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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Local family's book promotes group play


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Breier family of Los Altos Hills enjoys the benefits of group play, and they’re spreading the word about the value of games in a new book.

The Breier family of Los Altos Hills believes that games are a force for good, so they’re spinning their ideas into a book that encourages other families to discover the benefits of group play.

“More interaction is better … so any game that gets people interacting instead of listening to music or diddling on their own little screen is a force for good,” said 21-year-old Corey Breier, the eldest of the family’s three sons. “You’re not going to be at the end of your life and say, ‘I wish I’d played more Angry Birds.’”

Creating and publishing a book of games comes naturally to a family that has experience blogging and authoring books. From sock wrestling to pool basketball and word contests, games are an integral activity in the Breier household. In fact, it was while playing a game in their car during a recent road trip that the family first pondered the idea for the book.

“We know a lot of games, and some families don’t,” Breier said.

Unlike the stereotypical camp games that come to mind when many people think of games, the Breiers aim to present creative content that is fun, extensively tested through personal experience and meaningful enough to foster engagement in complex social situations. Although most of the games in their book are simple and require only a bit of imagination, the Breiers also highlight some board games and multiplayer video games.

Even though a book of games may go against the grain of popular culture – the family considered building an app as well – Breier said a well-illustrated coffee-table book seemed to be the most appropriate format to lure children and adults away from mobile phones and other technology to socialize face to face.

“If you have a game in which everyone is engaged and they’re actually enjoying the game because they like it, you don’t have to think about your phone,” he said.

Kickstarting a fundraising campaign

After giving their book a title – “Life Is a Game: 101 Group Games for Family and Work” – the family launched a Kickstarter campaign in early July to fund the project and measure interest. They need $5,000 to pay for illustrations, hire a layout designer and finance the first run of the self-published book. If they meet their goal by the Aug. 7 campaign deadline, the book could be ready for distribution as early as October. The family has already received more than $2,600 from 47 contributors as of this week, a head start toward their fundraising goal.

Unique to the project is the extent to which the entire family is involved – dad Mark oversees marketing, mom Ronda serves as copy editor and the three boys – Riley, 11; Travis, 19; and Corey – are contributing chapters on their favorite games.

Breier is so confident that the endeavor is a winner that he turned down a summer internship to shepherd the book to fruition as project manager. He said the project gives him something to wake up to every day, and it’s fostering his growing passion for connecting people through games.

“At first – as any kid would – well, I didn’t want to do it,” said Breier of his childhood resistance to his father’s prodding to play games.

In time, Breier inherited his dad’s role as a game catalyst. He said games find their way into his daily routine – whether at parties on his college campus or during downtime while studying abroad.

“If we’re talking and we don’t have a game, the onus is on each of us,” said Breier of the awkwardness that can characterize a gathering of unfamiliar faces. “With a game, it makes its own little rules.”

For more information on the Breier family’s book project, visit 101groupgames.com.

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