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News

Los Altos Police nab alleged burglar, identity thief

Los Altos Police nab alleged burglar, identity thief

The Los Altos Police Department received a call from a local resident reporting a suspicious vehicle in the area of Lockhaven and Stonehaven drives in Los Altos at 9 a.m. Monday. The resident, who reported that his mail was possibly stolen, provided ...

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Schools

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices

Former NFL player huddles with Blach students about life choices


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Former NFL tight end Eason Ramson visited with Blach Intermediate School students, Feb. 13 to share the perils of drug use. Now a motivational speaker, Ramson works with at-risk teens in San Francisco.

Although former ...

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Community

Chi Am Circle, Chef Chu's prove 'golden': Club sets fundraising goal of $200K for March fashion show

Chi Am Circle, Chef Chu's prove 'golden': Club sets fundraising goal of $200K for March fashion show


Courtesy of Bev Harada
Chi Am Circle members, from left, Gerrye Wong, Sylvia Eng, Pearl Lee and Muriel Kao flank Larry Chu Sr. at the Jan. 31 event honoring the club’s 50th and Chef Chu’s 45th anniversaries.

Chef Chu’s restaurant in Los Altos ho...

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Comment

Freedom's just another word: No Shoes, Please

It used to be that the word “freedom” held exclusively positive connotations for me, but now it’s really become a mixed bag. It all started in 2001 when President George W. Bush asked the question he felt was on the minds of most Americans regarding ...

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Special Sections

Filoli in bloom: Historic estate hosts  classes, events and tours

Filoli in bloom: Historic estate hosts classes, events and tours


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Scenes from Filoli: The historic estate in Woodside is a welcoming sanctuary for visitors. The grounds offer a rotating display of seasonal flowers, a tranquil reflecting pool and paths that wend through the 16-acre Engl...

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Business

Stock volatility still confusing

The market opened down more than 100 points Friday but by noon rose more than 130, the form of volatility that quickly draws investors’ attention. By week’s end, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Dow Jones industrial aver...

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Books

French novel

French novel "Hunting and Gathering" offers character-driven suspense


Anna Gavalda is a well-known author in her native France, where she has published six books, most of which have met with considerable praise and commercial success. Her fourth novel, “Hunting and Gathering” (Riverhead Books, 2007), is filled ...

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People

CHRIS A. KENISON

CHRIS A. KENISON

Feb 13, 1945-Feb 6, 2015

Resident of Los Altos

Chris was born in Georgia and moved to Oklahoma as a young child. He grew up there and moved to California in 1965. He developed a strong work ethic from his grandparents and parents. He attended the...

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Travel

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new

Seoul of the city: Korean capital offers mix of old and new


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon public recreation space, above, features an elevated pedestrian bridge.

Seoul, South Korea, is a study in contrasts. Having grown quickly, the city is a mix of old and new.

Using...

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Stepping Out

'Park' in the hills

'Park' in the hills


courtesy of Foothill Music Theatre
Dot (Katie Nix) imagines her dream job as a follies dancer in the Foothill Music Theatre production of “Sunday in the Park with George.” The play runs through March 8.

Foothill Music Theatre’s production of “Su...

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Spiritual Life

Is your thought life sabotaging your spiritual journey?

My computer started having problems – there seemed to be some sort of malware running in the background. At first it was just annoying, then it began to slow down my computer, interfering with its basic operations. What is it doing? Why can...

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Magazine

Local events serve up family fun

Local events serve up family fun


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale” is slated to open March 20 in Mountain View.

For families seeking a break from the daily routine, events abound this month and next in Los Alto...

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Going the distance:: No Shoes, Please

From a recent Time magazine “Milestones” section: “Died, Yusai Sakai, 87, one of only three Buddhist monks since 1571 to twice complete the rigorous Sennichi Kaiho Gyo, a seven-year ordeal of fasting and running. Those unable to complete it are expected to take their own life.”

The report of Sakai’s actual demise aside, I thought his obituary was hilarious because here’s what the Kaiho Gyo is: In each of the first three years, for 100 consecutive days, you rise at midnight to pray and then run an 18-mile trail that circumambulates a sacred mountain. In years four and five, you increase the run days to 200. In year five, you include a nine-day period in which you continuously chant a single mantra without food, water or sleep. In year six, you walk 37.5 miles for 100 consecutive days, and in year seven, you walk 52.5 miles for 100 days, then 18 miles for another 100 days.

If you make it through the first 100 days, you’re obligated to finish – if you don’t, you’re traditionally expected to commit suicide by either hanging or disembowelment.

That’s what I call a real do-or-die situation. Plus, it sounds like a quintessentially Japanese proposition: First, design an impossible task; second, set expectations high, starting with “near perfect” as the goal; third, attach the stigma of shame to any failure; and finally, make death the only option to success. It’s classic.

I didn’t grow up under any penalties of death, mind you, but there was definitely a seriousness of purpose in all our family endeavors. From cleaning floors to trips to Disneyland, everything had to be executed properly and well. And nothing is made too easy. At family parties, the food is often spare in seasonings so that you can’t drown mistakes in sauces or mask errant flavors with a lot of herbs. Alcohol isn’t served, so you also can’t jolly up the crowd or dull any senses with liquor before the main dishes appear. (I’ve always thought my Acosta relations – who are never without their vino under any circumstances – are generally an easier crowd to please, because parties are typically deemed successful the minute corks start popping.)

Post-event scrutiny avails all sorts of lessons to be learned: Was the house spotless, the meal attractively displayed and delicious? Did the guests enjoy themselves? Did we make it all look effortless? Plus, in my mother’s kitchen, attitude counts. If you prepare any dish while grousing, even silently in your own head, about having to do it, then the food is wrecked before it’s even served, which then begs the question: Do you need to fix yourself before you fix another meal?

I wouldn’t be surprised if Sakai pondered the same thing himself in one form or another. The ultimate purpose of the 24,850-mile Kaiho Gyo is enlightenment. In addition to the mental and physical challenges, Sakai trained in meditation and calligraphy and performed menial temple chores. He finished his first Kaiho Gyo (starting in 1973) in 1980, took a half-year break and finished his second go-around in 1987 at age 60.

Talk about being thoroughly committed. Now that’s what I call Japanese.

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