Sun12282014

News

Merry spirits: Traditional holiday drinks and memories that surround them

Merry spirits: Traditional holiday drinks and memories that surround them


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Town Crier columnist Christine Moore’s holiday drink menu includes her take on the Moscow Mule, the Bucking Reindeer.

Growing up, our dogs were always outside dogs. We lived in the country, which made...

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Schools

Santa Rita visits The Terraces

Santa Rita visits The Terraces


Susie Greenwald’s third-grade class at Santa Rita School has a special relationship with The Terraces at Los Altos, a senior retirement community. The class visits the center once a month to share quality time with the residents, above. The s...

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Community

Veterinarians offer advice for keeping pets safe over holidays

Veterinarians offer advice for keeping pets safe over holidays


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The holidays present a number of hazards for pets. Be sure to secure electrical cords to keep playful cats at bay.

During the holidays – when people tend to focus more on family and food – pets are often overlooked. But...

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Sports

Owls getting a lot out of a little

Owls getting a lot out of a little


In a typical season for the Foothill College women’s basketball team, coach Jody Craig wouldn’t be satisfied with a 7-4 start and No. 8 ranking in Northern California.

But this isn’t a typical season. Craig had just a few weeks ...

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Comment

Holiday cheer: No Shoes, Please

Admittedly, the holidays are not my favorite time of year. I don’t like sharing streets and parking lots with a zillion other people who need to get their shopping done. I don’t like being reminded by a holiday doomsday countdown clock h...

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Special Sections

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


s in line to be mayor of Mountain View in 2015.

Mountain View anticipates the following changes in 2015:

• Beginning Jan. 1, Mountain View City Councilmembers will receive a raise to $1,000 per month as a result of the passage of Measure A in...

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Business

Pharmacy headed to 400 Main St.

Pharmacy headed to 400 Main St.


Ellie Van houtte/Town Crier
Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy is scheduled to open a new store in the Jeffrey A. Morris Group’s 400 Main St. project. The new location will open in late February.

A new tenant is slated to call the recently complet...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

MERLYN "DALE" STUBBS

Merlyn "Dale" Stubbs, a 51 year resident of Los Altos Hills, passed away on December 15, 2014.

Dale was born to Harry and Anna Stubbs in Americus, Kansas on February 10, 1926.

When Dale was 9 years old his father, a carpenter, suffered a fatal hear...

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Travel

South Tahoe renovations enhance off-mountain seasonal fun

As any enthusiast knows well, there is more to the enjoyment of winter sports than skiing or snowboarding.

While many winter resorts make minor upgrades each season, the off-mountain attractions and amenities can be as enticing as the activities on ...

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Stepping Out

'Starcatcher' runs until Jan. 3 in PA

'Starcatcher' runs until Jan. 3 in PA


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Adrienne Walters stars as Molly and Tim Homsley portrays Peter in the TheatreWorks production of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” playing through Jan. 3 at Palo Alto’s Lucie Stern Theatre.

TheatreWorks’ producti...

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Spiritual Life

The good news: Christmas means the long wait is over

Ah, Christmas! The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the presents are set to be given and received, and preparations are underway to be with family.

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Isaacson offers engaging portrait of founding father


Sometimes you read a book because you’re interested in the subject matter, while other times you’re a fan of the author.

I picked up a copy of Walter Isaacson’s best-selling “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” (Simon & Schuster, 2003) not because I’m a huge admirer of Ben Franklin, but because I enjoyed Isaacson’s more recent biography, “Steve Jobs” (Simon & Schuster, 2011).

And I am certainly glad that I did. Despite its length – the paperback version runs 493 pages – “Benjamin Franklin” is an incredibly enjoyable read that provides a wealth of information not just about Franklin, but about American values in the 1700s. Isaacson does a masterful job of researching his subject and presents a balanced picture of a very complex individual.

The chronological structure of the book is of great help to both reader and subject. Isaacson devotes a chapter to each of the main phases of Franklin’s life, for example, “Bon Vivant: Paris, 1778-1785” and “Peacemaker: Paris, 1778-1785.” Readers who are not that interested in Franklin’s Parisian flirtations can skip such sections and jump to the founding father’s varied accomplishments.

Franklin cannot be an easy subject for a biographer, given that he was so influential in so many roles: author, printer, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, activist and diplomat. But Isaacson manages to weave the story of Franklin’s achievements together, connecting threads of a life built on “a sincere belief in leading a virtuous life, serving the country he loved, and hoping to achieve salvation through good works.”

I laughed out loud several times while reading “Benjamin Franklin,” mostly when reading quotes from Franklin himself. Readers will certainly gain a greater appreciation for the man and his wily ways. Although Franklin liked to portray himself as a simple man from the backwoods of America, he could be rather devious and scheming during the lengthy negotiations with the French over the terms of the Treaty of Alliance, and later with the British over the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War.

Despite Franklin’s many accomplishments, Isaacson doesn’t flinch at chronicling his failings, which include his rather poor treatment of both his wife, whom he did not see for the last decade of her life, and his son, whom he never forgave for siding with the British during the war.

Isaacson reserves his best insights for the book’s conclusion, where he notes, “During the three centuries since his birth, the changing assessments of Franklin have tended to reveal less about him than about the values of the people judging him.” John Keats, for example, complained that Franklin was “full of mean and thrifty maxims,” and Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson found Franklin too materialistic. English novelist D.H. Lawrence wrote that Franklin “had no concern, really, with the immortal soul. He was too busy with social man. …I do not like him.”

As Isaacson concludes: “(Franklin’s focus tended to be on how ordinary issues affect everyday lives, and on how ordinary people could build a better society. But that did not make him an ordinary man.”

Book clubs that read nonfiction should especially enjoy “Benjamin Franklin,” but give fair warning and plenty of time because of its length.

Leslie Ashmore is a longtime Mountain View resident who belongs to two book clubs.

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