you’d pay by selling now or later. Refer as needed to an online capital gains calculator such as http://www.moneychimp.com/features/cap gain.htm. Selling now means you’d be left with a smaller sum of money to grow. 2. Keep it in perspective. Remember that the past decade has been an era of very low taxation by historical standards. A long-term capital gains rate of 20 percent starting in 2013 would still be relatively modest. Even the likely worstcase scenario of 23.8 percent for high earners would hardly be dire in comparison with many recent years. 3. Accelerate a sale you already were planning. Assuming the price is right, go ahead and sell this year if you were going to do so soon anyway. That’s particularly the case with property or real estate, where the rate increase for capital gains is slightly different but the same principle applies. A South Dakota man who had been planning to sell the family ranch he inherited from his parents is pushing the transaction through this fall. Rick Kahler, a certified financial planner in Rapid City, advised him he would likely pay at least $90,000 less in taxes by doing so than by waiting until next year. Kahler is telling clients they should consider moving up any sale that they were expecting to make in the next 12 to 24 months.

Be wary of waiting until the last few days of the year, or you could get stuck selling at a market low. Investment guru Jeremy Siegel, finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said stock prices could fall as much as 20 percent by year-end if Congress does nothing to keep the economy from falling over the fiscal cliff. 4. Watch your bracket. Carefully consider the consequences of any sale on your adjusted gross income. Selling a substantial amount of assets could drive you into a higher tax bracket than you would have been otherwise, and this would skew your math on tax savings. And you don’t want to trigger the additional 3.8 percent surplus tax on a big chunk of investment income. 5. Preserve your capital losses. Don’t rush to sell if you have capital tax losses carried over from earlier sales. The technique known as tax-loss harvesting is generally a savvy way to reduce your tax burden. If you have sold shares of a stock or mutual fund for less than you paid, that created a capital loss for tax purposes. It can be used to offset a capital gain that you incurred by selling another stock or fund. Taxpayers who have more losses than gains can carry them over to subsequent years indefinitely and apply as much as $3,000 per year against their regular income. But using the tax losses this year wouldn’t go as far as they would in 2013 and beyond when you’d likely have more capital gains taxes to offset. So, no need to sell shares now just to have a gain to offset in 2012. — AP


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Changes coming in estate and gift taxes By Dave Carpenter Taxes that are largely a concern of the very rich will soon affect far more people unless Congress steps in. The impending drastic changes in the estate and gift tax laws are prompting a flurry of activity as 2013 draws near. Family members are making financial gifts, creating trusts and considering other tax-minded moves. Financial advisers, and trust and estate attorneys have been flooded with requests for assistance in the final months before the record-high exemption for both taxes is scheduled to plunge from $5.12 million to $1 million on Jan 1. If unaltered, the value of any estate in excess of $1 million will be subject to the estate tax, at a top rate of 55 percent next year, before passing to family or other heirs. Currently the top rate is 35 percent, starting at a level more than five times higher. “There’s been a little bit of a frenzy all of a sudden,” said Janis Cowhey McDonagh, a principal with New York accounting firm Marcum LLP. “People are saying ‘Wait a minute, this is really going away. I need to do something before the end of the year.”’ The concern may not stir sympathy among most middle-class Americans, but it’s a pressing issue for many in costly locations, such as the Washington area, where it’s not unusual for household assets to surpass the milliondollar mark. The new federal rates would affect roughly 55,000 estates next year, according to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation, compared with fewer than 4,000 under current rates. An example cited by Fidelity Investments underscores the impact of the potential change. A single person or married couple with an estate of $3 million could face a $945,000 federal estate tax bill next year. Under current law, that bill is zero.

Gift taxes may follow suit Heightening the 11th-hour tax commotion

are the near-identical drops in the lifetime gift tax exemption and the generation-skipping transfer tax. The latter is imposed on grandchildren or others who are 37 1/2 years younger than you. Wealthy families who are set up to pass along millions to their children and grandchildren are scrambling to give away or otherwise set aside huge chunks of their assets by the end of the year. The aim is to lessen their future estate tax liability and spare their heirs much larger bills. President Barack Obama prefers an estatetax exemption of $3.5 million and a top rate of 45 percent. While running for president, Republican Mitt Romney wanted to eliminate the estate tax but retain the gift tax as is. But congressional action would still be needed to enact any changes, which is why taxpayers with million-dollar estates are scurrying to make changes now.

Plan your strategy Here are some of the key strategic moves that can be made, with the assistance of attorneys and advisers, to gain a tax advantage before the laws change: Give away cash. For the time being, taxpayers can gift as much as $5.12 million during their lifetimes without paying taxes. That total is above and beyond the $13,000 annual gift-tax exemption that many taxpayers are aware of. That exclusion allows you to make an unlimited number of gifts of up to $13,000 each year without incurring any taxes. But gifts much larger than that will be needed between now and year-end to make a difference in estate and tax planning. At the extreme wealthy end, McDonagh said one couple she’s advising wrote separate checks for $5 million to their adult children recently. It’s money the children would have inherited anyway, and now will be tax-free. People who aren’t quite so affluent can benefit from smaller but still substantial gifts. Many parents make large loans to their children to buy a home or for some

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other purpose. Calling it a simple cash gift, or forgiving a previous loan, can shrink the estate tax bill. Put it in a trust. A fear of giving away too much and ending up short-handed later in future years has caused “gifting paralysis” among many well-off people who could benefit, said estate planning attorney Todd Angkatavanich, a partner at Withers Bergman LLP in New Haven, Conn. That procrastination has turned into a late-year rush to action. Those who are still reluctant to make outright gifts to beneficiaries may wish to consider transferring assets into trusts, which can give the donor more of a say in how they are distributed. A trust is an arrangement in which an individual turns over property or assets to a trustee to hold for beneficiaries, generally with tax savings in mind. Among the many, often-complex options: An irrevocable trust can benefit children and grandchildren. One type, a grantor retained annuity trust or GRAT, provides for annual payments to the donor for a fixed period of time before the assets go to the beneficiary as a tax-free gift. A spousal lifetime access trust sets assets aside for a surviving spouse that can still be accessed if needed, with limitations. And a self-settled trust makes the person who created it the beneficiary, but the money is con-

trolled by an independent trustee. Give away a home. Giving a primary residence or vacation home to a child often is done through a qualified personal residence trust, or QPERT. The trust is irrevocable but specifies that you can maintain use of the property for a certain number of years. The property is then valued at a discount because heirs don’t get immediate use. Retaining the right to live in the house makes it a “have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too” scenario for those who have expensive homes but are concerned about leaving themselves with too few resources, said Jim Cody, director of estate and trust services for investment advisory firm Harris myCFO in Palo Alto, Calif.

State taxes, too A wild card to consider in the year-end tax scramble: State laws on estate taxes differ from federal ones. Twenty-two states have either an estate tax, an inheritance tax, or both. It’s another reason why anyone trying to take advantage of current federal laws should seek help from an expert. Both Maryland and the District of Columbia levy their own estate taxes of up to 16 percent on estates over $1 million. Virginia does not have an estate tax. None of the three has a separate gift tax. — AP


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D E C 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

Dividend investors face higher tax in 2013 By Mark Jewell What if one of your key sources of income were taxed at three times the rate you pay now? That’s a realistic possibility next year for high-income investors who own dividendpaying stocks or mutual funds. Dividend investors earning modest income and retirees who count on quarterly payouts could face a higher rate as well. Investors have enjoyed historically low rates on investment income since 2003. But those will expire in January unless Congress and President Barack Obama reach a compromise first on taxes and government spending. Failure to reach a deal would trigger higher rates on other income as well, plus automatic federal spending cuts. The combination could send the economy back into recession. The prospect of higher rates on dividend payouts starting in January has left divi-

dend investors, as well as dividend-paying companies, with plenty of news to track and what-ifs to consider. Here’s a look at the key moving parts:

New rate reality? Investors today pay 15 percent tax on most dividends and on capital gains, the profits from selling investments that have appreciated in value. Unless Congress and Obama say otherwise, dividends will be taxed as ordinary income in 2013, the same as wages. So rates will go up depending on which income bracket a taxpayer is in. For the highest earners, the dividend rate could jump to 43.4 percent. The president wants to restore a 39.6 percent ordinary income rate for top earners, up from the current 35. High-income taxpayers will also face a 3.8 percent tax on investment income to

help pay for Obama’s health care overhaul. For those in middle tax brackets, dividend rates in the 20 to 30 percent range are likely. The result is that middle-income earners could pay a dime or so more on each dollar of dividend income flowing into a taxable account. For high earners, it would be a quarter or so more. Dividend rate increases could be smaller if congressional leaders and Obama agree on a compromise to raise the level to something less than what the president wants. A tax bill can be delayed by holding investments in a tax-sheltered account. But many investors, especially those in higher tax brackets, don’t rely exclusively on an individual retirement account or 401(k), in which earnings can grow tax-free.

Beating the deadline Dividend-paying companies want in-

vestors to be taxed minimally because it makes their stocks more attractive to hold. And many companies are reviewing their dividend policies, now that it appears investors could soon pay higher taxes. Those companies face a decision: Keep dividend payouts at current levels and see how the budget talks go, or distribute special payouts in December, before taxes go up. A few companies already are approving such unusual “fifth quarter” dividends, the term that Howard Silverblatt of S&P Dow Jones Indices uses for these payouts. In late October, telecommunications company IDT Corp. said it would make a special payment in mid-November, then suspend its quarterly dividend. “Our stockholders are best served by paying this dividend now,” IDT CEO Howard Jonas said. Manufacturer Leggett & Platt and industrial products maker Johnson Controls have announced plans to move their next payouts to December to beat a potential rate increase. In both instances, the payouts will be made less than a week before year-end. “Companies still have a little leeway to see how the negotiations start,” Silverblatt said. “But you don’t want to wait until Dec. 25 to do something, because that would be too late.”

Further into the future

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In the long term, higher dividend tax rates should lead companies to consider whether to buy back some of their stock rather than approve further dividend increases. It could be a better use of a company’s cash holdings. By repurchasing stock, companies reward investors by increasing the value of remaining shares. Per-share earnings get a lift as results are divided among fewer shares. Other companies could continue increasing dividends, but at a more modest pace than when the payouts were taxed at a lower rate. “If you’ve increased a dividend five years in a row, you’re probably going to continue to do so, if you can,” Silverblatt said. “But rather than increasing it 10 percent, it may be just 8 or 6 percent.” Higher rates would make dividend stocks less attractive because investors would keep less of their earnings. But dividends would still offer attractive after-tax yields relative to many investment alternatives. For example, 10-year Treasurys yield about 1.6 percent. That’s substantially below the average 2.64 percent yield of the 404 dividend-paying companies in the S&P 500 stock index. That’s upside-down from the normal relationship between those investments. Since 1962, yields of S&P 500 stocks have averaged 43 percent of Treasury yields, Silverblatt said. And Treasurys don’t offer the growth potential that stocks do from price appreciation. Even considering higher rates, dividends offer higher after-tax returns than Treasurys, albeit with greater risk. — AP


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

More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com | Law & Money

19

Free legal services provided by RivCo By Connie George Free and wide-ranging legal services for low-income seniors 60 and over are among the benefits available to older adults through Riverside County’s Office on Aging. In an arrangement with Inland County Legal Services (ICLS), a public interest firm, assistance with issues related to family law, elder law, housing, income maintenance, estate planning, consumer finance

and public benefits can be provided through in-office appointments and sometimes over the phone. Services can be provided in English and a variety of other languages. For eligibility determination, seniors must provide documentation of both their legal, permanent county residency and the matter for which they are seeking legal counsel. According to Ugochi Anaebere-Nichol-

son, managing attorney of ICLS’s Coachella Valley office in Indio, the firm also requires financial information from clients in order to determine which public funding source will cover the legal matter being processed. In the event that a case requires services beyond those offered by ICLS, referrals can be made to other resources, she said. The Indio office is at 82632 Highway 111, Building C, at the intersection of Deglet Noor Street, across from the Riverside

County Fairgrounds. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. A free Legal Guide for Seniors, which can answer many questions about common legal matters, can be downloaded from ICLS’s informational website at www.inlandlegal.org. For more information, a dedicated seniors’ hotline is provided at (760) 347-5303. Callers may also dial 1-800-226-4257 or the TTY line at (760) 775-3114.

New healthcare investment tax next year By Kimberly Lankford Q. I understand that the healthcare reform law imposes a new tax on investments. To whom does the tax apply, and when does it take effect? A. Starting in 2013, taxpayers who have a modified adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more ($250,000 for joint filers) will pay a 3.8-percent surtax on certain kinds of investment income, such as interest, dividends, capital gains, rent and royalties. (Interest on tax-exempt municipal bonds doesn’t count.) The calculation is tricky: The surtax applies either to the investment income or to the amount of modified AGI exceeding the threshold, whichever is less.

For example, if your joint income is $300,000 and you have $5,000 of investment income, you’ll pay the tax on the $5,000. But if your investment income is $50,000 and your joint modified AGI is $260,000, you’ll pay the tax on the $10,000 that exceeds the AGI limit. There is also a 0.9-percent Medicare surtax on any salary or self-employment income that exceeds the modified AGI threshold. Q. Does this new tax apply to home sales? A. It does apply to home-sale profits, but it might not hit very many people. When you sell your home, up to $250,000 of the profit is tax-free if you’re single and have

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owned and lived in the home for at least two of the five years leading up to the sale. The exclusion rises to $500,000 for married couples filing a joint return. That part of the profit is not subject to capital gains taxes, and it also avoids the new surtax. However, if your profit on the home sale is more than the tax-free amount, or if you lived in the house for fewer than two out of the past five years, your investment profit will be subject to this extra tax if your modified AGI is more than $200,000 (if you’re single) or $250,000 (if you’re married filing jointly). Furthermore, the tax exclusion does not apply to second homes or vacation homes, so the entire profit on the sale of a second

home or vacation home could be subject to the surtax. Q. What can I do to minimize the new tax? A. Any steps you can take to keep your income below the $200,000/$250,000 modified AGI threshold in 2013 — such as contributing to a 401(k) or flexible spending account — can help you avoid the tax. Also consider buying investments that aren’t subject to the surtax, such as tax-exempt municipal bonds. Kimberly Lankford is a contributing editor to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine and the author of Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, $18.95). © 2012 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance


20

D E C 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

More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

Does your organization use senior volunteers or do you employ a number of seniors?

Coachella Valley

Volunteers

If so and you’d like to be considered for a story in our Volunteers & Careers section, please send an e-mail to mb@otmedia.net

Assisted living care takes many talents According ElderPoint.com, the national median monthly rate of residency in an assisted living facility has been increasing annually, and in 2011 was $3,261. The average age of assisted living residents is about 87, with most widowed and many without regular visits from friends or family members. Companionship and other types of socialization are critical to the overall health of residents, and volunteers are an integral force in helping to meet these needs. The volunteer activities at three local assisted living facilities illustrate the variety of support that volunteers can provide at the many such communities throughout the valley.

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Mirage Inn At the Mirage Inn in Rancho Mirage, volunteers help to keep the atmosphere lively, upbeat and stimulating for residents of either the assisted living or memory care facilities. Ashley Barkley, director of Lifestyle Programs, said new volunteers are always needed to join other team members, whether in ongoing or occasional roles. “We can always use them,” she said. Visits by children’s groups or friendly pets, musical entertainers and other performers, decorators for holidays and other special events, or those who can provide cheer and companionship — all are vital to keeping residents positive and involved with others. “It means a lot to our residents to know the community cares and wants to reach out to them,” Barkley said. “It’s very meaningful and can be a rewarding experience both ways.” The Mirage Inn is at 72750 Country Club Dr., Rancho Mirage. For more information about its volunteer activities, call Barkley at (760) 346-7772.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MIRAGE INN

By Connie George For hundreds of Coachella Valley residents, assisted living facilities allow them the opportunity to maintain a relatively independent lifestyle while receiving help with daily tasks they can no longer perform alone. Professional staff members provide such support as medication management, housekeeping and meal services, and assistance with bathing and dressing. But volunteers at these apartment- or dorm-like communities contribute significantly to the social, educational and recreational needs of those who live there, while also helping to hold down the costs of residency.

Jim Graham, a Mirage Inn volunteer for about 10 years, assists a resident with bingo.

Hallmark Palm Springs One of the smaller assisted living facilities in the valley, Hallmark Palm Springs still has no fewer volunteer needs. Executive Director Jeff Roberts said that critically important is “helping the residents feel like they’re wanted and needed, See ASSISTED LIVING, page 22

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More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com | Coachella Valley Volunteers

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

Philanthropists From page 1 “We supported classes all the way from first grade through high school, and even assisted them with obtaining college scholarships,” Ron said. “We saw many successes with this program, including a troubled boy who ended up becoming a probation officer, and a grandmother of a participating student actually came to work for the Pasadena office of the I Have a Dream program.” The Berger Foundation is centrally involved in the funding of education in the Coachella Valley, as well, with contributions supporting elementary and secondary schools, the College of the Desert and the Palm Desert campus of California State University, San Bernardino.

Inspiration in aging For Sherrie, defining the mission of the Auen Foundation, which targets most of its giving to needs for seniors, grew from experiences in her own life. “I had working parents, and grandparents who lived with us,” she said. Because of her close-knit, intergenerational upbringing, she added, “I’ve always loved the elderly.” She has observed that the needs of seniors are often overlooked by funding organizations, but believes there is so much inspiration involved in supporting healthy aging and intergenerational activities. Additional contributions are made to the Palm Springs International Film Festival to coordinate senior volunteers and transport seniors to the popular event, and to the Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade, specifically for the parade’s special senior seating. “When we look back and reflect on the gifts we have given, it is truly rewarding,” Sherrie said. “We have received many thank you letters, such as one from a woman who said she was living under a tree before our gift to a local recovery center helped save her life.” In addition, she said, intergenerational programs “make a difference in the lives of so many people of varying ages. We believe bringing generations together helps strengthen our communities.” A group of seniors called the Mecca Angels is involved in one such program that has been supported by the Auen Foundation. They visit Mecca Elementary School weekly

to read to students and help many Spanishspeaking students learn to read English. “We are very proud to have helped this program in its infancy by providing the transportation for seniors to the elementary school,” Sherrie said. “We also provided the school with computers, which contributed to the students’ test scores increasing by 50 percent.”

Immediate needs The Auens have noted that sometimes the most critical needs are immediate — such as for housing and food — so their foundations are donating to these causes as well. No matter how carefully many people have tried to live their lives, “I think everybody needs help right now,” Ron said. “So many have fallen through the cracks,” Sherrie added. “They didn’t plan for that.” Even such basic necessities as socks, radios and hygiene products can make a big difference in the lives of people who especially need a helping hand, she noted. Through the two foundations, the Auens are also focused on improving quality of life in other ways, such as with donations for medical research, computer training for seniors so they can stay in touch with their families through technology, hospice care, support for care givers and combating elder abuse. In addition, the Berger Foundation is about to begin a fifth year of awarding the “Coachella Valley Spotlight.” The honor is presented in partnership with CBS Local 2, which broadcasts features stories about selected organizations during its “Eye on the Desert” program. The Berger Foundation presents a $25,000 gift to each of the charities featured, and the visibility each receives helps it to attract even more donations from other sources.

itive reward.” Just as importantly, said Sherrie, “Often time is more valuable than money. Volunteers who visit with homebound seniors are priceless.” “In the spirit of the holidays,” she added, “now is a perfect time for people to consider

how they can help others, whether it is money, food, clothing and other donations or time.” For more information on the Berger Foundation, visit www.hnberger.org. For more on the Auen Foundation, visit www.auenfoundation.org.

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How others can help “We’ve been given so much,” Sherrie said. “We have to give back.” But the Auens stress that anyone, regardless of financial means, has the opportunity to make a big difference in the needs of those around them, and that local giving allows the opportunity to see the results pay off first-hand. “People need to know it is important to give no matter the amount, be it money or time,” Ron said. For both donor and recipient, he added, “It has an indescribable pos-

BEACON BITS

Dec. 12+

CONTRIBUTE TO FOOD AND TOY DRIVE

Donations of toys and nonperishable food are being accepted through Wednesday, Dec. 19, at Fitness 1440, 68100-B14 Ramon Rd., Cathedral City. Toys must be new and unwrapped and will be given to the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission in time for Christmas. Food will be contributed to the FIND Food Bank. For more information, call (760) 895-1440 or visit www.fitness1440.com/palmsprings-catcity.

Ongoing

SUNLINE TRANSIT ACCEPTING DEBIT CARDS

Seniors 60 years and older and persons with disabilities can now use a pre-loaded Smart Card to pay for their half-price SunLine Transit taxi rides instead of the paper coupon that was the original form of payment when the Taxi Voucher Program began in November 2011. Clients that have paper coupon books can have the coupon value loaded to the Smart Card. For more information, call 1-800-347-8628.

21

(760) 324-4604 70201 Mirage Cove Drive Rancho Mirage, CA 92270 www.vistacove.net RCFE No. 336408433


22

Coachella Valley Volunteers | More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

Assisted living From page 20

rise Way, Palm Springs. For more information about its volunteer activities, call Roberts at (760) 322-3955.

PHOTO COURTESY OF VISTA COVE AT RANCHO MIRAGE

like the volunteers actually want to be there and that it’s Vista Cove at not an obligation.” Rancho Mirage Hallmark particularly seeks Specializing in memory volunteers to help with such care, Vista Cove at Rancho activities as presenting travel Mirage seeks volunteers stories and photos, teaching who can provide companexercise classes, providing enionship and mental stimulatertainment, calling bingo tion, such as music, for its games and playing cards with residents. Joy Whitehurst is one of many volunteers residents. “It’s just good to have a litSuch assistance “helps keep from Sacred Heart tle one-on-one,” said activities our residents engaged, active, Church in Palm Desert director Brenda Jenkins of who provide one-on-one and socially and physically visits with Vista Cove the need for volunteers who well,” Roberts said. “Volunteers residents once a week. can engage on a personal are always so vital to a commulevel with residents. nity such as ours and the others in the valley.” Volunteers are not required to be previHallmark Palm Springs is at 344 N. Sun- ously familiar with Alzheimer’s disease or

D E C 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

other conditions that contribute to memory loss, she said. Jenkins seeks “people who would just want to come and be a companion. Even if conversation can’t be made, sometimes just human touch is helpful.” At present, Vista Cove has about 12 reg-

ular volunteers, but 56 residents. “If every resident had a visitor every week, that would be great,” Jenkins said. Vista Cove is at 70201 Mirage Cove Dr., Rancho Mirage. For more information about its volunteer activities, call Jenkins at (760) 324-4604.

Nominees sought for new Beacon award Outstanding, hard-working and dedicated volunteers are critical to the successful operations of hundreds of organizations here in the valley. Here at the Coachella Valley Beacon, we have been so impressed by how these generous donations of time contribute to the well-being of so many local residents that we have created a special recognition award, the “Coachella Valley Beacon Volunteer of the Year.” We seek nominees who have generously contributed exemplary assistance in any volunteer capacity in the valley and for any organization. Intended to be an annual honor, the first award recipient will be selected at the end of 2013.

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Nominations for the award should include the volunteer’s name, age, the volunteer service they provide, the organizations they have assisted as a volunteer, and an explanation of what makes their help so invaluable. Examples of specific situations in which these volunteers shone are also encouraged. The person making the nomination should also include his or her own name, phone number, email address and relationship to the nominee. All nominations will be due to our offices by Nov. 30, 2013. Please email them to mb@otmedia.net or mail to Coachella Valley Beacon, 1001 S. Palm Canyon Dr., #217, Palm Springs, CA 92263.

Coachella Valley Water District’s

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Workshop topics Caring for Citrus Trees & Ornamental Landscape Design

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

More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

Travel

23

Leisure &

A parade of boats lights up Newport Harbor for the holidays. See story on page 25.

River cruises: smaller and more intimate

Some of the benefits The small scale of river ships — which typically carry no more than a couple hundred passengers — is a large part of their

appeal, in contrast to ocean-going megaships that carry thousands. On a river ship, you don’t need a GPS device to figure out where the lobby or the dining room is. And there’s a sense of intimacy, with plenty of cozy moments. On my trip, some passengers partook in movie night, with popcorn shared in paper bags while watching Eat Pray Love on a flatscreen TV in a lounge. I participated in an impromptu mini-Mass with five others in a corner of the ship, officiated by the passenger priest. He improvised with that night’s dinner bread. The idea for the trip started with my globe-trotting mother, who’d taken a trip on a barge on the Seine in the 1990s and had always raved about it. So for $3,100 (per person, double occupancy, excluding airfare), my mother, my sister, a friend and I booked an eight-day trip with Avalon Waterways on the Rhine. We started in Basel, Switzerland and ended in Amsterdam, with stops that included Strasbourg, France, and Heidelberg and Cologne, Germany. Typical of most river cruises, the price covered meals, wine with dinner, and most shore excursions.

© KEN COLE | DREAMSTIME.COM

By Anne D’Innocezio I’ve been a land-based traveler for most of my life. Motor coaches and cars have helped me explore everything from Italy’s Tuscany region to Ireland’s Ring of Kerry. But recently I discovered a love for river cruising. After returning from a cruise on the legendary Rhine, I’m happily considering trips to other iconic waterways such as the Danube for next year. Sure, there were a few wrinkles, but they didn’t take away from what I found was a charming, intimate experience — with not only the river, but the people on the ship. Whether from the deck or the sliding glass door in my cabin, there was always something to see, from steep vineyard hills and medieval castles to industrial plants. I also got to know the eclectic group of 130 passengers on the ship, mostly baby boomers. They included a law firm partner, a teacher, a physics professor on a honeymoon and a priest.

An Avalon Waterways boat cruises down the Rhine River.

Some downsides, too The vessels must be narrow enough to fit through locks, and low enough to pass under bridges that predate large cruise ships. So their cabins are traditionally smaller than on ocean-going ships, with

less room for large recreational areas. But new river boats also have more amenities than in the past. River cruise operators are finding ways to add features such as small See RIVER CRUISES, page 24

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24

Leisure & Travel | More at TheBeaconNewspapers.com

River cruises From page 23 pools, and they’re upgrading in other ways, too, improving menus and decor. Still, ahead of my trip, I worried I would get a narrow sense of the region — after all, the itinerary is limited to destinations with river ports and what you can see during a few hours on a port call. I also thought I might get bored on a vessel that lacked the comforts of a big ship. In fact, the fitness room turned out to be the size of a large closet, and there was no

swimming pool, just a whirlpool. Still, I was pleased with the trip and the at-your-service staff of 40 — a better than 3:1 ratio of crew to passengers. Food was top-notch, with buffets for breakfast and lunch, and more formal sit-down dinners. The only downside about the food was that we had all of our meals on board, with few opportunities to interact with locals. So whenever I got the chance, I had coffee or dessert in the towns. My cabin, which I shared with my mother, was small but comfortable, with twin beds inches apart. Luggage had to be stored

BEACON BITS

Dec. 12+

BOB HOPE GOLF EXHIBIT AT AIR MUSEUM

The World Golf Hall of Fame will present “Bob Hope: An American Treasure” at the Palm Springs Air Museum, beginning Wednesday, Dec. 12. The 2,500-square-foot traveling exhibition will highlight Hope’s life and includes many artifacts from his life. For more information, visit www.worldgolfhalloffame.org.

D E C 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

under the beds, but there was enough cabinet space to unload belongings. The highlight was sitting on the deck with other passengers as we passed by the romantic middle of the Rhine — the 40 or so miles between Bingen and Koblenz, Germany, that define our dreamy notion of the legendary waterway. There, our cruise director, Romanian-born Hans Beckert, offered a narrative about the string of medieval castles, quaint villages and fortresses we passed. Not to mention the towering Lorelei rock named after the siren whose beauty distracted sailors. It’s where the river is the narrowest and deepest.

Many ports of call We visited a different port every day, sometimes even two. Sightseeing included walking tours, canal rides, and tours of museums and churches. Occasionally the schedule felt stressful, with some departures just a few hours after arrivals. On the day we visited the German town of

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Mainz, after checking out an original printed bible in the Guttenberg Museum, we ran up the cobbled streets to look at Marc Chagall’s stained glass windows in St. Stephen’s Church, then sprinted back to the vessel for lunch before we set sail in the afternoon for Rudesheim, known for its wine. One of my favorite outings was wine-tasting in Obernai, France. And I fell in love with Rudesheim, where we visited the enchanting Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum, which featured self-playing instruments dating back to the 18th century. Activities in Amsterdam included a tour of the Van Gogh museum and a canal boat ride. But we also took an optional, 26-euro two-hour chaperoned tour of the city’s famous Red Light district. Imagine three dozen tourists — many of them gray-haired retirees — gawking at the bikini-clad young women in the windows. A couple of times we were heckled by rowdy revelers. Amsterdam was the cruise’s final port. We decided to stay a few days in the Dutch capital for more sightseeing, so we checked into a hotel near the port. I could see the ship from my hotel room’s window. Later the next day, I noticed the ship was gone, off with a new group of passengers on another adventure. I felt a twinge of sadness, but knew I would come back to the river again. Prices vary by time of year, itinerary and level of luxury, with fares typically per person, double occupancy, covering meals and most shore excursions. European river cruise season generally runs from March to October, but there are also Christmas market cruises in Austria and Germany in late November and December. This is a good time of year to plan for and book a cruise for next season. Companies that offer European river cruises include Avalon Waterways, AmaWaterways, American Cruise Line, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, Vantage, Viking, Regent, Seabourn and Silversea. — AP

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Jan. 16

BUS TRIP TO QUARTZSITE’S 2-MILE FLEA MARKET

The Indio Senior Center will take 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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Christmas boats light up Newport Harbor and parking opportunities. All city parking lots will be open for parade-goers. The Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce hosts the event, which has been called “one of the top 10 holiday happenings in the nation” by The New York Times, and has helped the city earn a Yahoo Travel designation as “#2 City in the Nation for Holiday Lights.” Restaurants and hotels in the area, many of which are harbor side along the parade route, are offering specials to attract viewers. As a backdrop for the parade, a related sight called the Ring of Lights will showcase ornately decorated bayside homes and businesses that surround the harbor, some with their own special accents, such as rooftop animated scenes and dancing Christmas trees. According to Jeff Parker, vice-president at the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, entries in the boat parade and Ring of Lights are judged each year, with winners honored at an awards dinner in January. The competitions among many of the families and businesses who participate every year can be stiff and is fun to watch, he said. “It’s become quite a tradition among many of the competitors.” A fireworks display from Balboa Pier will close the event on the parade’s final night, beginning just after the last boat has re-

PHOTO COURTESY OF NEWPORT BEACH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

By Connie George Watercraft of all kinds, from million-dollar pleasure cruisers to modest paddleboats, will be decked out for the holidays in the 104th annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade that runs from Wednesday, Dec. 19, to Monday, Dec. 23. In what is billed as the Orange County coastal city’s “Christmas card to the world,” the parade circles the 14-mile circumference of the Newport Beach harbor, floating past restaurants, yacht clubs, public beaches and private homes. Newport Beach is about a two-hour drive from Palm Springs. Some boat owners have spent as much as $50,000 to decorate their vessels for the event, and each has its own festive personality. Some even include costumed performers, including musicians and dancers. This year’s parade theme is “Surf, Sand and Santa.” More than 1 million parade-goers are expected during the run of the event, with most viewing the sight for free from beachfront locations around the harbor. Charter boats will also be available for up-close paid viewing out on the water. Each night, the parade begins just off Balboa Peninsula’s Bay Island at 6:30 p.m., returning to the same spot by 9. Early arrival is recommended for the best viewing

The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade celebrates its 104th season this month with a stiff competition among watercraft of all kinds and sizes, such as this 2011 entry that won Best Powerboat.

turned to Bay Island at 9 p.m. For more information about the parade, dining and lodging specials, and charter

boat companies, call the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce at (949) 729-4400 or visit www.christmasboatparade.com.

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How to keep costs down with solo travel Like Noah, travel suppliers seem to think the PPDO rate for a low-end cabin, but are usu— and price — only for couples, so singles ally less than full two-person rates. However, I seldom see really great lastoften pay a lot more for a trip minute deals for single cabins. than the per-person price for a Some agencies claim to specouple. Fortunately, you have cialize in solo travel search and some ways to avoid overpaying. list tours and cruises with eiThose of you who really ther low single supplements or want to travel solo have the none. Connecting Solo Travel toughest challenge. Other Network (www.cstn.org), for than for air and ordinar y example, currently lists dozens coach rail tickets, “per-perof tours and cruises with good son, double occupancy” rates pricing for single occupancy. (PPDO) are almost always TRAVEL TIPS Also, mainstream tour operlower than what solo travelBy Ed Perkins ators and cruise lines someers have to pay, including most independent travel expenses. And times reduce or waive single supplements you often face a “single supplement” ap- on last-minute deals. proaching double the PPDO price to ocPair up for better prices cupy a double accommodation. But the travel industry’s preferred apThese days, almost all hotel rooms are designed for at least double occupancy, proach to singles travel isn’t to facilitate and, in most of the world, hotels charge the true solo traveling. It’s to pair you up with someone so you pay just the PPDO price. same prices for a single as for a couple. And you have several ways to organize A few single options that, depending on whether you prefer Even where a hotel has a few single rooms, sharing hotel rooms/cabins with someone or publishes single rates, those single rates you know or with a stranger. are generally more than PPDO rates. Hostels If you prefer to travel with someone you are about the only accommodations I know know, you may be able to locate your own that charge by the person for everyone. traveling companion from among your usual Some cruise ships have a few single-occu- circles — friends, relatives, co-workers, pancy cabins. They typically cost more than members of your church, club or profes-

sional association, or Facebook “friends.” If that doesn’t work, you can explore the “halfway” alternative: Enroll in one of the several “clubs” that match potential travelers weeks or months in advance of an actual trip and allow you to meet and get acquainted before you make a travel commitment. The first such organization, as far as I know, was the pre-Internet Jens Jurgen’s Travel Companion Exchange. Jens retired and shut it down 10 years ago, but a former member is reviving it (www.travelcompanionexchange.com). Others offering similar matching services include SoloMate Travel (www.solomatetravel.com) and Travel Chums (www.travelchums.com). They all work about the same way: You enroll (usually with modest dues) and submit a personal profile with a list of places you want to visit. The organization then sends you a list of potential matches, and you can start contacting or even meeting with any that seem of interest. Depending on your interests, these organizations arrange either same- or opposite-sex matches. If you’re OK with — or even prefer — traveling with a stranger, many tour opera-

tors and cruise lines arrange matched-up tours and cruises for singles. Virtually all of the self-announced “singles travel” specialists actually match. Among them are All Singles Travel (www.allsinglestravel.com), Escapade Cruises (www.singlescruises-tours.com), O Solo Mio (www.osolomio.com), Singles-Cr uises (www.singles-cruises.com), and Singles in Paradise (www.singlesinparadise.com). Women Traveling Together (www. women-traveling.com) specializes in allwomen singles tours and cruises. Some senior-only cruises are offered by All Singles Travel and Singles Travel International (www.singlestravelintl.com). Often, these agencies offer to “guarantee” that they will find someone to share your cabin/hotel accommodations and, if they fail, they’ll let you occupy double accommodations at the regular per-person price. Some claim they try to assign matches based on some sort of personal screening rather than just the luck of the draw. Beyond same sex, however, this matching does not promise compatibility — it just avoids the singles gouge. And that’s enough for many. © 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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Arts &

A spring house and garden walk will raise funds for the needy. See story on page 29.

Sites, sights and delights on tasting tour Already aware of the Palm Desert cultural and dining scene, she developed Desert Tasty Tours and began leading groups of usually eight to 14 on mid-day outings along El Paseo a few days a week. Later she also began conducting similar tours for groups in Palm Springs. The 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. tours cover about 1.5 miles each, include enough food samplings to constitute a full lunch with a little wine and a desert, and also treat guests to a stop at a specialty food shop. Many of her guests have been visitors to the valley, Kneiding said, and the tours have become popular with local residents seeking a unique outing for visiting family and friends. But of the locals who come along, “there are almost always things about the cities and the areas that they may not have known before. I think people are always surprised by what they learn.” Conversation among group members is easy-going and spurred by individual reactions to the elements of the tour. “Everyone

Tell them you saw it in the Beacon!

PHOTO COURTESY OF DESERT TASTY TOURS

By Connie George Food tastings at a variety of dining establishments mix with a guided walk highlighting local art, history and culture in a pleasing blend provided by a unique new business in the valley. Desert Tasty Tours launched last January to lead small groups of residents and visitors through two of the valley’s most popular destinations — El Paseo in Palm Desert and downtown Palm Springs. Each tour includes stops at six restaurants and specialty food shops, where guests can sample the fare of each, along with a narration of the unique features of both areas. The company’s owner, Kristy Kneiding, uses the slogan “Stroll. Savor. Smile!” to impart the impression of the experience planned for tour guests. While former marketing manager for the City of Palm Desert, she said she was inspired to create the business after going on a similar tour in another city. “I wondered, why is there not something like that in this area?”

Guests on a Desert Tasty Tours outing along Palm Desert’s El Paseo sample the fare of a local restaurant, while tour operator Kristy Kneiding, far right, provides narration.

likes something different,” Kneiding said. For the current season, in order to offer more outings per week, Kneiding has hired a guide for downtown Palm Springs, while she continues to lead the tours in Palm Desert. Tours are $48 and available Wednesday through Saturday in both loca-

tions. Private outings can also be arranged. For more information, including where to meet and individual stops included, call Kneiding at (760) 565-2262 or visit www.deserttastytours.com. Tickets can also be purchased on the website or by calling 1-800-979-3370.

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SILENT MOVIES WITH BOB SALISBURY Friday, January 11, 7pm TICKETS $10 (18 AND UNDER FREE) Mr. Salisbury will play the great St. Margaret’s organ to accompany the classic 1924 silent film production “Peter Pan”

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Women’s circle raises funds for McCallum Since the circle’s founding 25 years ago, it has raised nearly $5 million from memberships and fundraising events that support the McCallum Theatre Institute’s arts education for youth. This most recent contribution, which exceeded last year’s, was presented to Mitch

Film fest brings movie magic to town By Connie George The Palm Springs International Film Festival, one of the largest such events in North America, is expected to draw 135,000 attendees to its 24th season, Thursday, Jan. 3, through Monday, Jan. 14. The festival is also known for its annual Black Tie Awards Gala, honoring the best in filmmaking achievements by significant representatives of the industry. This year’s gala will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, Saturday, Jan. 5, with award recipients to include director Robert Zemeckis and actresses Helen Hunt and Naomi Watts. Venues throughout the city will showcase the films, a majority of which have been submitted to the Academy Awards

for consideration in the Best Foreign Language category. Other entries include independent American films as well as international features and documentaries. A complete schedule — which will also include filmmaker tributes, cultural events, industry seminars and locations of all participating venues — will be posted Sunday, Dec. 23, on the festival’s website at www.psfilmfest.org. Tickets may be reserved online, and prices for individual screenings will be $11 to $12, or $60 for a package of six showings. Other prices apply for other ticket packages and for special events. For more information, call the festival office at (760) 322-2930 or 1-800-8987256.

Gershenfeld, McCallum president and chief operating officer, at the circle’s elegant Annual Membership Tea on Nov. 14. Nearly 200 circle members and their guests attended the

celebration, held at the Indian Wells home of circle board member Sally St. John. See WOMEN’S CIRCLE, page 30

PHOTO BY MADELINE ZUCKERMAN

By Connie George The Muses & Patroness Circle of the McCallum Theatre, a women’s organization dedicated to fundraising efforts for the nonprofit performing arts venue, has contributed $303,500 for outreach programs to local students.

A major contribution for educational programs is presented to the McCallum Theatre Institute by the Muses & Patroness Circle on Nov. 14. Pictured, from left, are Harold Mantzer, McCallum Theatre’s board chairman; Mitch Gershenfeld, McCallum’s chief executive officer and president; Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, the institute’s director of education; and Sandra Hill, circle board member.

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Annual house & garden walk fundraiser By Madeline Zuckerman Jewish Family Service of the Desert (JFS) has announced its 15th Annual House & Garden Walk will take place on Sunday, March 10, 2013 from noon until 4 p.m. Attendees will enjoy some of the special highlights from the four featured homes this year, including a Palm Desert estate transformed into an African village complete with exotic wildlife, a Tuscan villa nestled in an estate in The Renaissance, off historic Clancy Lane in Rancho Mirage, and a stunning contemporary home in Mirada Estates. “This year’s event features unique homes that highlight architecture and design,” said Michael Phipps, co-chair of the walk. “These homes truly reflect the manifestation of a homeowner’s unique and inspiring vision,” Phipps added. Proceeds from this year’s walk will ben-

One of the living rooms on the tour.

efit JFS, a 30-year-old non-sectarian nonprofit organization with offices in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. JFS provides a diverse array of critical counseling and social service needs to those in need in our community, regardless of religion, age, income, ethnicity or lifestyle. It is a caring resource for people who are seeking guidance, comfort, support and hope during difficult times. Assisting the Jewish and general community throughout the greater Coachella Valley, among the vital services JFS provides are: • Mental health counseling, outreach, and a speakers’ bureau • Food assistance • Positive Life Series – Seminars for people living with HIV/AIDS • Emergency assistance • Information and referrals – Linking needy families and individuals with community resources • Solutions for Seniors – Care management services • JFS Express – Transportation for homebound seniors • Friendly visitors – Visits to homebound seniors, providing companionship and support • Shabbat in a Bag – Visits to homebound seniors to help them celebrate the

weekly Sabbath • Kids First Counseling – Targeting at risk children • Intensive outpatient drug and alcohol program for teens • Camp scholarships “Last year, Jewish Family Service of the Desert provided direct services to more than 2,500 households,” said Michelle Anstadt, executive director. “The need continues to grow, and it is estimated that through increased service, JFS will help over 3,000 valley residents this coming year,” she said. Media sponsors of the upcoming House & Garden Walk include The Coachella Valley Beacon, Palm Springs Life magazine, KMIR and KPSE TV, and Money Radio 1200.

Participants on the tour will visit many area homes.

For more information on Jewish Family Ser vice of the Desert, or for tickets and information about their House & Garden Walk in March, call (760) 3254088 or visit www.jfsdesert.org.


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Women’s circle From page 28 “This is a truly amazing gift from the Muses,” Gershenfeld, said. “In so many ways, our McCallum Theatre Muses & Pa-

D E C 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

tronesses epitomize the artistic endeavors that inspire us each day. As the Muses of antiquity conveyed their knowledge of music, dance, theater and poetry, our Muses have taken on the responsibility of ensuring that the McCallum Theatre Institute is able to convey a knowledge and appreciation of the

BEACON BITS

Dec. 15

arts to the young people of our community. For this, we are truly grateful.” The group’s fundraising efforts will continue in the new year. A luncheon, “A Hat Affair,” will be held Wednesday, Jan. 23, at Desert Horizons Country Club, 44900 Desert Horizons Dr., Indian Wells. A major gala, the “All That Jazz” Theatre Ball, will take place Friday, March 22 at Westin Mis-

sion Hills Resort, 71333 Dinah Shore Dr., Rancho Mirage. For more information on these events and the Muses & Patroness Circle, call June Benson at the McCallum Theatre Development Department, (760) 346-6505, ext. 133. For more information on the McCallum Theatre Institute, visit www.mccallumtheatre.com/education.

ART SALE AT SAVAGE GALLERY

A variety of original fine art by several award-winning artists will be showcased for sale on Saturday, Dec. 15, at Savage Gallery and Boutique, 870 Research Dr., Ste. 1, Palm Springs. Items will include paintings, prints, drawings, assemblages, collages, photography, sculptures, glassworks, candles, books, jewelry and cards, and none will cost more than $100. For more information, call (760) 464-5978 or visit www.paintingsbysavage.com

B E AC ON B I T S

Dec. 21+

CHRISTMAS COMEDY AT ANNENBERG Take equal parts Tiny Tim, George Bailey, Rudolph the red-nosed

reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, throw them all in a blender, and the result will be Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some). The stage production will play

Dec, 19

‘SNAZZY JAZZY’ CONCERT AT CV REP

Considered one of the “great ladies of jazz,” Yve Evans will present “Snazzy Jazzy” for Coachella Valley Repertory on Wednesday, Dec. 19. Showtime is 7 p.m. and tickets are $25. The theater is at 69930 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage. For reservations and more information, call (760) 296-2966 or visit wwww.cvrep.org.

Friday, Dec. 21, through Sunday, Dec. 23, at the Annenberg Theater in the Palm Springs Art Museum complex at 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. Tickets are $28. For showtimes, reservations and more information, call (760) 322-4800 or visit www.psmuseum.org.

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December 2012 Coachella Valley Beacon Edition