01222017Sun
Last updateTue, 17 Jan 2017 4pm

News

New LA council agrees to discuss proposed park

More than six hours after the Los Altos City Council welcomed its newest member, councilmembers voted narrowly in favor of entering an exclusive negotiating agreement with Los Altos Community Investments to discuss the possibility of a park and under...

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Schools

Covington hosts Abilities Awareness Week

Covington hosts Abilities Awareness Week


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Covington School sixth graders learn about fine motor school difficulties some students might have by trying to button up a coat with socks on their hands.

Covington School students gained an understanding of the struggles o...

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Community

Chaperone facilitates parent carpools to ease traffic at school drop-off times

Chaperone facilitates parent carpools to ease traffic at school drop-off times


Photo Courtesy of Shrikant Nasikkar
Los Altos resident Shrikant Nasikkar developed the Chaperone app to facilitate the process of establishing carpool rides to and from school. He said carpools are not only environmentally beneficial, but they als...

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Sports

MV boys use speed, top Mustangs 54-40

MV boys use speed, top Mustangs 54-40


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Tommy Resnick led the Mountain View High boys in scoring Friday night.

Friday against Homestead, the Mountain View High boys showed off the versatility that makes them such a dangerous basketball team.

Although the h...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Rest in peace, Dr. Hardy Jones

We lost a true Los Altos icon and a man of great warmth, artistic talent, intelligence, love and, definitely (beyond a shadow of a doubt), a positive attitude that was unmatched. Dr. Hardy Jones passed away Dec. 28 wi...

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Special Sections

Health care on demand from Mountain View service

Health care on demand from Mountain View service


Courtesy of Direct Urgent Care
Dr. Ceasar Djavaherian is the president of Direct Urgent Care.

For most doctors in Silicon Valley, melding technology and medicine means cutting-edge machines performing high-powered work backed by Sand Hill Road ventu...

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Business

New business promises spa service, without the spa

New business promises spa service, without the spa


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View resident Brooke Rankins receives an in-home pedicure from Lily Ly. Ly has a contract with Wilo Spa, a new company which offers spa services in customers’ homes. Wilo Spa opened in November and allows ...

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People

News

New LA council agrees to discuss proposed park

More than six hours after the Los Altos City Council welcomed its newest member, councilmembers voted narrowly in favor of entering an exclusive negotiating agreement with Los Altos Community Investments to discuss the possibility of a park and underground parking on First Street.

The agreement pas...

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Business

New business promises spa service, without the spa

New business promises spa service, without the spa

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View resident Brooke Rankins receives an in-home pedicure from Lily Ly. Ly has a contract with Wilo Spa, a new company which offers spa services in customers’ homes. Wilo Spa opened in November and allows customers to arrange appointments by text. About 8...

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Sports

MV boys use speed, top Mustangs 54-40

MV boys use speed, top Mustangs 54-40

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Tommy Resnick led the Mountain View High boys in scoring Friday night.

Friday against Homestead, the Mountain View High boys showed off the versatility that makes them such a dangerous basketball team.

Although the host Spartans couldn’t match the Mustangs’ size, th...

Readmore

Community

Chaperone facilitates parent carpools to ease traffic at school drop-off times

Chaperone facilitates parent carpools to ease traffic at school drop-off times

Photo Courtesy of Shrikant Nasikkar
Los Altos resident Shrikant Nasikkar developed the Chaperone app to facilitate the process of establishing carpool rides to and from school. He said carpools are not only environmentally beneficial, but they also facilitate friendships by bringing people togeth...

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

Rest in peace, Dr. Hardy Jones

We lost a true Los Altos icon and a man of great warmth, artistic talent, intelligence, love and, definitely (beyond a shadow of a doubt), a positive attitude that was unmatched. Dr. Hardy Jones passed away Dec. 28 with, according to his wife, Jane, a smile on his fa...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos church parishioners mourn drowning deaths of mother, child

Los Altos church parishioners mourn drowning deaths of mother, child

Courtesy of Fritz Schneider
The Claassen family

Christ Episcopal Church and Ventana School in Los Altos are mourning the loss of Polly and Trent Claassen, a mother and son who died Jan. 6 after drowning in a pond while on a trip to Kansas.

Polly Claassen was the church’s friendly, outgoing y...

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Schools

Covington hosts Abilities Awareness Week

Covington hosts Abilities Awareness Week

Traci Newell/Town Crier
Covington School sixth graders learn about fine motor school difficulties some students might have by trying to button up a coat with socks on their hands.

Covington School students gained an understanding of the struggles of fellow students with learning challenges Jan. 5 ...

Readmore

Special Sections

Health care on demand from Mountain View service

Health care on demand from Mountain View service

Courtesy of Direct Urgent Care
Dr. Ceasar Djavaherian is the president of Direct Urgent Care.

For most doctors in Silicon Valley, melding technology and medicine means cutting-edge machines performing high-powered work backed by Sand Hill Road venture capital. But for Caesar Djavaherian, M.D., medi...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks commits (to) 'Crimes'

TheatreWorks commits (to) 'Crimes'

Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s “Crimes of the Heart” stars, from left, Therese Plaehn, Lizzie O’Hara and Sarah Moser as sisters Lenny, Babe and Meg McGrath, respectively.

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is scheduled to perform “Crimes of the Heart” through Feb....

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Magazine

Holidays in the heat: Commemorate Christmas south of the equator

Holidays in the heat: Commemorate Christmas south of the equator

Courtesy of Camping
Patrons of Camping, a restaurant in Buenos Aires, enjoy the warm weather during last year’s holiday season.

When I relocated from Mountain View to Buenos Aires in July, I knew I’d be stepping into winter. I packed my rain boots and heavy coat, and I set aside my longing for a p...

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Going green underground: You CAN take it with you when it comes to environmental values

Photo Town Crier File PhotoA field of flowers or a terrace of trees – green burials offer an environmentally friendly alternative to today's marble-stone cemeteries.
Lowering your carbon footprint – it’s all about switching from regular bulbs to CFLs, recycling garbage and buying produce from local farmers. It’s the least we can do while we’re here to sustain a future for generations to come.

Lowering your final footprint? It’s all about the options available to the environmentally conscious – a way to stay green even after you die, a way to help push up the daisies, so to speak – a way to return as dust to the earth with minimal harm to the Earth.

It’s called a green burial – highly popular in England and beginning to gain attention in the United States. Green burial is a natural alternative to what has become a traditional burial – embalming, casket and marble gravestone. And it’s cheaper.

 

Back then and now

Once upon a time before the Civil War and funeral directors, it fell to family members and close neighbors to prepare and dispose of the remains of a deceased loved one. The body was lovingly washed, dressed and set in the parlor for visitation. Burials followed.

The Civil War, with soldiers dying far from home and the large number of deaths, changed that. Embalming with arsenic to preserve bodies for the train ride home became a trend. Then came formaldehyde, metal caskets, concrete for burial vaults and steel to reinforce the concrete.

“The current burial process, besides being expensive, wastes great quantities of natural resources. It separates us biologically and psychologically from our host planet,” according to Jane Hillhouse’s message at www.finalfootprint.com. “And, perhaps more importantly, it strives to keep us separate from our loved ones at an important time in both lives.”

Hillhouse owns the Half Moon-based Web company that offers biodegradable-receptitacle options for burials.

Cemeteries use vast amounts of fertilizers and water for expansive lawns. From casket to vault to

mausoleum, cemeteries degrade the natural landscape.

Today’s cemeteries and gravesites are here forever although no one will remember those who are buried there 50 years from now. That rankles Deborah Meckler, president of the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

“That land is useless,” Meckler said of modern cemeteries. “It’s destroyed as a natural ecosystem – as open space.”

But with cemeteries and plots filling fast and burial costs on the rise, another option for remains’ disposal has become popular. High heat

“The trend definitely is toward cremation, which I think is sad,” Meckler said. “Cremation has two downsides – the energy used in drying a body and the particulate matter emitted.”

You don’t want to be downwind of a crematorium, Meckler said.

With dioxins, nitrous oxide and concentrations of mercury from amalgam fillings in teeth, as well as smoke particulates, cremation is far from being Earth-friendly.

 

Go green gone

With a strong national lobby in the National Funeral Directors Association, Meckler said the FCA was established to educate the public about options for the disposition of remains.

“The funeral industry was packaging service options – people were being charged a lot,” she said.

The FCA successfully lobbied the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit the practice. Consumers are presented with individual options when burying loved ones.

With a bachelor’s degree in natural resource management and conservancy, Meckler’s mission goes beyond protecting consumers to protecting the Earth and educating the public about green burials.

“People seem very interested in this, but most people don’t know about it,” she said.

As open space is procured for green-burial sites – Forever Fernwood in San Mateo County is one such example – Meckler hopes laws can be changed to enable burial sites to be reused after 50 years, long after a body has decomposed. And grazing pastures are a waste of space, too.

“There’s no reason not to use agricultural lands (for green burials),” she said.

 

Green rules

The rules for going green underground are simple – and cheaper on the pocketbook, Meckler said.

• Bodies cannot be embalmed. Contrary to popular belief, embalming is not usually required by law.

“It doesn’t stop the smell, it doesn’t stop the decay. It just makes you look better,” she said.

• Burial containers must be biodegradable. Untreated pine boxes, shrouds – Final Footprint offers wicker coffins – the container must return to earth like the body.

• Levels or horizons of the plot must be removed and returned, level by level. Meckler said it’s important not to mix the different layers of soil in order to protect the living organisms.

• Natural grave markers only are allowed, including a log piece or stones with written or chiseled names. Some green cemeteries issue GPS data on the location.

“But it should just look like open space,” Meckler said of a green-burial site.

And it’s important to understand the difference between a burial and a funeral – just because a burial is simple doesn’t mean the farewell needs to be, she added.

“You can have lavish flowers and music. A green burial doesn’t negate the excesses of a funeral,” she said.

 

Lessons learned

For Meckler, it’s important to prepare a dead loved one for burial rather than handing the body over to strangers. The FCA’s Web site offers advice and guidelines in returning to the traditions of bygone days.

Surprisingly, people aren’t appalled at the idea.

“They’ve cared for loved ones in hospice – for many, they want to do it. It’s no big deal,” she said. “Touching is very important to get that sense of ‘goneness.’”

Others don’t want to discuss death.

“One of our taglines is, ‘Would it kill you to talk about?’” Meckler said.

But while older adults often do want to talk about their deaths and their disposition wishes, children don’t always want to hear about them.

“It’s good to put it in writing,” she said.

And as leaching arsenic from Civil War soldiers’ embalmed bodies becomes a problem in groundwater in the East, Meckler hopes green burials become the trend.

For more information, visit www.fcapeninsula.org or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Contact Mary Beth Hislop at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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