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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Going the distance:: No Shoes, Please

From a recent Time magazine “Milestones” section: “Died, Yusai Sakai, 87, one of only three Buddhist monks since 1571 to twice complete the rigorous Sennichi Kaiho Gyo, a seven-year ordeal of fasting and running. Those unable to complete it are expected to take their own life.”

The report of Sakai’s actual demise aside, I thought his obituary was hilarious because here’s what the Kaiho Gyo is: In each of the first three years, for 100 consecutive days, you rise at midnight to pray and then run an 18-mile trail that circumambulates a sacred mountain. In years four and five, you increase the run days to 200. In year five, you include a nine-day period in which you continuously chant a single mantra without food, water or sleep. In year six, you walk 37.5 miles for 100 consecutive days, and in year seven, you walk 52.5 miles for 100 days, then 18 miles for another 100 days.

If you make it through the first 100 days, you’re obligated to finish – if you don’t, you’re traditionally expected to commit suicide by either hanging or disembowelment.

That’s what I call a real do-or-die situation. Plus, it sounds like a quintessentially Japanese proposition: First, design an impossible task; second, set expectations high, starting with “near perfect” as the goal; third, attach the stigma of shame to any failure; and finally, make death the only option to success. It’s classic.

I didn’t grow up under any penalties of death, mind you, but there was definitely a seriousness of purpose in all our family endeavors. From cleaning floors to trips to Disneyland, everything had to be executed properly and well. And nothing is made too easy. At family parties, the food is often spare in seasonings so that you can’t drown mistakes in sauces or mask errant flavors with a lot of herbs. Alcohol isn’t served, so you also can’t jolly up the crowd or dull any senses with liquor before the main dishes appear. (I’ve always thought my Acosta relations – who are never without their vino under any circumstances – are generally an easier crowd to please, because parties are typically deemed successful the minute corks start popping.)

Post-event scrutiny avails all sorts of lessons to be learned: Was the house spotless, the meal attractively displayed and delicious? Did the guests enjoy themselves? Did we make it all look effortless? Plus, in my mother’s kitchen, attitude counts. If you prepare any dish while grousing, even silently in your own head, about having to do it, then the food is wrecked before it’s even served, which then begs the question: Do you need to fix yourself before you fix another meal?

I wouldn’t be surprised if Sakai pondered the same thing himself in one form or another. The ultimate purpose of the 24,850-mile Kaiho Gyo is enlightenment. In addition to the mental and physical challenges, Sakai trained in meditation and calligraphy and performed menial temple chores. He finished his first Kaiho Gyo (starting in 1973) in 1980, took a half-year break and finished his second go-around in 1987 at age 60.

Talk about being thoroughly committed. Now that’s what I call Japanese.

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