Tue09162014

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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Burning Man renews sense of intimacy with the divine

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

At times, one could not help but wonder why we chose to go to Burning Man. We left loved ones behind only to be stuck in two of the worst traffic jams of our lives, waiting five hours to move one mile on our way in and out of Black Rock City.

The elevation, dust storms and extreme daytime heat wore everyone down. The wild colors and scenes overstimulated us. The action and the beat of the electronic music never stopped. Without enough water to bathe, 68,000 people lived practically on top of each other in a harsh desert of extremes.

Still, one could not help but feel a sense of elation on arriving. Signs along the roadside prepared us for the society we were entering. One said, “Finance is your religion.” Another quoted Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Together we were getting free from our shared religion of finance with a social technology that seemed like magic. For an entire week, no one tried to sell me anything, and no one talked about jobs or the economy. There were no phones, schedules, email messages, advertisements, brands or logos. The only things one could buy were coffee and ice. The pace of Silicon Valley makes it difficult for us to be generous with our time. Out there, it seemed we had infinite reservoirs of time and attention to share even with strangers.

What did I learn? Mystical experiences in the desert renewed my sense of intimacy with the divine. In the solitude of early morning, red slivers of cloud intersecting the rising sun made me feel like God was baptizing me in dust. Bicycling at sunset with the wind at my back flying past extraordinary artistic creations into the gray-water sky, this vast, mysterious universe seemed like a home for our peace, gratitude and love.

Most of the people I met were younger and helped me to see the world in a different way. I realized how sheltered and naive I am. Usually when I talk to people in their 20s, it is on my terms, in my world – and this constrains our conversation. At Burning Man, I got out of my suburban church box and met people who do not even really know what Christianity is, people whose motivations and most basic assumptions differ from my own. They deeply blessed me and helped me to appreciate our shared humanity.

Finally, perhaps it took getting out of my church sphere to discover what I have to offer to the world. The people I met showed me the value of being so deeply immersed in an ancient spiritual and intellectual tradition.

On one of my last nights, in the middle of a dust storm, I met a woman named Susan. She had sought God when she was young and had given up. We wondered whether everyone might know something about God, even if we use different religions and language to describe the source of meaning. Perhaps truth is the collection of ways that God is speaking to all of us.

In that conversation, I realized that churches offer ancient practices (prayer, service to others, the study of holy writings, music, various rituals, a calendar, aesthetic experiences, etc.) that help us to be drawn more deeply into the divine. At its best, church functions as a community and a technology for recognizing our place in the universe, for loving other people in the confidence and intimacy with God exemplified by Jesus.

Burning Man helped me to see that spiritual practices from the past have no value unless they can be connected to the concerns and aspirations of the present. Of any group in society, the churches I know should be speaking to exactly the people drawn to Burning Man. Their openness to the future, their divinely inspired creativity, their idealism in seeking to transform society so that it is fair and accepting and their spirit of generosity and concern for others is exactly what churches need.

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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