Dear Almaden Valley:

@Almaden_Valley is proud to give you the latest news from the Relay for Life in Almaden Valley.

This year again, the 24-hour walk around the race track at Leland High School in Almaden is a big success in spite of the heat (over 90). The night will be fresh though, just like last year, as gusts of winds are settling down all over Almaden and San Jose.

Hats off to the 65+ teams that will walk until tomorrow morning to raise funds. As I am writing this, more than $100,000 have been raised!

Last year, cancer touched my mom, this year two of my closest friends have been diagnosed. It looks like cancer never stop which is why our support and love must endure every day.

My love and prayers go to my dear friends (M and ML) and all others battling the disease around the world.

Check out the pics from some of the top moments this afternoon.

Hello Almaden Valley:

I thought I would share my latest shopping experience at the new Wal-Mart store on Almaden Expressway.

Confidence for confidence, since I left Germany, I turned into a savings and a coupons’ specialist. I must say that I have been practising ever since I arrived in San Jose, managing several trips to the other Wal Mart stores in the San Jose area along with some of the top savings destinations in San Jose (that’s for another blog by the way…).

So, Yes, I finally swinged by the new Wal-Mart store on Almaden Expressway for the first time last Saturday.

Bottom line: I was honestly pleasantly surprised.

First and foremost, I did not have any issues finding a parking space. OK. Maybe I expected the worse and it turned out to be all smooth.

Next, I enter the store and find a clean, well lit and organized store with lots of brand names on the shelves. I have to say that I was particularly impressed by the Produce aisle. Fruits and vegetables looked very attractive. Even the French cook in me was appealed by these products.

You should be aware that the store is smaller than the usual Wal Mart, but this should not stop you as they carry an unusally large selection of brand names in such a small space.

I  would also like to call out the staff, very helpful, simply nice. Check out was fast and easy. Overall, a serendipitous shopping experience, even on a Saturday afternoon with 100°F  outside.

Chad, keep it up and hope to see around my next shopping trip!


Hello Almaden Valley:

As you are probably aware, Ken Dehart recently joined the Almaden Valley Athletic Club (AVAC) as its new Tennis Director.

As you are probably aware, Ken DeHart recently joined the Almaden Valley Athletic Club (AVAC) as its new Tennis Director. He brought a great team of pros with him to AVAC; Manny Fernandez, Al Juodikis and David Cain.

Like I did, you probably all read about his resume and credentials which are impressive: USA High Performance Coach, National Cardio Tennis Speakers Team, Wilson Premier Advisory Staff, PTR & USPTA Master Professional, 2 time PTR International Pro of the Year, 4 times USPTA divisional Pro of  the Year and he was the first  Master Pro in the world in both the USPTA and PTR.

Here is some more insights about the man behind the champ from a short interview conducted with Ken last week at the Almaden Valley Athletic Club.

Ken grew up in Columbus, IN. He was a 19 years old freshman in college when he first held a tennis racket in his hands. He never played tennis before. Thanks to his personal talent and his perseverance Ken earned a spot on the tennis team in his Sophomore year and won the Conference Doubles Championship at #3 doubles his junior year. During his senior year, he was named the team’s most valuable player.

The question is: How do you become so good in so little time? Here are some tips.

Before playing tennis, Ken played basketball and run cross-country. The similarity between tennis and basketball’s offense/defense tactics help him in his learning curve to play tennis. One of the things Ken likes the most about tennis is that is an individual sport. Tennis is an extremely strategic game that resembles a live chess game with moves and counter moves at a high energy level.

Luck, persistence and his personal talent opened the doors of the tennis teaching profession. After graduating with a triple major in business, physical education, and history, Ken met Thay Butchee (tennis teaching pro in Nashville, TN) and asked him if he could work in his Club for the Summer.

Thay’s brother actually took the job but Thay helped Ken get an interview at a Swim and Tennis Club in Nashville. He got the job as Director of Tennis and that was the starting point of a successful Tennis career in different renowned tennis clubs across the country.

When asked about the top 3 tennis players he admires the most, Ken mentioned Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer.

All in all, the tennis pro turned out to be super nice and very accessible. When is not playing or teaching tennis, Ken spends time with his 11-year old son playing most all sports. He also supports Karen, his wife, in her acting career. For the record, she will be performing as Miss Adalaide in the Saratoga’s Civic Theater  opening of Guys and Dolls, May 19 – June 9, 2012.

I encourage you to look up Ken DeHart’s tennis tips on Youtube and on his own website. You can also get in touch with him directly through his personal AVAC webpage.

So, if you feel like you’ve got it in you and want to pursue a career in Tennis or simply want to enjoy practice with one of California’s greatest Tennis trainer, Ken is the one to call at the Almaden Valley Athletic Club.

@Almaden_Valley (on Twitter)

Hello Almaden Valley:

Like many of others residents of Almaden, I stopped by the Almaden Relay for Life (RFL Almaden 2012) that took place this past weekend at Almaden’s Leland High School.

What a joy to see so many people gathered to support the fight against cancer. On this sunny Saturday, families and friends of cancer survivors or deceased came together to celebrate life and for some of them participate in 24 hours relay. My heart and thoughts go to everyone who walked around the clock to let us remember that cancer never stops either. It was not a time of sadness simply a wonderful moment in time, a peaceful testimony the loved ones who will eternally remain in our collective thoughts.

Everything was simply perfect: Jennifer Caselli (Event Chair) and her team of volunteers simply did an amazing job organizing and coordinating the entire event.

Here are a few pictures of the event. Please feel free to share.

Best wishes to everyone out there from the daughter of a cancer survivor,


@Almaden_Valley (on Twitter)

Hello Almaden Valley:

I thought I might give you an update about the upcoming Relay For Life in Almaden Valley (2012 RFL Almaden) scheduled for next Saturday and Sunday (May 5-6, 2012).

Before anything, hats off again to Jen Caselli (Event Chair) and to all San Jose & Almaden Valley participants (503 registered across 62 teams), Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsors (Bridge Bank in particular) and contributors (to date, $84,828 raised!) for this year’s edition of Relay For Life Almaden.

The 27-hour long schedule has now been finalized and I am happy to share some of the key highlights with you:

  • Gates will open Saturday at 7am
  • Opening Ceremony will take place at 10am with Laura Garcia Cannon and Roberta Gonzales
  • First band which will open 2012′s RFL is Doesn’t Matter, starting at 10.30am
  • Purple Piggie painting and judging will happen between 11am and 2pm
  • More Live Bands will take the stage from 2-6pm (Old School, Sound Eclipse)
  • The Luminaria Ceremony (with speaker/author Michelle Whitlock) will begin at 9pm
  • A Texas Hold’em tournament will take place during “Zombie Hours” from 11.30pm until 3.30am
  • The Fight Back Ceremony (with Speaker Patricia Brown from ACS), during which Awards will be handed out, will start at 9am on Sunday am
  • Final Lap will be wrapped up at 10am

For those of you interested, a complete schedule for each day is attached here: 2012 RFL Almaden Valley Schedule

I would also like to take the opportunity to say hi to some of the sponsors with whom I have a special connection, namely Almaden Valley Athletic Club (AVAC) and South Valley Physical Therapy.

Look forward to seeing you all for fun and remembrance next Saturday.


Hello again Almaden residents

Last Friday, I had the pleasure to meet with Jennifer Caselli, Event Chair of the 2012 Relay For Life (RFL) of Almaden Valley to be held on May 5-6th at Leland High School starting at 10am.

The RFL of Almaden started 6 years ago in Almaden Valley with the goal to raise money and awareness against any forms of cancer.  All funds raised will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

Jennifer lost her mother to colon cancer in 2010. For the Caselli family, this dramatic event marked the beginning of their crusade against cancer. Jennifer’s daughter, Caitlin, who in 2006 was 11 at that time, decided to raise money against cancer instead of getting presents for her 12th birthday in support of her grandmother’s fight. This simple fact tells more about Jennifer and her family than I could ever say or write.

Jennifer & Caitlin at Wal-Mart Opening in April 2012

The Relay For Life of Almaden is a community free event open to everyone. Unlike other fundraising events, there is no upfront fee to participate.

Jennifer and her team of 12 volunteers have prepared lots of fun activities for everyone including 3 live bands, a climbing wall, jump house, and lots of other activities for the 24 hour event!  Laura Garcia Cannon and Roberta Gonzales will be opening the event this year in celebration of our Survivors! Bear in mind that by being there you will give the cancer survivors (who could be your neighbor, your colleague or your friend) and their families another reason to believe that life as they know it still worth the fight and that they are not alone.

You will also be given a chance to support those who have committed to the Relay. To date, there are already 57 teams registered that will run or walk non-stop for 24 hours one person at a time. All relevant information about this year’s RFL is available here.

A special thanks to the Presenting Sponsor Bridge Bank as well as to all the private individuals and local businesses that made this event possible. More about those unsung heroes in my next blog live from the RFL!

@Almaden_Valley (on Twitter)

Hello Almaden Valley:

The hills are greening up, buds are bursting out on trees overnight, it feels like Spring is almost here!

As I walk and drive around Almaden Valley with friends, colleagues and customers, I still frequently get the question, ‘What is that tower-shaped building or device on top of the mountain to the southwest of Almaden?’

First, for non-Almaden residents, that mountain is the 3,500 ft high Mt. Umunhum (Mt Um as often referred to by Almaden locals), one of the highest summits of the Santa Cruz Mountain Range, which stretches as far as Half Moon Bay to the North and Salinas at the Southern end.

So, for those who may not know the answer to that question, it is an old Air Force radar look out post that was built in the 1950s and closed down in 1980.  As you can imagine, modern satellites made this site obsolete. The military perimeter around the tower used to be known as the Almaden Air Force Station (AFS).

The question that inevitably follows is: ‘Where did this mountain get that name?’

In a nutshell, Umunhum is derived from the Ohlone Indian language which means ‘nesting place of the Hummingbird’.  For the record, the Hummingbird spirit (along with the Coyote and the Eagle spirits) were central figures in Ohlone folklore and legends. And guess what? All 3 spirits often competed with each other in Ohlone folk tales.  However, according to A. L Kroeber, an archaeologist from the University of California: ‘The Coyote thought he knew more than anyone. But the Hummingbird knew more.’

So even though the mechanical hummingbirds sing no more in Almaden Valley, echoes of the original Hummingbird Spirit chased forever by the Coyote may still be heard by those who listen carefully…

@Almaden_Valley (on Twitter)

Hello Almaden Valley:

I though I would share a few things I learnt while attending the last meeting of the Almaden Valley Community Association at the Almaden Valley Community Center a few weeks ago.

The main topic of discussion was the upcoming commercial development of the Almaden Ranch Project at the NE corner of Almaden Expwy and Hwy 85.

The discussion kicked off with a point about more placing emphasis towards pedestrian traffic and more retail frontage on Almaden Expwy and Cherry Ave. I also understood from the discussion that the center will be made up of one-story buildings, which will measure 20-25 feet in height.

Significant discussion was heard over the hoped for connection to the adjoining Chynoweth neighborhood by way of a pedestrian bridge over the creek between these two areas.  It was stated that the environmental impact study countered with the fear that such a bridge would create additional shading over the creek that would be detrimental to the fish. Several people also addressed the current fact of there being a large encampment of homeless in this creek area.

At any rate, this area would be cleaned out and changed into a greenbelt to provide temporary drainage capacity required because of the significant ground area that is to be covered with buildings or asphalt.

Overall, lots of environment and safety concerns still to be discussed and presented to the San Jose Planning Commission in about one month from now.

Just for the record, here is a map from above of the Almaden Ranch Retail Project.

If you have any updates, comments, issues about this project, we want to hear from you.

@Almaden_Valley (on Twitter)

Almaden Valley, ready to toast?

Last week, I had one of the most exciting learning experiences since I left school.

My business partner Chuck and I attended one of the regular meetings of the Almaden Toastmaster Club. I met there a group of nice and welcoming people, focused, organized and very serious about the business of improving their public speaking skills.

Unlike Law School, I did not cross the path of over-sized ego personalities dealing with the “Me-Me syndrome”. Just regular Almaden and Non-Almaden folks like you and me coming from many San Jose neighborhoods.

As a resident alien myself (did I mention I was French?), eternal learner and always seeking to get better at everything I do (my own syndrome!), I really felt good for making the effort to attend this meeting in spite of my crazy agenda. As a result, I have decided to join this honorable assembly on a regular basis with a view not just to perfect my oral English but also better apprehend the American culture.

The way you talk is like the way you walk: it tells a lot about you….Toast, anyone?

@Almaden_Valley (on Twitter)

Dear Almaden Valley Residents:

We need your help…again because saving a life is always worth it.

I urge you to brave the elements and stop by Marni and Carra’s Charity Sale in the Almaden Winery neighborhood tomorrow morning between 8am-12pm at 5688 Croydon Ave., San Jose CA 95118.

These 2 ladies with the help of friends, neighbors and family have gathered incredible stuff for sale (kids’clothes, toys, books and more) for the benefit of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).

You will be welcomed with donuts, a coffee and the nice and welcoming smiles of the hosts and organizers. When I stopped by this morning, many others like me were here to help and support or simply to bargain hunt.

Before enjoying the 49ers’ game tomorrow afternoon, wherever you are in Almaden, just make a small detour and give those who suffer a chance to enjoy many more games as well.

Please spread the word and God Bless.

@Almaden_Valley (on Twitter)

Meet the hosts: Marni and Carra…

Almaden, take your pick!