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News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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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

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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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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‘The Long Earth’ steps into space travel among different worlds


Reading certain books can be like listening to a piece of beautiful music, with many of the work’s themes remaining in the mind long after you’ve finished.

“The Long Earth” (HarperCollins, 2012) by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter is one such book. It should come as no surprise, given that the British authors are giants in the science fiction and science fantasy genres with more than 100 books in their combined list of credits.

Their collaboration results in a science fiction tale that postulates that Earth is but one of perhaps an infinite number of earths, each of which evolved in a different way – but none seems to be populated.

“The Long Earth” begins in Madison, Wis., in 2015, when people have just discovered that they can visit, or “step,” among these different versions of earth by means of a small, inexpensive mechanical device.

Pratchett and Baxter devote most of the novel to the travels of Joshua Valienté, a teenager noted for his unusual ability to step without an aid, and Lobsang, part-robot, part-man, who builds a massive airship able to travel with ease among the earths.

The real fun of the book chronicles the sights and sites Joshua and Lobsang discover on their voyage of adventure – all kinds of plants, animals and creatures that have evolved on the different versions of the earths. There are worlds frozen in a perpetual ice age, worlds covered with enormous forests, verdant worlds with extraordinary plants and peculiar animals and, most interesting of all, worlds with strange elf- or troll-like creatures and other vaguely humanoid forms.

The premise of “The Long Earth” allows the tale to unfold with creativity and imagination. What if we really could run away from our present circumstances and start over – with other people or not? What kind of new colony would we like to start, and how would we like it to be organized and governed?

The loveliness of the book lies in the low technology and simplicity of these worlds, and the descriptions of the different earths and the new colonies that people begin to form.

I am quite familiar with Pratchett’s work, and “The Long Earth” doesn’t contain much of his sense of humor or wonderful wordplay. It is, however, charming and rather utopian in feel, not to mention thought-provoking and fun to ponder how one would go about organizing one’s own unspoiled earth.

Book clubs that enjoy reading science fiction should explore “The Long Earth.”

Leslie Ashmore is a longtime Mountain View resident who belongs to two book clubs.

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