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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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