A little bit about a lot of things:

• The calendar flipped to October earlier this week, evening daylight is growing shorter and nights have taken on a definite chill.....which means that autumn has arrived and Halloween is right around the corner.

So, too, are Thanksgiving and Christmas, but let’s not go there just yet.

Gustine and Newman will each be celebrating Halloween with a “trunk-or-treat” event.

A couple of years ago, I had no idea what a “trunk-or-treat” entailed. Not until I actually attended one did I fully understand....but basically the event centralizes Halloween rather than having kids flooding neighborhoods to go door to door in search of treats.

Not that the standard trick-or-treating has gone by the wayside.....but the downtown trunk-or-treat celebrations are definitely THE place to be on Halloween night in both Gustine and Newman.

As I recall, the Gustine festivities got started as a nice, well-attended street party in front of the police station....and has only grown since that time.

“Grown” is probably an understatement. The trunk-or-treat popularity in Gustine absolutely exploded, and the event has quickly become a staple celebration in a community which loves its celebrations.

Newman followed suit, launching its own trunk-or-treat event last year. Organizers were hoping to draw a few hundred visitors.....but the attendance exceeded expectations several times over. It was packed!

Organizers of both trunk-or-treat events are planning to expand this year to better accommodate the crowds and to make space for more vehicles from which the tasty treats are distributed. More to come on that later.

For now, though, both events are accepting registration from individuals or organizations wishing to have a decorated vehicle at their community’s trunk-or-treat. Donations of candy to be passed out Halloween evening are also being accepted in both Gustine and Newman.

In Gustine, contact Tiffany Vitorino at City Hall for information on having a decorated vehicle in the trunk-or-treat (or passing out candy from a store), or to make arrangements to donate candy or make a financial contribution for the purchase of candy.

In Newman, registration forms for vehicles are available at Mattos Newspapers and drop-off barrels for candy donations were expected to be in place this week at Mattos Newspapers, Mechanics Bank and Nob Hill Foods. Call RoseLee Hurst, 681-5220, for more information, registration forms or to donate toward the purchase of candy.

• Great program for students at Orestimba Friday morning about the dangers of distracted driving....and the all too real consequences that can be caused by a split second of distraction.

Distraction, by the way, goes well beyond the cell phone use and texting which immediately come to mind. Drivers can be distracted by loud music, passengers in the vehicle, applying makeup or shaving while driving (really, really bad idea, but haven’t we all witnessed it?), looking for a specific radio station.....anything that can take our mind off the road.

This is definitely an area where adults can set a better example for younger generations, but if anything we “grown-ups” may be worse than teens when it comes to bad habits behind the wheel.

We’ve probably all been distracted at some point.....and we’ve probably all done something which distracted ourselves while we were driving.

Texting while driving is probably the behavior which I see most frequently and is most bothersome.....when you are meeting somebody on the highway, do you really want to see them looking down at a text.....probably something really important like, “What time is dinner tonight?” or “Did you see what so-and-so posted on Facebook?”

That doesn’t make me feel real comfortable.

I have had people tell me that they know they shouldn’t text or talk on the phone while driving but that they do it anyway.....what is so powerful that folks can’t look away?

I have also had people tell me that they are confident that they can safely drive while talking on the cell phone and won’t get into an accident. Wish it were that easy. How many people involved in an accident got up that morning and decided, “I think I’ll get into an accident today.”

Again, there are very few if any drivers who can truthfully say they’ve never picked up a call or done something else that they shouldn’t before driving. I sure can’t.....but by the same token I try to be more aware and find a place to pull off if I need to be on the phone.

Driving is hard enough and, let’s be honest, a lot of people aren’t very good at it to start with.

We don’t need to make it even more difficult.

The program was presented by the non-profit Impact Teen Drivers organization in partnership with the California Highway Patrol and Doctors Medical Center, whose representatives were on hand as well.

Again, a powerful program at OHS and I hope that it hit home with at least some of the students.

• Sometimes its the little things.....I love the feeling of football Fridays in our communities, when the flags flying our school colors line the downtown streets, and there is just a certain excitement in the air. Larger cities, I think, can never replicate that atmosphere.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.