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News

Council seeks more options for community center

Council seeks more options for community center


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council approved an appropriation to examine options for a new community center to replace the aging Hillview facility.

The Los Altos City Council last week voted narrowly in favor of examining further opti...

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Schools

Local schools participate in  national Hour of Code activities

Local schools participate in national Hour of Code activities


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Himan Shu Raj, a volunteer from Microsoft, advises Los Altos High ninth-graders, from left, Serhat Suzer, Jamie Bennett and Chris Yang as they participate in the school’s Hour of Code Showcase.

Local schools participa...

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Community

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Town Crier staff made a quick cruise back through the newspaper's archives to find some late-December reading as inspiration for eating, drinking, decorating and more:

Beloved holiday books build the spirit of the season and staff at Los Altos’ Li...

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Sports

Pinewood poised for another title run

Pinewood poised for another title run


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Pinewood’s girls basketball team is receiving contributions from several new players, including freshman Stella Kailahi, above.

Complacency shouldn’t be a problem for the defending Division V state champion Pinewood S...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Ticket motorists for U-turns on Main Street

As I was walking downtown on Main Street recently, something came to me out of the blue. The town of Los Altos is missing out on a huge revenue stream. I realized that if all the cars – there were th...

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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

Your 2015 stock market game plan

It’s been a maddening month because of oil and gas, especially in stocks and bonds. Then, consumer spending pushed stocks higher Thursday, easing investors’ jitters about the global economy and prompting them to consider how to invest in ...

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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

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

Sangeeta Sachdeva, 55, wife of Subhash Sachdeva and mother to Natasha and Tanya, died at 8:54pm, Sunday, December 7, 2014 from respiratory failure.

Sangeeta was born on October 18, 1959 in Delhi, India. She was born to Moti Sagar and Raj Kapoor an...

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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

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday


courtesy of Aurora Singers
The Aurora Singers are scheduled to perform a seasonal concert Friday night in Palo Alto.

The Aurora Singers’ “Winter’s Musical Glow” holiday concert is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pal...

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Spiritual Life

Enter the superhero: Finding the God who loves you

In my life-coaching practice, I see a lot of pain. Much of it stems from fear and guilt, often expressed as low self-esteem, anxiety, a lack of forgiveness both for oneself and others, anger – and so on.

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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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Residents prepare for flu season


Photo By: Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo By Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier Customers queue up at the Los Altos Walgreens, top, which briefly ran out of vaccine.

Los Altos isn’t yet seeing the level of flu infection causing worry on the East Coast, but the season is heating up here, too. At Walgreens pharmacy on Second Street, vaccine supplies ran out for a day last week. When the new shipment arrived, local residents queued up in clusters at the back of the store waiting for a jab.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone older than six months should be immunized with the flu vaccine. The CDC tweeted a warning last week – 128 of 135 million total doses have already been distributed. The vaccine may become increasingly difficult to obtain.

Jim Reynolds, one of the proprietors at Present gift store in downtown Los Altos, patiently waited his turn at Walgreens last week and said that reports of rising infections inspired his belated signup for the shot.

“I just kind of put it off,” he said, but “I watched the news and it’s getting bad around the United States, and I figured maybe I ought to participate.”

Los Altos resident Keane Johnson turned out for the shot after receiving an email from his rowing coach announcing that unvaccinated players wouldn’t be allowed to participate in practice. He was heading back to Boston College, where he’s a senior. Boston declared a state of public health emergency due to influenza last week, followed a few days later by New York State.

California braces

Charles Weiss, a doctor with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation who contributes to the group’s flu blog, reported that local influenza surveillance showed an uptick last week, with more than 10 percent of tests for influenza returning positive for the virus. But the total number of infected patients numbers in the dozens, not hundreds. He said the California region has been among the last to see elevated infections.

The state isn’t always last to start sniffling – Weiss notes that during the 2009 flu pandemic, California reported the first cases in the U.S.

Weiss said most of the sufferers in this area could weather a case of the flu at home, calling advice nurses as needed. But he noted that people in high-risk groups such as the very young or old and those with medical conditions that elevate the risk of complications should see a doctor if they become ill.

Pneumonia, one of the most common flu complications, occurs when the flu virus temporarily damages the lining of the respiratory tract, impairing its ability to clear itself. One warning sign of pneumonia occurs when a flu patient is getting better and suddenly becomes worse, or has a return of fever. Last year in Santa Clara County, eight patients required ICU-level hospitalization for influenza and one person died. As of Jan. 5, only one person has been similarly hospitalized this year.

Anti-viral agents such as Tamiflu can reduce the symptoms or duration of the flu, but their effect is moderate. Because the virus develops resistance as more Tamiflu is used, prescribing the treatment isn’t widespread for people at low risk of flu complications.

“There’s always reticence on the part of public health to distribute on a widespread basis a medicine that we worry about resistance developing to,” Weiss said. “It may reduce symptoms for about a day – but the overall benefit’s not as big (for typical flu sufferers) as it for the people at risk.”

He emphasized infection control measures, including staying home until a fever has been gone for 24 hours. People can spread the virus for five to seven days but tend to be more infectious while they have a fever.

Is it flu?

Wondering if you’ve already caught the flu this year? Sarah Cody, M.D., a deputy health officer for Santa Clara County, noted that the illness many called the “stomach flu” as children was most likely a norovirus, the pesky bug that causes 24-48 hours of extreme intestinal discomfort.

In contrast, “influenza virus gives you a high fever, cough, runny nose and headache, and in some groups of people it can be very serious and land them in the hospital or even cause death,” Cody said. “Kids can get vomiting with influenza, but it’s not one of the big features.”

Because one person can be hit harder by a virus than another, it can be difficult to distinguish between influenza and a cold, but Cody said body aches, chills and a feeling of just being “knocked out” tend to reflect influenza.

“If you feel run down, your nose is running, you feel kind of cruddy but you can kind of manage – that’s more coldlike symptoms,” she said. “The only one of these winter respiratory viruses that’s vaccine preventable is influenza. If you haven’t been vaccinated, get vaccinated. It certainly is going to give you a better chance.”

It takes approximately two weeks to get the full benefit of the vaccine and develop immunity. The CDC reported last week that this year’s vaccine appears to have 62 percent efficacy at preventing the illness, which is comparable to most years.

Each vaccine dose this year includes three flu strains, H2N3, H1N1 and Flu B, which match approximately 91 percent of the circulating influenza viruses detected by CDC analysis. The predominant strain currently in circulation, H2N3, is associated with higher numbers of hospitalizations and deaths.

Joe Bresee, a doctor in the CDC’s Influenza Division, said that while flu season timing is hard to predict, the virus would likely continue to be active for some time. Flu season usually peaks in January or February, but some years, infections surge as early as November and as late as April.

Residents who want to participate in local flu-tracking efforts may register at flunearyou.org.

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