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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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