Tue01272015

Schools

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on a proposal to exempt ninth-grade student-athletes from taking PE. Students take part in a physical education class at Mount...

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Community

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF


From Midnight Express Instagram
A group of millennial-aged Santas celebrating a night on the town prepare for a safe ride from San Francisco to their South Bay homes, courtesy of Cory Althoff’s new Midnight Express shuttle.

It’s no understatemen...

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Comment

More open than ever: Editorial

One of the Los Altos City Council’s objectives for 2015 is implementing an open-government policy. The title of the policy may be somewhat misleading, because it’s not as if the city has had a closed-government policy. But the new proposal goes beyon...

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Business

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Cassidy Turley, which has offices at 339 S. San Antonio Road, is combining with DTZ following its recent acquisition.

Commercial real estate services companies DTZ and Cassidy Turley have joined forces to operate as a sin...

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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

JUDY HOFFMANN

JUDY HOFFMANN

Judy Hoffmann passed away unexpectedly October 17, 2014 in New York City. It was only fitting Judy would be traveling and enjoying special adventures in so many different places until the very end.

Judy has lived since 1969 in Los Altos with her h...

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Travel

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill


Courtesy of Raúl Cañibano
Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano is set to appear at Foothill College tonight. His work – including the image “Series: Guajira’s Land, Viñales, 2007,” right – is on display at the KCI Gallery t...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View


Suellen Fitzsimmons/Special to the Town Crier
Christopher Tocco stars in TheatreWorks’ “2 Pianos 4 Hands,” which opened last week.

TheatreWorks’ production of “2 Pianos 4 Hands” is scheduled to run through Feb. 15 at the Mountain View Center fo...

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Spiritual Life

Start something great by ringing in the new year with prayer

There is a tradition, which I’m told originates in the Midwest, that calls for people to pray in the new year. A few years ago, I was invited to a friend’s house and a number of people stayed up until midnight (approximately two hours pa...

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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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Couple tell a tale of the roughest seas on earth

Los Altos residents Ben and Helen Kuckens set off in January on a 23-day trip through Antarctica on the cruise ship Nordnorge. They recount their adventures on the high seas for the Town Crier.

Forty-one hours after sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina, and crossing Drake Passage, we arrived at Deception Island on the Antarctic Peninsula and made our first landing in Antarctica. Those of us with no sense could go swimming in the Antarctic Ocean - so, of course, Ben did.

During the next few days we made four more landings on the peninsula. One evening the captain called a meeting of the 250 passengers and informed us that our sister ship, the Nordkapp, ran aground on Deception Island. We were to proceed immediately to take on some of the passengers and return them to Ushuaia.

This cut short a day and a half of our Antarctic visit, but, after five landings, we were quite satisfied. So, off we went to the rescue.

We reached the island in inclement weather and boarded all 300 passengers, their luggage, 100 spare mattresses and most of the food from the Nordkapp.

Fully loaded, eight-person zodiac boats shuttled the passengers and supplies from the distressed ship to ours. Due to the inadequate cabin space aboard our ship, about 100 refugees slept in the forward part of deck 4 on mattresses strewn on the floor. We thought this was the end of our excitement, but it was just beginning.

At the beginning of our voyage, it took us 41 hours southbound from Ushuaia to reach Deception Island. On the return, it took 52 hours because we hit the fiercest storm of the season, classified as a Force 10, which meant winds from 55 to 63 mph and swells up to 70 feet. For comparison, a Force 8 defines a gale and a hurricane is a Force 12.

The ship pitched so badly that those trying to sleep on the extra mattresses on the floor experienced negative g-forces. They floated off their mattresses as the ship pitched down, only to be pressed deeply into them on the way up. Helen's seasick patches worked for us, so we tried to find the fun in it and played bridge in the height of the storm - unlike many others.

The next day we were finishing a late dinner in the dining room when the ship lost lights and the propeller stopped. As a former officer in the U.S. Merchant Marine, Ben considered the possible consequences if we lost power during the storm. The ship would eventually turn broadside into a wave, a dangerous position with swells rising higher than the main deck. Fortunately, a half-minute later we regained primary electricity and the screw began turning.

We learned later that the ship had been pitching so badly the propeller came out of the water. A safety mechanism shuts it down in such instances because, with no resistance from the water, it speeds up and could suffer severe damage.

During this leg of the trip, one fellow passenger hit his head when his chair flipped over, resulting in three stitches to his scalp.

That night the captain slowed the vessel to 2 to 4 knots, just keeping her headed into the swells and wind, to prevent the violent pounding. We arrived in Ushuaia about 9 p.m. and off-loaded our temporary passengers.

There was another cruise ship in port, The Prinsendam of the Holland America line. She was larger than us, about 670 feet in length to our 404 feet. While we had headed north back toward Ushuaia, she was sailing south into Drake Passage from Ushuaia. She ran into the same storm. Her captain decided to turn back and wait it out in the Beagle Channel near Ushuaia. The Prinsendam had 46 people injured. On arrival, they were sent to a hospital.

Our service crew talked with friends on The Prinsendam who said they thought the ship would capsize. Our guess is that while they reversed course they were broadside to the swells for several minutes and experienced some extreme rolls. We were told the Prinsendam lost all her dishes and glassware - several tons. We were very grateful for our captain.

Now, Ben has gone around Cape Horn, as his father did five times on a large sailing ship from 1912 to 1914. At that time, ships were dependent completely on the wind. It is difficult to imagine what that must have been like.

The Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica is said to have the roughest ocean in the world. Everyone on our ship or The Prinsendam certainly believes that.

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