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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 the 9/11 attacks: Why do they hate us? Bush’s answer was, in part, “They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with one another.”

It was such a simplistic answer – having nothing to do with history, culture or geopolitical tensions – and reminded me of a teenager explaining a slight from a classmate with the conclusion, “She’s just jealous.”

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10,000 ways: Haugh About That?

With hackles standing erect along its spine, ears pointed at attention and legs aggressively stiff, I stared at the mighty beast ready to charge. By the look in its inflamed eyes, I’d have to be a moron not to know I was in big doo-doo.

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Speak freely: No Shoes, Please

Free speech has been headline news since Sony Pictures Entertainment canceled its original theatrical release of “The Interview,” the movie comedy about two celebrity journalists asked by the U.S. government to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

While the debate continues over whether Sony erred responsibly on the side of caution or caved too soon, there is no debate over the response to the massacre in Paris of 12 people working in the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Since Jan. 7, millions have taken to the streets in protest.

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Heisenberg Selectric: The Villaj Idiut

I realize that we live in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the universe, but I will readily admit, as disturbing as it may be, that my unfettered fascination with the AMC show “Breaking Bad” often has me running around town wondering where people are cooking methamphetamines.

For instance, every time I see an RV parked on the grounds of a home in Los Altos Hills – an incongruity if there ever were one – I suspect that there are a bunch of glass beakers and red phosphorous lying around inside it.

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Enchanté and 'Je Suis Charlie': Editor's Notebook

When it opens in a matter of weeks, Abby Ahrens’ Enchanté Boutique Hotel will mark the first hotel in the history of downtown Los Altos.

It seems elegant, fun and whimsical. Visitors are sure to enjoy their stays.

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Aliens among us: A Piece of My Mind

A friend invited me to go whale watching outside Monterey Bay during the migration of the gray whales on the “Whale Highway” that stretches along the California coast from Alaska to Cabo San Lucas.

Shortly after leaving the shelter of the Bay, we spotted plumes of vapor not far off – at least a dozen whales, a megapod, were swimming together, blowing off vapor and diving in rough synchronization. As we approached, we could see the backs of the whales, scarred by barnacles but glistening silver-gray in the sun.

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The finishing touch: Haugh About That?

Examining my reflection in the full-length mirror, I carefully added a few finishing touches. First, the crystal, dangling earrings and cocktail ring; next, a gardenia-encrusted bonnet, beaded handbag, crimson red lipstick and blue eye shadow. Last came the pièce de résistance – a gray faux mink wrap and 2-inch plastic high heels. Even at 4 years old, I understood that an outfit wasn’t complete without the right accessories.

As the granddaughter of a silent-movie actress, being ready for your close-up was ingrained in my psyche from birth. Neither my grandmother nor my mother ever left the house without being completely dolled up and fluffed. Whether it was to the grocery store or a lavish party, they constantly looked like they stepped out of the pages of Vogue magazine.

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