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News

LA council votes to delay community center update

LA council votes to delay community center update


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council voted to delay adoption of a community center conceptual design plan last week. The plan includes elements from a design charette held earlier this fall, left.

The Los Altos City Council last...

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Schools

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
During a Science is Learning geology lesson, Theuerkauf Elementary School students learn about igneous rocks by observing how sugar changes form when heated.

Hundreds of local elementary students perform experiments w...

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Community

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
PYT’s “Oklahoma!” features, from left, David Peters of Mountain View, Jenna Levere of Los Altos and Kai Wessel of Mountain View.

Time is running out to catch Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!”...

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Sports

Eagles advance

Eagles advance


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Carmen Annevelink, left, and Kristen Liu put up a block against Mountain View. Annevelink totaled 20 kills.

Mountain View High’s out-of-the-gate energy could last for only so long against rival and he...

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Comment

Coping with addictions: Haugh About That?

Preparing to deal with my lifelong addiction, I stood in front of the mirror ready to confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is to admit something is wrong.

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Special Sections

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Hangar One, pictured here last January, will be restored under an agreement between Google and NASA.

NASA and Google Inc. forged an agreement last week that allows Google to lease a portion of NASA’s historic Moffett Fede...

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Business

State Street science center closing Nov. 30

State Street science center closing Nov. 30


Ellie Van Houtte/
Helix at 316 State St. is closing after the completion of a one-year grant from Passerelle Investment Co. The science center became a popular destination because of its various exhibits. Town Crier

A popular downtown destination...

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Books

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree


Author Tiffany Papageorge is scheduled to sign copies of new her book 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Papageorge’s “My Yellow Balloon” (Minoan Moon, 2014) is a Mom’s Choice “Gold” winner. In the book, the Los Gat...

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People

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

January 11, 1939 – November 6, 2014
Resident of Mountain View

James Windell Smith, a 40 year resident of Los Altos, passed away from complications after a post-surgery stroke November 6th, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.

Born on January 11, 1939 on...

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Travel

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boa...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company opens 'Fairway'

The Los Altos Stage Company production of Ken Ludwig’s new comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” is slated to run Thursday through Dec. 14 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

A tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, “Fox” is a romp that p...

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Spiritual Life

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am


The Beth Am Women have scheduled “A Conversation with Author Maggie Anton” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Anton, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, will discu...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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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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