Wed07302014

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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Rich with choices


courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz’s 2014 E-Class lineup offers an array of choices – from a diesel-powered engine to a convertible and a hand-built, high-performance V8 engine.

At a press launch event a few weeks ago in Portland, Ore., Mercedes-Benz USA introduced the complete lineup of the bread-and-butter center of its product range – E-Class automobiles comprehensively updated for 2014.

Accounting for 25 percent of Mercedes sales in the U.S., the E-Class range offers something for virtually every driver seeking a mid-range luxury automobile.

The choices are truly impressive. The E-Class lineup boasts four body styles: four-door sedans, four-door station wagons, two-door coupes and two-door cabriolets (the classic term Mercedes uses for its convertibles).

Across the range of cars, the company offers an impressive choice of five engines, including a four-cylinder diesel engine, a V6 and a V8 gas engine, a V6/electric hybrid and a hand-built, high-performance V8 engine. To meet every driving need, the company offers two-wheel drive to the rear wheels and the all-wheel-drive powertrain called 4Matic.

In total, there are 15 variations in the lineup – truly something for every billfold, transportation requirement and driving style.

Prices for the standard models range from $51,500 for the E250 BlueTEC diesel rear-wheel-drive sedan to $67,300 for the E550 cabriolet. The high-performance all-wheel-drive AMG E63 sedans and station wagons are priced ranging from $92,770 for the E63 sedan to $102,370 for the E63 S-model wagon.

A redesigned E-Class

With so many choices, and such a range of performance, we could only hit the high spots in two days of driving – one day east along the Columbia River Gorge and then south to Mount Hood before returning to Portland, and one day west along one set of curving backroads to the Oregon coast, returning to Portland along another curving route.

If you’re looking for a great getaway, incidentally, just catch a cheap flight to Portland, rent a convertible and take a weekend to do either drive, staying at one of the new small boutique hotels in the downtown district around Pioneer Square.

The highlight of the event was the extent to which Mercedes has redesigned the E-Class lineup after only a few years. On the exterior, the front end has been completely redesigned, doing away with the separate running lights that had been an E-Class cue, and adding more verve to the grille and vents. In addition, the side panels have been brought up-to-date with Mercedes-Benz’s new flowing design, especially on the sedan and wagon.

There is a lot more to comment on in the interior, with a redesigned steering wheel, display screen and switchgear, as well as new upholstery patterns. And Mercedes-Benz has moved the clock from its decades-old position as a gauge in the driver’s cluster to an elegantly executed analog design in the center of the dashboard.

Diesel engine

The second big deal at the launch was our first opportunity to drive what is now the entry point to the entire lineup, the four-door sedan with all the E-class elegance that is powered by a highly competent inline four-cylinder direct-injected turbocharged – wait for it – diesel engine. Mercedes-Benz was the first automobile company in the world to put a diesel engine in a passenger car – way back in 1936 – so it’s no surprise that it is the first to do a proper luxury car with the advantages of a modern clean-diesel engine.

The new engine, now in several Mercedes products, is quiet and torquey (that means responsive acceleration, for the nongearheads), with exceptional fuel efficiency. In an informal contest, journalists recorded as high as 44 mpg over 150 miles of mixed driving, while those who had no interest in playing the game were measured at no worse than 35 mpg. Remember when those fuel-efficiency numbers were only available in anemic compact cars?

Safety in numbers

The third big deal with the E-Class lineup is that it comes equipped with all the same standard and optional safety features introduced earlier this year on the top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Surrounding the car with a veritable bubble of protection – both for the occupants of the car and for pedestrians, wildlife and other vehicles that might cross its path – these safety features are the first practical spin-outs from the extensive research into autonomous cars going on at Stanford University and other research centers: cars that drive themselves.

Self-driving option

The feature we enjoyed most – and we think will be used most often – is the car’s ability to drive itself in low-speed, stop-and-go traffic conditions of the sort common on every Bay Area freeway at commute times.

Returning to Portland at 4:30 p.m. in bumper-to-bumper traffic, we simply set the cruise control at the posted speed limit and engaged it – and the car took over. As long as traffic was running under 25 mph, the car would accelerate and stop on its own, maintaining a safe distance from cars around it.

But wait, there’s more. The car could even steer itself with the driver’s hands completely off the wheel, guided by the vision and radar sensors that key off surrounding cars and pavement lane markers. As soon as traffic opened up and speed surpassed 25 mph, the warning system beeped to alert the driver to assume steering control, while the car continued to maintain its own speed and safe distances among surrounding cars.

If you’re in the market for a comfortable, competent mid-range luxury car – whether you’re looking for an elegant sedan, sensible station wagon (so much more practical than an SUV), stylish coupe or sporty convertible – the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is seriously worth considering.

Longtime Los Altos residents Gary and Genie Anderson are co-owners of Enthusiast Publications LLC, which edits several car club magazines and contributes articles and columns to automotive magazines and online services.

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