Fri08012014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Special Sections

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies


Bill Steiner’s grass is green, left, even amid the drought. He followed Max Todd’s water and maintainence instructions after having his lawn aerated, Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Green lawns are not necessarily on the endangered list during the d...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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