It’s smoking… – 2/29/2008

The Campbell Cigar Store held its monthly cigar party on Feb. 15 with Gurkha Cigars being represented. The event was hosted by Shawna Williams, Gurkha’s regional sales manager, and Nazih Alannous, the storeowner. Special thanks to Jolly Bimbachi for organizing the event.

Gurkha offers a variety of cigars from either Nicaragua, Honduras, or the Dominican Republic wrapped in Connecticut leafs. All the cigars were packaged in boxes that were very colorful and well designed. People who attended the event were given one free cigar to smoke as Williams explained the quality of each cigar. At the end of the event a raffle was held and the winner received a Gurkha clock.

Out of the many cigars available, three were randomly chosen to be reviewed based on their odor, taste, quality of lighting it and price. All cigars were cut using a cutter, lit with a match and smoked at Orchard Valley Coffee Shop in Downtown Campbell.

G3
Price: $9*
Pro: It’s good to smoke when you’re at a party or just wanting to relax.
Cons: Too strong from some people.
Information: The G3 is made of three layers of legro (the top of the tobacco plant) grown in Nicaragua and aged for a few years. Experience: Rarely have I ever finished a cigar close to the end. It had a great taste to it and the odor was good too.
Verdict: This is an excellent cigar to enjoy no matter what the occasion is. It gives of a good odor when you’re puffing and has a nice taste to it. It burns well and it won’t go out if you’re not smoking it for a short amount of time. It’s a cigar that you’re guaranteed to smoke all the way and its sold at an affordable price. However it might be too bold for people who don’t smoke cigars as much. Score: 4/5

Grand Reserve
Price: $20*
Pro: It has a sweet odor and very durable.
Cons: The price might be a burden and the case might be difficult to open.
Information: The Grand Reserve is Gurkha’s flagship cigar. It is made with tobacco grown in Ecuador aged from seven to eight years, wrapped in Connecticut leafs and moisturized in cognac for 90 days to give it a natural sweetness.
Experience: When I tried to open the case, it broke and the cigar was slightly damaged. Yet the small hole did not affect the cigar and so I was able to smoke it as if nothing happened. That is something rare I have seen in a cigar. The odor from the smoke attracted people sitting around me.
Verdict: This is an excellent cigar to smoke for any one. Nobody will be able to resist its sweet odor. Its also very durable and even with a small hole, you could smoke it without a problem. Yet its high price suggests it’s something you would smoke on a special occasion. Score: 4.5/5

Black Dragon
Price: $16*
Pro: Very mellow cigar to enjoy.
Cons: Too strong and pricey.
Information: The Black Dragon is Gurkha’s newest cigar released in late 2007. It’s made from a mix of dark rich tobacco from Connecticut and Cameroon. Experience: When smoking the Black Dragon, all I wanted to do was just sit back and relax.
Verdict: This is an excellent cigar to smoke when you just want to relax or talk. However it’s too strong for people who don’t smoke often or have a low tolerance for cigars. The price might also be a problem for some thus making the G3 a better alternative. Score: 3.5/5

So if you ever want to take a break from all the hardships in life, get a cigar, sit down and seize the moment.

*All prices exclude tax

Published for La Voz Weekly
2/29/2008
Original Link: It’s smoking…

Baseball team redevelops foci – 2/27/2008

“This is a baseball team, not a drama squad,” said Brian Roby, sophomore outfielder for the De Anza Dons, when asked earlier this month about his team’s approach towards distractions from the game.

There were plenty of distractions for the Dons last year, as a number of players were involved in a sexual assault case that yielded a series of suspensions and much unwanted bad publicity for the De Anza athletics program.

Although the charges in the case were eventually dropped, it has been hard for the team to shake what they feel is an “ongoing stigma,” acknowledged Head Coach Scott Hertler.

“That’s been a big thing for us this year, trying to redevelop the program. We’ve kept all character guys. They’re a good group that will come around.”

One of the things Hertler has been placing particular emphasis on this year is academic achievement. “We had 17 guys over 3.0 (GPA) last quarter,” he said.

On the field, one of the major challenges facing the team this season has been developing a chemistry between the many new players on the squad. To that end, many of the players make it a point to hang out together off the field, both after games and practices, and at lunch.

And despite a string of early losses, the team is optimistic about its prospects.

“It’s simple. If we do our job, we’ll win,” said Travis Adams, a freshman player out of Bellarmine Prep.

“We’re struggling a little bit,” admits Hertler. “We’re the type of team that has to be out here everyday, and the weather hasn’t been good to us.”

Still, he adds, “Junior college baseball is a game in which the last place team can beat the first place team on any given day. I keep telling the guys, ‘it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.'”

The team counts among its strengths this season not only speed and defense, but also diversity. Interspersed among the many freshmen that arrived from local high schools are two new players from Canada and Japan, respectively.

“It’s a team effort, you can’t win with just one player,” said Jamie Wagner, sophomore pitcher.

The team is still hoping to make it to the playoffs, but its more immediate aim is to develop the skills of its many rookies. Helping players reach the next level has been a perennial hallmark of the De Anza baseball program. Among the many Dons from last year’s squad who found opportunities at upper division schools are Zach Samuels, who received a scholarship to play at UC Santa Barbara, and Robert Sedin, who signed with Kansas University.

“We’ve got to be patient because we are so young,” said Hertler. “These are good, skilled players and students who want to excel in class. They’ll be alright.”

Co-written with Jay Donde
Published for La Voz Weekly
2/27/2008
Original Link: Baseball team redevelops foci

The Party… – 2/8/2008

Shirtless and with a black star painted on his face in homage to the rock band Kiss, Levi Rosenthal jumped into the fountain in the middle of the Main Quad during his performance at Club Day.

“The one thing I want the clubs and students at De Anza to remember me by is my quote of have fun and in doing so you truly get to live life,” said Levi.

Despite delays and bad weather, De Anza College held its Club Day on Thursday Jan. 31, where many of the clubs came out to show their style while recruiting new members.

Originally scheduled for Jan. 24, Club Day was changed because of bad weather. Despite the cold and momentary showers on the new date, the event was something not to be missed.

There were a variety of clubs that focused on every thing from sports and academics to religion, business, social activism and cultural heritage.

Clubs representing cultural heritage were out in full force. The Vietnamese Student Association, Jews, Israelis and Friends and the Casa De Macau are clubs open to everyone interested in and wishing to better understand other cultures.

Business clubs exist as a way to attract students interested in understanding the economy and the stock market. “If you wanna be rich join our club,” said Robby Roekman, member of the De Anza Stock Trader.

The event began at 11 a.m. with most of the clubs displaying pictures of past events, books, pamphlets and awards that they had received. Some of the clubs displayed items that were related to their theme or their cultural heritage.

Clubs also pulled out some team spirit and entertained students throughout the day. The Disabled Students Unlimited demonstrated their singing talents with members belting out a few songs, including Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind”.

The De Anza Cheer and Dance Team displayed dancing skill and cheer sprit. “Life is a dance”, said Katya Barrows, member of the De Anza Cheer and Dance Team.

The De Anza Tae Kwon Do Club put their martial arts skills on display in a two-part performance. First, members simulated a street brawl to a crowd of on-lookers. Then, in the second part of their performance, members kicked through sets of wooden boards.

In their grand finale, one member kicked through several boards being held by two other Tae Kwon Do Club members.

Despite high expectations, the Vietnamese Students Association was unable to perform their Dragon Dance at this Club Day because they could not find a member who qualified to be the head.

Not all the performances were by clubs, though. The Inter Club Council held a limbo contest open to every one, awarding a prize of $5 to the winner. Several club members from De Anza Tae Kwon Do, Circle K, Cheer, VSA, and the whales from WISE 37 attempted to show their limbo skills.

It was after Rosenthal’s performance that the event came to an end and by 1:30 all that was once club day had been cleaned up.

Published for La Voz Weekly
2/8/2008
Website: The Party…

Club of the Week: Vietnamese club embraces all – 2/5/2008

The Vietnamese Student Association is not a club for only Vietnamese students, but a social gathering for anyone who wants to understand the Vietnamese culture and peer support.

The club adviser has been there for 13 years. She’s done more for the members then being an adviser. “I don’t just like to be their consoler or adviser but their mentor, friend or older sister,” said KD Le, 39.

VSA is a social group that’s part of a larger organization, known as the United North America Vietnamese Student Association. The De Anza College VSA is among the most diverse of them all, and has become an attractive club for students from every culture.

The De Anza College branch has been around for 30 years and has consistently met in the Student Council Chambers every Friday from 1:30 until 4 p.m.

Students who have joined the club say they have received support that has motivated them to do more and achieve greatness.

“I went from being a guy who was not interested in clubs to club president,” said Cong Nguyen, 23-year-old VSA President. “It comes to show how inspirational it was.”

The club enjoys staying busy and planning new events. Currently, plans are in the works for a charity show dinner called “Cupertino by Night,” scheduled for May 17. Plans are to present a comedy drama, produced in English and Vietnamese. It is currently untitled and is meant to be about Vietnamese-American students.

VSA influences are not limited to De Anza; it has spread through the community with support from the high schools, churches and temples. Van Lang, a Vietnamese school held on Sundays at Gunderson High, receives support from the club as well.

Published for La Voz Weekly
2/5/2008
Website: Vietnamese club embraces all