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Archive for October, 2008

SCHOOL NEWS: Cal Football Felony, Orinda, Brentwood & More

College libraryTwo Cal football players – one current, one former – were arrested in connection with that outrageous armed robbery a few weeks ago at one of the university dorms. Matt Krupnick has the full rundown but here’s the 10-second recap: the football athletes were offended by a racist remark made at a party (the offending player in that scenario was suspended from the university crew team), and the robbery was a retaliation. Only problem – besides the felonious part, of course, and the waving around of a gun inside a dormitory – was that their victims were not involved in the party incident at all. Unbelievable.
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Posted on Friday, October 24th, 2008
Under: Schools | No Comments »

EIGHT DAYS Till Halloween…

Staff PhotojournalistIs the table or front porch looking a little bleak? Does it need a Halloween pick-me-up? I’ve always been BIG in the decorate-for-Christmas department. Not so much for Halloween. Considering I’m throwing a Halloween party this year, I decided it was time to bust out the orange and black. But of course, with the economy being tight, I needed to do it on a budget.

That brought me to the discount stores. With just a few bucks and lots of imagination, it’s possible to whip out a porch or table centerpiece in just about an hour. I wanted one that would work both indoors and out. Even better, the pumpkin tree uses indoor and outdoor elements, cost less than $20 to make, lights up with battery-operated votive candles and was simple enough that my 11-year-old stepdaughter could help put it together. (One note: Branches are fragile, a lesson I learned the hard way when I accidentally tipped the centerpiece over and snapped one side of it. The good news, however — branches are free, so it was easy to fix.) Want to make a pumpkin tree of your own, just follow these instructions (and for more affordable Halloween decoration ideas, check out the Home & Garden section Saturday):
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Posted on Friday, October 24th, 2008
Under: Crafts, Halloween | No Comments »

RECALLED Wii Guitars

Recalled Nintendo GuitarGot one of these at home? The Consumer Product Safety Commission just recalled 57,000 of these Rage wireless guitars which are used with Nintendo Wii games. Seems a circuit board defect can cause the guitar’s AA batteries to leak – and they’ve had one report already of a chemical burn. Take the guitar, which is made by Performance Designed Products, not Nintendo, back to the store where you purchased it for a full refund. Then party on, Garth.

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

ON the 9th Day of Halloween

Sludge Fudge and Eerie Eyeballs (Mark DuFrene, Contra Costa Times)Forget the nine ladies dancing and the partridge atop a pear tree. On the ninth day of Halloween, my true spook gave to me … SLUDGE FUDGE. Oozing peanut butter and marshmallow creme, with a crinkled toffee surface, this one’s a Halloween party winner. The recipe’s adapted from Kraft’s classic Fantasy Fudge, but it gets its sludgy appearance from added ingredients and less-than-thorough mixing.

Mix 3 cups sugar, ¾ cup butter and 1 small can evaporated milk in a heavy-bottomed pan. Bring it to a full boil and let it boil at medium heat for a good five minutes, stirring all the while.
Meanwhile…
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Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
Under: Cuisine, Halloween | No Comments »

FAB EIGHT for the Weekend

There’s way too much cool stuff happening this weekend to settle for a mere Fab Five. So, here’s a Fab Eight of Family Fun…
Instrument Petting Zoo
1. It’s tough to sit through an entire concert when you’re little. That’s why Berkeley’s Crowden Music Center and San Francisco Chamber Orchestra are teaming up to launch “Very First Concerts,” a new classical music series designed expressly for families with kids ages 3-7. Get up and dance, help conduct or just sit back and enjoy the music this Sunday at 11 and 11:40 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. at the Crowden Center. The short concert includes hands-on musical activities and an instrument petting zoo (pictured above). Free.

2. Join the Fiesta de los Angelitos this weekend at Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes and make tissue paper marigolds, kites and nichos – a decorated mini-diorama often used for Day of the Dead memorials. Feast on sugar skulls, pan de los muertos, tamales from the Tamale Lady, and chocolate drinks. This Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m., followed by a Dias de los Muertos procession on Saturday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. Free.
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Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
Under: Family Entertainment, Family Outings | No Comments »

ON the 10th Day Before Halloween…

Candy Bucket Trick-or-treating is big fun, but for those of us on door duty – or kids who prefer something a bit more interesting than a pillowcase treat bag – Martha Stewart has some fun candy bucket options and other Halloween crafts on her web site. Among them, this tin paint bucket, decoupaged with candy wrappers. We used Mod Podge, a matte medium/gluey substance to slather goo all over the metal bucket, smoothed on wrappers and coated the outside with more podge. The gluing was fast and easy. It was the candy unwrapping that took forever! Martha must have assigned an assistant to unwrap all her old-fashioned candy and trim the wrappers to perfection. If you’re doing this project with a young child, you may want to prep the wrappers ahead of time.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
Under: Crafts, Halloween | No Comments »

COSTUMES YOUR kids wouldn’t be caught dead in

Every year the new Halloween costumes roll out, trying to up the ante from the year before. And every year, there are at least a handful that leave us wondering if the manufacturers actually expected to make money off of them. Here’s the five groaners of 2008:

tighty whitey1) Tighty whitey – Really, do we need to explain why this one is just plain dumb? Why pay money for what our kids can do by leaving their belt at home?

Lolli the clown2) Lolli the clown — No wonder so many kids are scared to death of clowns. This looks like something out of Dr. Seuss. Or worse yet, that hideous outfit that Grandma passes off as cute for Easter dinner.

purple wiseman3) Purple Wiseman – OK, forget for a moment that this is a biblical costume. What little boy would get excited at the prospect of wearing a purple robe and a fake black beard that looks like the one Tom Hanks had in “Castaway?” It’s like Stars Wars meets Barney.

litle miss muffet tween4) Little Miss Muffet (for tweens) — Give this one the Slutty Costume of 2008 award. Sure, most tween girls are bursting at the seams to be like the high schoolers, so the whole mini skirt and fish-net stockings are in. But I’m willing to bet hard cash that the “Twilight”-crazy generation would rather go as a slutty vampire than a skanky nurshery rhyme character.

baby football5) Baby Football Bunting — At least this one gets partial credit for being kind of cute. But practically every baby costume snags points for being adorable. This one looks as if it’s swallowed baby whole. Chin, what chin? And the half football bottom makes it seem as if the folks who created it weren’t even sure what to do with it.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
Under: Just Bizarre | No Comments »

INSURED PARENTS can’t afford to insure kids

kidsWhatever your politics, I don’t think anyone can dispute that we’ve got a problem with medical care coverage. A new study has found that 2 million children in the U.S. who have no health insurance actually have at least one parent with medical coverage. That’s because these parents receive insurance coverage through their employer but can’t afford the thousands of dollars plans would require to cover their kids, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. What’s more, some of these uninsured children might qualify for public coverage but their parents are unaware of that fact. To learn more about the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, visit the program’s Web site. How important is the medical coverage crisis to you and how much will it influence how you vote next month in the political election?

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
Under: Health & Safety | No Comments »

1.5 MILLION Cribs Recalled After 2 Babies Died

Recalled Delta CribIt’s definitely not been a good year for cribs. First there was the Simplicity crib fiasco. Now the Consumer Product Safety folks have recalled 600,000 Delta Enterprise cribs, sold between 2000 and 2007, because the crib’s drop side can detach when the spring peg is not engaged. An 8-month-old baby suffocated when the drop side of his crib dropped, trapping him, and there have been two other non-fatal cases. In addition, warnings have been issued for another 985,000 Delta cribs of similar design because of problems with missing safety pegs which keep the sides from disengaging. A second 8-month-old died in a reassembled crib, where the safety pegs were not installed, and the CPSC is also aware of two children who became entrapped and nine cases where the crib sides disengaged. Free repair kits are available to anyone with either crib model.

Posted on Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
Under: Health & Safety | 5 Comments »

SCHOOL Bullies ID’d by Name

Bullies (Illustration by Gaylen Floy/MCT) Score one for the good guys in Ely, Nevada, where school officials have taken the battle against bullies to an ingenious level. The principal at White Pine Middle School had students take a campus safety survey that asked not only which parts of campus feel less safe, but which kids are causing problems. After the same five or six names popped up on numerous surveys, school officials called those children in and gave them an ultimatum – get off the bully list in the next 30 days or face the consequences.

We’re eager to hear what happens next … and we’re wondering why no one has thought to do this at local schools. Your thoughts?

Posted on Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
Under: Schools | No Comments »