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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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Going green, one step at a time


Photo By: town Crier file photo
Photo Town Crier File Photo

Biking to school is one of many ways local students can reduce their carbon footprint.

My favorite bookmark reads: “A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step.” I find this saying very helpful and use it often in my daily life.

When I want to get fit, for example, I may start by going to the gym every Monday morning for an hour. Then I extend that commitment to Wednesday mornings, and finally, I go three times per week. By taking small steps and feeling the success of that effort, a daunting task becomes easy and rewarding.

The same can be said for becoming environmentally aware. Changing behavior to become more energy efficient, water conscious, plastic free or carbon neutral may seem daunting at first. However, taking a small step and building on it may enable you to save money and help the Earth.

Take energy efficiency. Your monthly electric bill is a useful tool for monitoring the effects of small changes in behavior.

Many items use power when plugged in but not in use. These phantom or vampire loads have increased dramatically due to the rise in consumer electronics. According to Steve Schmidt of High Energy Audits, our community uses nearly a quarter of its residential electricity serving these vampire loads. Making a commitment to unplug these devices before going to bed is a small step. Try it for a month and see the result in next month’s energy bill.

You can do the same with household temperatures. Move the thermostat up 1 degree in the summer months or down 1 degree during the winter months. See the impact on the electric bill and notice if other household members can tell the difference.

For the next step, sign up for GreenTown’s free online energy tool to identify where you use the most power and how you can reduce it. Small steps can have a big impact. Folks in Los Altos Hills who used this tool reduced their energy bills by more than $700 annually. You may be amazed at how much energy you conserve.

Similarly for water use, review your water bill to see what happens after adjusting your water timers two minutes less for each cycle. Watch the results on your water bill and in your yard. Can the plants tell when they are watered two minutes less?

The Santa Clara Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program’s Watershed Watch recommends that people “adjust watering levels to match the season: In summer, generally water once every three days. In autumn, cut your watering time by half. And in winter and spring, completely stop watering once the rains begin.”

But take the next step and schedule a free Water Wise House Call from the Santa Clara Valley Water District to create an irrigation-scheduling plan just for your lawn and garden. This can save you a lot of water and money.

Try for zero waste or become plastic free. Start by reviewing your community’s recycling guide (provided by the franchise waste haulers, Mission Trails in Los Altos and GreenWaste in Los Altos Hills). Recycle everything that can be recycled for one month. Watch the difference in the garbage container. Next move onto compost.

Then try to go plastic free. Begin by bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery store. Buy glass containers instead of plastic ones.

According to Save the Bay, 90 percent of trash in our streams does not biodegrade. The oceans and animals in them are suffering from plastic pollution. Take another small step and get educated at algalita.org.

How about becoming carbon neutral? Start by encouraging your children to bike or walk to school one day a week. Or drop them off a few blocks from school so that they can walk the rest of the way. Perhaps take your bike instead of your car when running errands a mile away. Take the next step by “greening” your errands within two miles. Then take the Drive Less Challenge for two weeks (www.drivelesschallengeLA.org).

Riding a bike may become your main mode of transportation. Given that vehicles are responsible for more than 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, that’s a welcome change.

Two other important steps for reducing carbon emissions include avoiding plane flights (or at least purchasing carbon offsets for the ones you must take) and replacing one meat-based meal per week with a plant-based meal. Taking these additional steps makes the planet just a little cooler.

Small steps can be an easy way to create a new habit that ultimately makes a big difference for the environment. You can soon become a GreenTown Los Altos volunteer and help your neighbors become sustainable. A journey of 1,000 miles does start with a single step – take it today.

Michael McTighe is chairman of the GreenTown Los Altos Leadership Team.

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