Sun01252015

News

UPDATED: Missing Los Altos High School student found

UPDATED at 10:20 p.m. Jan. 21: Mountain View Police report that Avendano is safe after being located in Los Angeles County.

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The Mountain View Police Department is looking for 17 year-old Mountain View resident Lizbeth Avendano. Accordin...

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Schools

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on a proposal to exempt ninth-grade student-athletes from taking PE. Students take part in a physical education class at Mount...

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Community

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF


From Midnight Express Instagram
A group of millennial-aged Santas celebrating a night on the town prepare for a safe ride from San Francisco to their South Bay homes, courtesy of Cory Althoff’s new Midnight Express shuttle.

It’s no understatemen...

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Comment

More open than ever: Editorial

One of the Los Altos City Council’s objectives for 2015 is implementing an open-government policy. The title of the policy may be somewhat misleading, because it’s not as if the city has had a closed-government policy. But the new proposal goes beyon...

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Business

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Cassidy Turley, which has offices at 339 S. San Antonio Road, is combining with DTZ following its recent acquisition.

Commercial real estate services companies DTZ and Cassidy Turley have joined forces to operate as a sin...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

JUDY HOFFMANN

JUDY HOFFMANN

Judy Hoffmann passed away unexpectedly October 17, 2014 in New York City. It was only fitting Judy would be traveling and enjoying special adventures in so many different places until the very end.

Judy has lived since 1969 in Los Altos with her h...

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Travel

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill


Courtesy of Raúl Cañibano
Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano is set to appear at Foothill College tonight. His work – including the image “Series: Guajira’s Land, Viñales, 2007,” right – is on display at the KCI Gallery t...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View


Suellen Fitzsimmons/Special to the Town Crier
Christopher Tocco stars in TheatreWorks’ “2 Pianos 4 Hands,” which opened last week.

TheatreWorks’ production of “2 Pianos 4 Hands” is scheduled to run through Feb. 15 at the Mountain View Center fo...

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Spiritual Life

Start something great by ringing in the new year with prayer

There is a tradition, which I’m told originates in the Midwest, that calls for people to pray in the new year. A few years ago, I was invited to a friend’s house and a number of people stayed up until midnight (approximately two hours pa...

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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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LAHS teacher captures history in quick reads


In the spring of 1970, when the violent protests at Kent State University over the Vietnam War erupted, I was a freshman in college. I tried to piece together why we got into fighting this poor nation half a world away based on the constant reports of casualties and atrocities and the flood of dissent. Could it be that our government was truly misleading us? Or maybe I was missing something important, like the opening scenes of a movie that others understood?

Robert Freeman, social studies teacher at Los Altos High School, recently wrote “The Vietnam War” (Kendall Lane Publishers, 2013), which has filled in my understanding of this great tragedy. He breaks the war’s history into five stages spanning the French colonial period in the 1940s to the fall of Saigon in 1975. He analyzes how U.S. motivations changed over this period and how political failures at home intertwined with failures in the war strategy to produce the first war America lost. The final chapter describes how Vietnam allowed our nation to lose its moral stature in the world.

“The Vietnam War” is part of Freeman’s “The Best One-Hour History” series on key turning points in Western civilization. The books are available at Amazon.com for the cost of a latte and are meant to be read in one sitting in print or e-book format. In addition to “The Vietnam War,” the series includes “World War I,” “The French Revolution,” “The Protestant Reformation,” “The Renaissance” and “The Scientific Revolution.”

Freeman hit his mark in reaching people like me, who want to better understand the history behind current world problems but can’t commit to a lengthy book. His clear and compelling writing gave me the insight I was hoping for into U.S. foreign policy.

Freeman got the idea for the series after finding that his Advanced Placement History students were not engaging with the textbook. To grab their interest, he started writing summaries on important periods in history. His classes moved up to the top of the nation with their AP test scores, and parents requested copies of the summaries for their own reading.

The series, like the summaries, are heavy on analysis. Rather than overwhelming the reader with dates and names, Freeman takes a big-picture perspective that reveals his training in economics. Before teaching, Freeman was an international marketing executive. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University.

The second volume, “World War I,” riveted me from the start: “The impact of World War I was so great, it is considered by many historians as the most significant event of the last thousand years.” Yet, I confess, I never understood the significance of the murder of the heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, at the hand of a 19-year-old Balkan nationalist. How did it draw, within a few short weeks, Germany, England, France, Russia, their colonies and much of the rest of the world into war?

With the aid of a simple map, Freeman explains how the assassination set off a fire keg of alliances and nationalist yearnings that stretched from Europe to the Middle East. He effectively outlines how the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, along with the Austro-Hungarian, Romanov and Hohenzollern empires led to the inauguration of communism, 11 new countries, a proliferation of oppressive dictatorships, the elevation of the U.S. to a position of pre-eminent world power, the 1990s wars in Serbia and Croatia, and more. And he does it in 50 very readable pages.

After that small investment in time and money, I am reading the international news with a deeper interest. I feel that I have finally learned the backstory to many of the tensions in Asia, the Middle East and Africa that have dominated my adult life.

Next, I plan to read “The Protestant Reformation” – the change in philosophy that set the seeds for the modern era, with the posting of the 97 Theses on a church door on Halloween in 1517. I can’t wait.

Terese Tricamo is a longtime Los Altos resident.

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