Posts Tagged ‘Ben Lomond’

Eggs in Tube Socks, and Beat Downs: The Perfect Halloween Pairing

October 30, 2011

Easily, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday.

I think that part of it is because it’s so close to my birthday.  Imagine, as a kid, how awesome your birthday was… feeling like you’re the most important person on the planet… knowing that you could do or eat whatever you wanted… It was your day.

Some of my favorite memories, growing up, were centered around my birthday.  Having it so close to Halloween, many of these memories involved the sights and sounds of the season…

The heat of the Summer giving way to the cool winds of Fall…

The turning of the leaves from green, to yellow, to orange, to red, to brown…

The decorations…

Indian corn, gourds, and pumpkins…

Front lawns converted into grave yards…

Garages becoming haunted mazes…

It all meant the same thing to me…

My birthday was coming up!

That… and so was Halloween… my favorite holiday.

Remember how awesome Halloween was when you were in elementary school?  Everyone showed up dressed in their costumes… Everyone.  The more unique… the more strange… the better.  The first ten minutes of class were spent walking around and figuring out what everyone was dressed up as.

The teacher would give you activities that vaguely resembled lessons…

She would read you a “scary” story…

You would count how much candy corn was in a jar for math…

As an art project, you would wrap a white napkin over a Tootsie Roll Pop and draw a face on it to make a ghost…

On the real… the “lessons” were just a way to kill time before the big Halloween parade.  You remember the parade… It would start when one class would begin to walk through another… That class would follow the original class, and they would walk through the next class… The next thing you knew, every class was now parading as a giant snake throughout the entire school.  As a result, you got a chance to see EVERYBODY’S costumes.

Upon the parade’s conclusion, everyone would go back to their classrooms and have a Halloween party…




A movie…

And hella more candy!

Once school was over, there was just one more thing on your mind…


How magical is the idea of trick-or-treating?  It’s amazing, right?  You, and a group of friends, walk up to a stranger’s door and ring the bell.  When they answer, you shout at them, “Tick or treat!”  And they give you candy.  It’s pretty awesome.

Now, trick-or-treating definitely changes as you get older…

When you’re in elementary school, your folks will take you out for about a half hour.  As soon as your little plastic pumpkin-shaped bucket is full, you’re done.  Your parents will take you home, inspect your candy, and eventually let you eat your earnings…

As you get to the latter years of elementary school, and the early years of junior high, trick-or-treating begins to change…  Your folks begin to put a little more trust in you…  You head out with a big group of friends.  You’ve graduated from pumpkin buckets to pillow cases.  You’re not just gonna go out for 30 minutes… You’ve got hours!  The goal is now simple…  Collect as much candy as you can.

If you think about it, trick-or-treating is a lesson in capitalism.  Candy is the currency, those houses are your customers, and your costume is your sales pitch.  At the end of the night, it’s those that put in the hard work… it’s those that pound the pavement… it’s those that out-hustle… Those are the ones who bring home the most candy.

There’s this weird thing that happens as you get into high school…  As you continue to trick-or-treat, many of your peers begin to drop off.  Maybe they don’t think it’s cool…  Maybe someone told them they were too old (and they believed it)…  Maybe they don’t want to hustle…  Whatever the case may be, when you take a moment to look around… People stop trick-or-treating.

Or as the Goodie Mob would say…

“People don’t dance no mo.  All they do is dis.”

This idea was never more apparent to me then when I was a sophomore in high school.  The year was 1994…

Back in the day, on Halloween, we used to roll 10 kids deep… but sophomore year was different…  As Halloween came around, most of my friends did not want to trick-or-treat.  Instead of the usual 10, our group had narrowed down to three…

Just three…

Zach DeLawyer, Morgan Lumber, and yours truly.

In planning out or trick-or-treating route, we quickly realized the advantage of having a smaller group…  Having fewer people with us meant that we could move more quickly from one house to the next.  We realized that we would be more efficient.  We could hit more houses in less time.  What we had in our small group was opportunity…

We had an opportunity to do something that had never been done before…

We were going to hit every single house in our small town of Ben Lomond in a single night!




Okay… Not every house, but a whole lot of ’em.  Here was the plan…

Zach lived on one end of Ben Lomond, and I lived on the other.  At the end of the school day, I would ride the bus over to Zach’s house to meet both him and Morgan.  We would begin trick-or-treating there, and work our way over to my house (on the other end of town).  My dad would then drive Morgan and Zach back home.

The plan was solid!

We even mapped our route!  (Click Here to See the Plan)

The only thing left was execution.  And THAT is when things got interesting…

We began trick-or-treating around 4:30pm.  Now, I know that many folks would call that too early, but when you’re planning to go to every house in the town (or at least a lot of them) you cannot wait.  At first, there were a few houses that would not answer the door, or were not ready to accommodate trick-or-treaters…  But most of the folks were very nice, and were excited to hear of our plan.

About an hour into our mission, the streets began to fill up with packs of younger kids screaming as they bounced from one house to the next.

As night began to fall, more and more ghouls, goblins, and ghosts emptied into the streets.  We would come across groups of kids our age who wanted to stop and hang out with us, but we could not be bothered…

We were on a mission!

For those that didn’t look at the map (How dare you?!?!), the complete trip consisted of an ominous 6.66 miles with an elevation gain of 397 ft.  With each house, and each contribution of candy, our pillow cases got heavier and heavier.  It got to a point were we were literally dragging our pillow cases behind us.  The entire trip took about 5 hours.  This was not an easy task for a group of 15 and 16 year-olds.

But, sure enough, we did it!

We hit the last house on our map at 9:30pm (What?  Too late?  Don’t judge us!).  As we hit the straight-away on Glen Arbor Road, the joy of a hard day’s (night’s) work was about to pay off.  My house was half a mile away…

All we had to do was get home…

That’s all we had to do…

But then, it happened…

As far as roads go in a small mountain town like Ben Lomond, Glen Arbor is a busy one.  About once every minute, a car would come racing by us.  On a quiet night, the sound of a car coming is something you get used to.  A low moan, transitions to a high purr as the car flies by at 40 miles an hour.  They vary slightly, based on the size of the car, but the sounds are usually quite similar…

So when a low and slow rumble starts to creep up behind you, you notice… And we did.

We turned our heads to find a 1975 VW van passing us at about 10 miles per hour.  As the van pulled even with us, we saw heads in the van turn… and the eyes attached to them staring us down.

There was a bus stop about 30 yards ahead of us.  The van pulled over right there.

What were we supposed to do?

We were almost home.  The only thing between my house and us was this van.  We weren’t going to hike 6 miles back to Zach’s house.

We decided to keep walking toward the van.

And then, it happened…

The doors of the van flew open, and out jumped five dudes.

Five seniors from our high school.

Five football players.

My heart sank.

Four of them hung back, while one of the young men approached us.

“Give us your candy,” he muttered calmly in our direction…

Now, in times of stress our body responds.  It starts when our adrenal glands release a hormone called adrenaline.  The hormone causes our heart rate to speed up and our blood vessels to constrict.  That, coupled with the instantaneous release of glucose into our blood stream, contributes to our fight-or-flight response.  As a defense mechanism, we will either fight or we will flee.  I am always more inclined to do the latter…

“Give us your candy!” he repeated.

I grabbed tight to my bag of candy and began to cautiously step backwards.

Morgan stood still.

But Zach…

Zach had a different response…

“I ain’t giving you my f-ing candy!” he yelled back at the football player.

“That’s a shame,” the football player responded, “I guess I’m just gonna have to take it!”  He grabbed on to one end of Zach’s pillow case, but Zach would not let go.  The two of them began to play tug-o-war with the candy in the middle of the street.

Several cars drove by us, but not a single one stopped to help.

After about a minute, I looked over at Morgan (who had been a statue up to this point).  His face began to change.  Zach and Morgan, though not related by blood, share a mutual cousin.  They had been the best of friends almost their entire life.  They were as close as brothers.  Morgan’s momentarily frozen face began to change to one of anger.  I could see the fire inside him beginning to build.

In a moment, I watched Morgan drop his candy.  He cocked back his right fist, and began to run toward the football player who was tugging on Zach’s candy.  With a high-pitched scream, he jumped into the air and punched the dude in the back of the head.

The football player immediately let go of Zach, and turned toward Morgan.  He grabbed Morgan by the collar and began to shake him.  In one motion, the football player picked up Morgan’s 120 pound body and threw him into a bush.  He then grabbed Morgan’s candy, jumped back into the van with his friends, and took off…

We were almost home…

We almost made it…

But there we stood…

We were shaken…

We were defeated…

At the end of the day, you have to know that our mission was not about the candy.  Zach and I still had ours, and of course we shared what we had with Morgan.  It was about the journey.  We had made a plan.  We put in the hours.  And we did what we set out to do.  In the face of our peers who had said that we were too old to trick-or-treat, we were gonna show them that we were not.  This was our night to shine…

In an instant…

In one action…

Those bastards took our Halloween from us.

They took our innocence.

Living in a small town, word gets around fast.  The next day at school, we didn’t have to tell anyone what had happened to us… They already knew.  We didn’t expect any sympathy from anyone.  And sure enough, we did not get any.

A lot of our peers reacted to the story with laughter.  Some even had the balls to tell us that we deserved it, since we were too old to be trick-or-treating in the first place.  I don’t think any of them would be laughing as much if they realized what was going to happen the following year…

Again, Ben Lomond is a small town.  It was not just students at the local high school who knew what happened…  Parents heard of it too…  Parents of younger children…  Parents who were now afraid to let their kids trick-or-treat.

The next year, when we were Juniors, nobody trick-or-treated.  Not just me, or Zach, or Morgan…

Nobody trick-or-treated in Ben Lomond in 1995…


Maybe a few people did, but Halloween was not the same that year.  Those guys that jumped us for our candy did not just ruin our Halloween.  They ruined it for an entire community.

The idea of not celebrating Halloween (my favorite holiday) just made me sick.  Something had to change.  So when we were seniors (in the Fall of 1996), we committed to make that change…

In the Fall of 1996, we made it happen…

When you become a senior in high school, you begin to gain perspective.  You understand that for some of your classmates (many of whom you’ve known since you were in kindergarten), senior year is the last time you will see some of them… for the rest of your life.  You know that this prom and this homecoming will be your last.  And as for Halloween and trick-or-treating, you know that after your senior year it will never be the same.

It all started with Morgan Lumber…

He was the one who was the most affected by the events of that faitful Halloween night.  He was the one who got tossed in a bush and lost his candy.  While eating lunch, he brought it up…

“Who’s trick-or-treating with me this year?”

That one question gave us licence to jump on board.  Zach was all in, and so was I.

I fired up the computer, and used this brand new site on the internet called google to print out a map of our route.  That Halloween, at school, I gave copies to Zach, Morgan, and several other friends in an attempt to fire people up about trick-or-treating.

As stoked as we were on Halloween this year, other folks had different responses…

“I’m too old for trick-or-treating.”

“Why would I trick-or-treat, when I can go to a party?”

It was just more of the same stuff from two years prior.

A small group of friends had a different response all together…

My buddies Nick TheDrummer, JR FromGirls, A Boy Named Sue, and Morgan DaChef got a hold of our map, and decided to have a little fun.

“Thanks for the map,” JR smirked, “We’re gonna be looking for you tonight.  And when we find you, we’re gonna jack you for your candy.”

With that threat, I looked JR in the eyes and responded, “You know where to find us.  Bring it, bitch!”

That night, just as in the past, we got started early.  We came prepared with two pillow cases each, and a map of our route.  But that Halloween, we weren’t just getting ready to trick-or-treat…


We each grabbed two long tube socks.  In the bottom of each sock, we carefully placed one raw egg.

Maybe they would find us…

Maybe they wouldn’t…

Maybe they would take our candy from us…

But one thing was sure…

If they were getting our candy, they were gonna get wet.

A couple of hours had gone by in our trick-or-treating mission.  Our pillow cases were starting to fill up.  And with our senior-sized bodies, they didn’t seem as heavy as they did in years past.  We had almost forgotten about the threats of our peers…

But then, it happened…

The sound was that of a car horn repeatedly being honked.  We looked back to see a brown 1982 Toyota Tercel hatchback creeping up along side of us.  It was Nick’s car.  A car I had known all to well.  All of the windows were rolled down, and a head peaked out of the passenger side.  It was JR.

“We’re coming to get you, bitches!” he threatened.

As they slowly continued down the road, Zach was the first to respond.  “Oh Hell nah!” he exclaimed as he reached into one of his tube socks.  He pulled out an egg and fired it at Nicks car.


It was a direct hit on Nick’s rear windshield.

Immediately, Nick slammed on his brakes and jumped out of his car.  “What the f–k, bro!?!?” he yelled out as he raised his arms up.

“What are you gonna do?” Morgan Lumber yelled back.

“You’ll see!” Nick responded as he jumped back into his car and peeled out.

What were they planning?

We just shrugged it off, and continued trick-or-treating…

About a half an hour later, we had reached a stretch of road that didn’t have many houses.

It was dark.

It was flat.

It was quiet.

As we turned a corner we saw Nick’s car parked on the side of the road.

We approached with caution.

We approached prepared.

I quickly hid my pillow case of candy behind a bush.  I then reached back into my belt loops and pulled out my egg-filled tube socks.   Morgan and Zach pulled out their tube socks as well…

When we were about 20 feet from the car, the doors flew open and Nick, JR, Sue, and Morgan D. stepped out.

“Give us your candy!” they all yelled in unison.

Zach raised the middle finger of his free had and shouted back, “Go f–k yourself!”

“Let’s get ’em!” Morgan DaChef called out as he charged straight for me.


You should know that Morgan DaChef and I had a bit of an awkward history.  He, along with Nick and JR, was in a band with me for about a year.  He was a really fun guy to hang out with.  He also hated me for a quite some time… and for good reason.  The summer before, I had started dating his ex-girlfriend of about 4 years.  It was an awful… awful thing that I did to a friend.  It was a stupid thing to do, and I will forever be sorry.

Back to the story…

So Morgan D. came charging right at me.  Though he was bigger than me, I stayed calm.  My candy was hidden, and I had a plan.

When he was about 10 feet away from me, I held my egg-filled tube socks out to my sides and began to swing them like nunchakus.  When he saw me swinging something in the dark, Morgan began to slow-up.  Before he could fully react to what was happening, I hit him with the eggs.



I caught him on the top of the head with the left, then the right.

Now look… It was dark out.  He didn’t know what was in those socks.  For all he knew, they could have been rocks.  The only thing that he was certain of was that he got hit with something… That, and now something was oozing down his face… For all he knew, it could have been blood (not egg).

Morgan DaChef grabbed his head and yelled, “What the f–k did you just do, Jeff?!?!”  In a rage he picked me up over his head, and body slammed me on a sand dune.  He then grabbed his head again and ran off toward the car, shouting to JR and Sue, “I’m bleeding!”

Slowly getting back to my feet, I looked over at Zach.  He was on the ground, wrestling for his candy with Nick.

From out of nowhere, I then saw Morgan Lumber run up and smash two eggs on the back of Nick’s head.



Nick let go of the bag and clutched his head just long enough for Zach to roll back to his feet.  With an upper-cutting motion, Zach delivered the final blow to Nick’s chest.


Crying, Nick ran back to his car where everyone else was waiting, and jumped in.

As they drove off, an arm stretched out of each window of the Toyota Tercel… each with a middle finger raised high.

In return, each of us grabbed our pillow cases of candy and lifted them high above our heads as symbols of victory.

We did it!

We won!

We avenged our Halloween nightmare of two years past!

The rest of the night was a blast.  We were amped up.  We were happy.

We brought Halloween back to Ben Lomond!




When I got home that night, I threw my candy on the scale…


I was shocked!

We did it!


You know…

Back then, I was hella stoked to have that much candy at once.


I wouldn’t know what to do with it.

I’m not really a huge candy guy,


I am a big wine guy…

Today, a lot of wineries have gotten into doing candy and wine pairings around Halloween time.

This past Saturday, Kara and I decided to stop by a few places to see what they had.

Check it…

The first stop was Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy…

When we showed up at Kirigin, we started with a glass of sparkling wine to cleanse the palate.

The first pairing was Chardonnay with Kit Kat. The wafer of the Kit Kat brought out the butteriness of the Chardonnay.

Up next... Pinot Noir with Whoppers. The light milk chocolate of the whopper was a good choice.

With the Zinfandel, we had Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Jammy Zin + Peanut Butter Cups = Liquid PB&J

Hershey's Kisses with Syrah was a nice one. It was kind of refreshing to have milk chocolate (instead of dark) with a wine.

Before leaving Kirigin, you have to try their Vino de Mocca. It's a fortified dessert wine, made with grapes, oranges, chocolate and coffee. I would be stoked to get that in my pillow case when I trick-or-treat this year.

On the way back toward Morgan Hill, we stopped by Clos La Chance in San Martin…

I'm liking this wine flight!

Up first... Viognier and Candy Corn Pumpkin. Not a good choice. The butteriness of the Candy Pumpkin makes the Viognier taste like a crappy Chardonnay.

Now the Hershey's Bar with Almonds and the Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay was rad!

Let me just say that I've never had a Take 5 before I did this pairing... Now I'm obsessed! Pretzels. Chocolate. Caramel. Peanuts. Peanut Butter. Legit! Oh... and the SCM Pinot Noir was good too.

Estate Syrah and Snickers really satisfies.

The final pairing of the day was a Kit Kat and a Meritage. Not bad, though I think Kirigin had it right by pairing Kit Kat with a Chardonnay.


There you have it!

Here’s hoping that your Halloween is filled with GOODIES… and you don’t get MOBBED!

Take it away, boys…

Stay Rad,



Going home… Wherever that is.

July 27, 2011

My father is a retired math teacher.

Every year, during the first week of school, he would show his students a video.  The only film to be viewed in his class all year.  Why?  “It’s the only movie that matters.” he would tell me.

The movie?

Donald in Mathmagic Land!

Check it out... Square Roots!

It’s a wonderful 27 minute animation, following Donald Duck’s learning of the magic of geometry from a voice in the woods.  Since my dad only showed it in his class once a year, the video stayed in our video cabinet for the other 364 days of the year.  As short as the film was, and with as much time as I had in my day, I would watch this film often as a child.

My favorite part of this one is when Donald Duck first realizes that he is lost.  First, he notices that all the birds have right triangles for beaks.  Then he sees that the trees look kind of strange.  He walks right up to one of them, and says in his ducky voice, “Well, whatdayaknow?  Square Roots!”

I thought that line was hilarious.  You can only imagine how stoked I was when I got to actually learn about square roots in school.  “Square roots!” I would shout in my math class while working on problems.

“You’re weird!” random pretty girls would say back to me.


I’m getting off topic.

I’ve been thinking a lot about ROOTS lately…

The Roots

"Roots! Bloody roots!" - Sepultura

"Don't forget your roots!" - H2O

A friend of ours just visited us from Japan.  She moved out there with her boyfriend a year ago.

She mentioned to us that in the time she’s been back in the USA, she’s started to feel homesick.  That’s a funny kind of thing.  A girl born and raised in Sunnyvale missing her home… Her home of one year.  Japan!

It’s funny.

It’s funny how our sense of home can change.

It’s funny how I can relate.

You know that I grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Ben Lomond, California, to be specific.  To those who I figure don’t know, or don’t care to know, about Ben Lomond… I just tell them I’m from Santa Cruz.  Not entirely true, but close enough.

Though I never lived in the city of Santa Cruz, I guess I could consider it my “home town”.  From the time I was old enough to ride the bus on my own, Santa Cruz was my play ground.  Once I learned how to drive, it was on.

Walking Pacific Avenue just to see what I could see.

Hitting up the Boardwalk to seek a thrill.

Working at the Boardwalk… and Juice World… and Streetlight Records… to get some scratch.

Going to punk rock shows.

Playing punk rock shows.

Cruising in the 1985 Honda Accord hatchback with my buddies from West Cliff to East Cliff and back.

Bonfires on the beach.

Bar hopping.

Santa Cruz is where I grew up.

Ben Lomond, however, is my home…


Ben Lomond was my home.

In 2002, while I was getting my credential at San Jose State, my folks sold the house in Ben Lomond and moved to Reno, Nevada.  Good for them.  The house is really nice.  Good for me.  When I go to Reno, I don’t have to pay for a hotel room.


In a way…

Bad for me.

Bad for me because now that my parents don’t live in Ben Lomond any more, I don’t have a reason to go back to my home town.

As far as Santa Cruz goes, there are plenty of reasons to go there… I just don’t.  At least… not as often as I should.

It’s funny.

It’s funny that over the last 10 years San Jose has become my new home.

It’s where I went to college.  It’s where I made my career.  It’s where I fell in love.

It’s funny that for the last two years, I’ve lived in Morgan Hill.  It’s where I bought a home.  It’s where I got married.  It’s where I spend all my time.

It’s where I write this blog.

But let’s get back to my roots.

This morning, Kara and I went for a run…

in Santa Cruz.

Here are some pictures that Kara took with her phone (I should get one of those)…

West Cliff

Natural Bridges

It was such a beautiful, relaxing run.

We started at Lighthouse Beach State Park, right next to the Surfer Boy Statue.  The run took us along the West Cliff trail to Natural Bridges and back.

It was beautiful.

I saw the Monterey Bay.

I saw the birds, and mussels, and ice plants.

I saw the people.

The locals.  I was one once.

The tourists.  I am one now.



And I smelled it.  The ocean.  The briny briny sea.

It made me think of scallops.

It made me want some food.


Let’s do this!

After the run, Kara and I drove over to 99 Bottles on Walnut Ave. (between Pacific and Cedar) in downtown SC.

We sat on the patio…

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

Here’s what I had…

Big Daddy IPA

The 99 Burger

Pickles, onions, tomato, lettuce, and the secret mustard-mayo sauce.

The beer was great.  Nice and hoppy up front, with a crisp finish.  The perfect beer to go with a burger.

The burger?  Meh… It was all right.  The condiments were really nice, but the actual burger… It wasn’t that great.  The meat was a little over-cooked.  It came off as being really crumbly.  I think whoever formed the burger from the ground beef squished it a little too much.  It’s the type of burger that you need a good beer with… to make you forget it.


Lunch was nice, and I really enjoyed going back to my roots… back to Santa Cruz…


I was itching to leave.

I was ready to go home.


Morgan Hill, California.

Stay Rad,


“If you don’t like Jeff, you don’t like people.”

June 11, 2011

When I was a senior in high school, my mother was talking with my uncle on the phone.  My name had come up in the conversation, and my uncle proceeded to tell my mom,

“If you don’t like Jeff, you don’t like people.”

My mom relayed the words to me a few days later, and I was completely flattered.  That is, without a doubt, the greatest compliment I have ever received.

Those words were said well over a decade ago.  Although I doubt today that neither my mother nor my uncle would recall that conversation, I’ve worn those words like a metal ever since.

That quote means so much to me, because they explain so perfectly how I want people to think of me… A genuinely nice person.  That’s not always the case (just ask one of my old roommates), but I try.

Whether you’ve known me since I was a kid in Ben Lomond, met me as a punk rocker at San Lorenzo Valley High School, studied biology with me at San Jose State, or are reading my words for the first time in this blog (Hello There!), I want you to know that I’m a good dude who’s always looking to enjoy life.

That brings me to this blog.

My goal here is to highlight as many good things in life as I can.  I want to tell you about what I’m watching on TV.  I want to tell you about my fantasy sports teams.  I want to tell you what I’m listening to on my iPod.  I want to tell you how my last race or long run went.


I also want to give you focus.  Because of this, I’ve decided to make this a blog about WINE.  I can’t think of any one thing that does a better job of bringing all of the good things in life together.

What am I sharing with my wife when we watch TV together?

How do I celebrate my fantasy football championships?

How do I set the mood?

How do I congratulate myself for a job well done?

WINE (period)

This blog will be THE place to find my wine reviews.  I am not an expert.  I am not critically acclaimed.  I do, however, love wine.

You will also read about the people and places I encounter whenever wine is involved.

My hope for you, is that you simply enjoy this blog.  Please subscribe to it, and tell your friends, if you like it.  If you can’t get enough of me, you can also follow me on Twitter @JeffIsRad.

It’s possible that some of you could end up reading this only to find that you hate me.  (Yikes!)   You may think that my writing lacks pizzazz.  (Ouch!)  You could be frustruated by my spelling.  (Yowza!)  You will tell your friends that I have no business writing a blog about wine at all.  (Noooooooooooo!!!!!!!!)

If that is the case, please just remember what my mom once told me my uncle said to her on the phone over a decade ago…

Don’t you feel bad now?

Stay Rad,


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