Equine Complex

Children find solace in horse-assisted therapy

Avery Benedict-Hall can’t talk, but when he slides onto a horse every Saturday morning at 11, his audience can hear the sound of his smile: clap, clap, clap. The 9-year-old has a host of neurological disorders, including cerebral palsy, autism and cortical visual impairment. Clapping is a soothing stimulant for many children with autism.

Dec 1, 2009 Stephanie Flores
James Herwatt, CEO of Cork Supply USA, which typically sips about 15 million corks a month

Chain Reaction

Auxillary industries weather the wine storm

Northern California manufacturers and distributors of everything from barrels to bottles to pesticides for the region’s wine industry are using the same juxtaposition to sum up the wine market: “up and down.”

Dec 1, 2009 Christine Calvin
Kaiser Permanente's Dr. Walter Kinney has been at the forefront of cervical cancer research and development.

Early Times

Can the medical community eradicate cervical cancer in your lifetime?

Cervical cancer in the U.S. has been declining for the past 50 years, and with recent advancements in prevention and screening, doctors imagine the cancer could be eradicated from America’s population within your lifetime. It’s a lofty ambition with a major caveat: It is almost entirely dependent upon the participation of the nation’s underserved women.

Oct 1, 2009 Christine Calvin
Researchers have found that decision making can exhaust the brain.

Brain Exam

A play-by-play of your body's most important organ

What’s your brain doing right now? What was it doing when you woke up, got hungry, went to work, danced, made love, got angry, got happy, fell asleep and dreamed? Judith Horstman is a local writer and frequent Comstock’s contributor. Her new book, “The Scientific American Day In the Life of Your Brain,” chronicles hour-by-hour what goes on in your brain through a typical day and night.

Sep 1, 2009 Judith Horstman
Residents of the Chateau at River's Edge participate in a Tai Chi class.

Selling the Boom

The slogans behind senior living

Terri Bacon participates in line dancing, water aerobics and a book club in her community, Glenbrooke by Del Webb, which targets active adults older than 55. She recently started a club that attends theater performances. “I’m busier here than I’ve ever been, and I’m doing things that are worthwhile,” says Bacon, who turns 62 this month.

Aug 1, 2009 Ingrid Ahlgren
(Photo: istockphoto.com)

Dancing with Deception

Making sense of cognitive impairment

Uncle Bert seemed normal to me, so I wondered what was going on when a phone call ripped into an otherwise peaceful Monday. It was Dave, a trusted family friend. “Honey, your uncle has dementia, and all his friends are very concerned about it,” he said. “You need to do something.”

Aug 1, 2009
Botanicalls technology sends Twitter updates to users when plants need water.

(Photo courtesy of Botanicalls)

Diggin’ It

Can gardening go digital?

Try as they might, some people are incapable of keeping a plant alive. As easy as maintaining a regular watering schedule, proper lighting and keeping pests away seems, these black thumbs, as they’ve been termed, can still turn the hardiest species into compost after a few weeks. Two recent gadgets give a leg up to gardeners who can’t quite get the swing and offer a chance to bring the power of networks and databases to everyday life.

May 1, 2009 Nick Parish
James Diepenbrock, senior vice president of Citi Institutional Consulting, is planning a sailing trip in 2010 that will take him from San Francisco to the Caribbean via the Panama Canal.

(Photo courtesy of James Diepenbrock)

Extreme Executives

Out of the office and where the wild things are

While some business people are perfectly content golfing or playing tennis in their time off, others apply their competitive spirit to more extreme pursuits. These high achievers share several characteristics: They search far and wide for challenges, they’re competitive, they have uncommon amounts of energy and they have the financial means to travel, whether to climb Russia’s Mount Elbrus, kite surf in Brazil or hunt rare black impala in South Africa.

May 1, 2009 Bob Burns

Hard at Play

Placer Valley looks to sports and lifestyle tourism

Work has stopped on a 40,000-square-foot conference center planned for Roseville. The city-funded project was supposed to serve as a springboard from which Placer Valley would dive into branding itself as a premier business and sports tourism destination. Now, city planners are in a holding pattern, waiting for timing, funding and manpower to realign, so the region can move forward with its plan to compete in California’s massive tourism market, which, in 2007, accounted for $96.7 billion in consumer spending.

May 1, 2009 Christine Calvin
Benicia paid consultants $40,000 to help with a branding strategy; among the recommendations were revitalizing and bringing people to the downtown waterfront, shown here.

Secret Destination

Solano hopes to attract travel spending by uncovering its image

If Napa County is wine country and Calaveras County is frog-jumping territory, where does that leave a place like Solano? Trying to catch up, perhaps.Thirty years ago Napa County was where Solano is today, says Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan. In 1992, Napa brought in $361 million in tourism revenue, and with $319 million, Solano wasn’t far behind. Fast-forward to 2006: Napa brought in almost $890 million, but Solano’s revenue only rose to $554 million.

May 1, 2009 Sukhjit Purewal