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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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PAMF pilot program aims to track well-being of seniors via utility usage


Screenshot Courtesy of Palo Alto Medical Foundation
linkAges’ TimeBank system allows users to seek and offer services for hours that are banked and later used for other needs.

A new Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) program seeks to increase the independence of seniors and, by extension, alleviate the concerns of their relatives or caretakers.

The multifaceted linkAges program, sponsored by PAMF’s David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation, analyzes seniors’ utility usage patterns as a way to warn caregivers – such as adult children – that a larger issue may exist.

According to the center’s executive director, Martin Entwistle, the signal detection system is part of the program’s larger overall goal to create a connected community that allows a growing senior population to “age successfully” and independently in their own homes.

Statistics compiled by the center reveal that 10,000 baby boomers have turned 65 every day since Jan. 1, 2011. The total number of people older than 65 in the U.S. will double by 2030, research reports.

Other aspects of the linkAges program include a senior-focused resource list – complete with user reviews – and a service exchange network that allows participants to “bank” hours providing a service for a senior, like taking the garbage to the curb for them weekly. That person’s banked hours can later be spent on a service provided by another user in the system. Entwistle noted that the aim is to create a community of trusted individuals – akin to the friendly neighbor who checks in on the elderly person next door.

“Part of the problem we’ve seen is breakdowns in the fabric of society because people become isolated, families are scattered,” Entwistle said. “The things that used to make it possible for this to just happen naturally are no longer in place. So when (elderly) people desire to live in their own home, they become isolated and they become at-risk.”

At the same time, he noted, the program’s utility consumption monitoring system can offer a sense of independence for seniors, without the feeling of having a caretaker constantly peering over their shoulder.

Existing technology tracks usage

The linkAges program uses technology already existing in homes, like PG&E SmartMeters, to track utility consumption and establish patterns of normal usage behavior by participating seniors. For instance, if a senior’s electricity use experienced a significant spike over a span of several days – signaling a potential problem – the system would notify the caretaker of the change.

“Our thinking when we were working on this problem space was this: Is there a way that you can capture information almost without having to deploy anything new into somebody’s home?” Entwistle noted. “What is it that we might be able to track that can help us?”

Entwistle said the system is the product of a developer challenge held 18 months ago. The winner of that challenge, Vevity, is now partnering with the center in a phased rollout of the program. Currently, several of the center’s team members are testing the utility usage system and the program’s additional offerings as well.

“We’re using ourselves kind of as guinea pigs,” he said with a chuckle.

Eventually, he noted, the center hopes to beta test the program in the homes of 15-20 seniors.

“If we track that data that is already being collected, can it tell us enough to know when things might be happening to an individual that we should be concerned about?” Entwistle asked. “It’s patterns of behavior, so it isn’t really looking for one thing happening. If we looked at the electricity usage of this person in their home over a period of time and then looked at it again, has it changed significantly? Is there a standard pattern? We’re all creatures of habit.”

Building trust

Entwistle readily acknowledged that the program’s largest hurdle remains trust. Still, he noted that the overall benefits of the utility usage system – independence for seniors and peace of mind for relatives and caretakers – should outweigh “big brother” concerns.

“We’re not being blind to people’s potential concerns about having data from their homes captured,” Entwistle said. “But is that a reason for not doing it, when the potential of doing it is so great?”

Entwistle added that the decision to participate in the program will rest with seniors themselves, while someone they already know receives collected utility data.

“Because there are processes to join, so to speak, then you’ll probably trust more of the things that go on within it,” he said. “It’s done willingly, and you know people have been processed to some extent. It’s very different than just opening your door to just anyone.”

For more information, visit innovation.pamf.org.

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