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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Argo protagonist shares story at One from the Heart breakfast


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Jonna and Tony Mendez, subject of the Oscar-winning “Argo,” address a full house at Pathways’ One from the Heart awards breakfast last week.

Retired CIA operative Tony Mendez, whose exploits the Oscar-winning “Argo” documents, shared his story before 600 guests Thursday at the One from the Heart awards breakfast in Palo Alto.

Mendez appeared at the annual event, a benefit for Pathways Home Health, Hospice & Private Duty, with his wife, Jonna. Expressing their personal appreciation for the compassionate care provided by organizations like Pathways, the Mendezes recalled how important hospice care was for their loved ones during their final days – Mendez’s first wife died of lung cancer and Jonna’s mother of brain cancer.

But the backstory of how Mendez conceived and successfully executed the CIA operation to extricate six U.S. diplomats who escaped capture during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis took center stage at the event.

Supplemented by film clips, the couple offered details on the rescue mission, dubbed the “Canadian Caper,” and the making of “Argo,” which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2012.

Before gaining worldwide attention, the operation was shrouded in secrecy for more than 12 years. With security tight in the wake of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Iranian students, Mendez said the CIA’s options for rescuing the diplomats, who took refuge in the home of a Canadian diplomat, were limited.

“There were only bad options, and this one was the best one we had,” said Mendez of the ultimate plan to send CIA operatives posing undercover as a movie crew to gain access to the diplomats.

Working with makeup artist John Chambers, Mendez recounted how he set up a fake production company and worked with a Hollywood producer to develop a phony science-fiction film, providing a realistic front for the film crew and lending credibility to their plan. The ploy was so convincing, he said, that top directors of the day, including George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, submitted scripts to the fake film company.

Despite reservations from the U.S. Department of State about how such an absurd plan could work, the operation succeeded.

The art of disguise is a powerful medium for deception, as proven by the complex phony movie scheme, but Mendez revealed that “Argo” took some creative liberties in interpreting the actual operation.

Among the fictionalized elements in the film is the truck chase at the airport. Although it’s one of Mendez’s favorite scenes, in reality, he said, his team waited an hour and a half in Iranian airspace with F-4 fighters nearby before takeoff.

The evening prior to the breakfast, the Mendezes put in an appearance at the home of Pathways supporters Gunilla and Tom Follett of Los Altos.

For more information, visit pathwayshealth.org.

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