The Villaj Idiut: Starting over after Hurricane Irma

I met Stacy and Shay Mulcare more than 30 years ago in Baltimore. They were my older sister’s “cool” friends from Towson State University.

Stacy was pretty, bubbly and vibrant. Shay had long hair in a ponytail and a thin mustache – the ’90s version of Capt. Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp’s character in “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

New point of view on the valley

For years, the inscrutable gray monolith had loomed over us from the summit of the forbidden mountain. Now the curse has been lifted, the prohibition ended – how could we not hurry to visit the newly opened summit of Mount Umunhum?

When I moved to the Peninsula, Mount Umunhum was an off-limits Air Force base, directing the surveillance of the wasp-tailed submarine chasers flying out of Moffett Field. With the end of the Cold War, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District purchased the summit and its surroundings, but it was still off-limits, poisoned by toxic waste left from its radar and other installations. The Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 damaged the radar tower, making the location still more hazardous.

The Villaj Idiut: Independence Day

I will admit that sometimes I stand in the shower and think to myself: If I dropped this bar of soap in a pile of mud, would it be dirty? It is, after all, soap.

And every once in a while I’ll drive down I-5 to Los Angeles and wonder to myself: Why don’t they just make the entire road a rumble strip, and then I’d never lose focus?

No Shoes, Please: A thousand cranes

Rei Kubokawa, fashion designer and founder of Comme des Garcons, is known for her avant-garde designs and taciturn demeanor. She has been described as intense, deep and serious; she refers to her annual runway collections as “an exercise in suffering.” When asked how she would like to be remembered, Kubokawa’s response was, “I want to be forgotten.”

She is so Japanese.

A Piece of My Mind: Summer camp season

Whenever my summer wanderings take me to Stanford University, that beautiful sandstone and terra-cotta campus up the road, I marvel at the multiplicity of signs directing me to this or that summer camp. There always seem to be squadrons of T-shirted campers on the move, being directed this way and that by polo-shirted counselors, all wearing color-coded lanyards and name tags to make sure that they are getting all of the perks, and none but the perks, to which their campership entitles them.

When I was in my pre-teens, camp was different.

Haugh About That?: My world of imagination

On a recent trip to Stanford Shopping Center, I found myself in a terrible traffic jam. No, not the frustrating kind on today’s freeways where we grit our teeth to hold back building road rage, but unnerving just the same. I was hungry and on a mission to get some Pinkberry frozen yogurt before perusing the stores when I found myself stuck behind a crowd of people moving at a snail’s pace.

“What is going on?” I grumbled, wondering if there were a demonstration of sorts up ahead. “I don’t have time for this.”

No Shoes, Please: Charlottesville

I’m not quite sure what to say about the events that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., when a white supremacist rally ended with the death of a counterprotester and two state police officers patrolling the area in a helicopter. I’m a little stunned by the enormity of what we Americans need to reflect on with regard to this horrific set of circumstances, and, at the same time, I am (sadly) not that surprised that it occurred in the first place.

Among the many threads of the story, three stand out to me: when white supremacists came out to claim their “rightful place” brazenly, proudly and confidently; when President Donald Trump neglected to stand firmly against neo-Nazis and other hate groups; and when a president of the United States required coercion to issue a stronger statement so that he might avoid looking like a bigot.

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