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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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Change oil regularly and use the correct kind

Q: My car’s engine started making noise. I found that the engine oil was low, so I added some. The noise didn’t go away, and then the Check Engine light came on. I brought my car to a repair facility and was told that the engine had a large amount of sludge inside, causing my problem. Do you agree that this is possible? What is sludge, and what caused it to occur in my engine?

A: The answer to your first question is yes, and you are not alone with this experience. As automotive manufacturers continue to reduce vehicle maintenance requirements and extend oil-change intervals, this type of problem is becoming more common. We see it because the intervals are longer and people tend to forget and wait way too long before having their fluids changed.

What is sludge? As engine oil accumulates miles, it becomes contaminated with carbon, water and various acids – all of which are by-products of the engine’s internal combustion – and forms a film of black, gooey sludge on the interior parts of the engine. That’s why oil needs to be changed periodically.

What causes sludge buildup? It is important to understand that today’s engines require oil with different additives than cars from many years ago. The different manufacturers are also requiring their own oil and additives, so there is no longer a one-size-fits-all oil application.

Knowing this, it is also important to understand that going somewhere for low-cost oil changes (i.e. $19.95) is almost a sure bet that you are not going to get the correct oil and filter installed for your vehicle. The wrong engine oil can even lead to premature internal parts wear – whether or not there is sludge buildup.

Be aware, too, that neglected oil-change intervals – or not checking your engine oil levels regularly – may starve your engine for oil and result in sludge and varnish buildup. Even the best engine oil can be ruined by such neglect.

Other causes of sludge buildup include cold-engine operation – which accelerates sludge buildup because oil temperatures are insufficient to evaporate the moisture that accumulates inside the engine – and short-trip, cold-weather driving and thermostats that are stuck open, which can have the same results.

Many automobile manufacturers install high-quality synthetic lubricants in their vehicles at the factory. This type of engine oil has a much lower tendency to create sludge and works better with the design changes inside the engine.

What should you do now?

It might be possible to flush out the sludge and hope that the internal engine parts aren’t damaged. If there is damage inside the engine, you’ll need a new or rebuilt one.

In the future, make sure that you follow the manufacturing service schedule and check your vehicle’s fluid levels frequently. Even if your vehicle did not come with quality synthetic oil, using synthetic oil is always a good idea, and there is no problem with switching from petroleum-based oil to synthetic oil at any time.

Warren McCord is an ASE Certified Master Technician and owner of Dean’s Automotive Inc., 2037 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View. For more information about the repair shop, call 961-0302 or email McCord at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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