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News

Cal Water says no E. coli in water; limits boiling advisory area

Cal Water says no E. coli in water; limits boiling advisory area

Cal Water officials said today that preliminary water quality test results were negative for E. coli were negative and "only a single hydrant" in the South El Monte area of Los Altos showed the presence of total coliform. They reduced the "boil your ...

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Schools

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The six-week, tuition-free Stretch to Kindergarten program, hosted at Bullis Charter School, serves children who have not attended preschool. A teacher leads children in singing about the parts of a butterfly, above.

Local un...

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Community

Google car painting project calls on artists

Google car painting project calls on artists


Google self-driving car

Already known as an innovator in the tech field, Google Inc. is now moving in on the art world.

The Mountain View-based company July 11 launched the “Paint the Town” contest, a “moving art experiment” that invites Califo...

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Sports

Pedaling with a purpose

Pedaling with a purpose


courtesy of
Rishi Bommannan Rishi Bommannan cycled from Bates College in Maine to his home in Los Altos Hills, taking several selfies along the way. He also raised nearly $13,000 for the Livestrong Foundation, which supports cancer patients.

When R...

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Comment

The truth about coyotes: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s recent article on coyotes venturing down from the foothills in search of sustenance referenced the organization Project Coyote (“Recent coyote attacks keep residents on edge,” July 1). Do not waste your time contac...

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Special Sections

Grant Park senior program made permanent

Grant Park senior program made permanent


Photos by Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Local residents participate in an exercise class at the Grant Park Senior Center, above. Betsy Reeves, below left with Gail Enenstein, lobbied for senior programming in south Los Altos.

It all began when Betsy Reev...

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Business

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Los Altos Rug Gallery owner Fahim Karimi stocks his State Street store with a wall-to-wall array of floor coverings.

A new downtown business owner plans to roll out the red carpet – along with rugs of every other color –...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

Resident of Los Altos

Grace Wilson Franks, our beloved mother and grandmother, left us peacefully on July 16, 2015 just a few weeks short of her 92nd birthday. She was born to Ross and Florence (Cruzan) Wilson in rural Tulare, California on Septem...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Going out with a 'Bang'

Going out with a 'Bang'


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” stars, clockwise from top left, Alexander Sanchez, Sophia Sturiale, Deborah Rosengaus and Danny Martin.

Los Altos Stage Company and Los Altos Youth Theatre’s joint production of t...

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Spiritual Life

Build a 'light' house and get out of that dark place

Most of us have a place inside our hearts and minds that occasionally causes us trouble. For some, it is sadness, depression or despair. For others, it may be fear, anger, resentment or myriad other emotional “dark places” that at times seem to hij...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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Morning Forum speaker reflects on life of famed actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr


Photo By:
Rhodes

The Morning Forum of Los Altos audience heard about the owner of a patent for a breakthrough invention that helped the U.S. military during World War II and is still in use today. Members also heard about the life of the “most beautiful woman in the world.” The subject of both was the same – actress Hedy Lamarr.

Richard Rhodes, author of 24 books on a wide range of subjects, discussed the life of “Hedy Lamarr – Inventor” at the March 5 Morning Forum.

Born Hedwig Kiesler of wealthy Jewish parents in Vienna in 1913, Lamarr was exceedingly fond of her father, and they spent many hours walking through Vienna as he pointed out features and explained how things worked. Her Catholic upbringing was filled with music and the arts. She attended a finishing school – from which she ran away. She was beautiful, famously noting that all you had to do to be glamorous was to “stand still and look stupid.”

According to Rhodes, her dream was to be a movie star. So at 16, she walked into the largest movie studio in Vienna and asked for a job. They gave her one, and she worked her way up from script girl to a starring role in “Ecstasy.”

At 19, she married Fritz Mandl, owner of armament factories and the third-richest man in Austria. He used her as a “trophy” wife, Rhodes said, displaying her at social affairs with businessmen from Austria and Germany, where there was much technical talk about ammunition. He kept her confined in lodges and mansions.

“I live in a golden prison,” Lamarr said.

In 1937, Lamarr left Mandl, went to London, where movie mogul Louis B. Mayer was staying, found out what ship he would be taking home, booked passage on it and arrived in New York with a movie contract including a handsome weekly salary in hand.

She became a hit in Hollywood, Rhodes said: “She was young and fresh and different – with an Austrian accent.”

But Lamarr didn’t like Hollywood life, despite her success in films. She didn’t drink, Rhodes said, and found parties boring. She married a total of six times and paid a lot of alimony because of her great wealth.

So, she decided to become an inventor, Rhodes noted. She had a drafting table built and stocked up on tools and technical books. She came up with a few trivial inventions: a tissue dispenser box with disposal attached, a tablet that would turn a glass of water into a soda and a stool that would rotate a bather in a shower.

Meanwhile, the U.S. remained neutral in the expanding war. Germans were torpedoing passenger ships, and Lamarr was aghast when a ship carrying 294 people, including 82 children, was sunk.

The Germans had developed a “gliding torpedo,” but the U.S. Navy was behind in technology. According to Rhodes, Lamarr said they should have been talking to her – she could have answered all their questions about the German system, based on what she learned listening at Mandl’s dinner parties.

As an inventor, she developed the idea of controlling the direction of a torpedo by radio frequency, undetectable because it was constantly changing. The process involved “frequency hopping.” Rhodes said Lamarr was issued a patent in 1941, called “Secret Communication System,” under her married name at the time, H. Markey. Frequency hopping is a concept still in use today. Ships used it during the Cuban missile crisis. Today, car phones depend on it, as does GPS.

Many years later, Rhodes said, someone looked up the old patent and discovered that H. Markey was indeed Hedy Lamarr. Finally, in her 80s in 1997, she was recognized for her invention and awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation prize.

Morning Forum is members-only series lecture series held at Los Altos United Methodist Church. For membership details and more information, visit www.morningforum.org.

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