Wed08052015

News

Residents help police nab burglary suspects

Residents help police nab burglary suspects


Courtesy of Los Altos Police Department
Police used security-camera footage to identify two burglary suspects.

With assistance from the public, Los Altos Police identified two suspects in a residential burglary earlier this year. Police arrested...

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Schools

BCS parents host summer bridge camp for students in need

BCS parents host summer bridge camp for students in need


Zoe Morgan/Town Crier Editorial Intern
Bullis Boosters Summer Bridge Camp counselor Sonia Uppal teaches students the basics of computer coding last week.

The Bullis Boosters Summer Bridge Camp aims to reduce the achievement gap by offering a hands-...

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Community

Los Altos resident continues work toward eradicating No. 1 cause of infant deaths

Los Altos resident continues work toward eradicating No. 1 cause of infant deaths


Courtesy of Marge Shively
Kathy Radford, from left, Ann Roper, Sandy Harapat, Betty Gillmore, Jane Halligan and Laura Griswald stuff envelopes to raise money for spinal muscular atrophy research.

Proceeds from the 13th annual NorCal Walk-n-Roll,...

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Sports

Lovin' Levi's

Lovin' Levi's


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View’s Austin Johnson, running after the catch, played multiple positions in Saturday’s game.

For Mountain View High’s Austin Johnson and Homestead’s John Rak, the highlight of playing in Saturday’s 41st annu...

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Comment

My solar clothes dryer: A Piece of My Mind

My cousin periodically sends me Internet nostalgia with comments along the lines of “Are you old enough to remember this?” One of her recent items struck me as newly useful in our energy-conservation-conscious times:

The Basic Rules for ...

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Special Sections

Killer crossover

Killer crossover


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC crossover is scheduled to debut this fall in the United States.

After a press drive through the Alsace wine region between France and Germany in the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC, we have ...

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Business

Cetrella ventures from seaside to Silicon Valley

Cetrella ventures from seaside to Silicon Valley


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Managing partner M’hamed Bahet oversees the new downtown Los Altos restaurant Cetrella, which features coastal cuisine and decor that celebrates the Peninsula region.

“Rustic,” “worldly” and ...

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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

LILLIAN FLORENCE SLAVIN

LILLIAN FLORENCE SLAVIN

April 9, 1921 – July 17, 2015

Lillian Florence Slavin, long-time resident of Los Altos and The Forum at Rancho San Antonio, died peacefully on July 17, 2015.  She was 94 years old.

Lillian was born on April 9, 1921 to William Broadley and Fl...

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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

Funny 'Forum'

Funny 'Forum'


David Allen/Special to the Town Crier
Foothill Music Theatre’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” features, from left, Tomas Theriot, Todd Wright, Mike Meadors and Ray D’Ambrosio.

Some plays are meant to be quite serious, while oth...

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Spiritual Life

Life is fleeting – and you can't take stuff with you

Anyone who knows me knows that I love going to garage and estate sales. I love a bargain. I have enough stuff to live on, so now I seek out things that are interesting to me. I like looking for interesting artwork, though now my wife has tasked me ...

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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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"The Longest Road" examines unity among Americans


When author Philip Caputo visited a rural schoolhouse in Kaktovik, Alaska, he noted that children in the remote Arctic Circle recited the same Pledge of Allegiance as students all over the United States. What other forces, he pondered, unite and divide Americans?

Caputo subsequently embarked on a road trip across the U.S. from Key West, Fla., to Deadhorse, Alaska, to ask ordinary citizens how they would answer the question.

His three-and-a-half-month excursion in a small Airstream trailer and truck – dubbed “Ethel” and “Fred,” respectively – covered 16,000 miles and resulted in his latest book, “The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean” (Henry Holt, 2013).

  Caputo is an award-winning journalist and author of more than a dozen books and numerous magazine articles and opinion pieces in national newspapers. As a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, he and his team won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of election fraud in Chicago. He is perhaps best known for his memoir, “A Rumor of War” (Henry Holt, 1977), which chronicles his experiences as a soldier during the Vietnam War.

  In “The Longest Road,” Caputo searches for answers to what holds Americans together. Caputo is no Studs Terkel, the author who spent his career interviewing ordinary citizens and writing books about their experiences during the Depression and World War II. But, to his credit, Caputo has crafted both a travelogue and an account of his conversations with the many people he encounters on his journey.

The result is interesting – most of the time.

Caputo’s descriptions of the places he and his wife, Leslie, visit are fun and even occasionally poetic. His wry sense of humor brightens the book’s plethora of anecdotes. “The Longest Road” even boasts a table of humorous road signs, including the billboard outside Tok, Alaska, that reads: “Ignore This Sign.”

“The Longest Road” contains a fair amount of history, highlighting the places and customs Caputo discovers, as well as descriptions of small, simple things he has learned over his lifetime, such as the process of loading and firing a flintlock rifle.

  The best parts of the book, however, document Caputo’s conversations with the people he meets on his cross-country trip. Susan Wiren, owner and proprietor of three businesses in tiny Chicken, Alaska, discusses the pride she takes in her work (she bakes pies for her restaurant) and emphasizes the dignity of all types of jobs. Carol Springer is a farmer who notes that “it’s not a great evolutionary thing to be so distant from where your food comes from.” And Ansel Woodenknife, a Lakota Indian, opened a restaurant in the Badlands of South Dakota that became famous for its fry bread and made an appearance on the Food Channel.

  Ultimately, though, the answers to the question at the heart of “The Longest Road” – What unites and divides Americans? – fail to inspire. Many of the respondents’ answers are underwhelming or obvious: “hope,” “neighbors jumping in and helping” or “the lack of manners and civility.” Even Caputo’s conclusion didn’t strike me as particularly startling – his answer is “conflict.”

Rather than the question Caputo sets out to investigate, readers will likely prefer the stories about people’s lives and dreams, and how they ended up living in the small towns of America.

  Most book clubs would find “The Longest Road” an enjoyable, discussion-provoking selection, particularly those that focus on nonfiction.

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

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