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News

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk


Courtesy of Microbe World
Colorized low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria

When E. coli and other bacteria were discovered in some Los Altos water last week, officials from the local water supplier, California Water...

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Schools

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The six-week, tuition-free Stretch to Kindergarten program, hosted at Bullis Charter School, serves children who have not attended preschool. A teacher leads children in singing about the parts of a butterfly, above.

Local un...

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Community

Google car painting project calls on artists

Google car painting project calls on artists


Google self-driving car

Already known as an innovator in the tech field, Google Inc. is now moving in on the art world.

The Mountain View-based company July 11 launched the “Paint the Town” contest, a “moving art experiment” that invites Califo...

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Sports

Pedaling with a purpose

Pedaling with a purpose


courtesy of
Rishi Bommannan Rishi Bommannan cycled from Bates College in Maine to his home in Los Altos Hills, taking several selfies along the way. He also raised nearly $13,000 for the Livestrong Foundation, which supports cancer patients.

When R...

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Comment

The truth about coyotes: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s recent article on coyotes venturing down from the foothills in search of sustenance referenced the organization Project Coyote (“Recent coyote attacks keep residents on edge,” July 1). Do not waste your time contac...

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Special Sections

Grant Park senior program made permanent

Grant Park senior program made permanent


Photos by Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Local residents participate in an exercise class at the Grant Park Senior Center, above. Betsy Reeves, below left with Gail Enenstein, lobbied for senior programming in south Los Altos.

It all began when Betsy Reev...

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Business

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Los Altos Rug Gallery owner Fahim Karimi stocks his State Street store with a wall-to-wall array of floor coverings.

A new downtown business owner plans to roll out the red carpet – along with rugs of every other color –...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

Resident of Los Altos

Grace Wilson Franks, our beloved mother and grandmother, left us peacefully on July 16, 2015 just a few weeks short of her 92nd birthday. She was born to Ross and Florence (Cruzan) Wilson in rural Tulare, California on Septem...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Going out with a 'Bang'

Going out with a 'Bang'


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” stars, clockwise from top left, Alexander Sanchez, Sophia Sturiale, Deborah Rosengaus and Danny Martin.

Los Altos Stage Company and Los Altos Youth Theatre’s joint production of t...

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Spiritual Life

Build a 'light' house and get out of that dark place

Most of us have a place inside our hearts and minds that occasionally causes us trouble. For some, it is sadness, depression or despair. For others, it may be fear, anger, resentment or myriad other emotional “dark places” that at times seem to hij...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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A comet draws near

An extraordinarily bright comet might share our skies this winter. Comet ISON, discovered in 2012 by Russian astronomers, is currently speeding toward the sun at several miles per second. It is expected to significantly brighten as it nears the sun, and hopeful predictions estimate that it may rival the moon in terms of brightness.

Astronomers believe that comet ISON originated from the Oort Cloud – a spherical cloud of comets that surrounds the solar system at a distance 1,000 times farther than the orbit of Pluto. Comets are occasionally perturbed in the Oort Cloud due to gravity and are sent on orbits that bring them into the solar system.

Comet ISON will make its closest approach to the sun Nov. 28, at a distance of approximately 800,000 miles above the sun’s surface – several times closer than the orbit of Mercury. As it approaches the sun, the water, ice and dust that make up the comet will turn into vapor and create the characteristic comet tail. It is this tail that is readily viewable – comet tails can reach lengths approaching the sun-Earth distance (93 million miles). The nucleus of comet ISON – the solid part of the comet similar to a dirty snowball in composition – is much too small to be visible (only a few miles across).

While many well-known comets make periodic trips to our solar system – Halley’s Comet, for instance, which will next return to the inner solar system in 2061 – comet ISON is a nonperiodic comet and will permanently leave the solar system after its flyby this winter. Comet ISON can be found in the constellation Virgo the Maiden in November. The best time to observe it is shortly before sunrise.

While comet ISON will hopefully prove to be a bright sight even under city skies, it is important to remember that estimating the brightness of comets is notoriously difficult.

“Predicting the behavior of comets is like predicting the behavior of cats – can’t really be done,” said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office.

Katherine Kornei grew up in Los Altos and earned a doctorate in astronomy from UCLA in 2012. She works as a science educator and writer in Portland, Ore.

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