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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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