Big Water 

Mother Nature's Prozac

1/24-1/25

What's not to love about waterfalls? We all know they're breathtakingly beautiful and honeymoon-ready romantic. But according to one Midwest man who recently survived a treacherous, deliberate plunge over Niagara Falls, waterfalls are also Mother Nature's answer to Prozac. The man miraculously emerged from the rocky floor of the falls, but claims his life's problems, real and imagined, were left behind in the icy waters. Organizers of the Greenbelt Alliance's upcoming hikes to local waterfalls don't promise to remedy any of your own personal problems -- or suggest you take a ride in the water -- if you join them on Saturday for their eight-mile-loop hike through the rain-greened forests of Mount Tamalpais. What they can offer are postcard-perfect views of the Pacific Ocean and a chance to traverse a verdant canyon with a cascading creek -- to be preceded by a slide show by Ann Marie Brown, author of California Waterfalls. Or on Sunday, take a ten-mile bike ride and a three-mile hike through the waterfall-laden Big Basin Park north of Santa Cruz. It's hard to think of a better way to forget about those unpaid parking tickets and your cat's acid reflux disorder, at least for a couple of hours. For more information, call 415-543-6771 or visit Greenbelt.org -- A.J. Hayes

SUN 1/25

Just Du It

New definitions in Pinole

"Those people think they own the name 'biathlon,' the shooting and skiing people," explains Sky High Productions' Big Al. "I've been pressured many times to drop the word 'biathlon' and call it a 'duathlon,' but I'm sticking with the good old English language. I was a biology teacher for a while, and do they want me to call that 'duology'?!" Sky High's Bear Creek Biathlon is a running-and-biking event, two 2.5-mile runs flanking a seventeen-mile hilly ride on the "Three Bears" bike route, "the best bicycle route in the whole Bay Area," according to Big Al. Meet at Ellerhorst School, 3501 Pine Valley Rd. in Pinole, by 10 a.m. this Sunday if you want to participate in the event, which costs $35 per individual, $40 per team. Or call Al at 510-223-5778 and pay in advance, which will save you $5. -- Stefanie Kalem

1/23-1/24

Take a Dip

They don't get the press coverage of the basketball and football programs, but the Cal men's and women's swimming and diving teams are among the best collegiate sports teams in the nation. This weekend, they both compete against conference foes Arizona and Arizona State at UCB's Spieker Aquatic Complex. The men and the women take on Arizona at 1 p.m. Friday, then face Arizona State on Sunday, also at 1 p.m. It's their last home stand before road trips that culminate in the Pac-10 Championships in Long Beach -- your last chance to see these two national powers at home this year. CalBears.ocsn.com -- Kelly Vance

WED 1/21

Yao? Wow!

Big thoughts on a big man

Some smart alecks have chortled that the recent surge of foreign professional athletes into the NHL, MLB, NBA, and even the hallowed NFL is just the latest example of sending labor offshore -- outsourcing jobs that used to be done by Americans to eager overseas workers. Haw haw, but it ain't exactly true. Putting aside the fact that foreign-born athletes have been a part of Major League Baseball for generations (Luis Tiant, anyone?), the "meaning" of the superstardom of players like Yao Ming is that finally the world is arriving in the American mainstream, and vice versa. If you don't believe it, check the NBA All-Star Balloting 2004 page, NBA.com/playerfile/yao_ming, and its banners in every conceivable language. Yao is truly big. The seven-foot-six Houston Rockets center is the subject of a new book, The Tao of Yao: Insights from Basketball's Brightest Big Man -- and the author, SF writer Oliver Chin, will appear in person this afternoon (Wednesday, 5 p.m.) at Barnes & Noble Walnut Creek (1149 South Main St., 925-847-0373) to discuss his lofty subject. -- Kelly Vance

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