Ah, Nature 

Diabolical

10/26-10/30

Take advantage of these last few days before the winter rainy season to explore the wide open spaces of CoCoCo. Save Mount Diablo 's Web site lists six -- count 'em -- guided hikes this week, including Saturday's thirteen-plus-mile, moderately feast-paced trek through the wild eastern lands of Round Valley and Los Vaqueros, for twelve experienced hikers only. But there are many more to choose from, like Sunday's leisurely "autumn vista" walk in Round Valley Regional Preserve. Rain may cancel -- please check ahead. Go to SaveMountDiablo.org for more info. -- Kelly Vance

WED 10/26

Nowhere to Hyde

Bill Romanowski returns to Oakland as author

If you decide to catch a glimpse of retired football bad boy Bill Romanowski this evening (Wednesday, 7 p.m.) at the Jack London Square Barnes & Noble, you should keep a few things in mind, especially if you're the sort who enjoys heckling star athletes. The 39-year-old Romo, if we believe his press clippings, would sooner break your nose than talk to you. The former NFL linebacker (1988-2003), veteran of four teams and a few Pro Bowl squads, ended his career spectacularly by ripping off Raider teammate Marcus Williams' helmet and punching him in the face during practice, breaking a bone in Williams' eye socket -- Williams was awarded $340,000 damages last spring. Before that, Romanowski was involved in numerous on-the-field dustups, including spitting in the face of 49er J.J. Stokes and breaking Carolina QB Kerry Collins' jaw. His name has been linked to BALCO's Victor Conte in the ongoing athlete steroid scandal, and during a 2000 trial on drug charges he allegedly made racially inflammatory statements to the press. These days, Romo is an author (he'll sign his new book, Romo: My Jekyll and Hyde Life, tonight) and a movie actor (The Longest Yard), but he's no Jude Law. Watch what you say to him. 510-272-0120. -- Kelly Vance

SAT 10/29

The Road to the MLS Cup

The owners of the San Jose Earthquakes have assured us that they have no plans to move the team to Orlando, but there's still an air of apprehension hanging over Saturday's otherwise up-tempo MLS Western Conference Semifinals match (7 p.m.) against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Where will the team play next year? What plans does Ajax America have for the MLS' best home team (undefeated at Spartan Stadium this season), which routinely draws better on the road? On the field, the first-place Quakes have rebounded nicely from the loss of star forward Landon Donovan -- coach Dominic Kinnear has used forwards Brian Ching and Ronald Cerritos, midfielders Dwayne De Rosario and Brian Mullan, defensemen Danny Califf and Eddie Robinson, and goalkeeper Pat Onstad wisely, minimizing injuries to Ching and Mullan. But now it's time to take their game up a notch. Visit SJEarthquakes.com for up-to-the-minute news. -- Kelly Vance

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