Sun09142014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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