Mon09152014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Local ham operators offer helping hand in emergencies

COMM LAAREShamradiooperatorsSecurity for some might mean first-aid supplies in the trunk of the car or the voice of a 911 operator on the other end of an emergency call, but to members of the all-volunteer Los Altos Amateur Radio Emergency Service (LAARES), a pocket-sized handset radio is the quintessential tool for peace of mind.

No minuscule keyboard, fancy LED screen or built-in camera needed, LAARES member Jim Clark sends a test signal to another amateur, or ham, radio operator in Mountain View without thinking or blinking twice. And, that’s exactly what makes the communications system so valuable – it’s more reliable than any cellphone or piece of technology out there.

Operating off the grid via frequency modulation, ham radio operators can communicate from city to city, and even across the country and globe, when repeater towers are used. As proven in blackouts and natural disasters, amateur radio operators keep running when other communications systems fail.

Despite the fallibility of modern communications devices, Clark and fellow ham operator Tom Smith note that it’s difficult to convert bedazzled smartphone users to ham enthusiasts.

“‘That’s old technology. … Why do I need that?’” is the common response Smith encounters when attempting to recruit prospective amateur radio operators. “They think it’s not going to be a problem, that someone else is going to take care of me.”

Although Smith estimated approximately 200 to 300 licensed ham radio operators in Los Altos, he noted that the number of operators training for emergency communications is much lower. Ham radios are commonly used for a variety of purposes, including long-distance and military communications, radiotelegraphy and even contests.

For ham radio operators who choose to train for emergency communications, the hobby is a serious commitment and form of public service.

“You have to be ready to help whenever, wherever it happens,” said Smith, who keeps a collection of radios in his vehicle for any circumstance that might arise. “It’s not a backseat hobby.”

LAARES offers four training sessions a year to help local residents prepare for the 35-question Federal Communications Commission’s amateur radio technician exam, but the group’s services run deeper. Operating under the guidance of the Los Altos Police Department, members are ready to turn their radios on for emergency communications work near and far. When help was needed in San Jose during a past incident, LAARES members joined with more than 40 amateur radio operators in the region to mobilize a network.

Local residents will find amateur radio operators exercising their skills alongside police personnel, reporting data in emergency drills and even directing traffic and maintaining spectator safety at the annual Festival of Lights Parade.

Clark is confident that existing LAARES volunteers are prepared for potential emergency scenarios, but he welcomes new recruits. With approximately 30,000 residents in Los Altos, “the more the merrier,” he said.

For more information, visit laares.info.

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