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News

Obama visits Los Altos area

Obama visits Los Altos area

President Obama made a fundraising stop today at a private residence in Los Altos Hills, creating the usual presidential buzz in the form of traffic disruptions, helicopters scouting overhead and protesters. In the wake of his visit, unknown persons,...

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Schools

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall


Town Crier File Photo
Starting in the fall, daily use of laptops in the classroom will be standard operating procedure for students at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools as the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District launches a pil...

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Community

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'


Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.” ELIZA RIDGEWAY/ TOWN CRIER

A massive troupe of young people and grownups gathered in Los Altos this summer to stage the latest iteration of a childhood sta...

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Sports

Football in July

Football in July


Town Crier file photo
Mountain View High’s Anthony Avery is among the nine local players slated to play in tonight’s Silicon Valley Youth Classic.

Tonight’s 40th annual Silicon Valley Youth Classic – also known as the Charlie...

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Comment

Pools should be included: Editorial

Los Altos residents should be receiving calls this week from city representatives conducting a survey to determine priorities for a revamped Hillview Community Center.

Notice that we did not say “civic center” – chastened by a lack of public support...

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Special Sections

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Trang Ly, left, reviews blood sugar readings on a smartphone with Los Altos resident Tia Geri, right, and fellow participant Noa Simon during a closed-loop artificial pancreas study for Type 1 diabetics.
...

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Business

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Longtime Palo Alto law firm Thoits, Love, Hershberger & McClean plans to open an office at 400 Main St. in Los Altos after construction is complete in November.

A longtime Palo Alto law firm plans to expand into L...

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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

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

Resident of Palo Alto

Richard Patrick Brennan, journalist, editor, author, adventurer, died at his Palo Alto home on July 4, 2014 at age 92. He led a full life, professionally and personally. He was born and raised in San Francisco, joined the Arm...

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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

PYT stages 'Shrek'

PYT stages 'Shrek'


Lyn Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Dana Cullinane plays Fiona in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Shrek The Musical.”

Peninsula Youth Theatre presents “Shrek The Musical” Saturday through Aug. 3 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts...

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Spiritual Life

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting


Courtesy of Carolyn Barnes
The newly built Los Altos church in 1914 featured a bell tower and an arched front window. Both continue as elements of the building as it stands today.

Foothills Congregational Church – the oldest church building ...

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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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A Christian pastor explores the gifts of Burning Man

This is the first in a three-part series on Young’s experience as a Christian pastor at Burning Man, the annual art event and temporary community based on radical self-expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

I spent the week before Labor Day participating in Burning Man. Every year in the dust of a dry lakebed at an elevation of 4,000 feet, volunteers build from scratch a temporary city, this year with a population of 68,000 people. The site lies 110 miles north of Reno and is accessed only by a single-lane road.

People who do not know me well wondered if I were suffering from a midlife crisis. They had seen pictures of partially clad people in outlandish costumes wildly dancing to electronic music at past events. My cousin wondered if it would be like visiting Sodom and Gomorrah, with everyone around me tripping out on psychedelic drugs in the physically punishing desert climate.

I had different hopes than some of those I met. I went to become a temporary citizen of another country, another America, with different rules and values. In our culture, we can feel powerless to make our world more humane. It may be difficult to even imagine alternatives to pictures of reality that limit or distort us. Burning Man, I hoped, could give me a clearer idea of how to serve in God’s kingdom, because God’s reign is not just what happens when you die. It is continuous with the way we live right now.

This spirit motivated the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the fourth and fifth centuries, whose spiritual breakthroughs ultimately led to the invention of monastic life. Those early Christians wanted to explore alternatives to the cruelty, slavery, exploitation and arbitrariness of the dominant Roman culture.

I went for similar reasons, to experience an alternative to the consumerism, bureaucracies and hierarchies that color every interaction we have with each other.

The desert monks articulated rules that governed their lives together. Burners similarly have 10 principles written by Burning Man founder Larry Harvey: radical inclusion of everyone, generosity, freedom from commerce (no buying, selling or even the display of corporate logos), self-reliance, self-expression, community, responsibility, environmental stewardship, participation and the value of immediate experience.

Burning Man will not cure all the ills of a broken, decadent and unjust society. It is not a replacement to our economic system that will last forever. It is a temporary experiment in how we treat each other. It is a chance to step into a more generous place with different freedoms and constraints, hazards and blessings. We came from different worlds but shared one experience in common – generosity, hospitality and openness to meeting new people.

The most striking element of this experience is giving. Walking down the street, people gave me hotdogs, Sno-cones, steak, pancakes, drinking water, beer, a telephone call home, clothes and costumes, Polaroid pictures, Pop-Tarts, jewelry, fresh peaches, entertainment, a newspaper, books and music.

In the desert, I saw hedonism and self-sacrifice, narcissism and generosity, indifference and grace, despair, self-destruction and signs of wonderful new life. People went there for different reasons and brought with them different expectations. But the one thing we all shared was the radical giving at the heart of that community, a kind of hospitality that should inspire all people of good faith.

The Rev. Malcolm C. Young, author of “The Spiritual Journal of Henry David Thoreau” (Mercer University Press, 2009), is on sabbatical from Christ Episcopal Church in Los Altos. For more information, visit ccla.us.

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