Homecoming: No Shoes, Please

I’m traveling with my mother next month to her hometown of Takatomi, Japan, because her eldest sister, my 91-year-old aunt, needs help planning the final years of her life. However, nothing about the trip will be as simple or straightforward as that sentence might imply, so let me break it down for you.


Divine conspiracy: Haugh About That?

Rushing back into the house to grab my lifeline to the world – my cellphone – I had only a minute to spare before my listing appointment when I came face-to-face with a large yellow puddle on the white living room carpet. Cowering in the corner was the guilty party. The damn dog was once again testing my patience.


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.


Dangerous streets: A Piece of My Mind

I’m driving along El Monte Avenue between Foothill Expressway and Springer Road at approximately 6 p.m. on a midwinter evening. In keeping with the “village feeling” of our town, there are no sidewalks and no streetlights.


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.


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.”


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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