Wed09172014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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