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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Local educator helps students overcome fear of public speaking


Photos Nuinui Teo/Special to the Town Crier
Local educator Matt Abrahams’ book, “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out,” offers techniques to overcome public-speaking phobias.

Less than 10 seconds into his first speech before an audience, Matt Abrahams ripped his pants.

Competing in a speech tournament as a sophomore in high school, he attempted to demonstrate a karate kick.

“I was so nervous about possible outcomes before my speech that I forgot to change my pants into ones that would allow for movement,” he said with a laugh.

Despite the rough start, the Los Altos resident’s first experience didn’t deter him from mastering the art of public speaking.

Abrahams, now a communication instructor at Stanford University and a speech communication instructor at De Anza College, wrote a book about public speaking, “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out: 35 Techniques for Confident, Calm, and Competent Presenting” (Kendall Hunt, 2012), aimed at helping people control their anxiety before – and while – addressing a crowd.

“I wrote the book out of frustration,” he said. “There was so much research that had been done about anxiety and public speaking, but it was all locked away in academic journals that people don’t really get to see.”

Abrahams started off in the tech industry, never thinking he would end up as a communications teacher. But the experience he gained working as a businessman helped him realize the importance of communication.

“You saw really talented, bright people not succeeding because of their lack of communication skills,” he said. “And you saw people who weren’t succeeding.”

Abraham said people will sometimes build their entire lives around their fear of public speaking.

“A lot of people feel powerless in the face of anxiety,” he said. “They get nervous about being nervous, and it spirals out of control. It helps people just to have a sense of agency.”

Tongue twisters

Although Abrahams is a confident, experienced speaker, he said he still employs various tactics to manage his pre-speech anxiety. Before a speech, you might find him backstage, quietly muttering tongue twisters.

His favorite: “I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit, and on that slitted sheet I sit.”

“You can’t say a tongue twister without being in the present moment,” Abrahams said. “Also, it makes me focus even more because if I mess up, I say a bad word.”

Although most of Abrahams’ students are college age or older, he volunteers at his son’s elementary school, Covington, introducing public speaking at an early age.

“The stakes are different, the consequences are different, but the anxiety is the same,” he said of students’ burgeoning public-speaking assignments.

According to Abrahams, an increasing number of schools are catching on to the importance of developing public-speaking skills early.

“The schools are doing such a good job of getting kids up there and presenting,” he said. “I think I’ll be out of a job soon.”

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