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News

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk


Courtesy of Microbe World
Colorized low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria

When E. coli and other bacteria were discovered in some Los Altos water last week, officials from the local water supplier, California Water...

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Schools

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The six-week, tuition-free Stretch to Kindergarten program, hosted at Bullis Charter School, serves children who have not attended preschool. A teacher leads children in singing about the parts of a butterfly, above.

Local un...

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Community

Google car painting project calls on artists

Google car painting project calls on artists


Google self-driving car

Already known as an innovator in the tech field, Google Inc. is now moving in on the art world.

The Mountain View-based company July 11 launched the “Paint the Town” contest, a “moving art experiment” that invites Califo...

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Sports

Pedaling with a purpose

Pedaling with a purpose


courtesy of
Rishi Bommannan Rishi Bommannan cycled from Bates College in Maine to his home in Los Altos Hills, taking several selfies along the way. He also raised nearly $13,000 for the Livestrong Foundation, which supports cancer patients.

When R...

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Comment

The truth about coyotes: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s recent article on coyotes venturing down from the foothills in search of sustenance referenced the organization Project Coyote (“Recent coyote attacks keep residents on edge,” July 1). Do not waste your time contac...

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Special Sections

Grant Park senior program made permanent

Grant Park senior program made permanent


Photos by Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Local residents participate in an exercise class at the Grant Park Senior Center, above. Betsy Reeves, below left with Gail Enenstein, lobbied for senior programming in south Los Altos.

It all began when Betsy Reev...

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Business

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Los Altos Rug Gallery owner Fahim Karimi stocks his State Street store with a wall-to-wall array of floor coverings.

A new downtown business owner plans to roll out the red carpet – along with rugs of every other color –...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

Resident of Los Altos

Grace Wilson Franks, our beloved mother and grandmother, left us peacefully on July 16, 2015 just a few weeks short of her 92nd birthday. She was born to Ross and Florence (Cruzan) Wilson in rural Tulare, California on Septem...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Going out with a 'Bang'

Going out with a 'Bang'


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” stars, clockwise from top left, Alexander Sanchez, Sophia Sturiale, Deborah Rosengaus and Danny Martin.

Los Altos Stage Company and Los Altos Youth Theatre’s joint production of t...

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Spiritual Life

Build a 'light' house and get out of that dark place

Most of us have a place inside our hearts and minds that occasionally causes us trouble. For some, it is sadness, depression or despair. For others, it may be fear, anger, resentment or myriad other emotional “dark places” that at times seem to hij...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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Pratchett’s ‘Snuff’ not his best, still better than others in genre

Like millions of other people, I would happily crawl across a large field of broken glass to read a new Terry Pratchett book.

But in the case of “Snuff” (Harper, 2011), it would have to be a medium-size field of glass. Although the book is still a very enjoyable read, it does not reach the high standard of his former works.

Pratchett, an Englishmen who specializes in comic fantasy novels, has an astonishing number of books to his credit, some for adults, some for young children and others in the young-adult genre. Apparently, “Snuff” is intended for the young-adult crowd, hence the many references to “poo.”

“Snuff,” part of Pratchett’s beloved Discworld series, presents mostly familiar characters, including Commander Sam Vimes, the hero; Lady Sybil, his wife; Willikins, Vimes’ trusty butler and strongman; and most of the cast of the Ankh-Morpork city police force. Thus, it seems fair to compare “Snuff” with the other “Disc- world” novels and not with his pleasant but less provocative youth series and books such as “The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy” (SFBC Science Fiction, 1996) or “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents” (Perfection Learning, 2003).

Pratchett’s Discworld novels are remarkable creations. Somehow, he manages in each book to do several things at once: introduce dozens of new, highly developed characters while resurrecting many familiar and beloved faces; craft two or three amazing plots that meld together by the end; satirize our current social mores and conventions; create the highly authentic city of Ankh-Morpork; and play with the English language and its idioms with hilarious results. Not bad in a day’s work.

So how does “Snuff” stack up against Pratchett’s earlier works? It’s a complicated question.

The premise of the book is simple. Lady Sybil demands that Commander Vimes take a vacation with her and their young son to her vast ancestral home in the countryside. Vimes is uncomfortable at first, given his deep roots in the city, but soon happily finds himself enmeshed in a sinister plot that involves the systematic bullying and subjugation of an entire species – the goblins – and even the murder of a young goblin girl. Meanwhile, back in the city, one of Vimes’ policemen has fallen under the spell of a mysterious tiny clay pot.

It sounds like the beginnings of a classic Pratchett tale, but “Snuff” is curiously heavy-handed. He details the crimes against the goblin people in such repetitive, brutal detail that at times I wanted to shout, “I get it, I get it – discrimination is really bad!”

And where are the legions of colorful new characters? One of the few worth mentioning is a novice policeman, Feeney Upshot, whom Vimes takes under his wing during the ultimate chase. The chase itself is bold and exciting, but it feels somewhat overplayed and at times plain unbelievable.

Despite the minor shortcomings of “Snuff,” a fairly good Pratchett novel is still better than most other best-selling works of fiction, so I can recommend it to book clubs that enjoy fantasy and satire. If you’re not familiar with Pratchett, start with my favorites: “Reaper Man” (Nal, 1991) and “Thief of Time” (Harper, 2001). All of the Discworld books are brilliant, so you won’t go wrong diving into any of them.

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

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