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Flu season is upon us

Flu season is upon us

Madison Ivy / Special to the Town Crier
Walgre...
TC at 70: Has it really been that long?

TC at 70: Has it really been that long?

Town Crier File Photo
The Big Three: Town Crie...
Local fitness company celebrates finding time to move, one day at a time

Local fitness company celebrates finding time to move, one day at a time


Mountain View resident Reena Vokoun’s parent-and...
Eagles take early league lead with win over rival Spartans

Eagles take early league lead with win over rival Spartans


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Yuu...
Local woman makes 155-mile journey to raise money to fight Lyme Disease

Local woman makes 155-mile journey to raise money to fight Lyme Disease


Courtesy Of Debbie Nelson
Debbie Nelson, center ...
Follies benefit for Los Altos Stage Company returns Oct. 5-7

Follies benefit for Los Altos Stage Company returns Oct. 5-7


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
This yea...

News

TC at 70: Has it really been that long?

TC at 70: Has it really been that long?

Town Crier File Photo
The Big Three: Town Crier publishers past and present, from left, Paul Nyberg, Mort Levine and David MacKenzie

The Los Altos Town Crier turns 70 years old this month. Sept. 9, to be exact, was the date of the paper’s firs...

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Schools

Yikes Tikes! holds open house

Yikes Tikes!, a Los Altos preschool, has scheduled an open house 9 a.m. to noon Friday at the school, 1577 Carob Lane.

According to instructors, Yikes Tikes! is a tuition-free co-op providing an “inclusive learning environment” for child...

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Community

Community Briefs

Hidden Villa hosts ‘Fiddles & Fun’ event

Hidden Villa has scheduled “Fiddles & Fun on the Farm: A Country Dance” 4-7 p.m. Saturday in Hidden Villa’s Dana Center, 26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills.

The family-friendly event will include a fa...

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Sports

Eagles take early league lead with win over rival Spartans

Eagles take early league lead with win over rival Spartans


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Yuu Ishikawa competes at No. 1 singles Thursday at Mountain View, where she won in straight sets over Elise Joshi.

Going into Thursday’s early-season girls tennis match between Los Altos and Mountain...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

LA considers joining anti-idling effort

The Palo Alto City Council Aug. 28 voted unanimously in favor of an anti-idling ordinance. The ordinance is expected to be educational in nature – not punitive. That’s because most people erroneous...

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Special Sections

Local woman makes 155-mile journey to raise money to fight Lyme Disease

Local woman makes 155-mile journey to raise money to fight Lyme Disease


Courtesy Of Debbie Nelson
Debbie Nelson, center in green, takes a break from her fundraising hike along the Camino Portugués. For part of her journey, she hiked with three supporters of Lyme disease research from Denmark.

Mountain View resident Deb...

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Business

What to do about the Equifax breach

Nearly half of all Americans have had their most sensitive personal data stolen from Equifax, one of the country’s three credit-reporting bureaus.

The hack represents the largest single data breach in U.S. history, and we should all be very co...

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People

MARGARET THOMPSON PATCH

July 25, 1928 - August 25, 2017

Long Time Resident of Palo Alto On August 25, 2017 Margaret (Maggie) Thompson Patch passed peacefully from complications of Alzheimer’s. She was born July 25, 1928 at Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C. She was pro...

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News

TC at 70: Has it really been that long?

TC at 70: Has it really been that long?
Town Crier File Photo
The Big Three: Town Crier publishers past and present, from left, Paul Nyberg, Mort Levine and David MacKenzie

The Los Altos Town Crier turns 70 years old this month. Sept. 9, to be exact, was the date of the paper’s first issue – a hand-drawn four-pager filled 100 perce...

Readmore

Business

What to do about the Equifax breach

Nearly half of all Americans have had their most sensitive personal data stolen from Equifax, one of the country’s three credit-reporting bureaus.

The hack represents the largest single data breach in U.S. history, and we should all be very concerned about the ramifications.

Readmore

Sports

Eagles take early league lead with win over rival Spartans

Eagles take early league lead with win over rival Spartans

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Yuu Ishikawa competes at No. 1 singles Thursday at Mountain View, where she won in straight sets over Elise Joshi.

Going into Thursday’s early-season girls tennis match between Los Altos and Mountain View highs, Eagles coach Hung Nguyen and Spartans...

Readmore

Community

Community Briefs

Hidden Villa hosts ‘Fiddles & Fun’ event

Hidden Villa has scheduled “Fiddles & Fun on the Farm: A Country Dance” 4-7 p.m. Saturday in Hidden Villa’s Dana Center, 26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills.

The family-friendly event will include a farm supper and music and dancing with caller Andy W...

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

LA considers joining anti-idling effort

The Palo Alto City Council Aug. 28 voted unanimously in favor of an anti-idling ordinance. The ordinance is expected to be educational in nature – not punitive. That’s because most people erroneously believe that idling is better for their engines...

Readmore

Spiritual Life

Spiritual Life Briefs

Foothills Congregational joins in hunger walk

Members of Foothills Congregational Church in Los Altos are scheduled to participate in the CROP Hunger Walk 1 p.m. Oct. 8 at Nealon Park, 800 Middle Ave., Menlo Park.

The walk is a fundraiser for Church World Service, a nonprofit group that feeds the ...

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People

MARGARET THOMPSON PATCH

July 25, 1928 - August 25, 2017

Long Time Resident of Palo Alto On August 25, 2017 Margaret (Maggie) Thompson Patch passed peacefully from complications of Alzheimer’s. She was born July 25, 1928 at Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C. She was proud to be an ‘Army Brat’ and traveled with her fami...

Readmore

Schools

Yikes Tikes! holds open house

Yikes Tikes!, a Los Altos preschool, has scheduled an open house 9 a.m. to noon Friday at the school, 1577 Carob Lane.

According to instructors, Yikes Tikes! is a tuition-free co-op providing an “inclusive learning environment” for children ages 2 to just under 5.

Readmore

Special Sections

Local woman makes 155-mile journey to raise money to fight Lyme Disease

Local woman makes 155-mile journey to raise money to fight Lyme Disease

Courtesy Of Debbie Nelson
Debbie Nelson, center in green, takes a break from her fundraising hike along the Camino Portugués. For part of her journey, she hiked with three supporters of Lyme disease research from Denmark.

Mountain View resident Debbie Nelson recently turned her vacation in Spain a...

Readmore

Stepping Out

Bayer Ballet to perform 'Sleeping Beauty' this weekend in MV

The Bayer Ballet Company is scheduled to perform “Sleeping Beauty Suite” Friday through Sunday in downtown Mountain View.

“Sleeping Beauty” features magical fairies and other fairy-tale characters who come to life on stage. It features youth dancers from Bayer, a school of Russian Ballet based in M...

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Obituaries

MARGARET THOMPSON PATCH

July 25, 1928 - August 25, 2017

Long Time Resident of Palo Alto On August 25, 2017 Margaret (Maggie) Thompson Patch passed peacefully from complications of Alzheimer’s. She was born July 25, 1928 at Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C. She was proud to be an ‘Army Brat’ and traveled with her fami...

Readmore

Magazine

Senior team targets keys for a satisfying life: Socializing, exercising mind & body top goals

Senior team targets keys for a satisfying life: Socializing, exercising mind & body top goals

Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
Seniors sing carols at the Grant Park holiday party. The Senior Commission aims to expand such programming.

 

Gary Anderson is a former member of the Los Altos and Los Altos Hills Senior Commission. Following is his update on local senior services a...

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Going green underground: You CAN take it with you when it comes to environmental values

Photo Town Crier File PhotoA field of flowers or a terrace of trees – green burials offer an environmentally friendly alternative to today's marble-stone cemeteries.
Lowering your carbon footprint – it’s all about switching from regular bulbs to CFLs, recycling garbage and buying produce from local farmers. It’s the least we can do while we’re here to sustain a future for generations to come.

Lowering your final footprint? It’s all about the options available to the environmentally conscious – a way to stay green even after you die, a way to help push up the daisies, so to speak – a way to return as dust to the earth with minimal harm to the Earth.

It’s called a green burial – highly popular in England and beginning to gain attention in the United States. Green burial is a natural alternative to what has become a traditional burial – embalming, casket and marble gravestone. And it’s cheaper.

 

Back then and now

Once upon a time before the Civil War and funeral directors, it fell to family members and close neighbors to prepare and dispose of the remains of a deceased loved one. The body was lovingly washed, dressed and set in the parlor for visitation. Burials followed.

The Civil War, with soldiers dying far from home and the large number of deaths, changed that. Embalming with arsenic to preserve bodies for the train ride home became a trend. Then came formaldehyde, metal caskets, concrete for burial vaults and steel to reinforce the concrete.

“The current burial process, besides being expensive, wastes great quantities of natural resources. It separates us biologically and psychologically from our host planet,” according to Jane Hillhouse’s message at www.finalfootprint.com. “And, perhaps more importantly, it strives to keep us separate from our loved ones at an important time in both lives.”

Hillhouse owns the Half Moon-based Web company that offers biodegradable-receptitacle options for burials.

Cemeteries use vast amounts of fertilizers and water for expansive lawns. From casket to vault to

mausoleum, cemeteries degrade the natural landscape.

Today’s cemeteries and gravesites are here forever although no one will remember those who are buried there 50 years from now. That rankles Deborah Meckler, president of the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

“That land is useless,” Meckler said of modern cemeteries. “It’s destroyed as a natural ecosystem – as open space.”

But with cemeteries and plots filling fast and burial costs on the rise, another option for remains’ disposal has become popular. High heat

“The trend definitely is toward cremation, which I think is sad,” Meckler said. “Cremation has two downsides – the energy used in drying a body and the particulate matter emitted.”

You don’t want to be downwind of a crematorium, Meckler said.

With dioxins, nitrous oxide and concentrations of mercury from amalgam fillings in teeth, as well as smoke particulates, cremation is far from being Earth-friendly.

 

Go green gone

With a strong national lobby in the National Funeral Directors Association, Meckler said the FCA was established to educate the public about options for the disposition of remains.

“The funeral industry was packaging service options – people were being charged a lot,” she said.

The FCA successfully lobbied the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit the practice. Consumers are presented with individual options when burying loved ones.

With a bachelor’s degree in natural resource management and conservancy, Meckler’s mission goes beyond protecting consumers to protecting the Earth and educating the public about green burials.

“People seem very interested in this, but most people don’t know about it,” she said.

As open space is procured for green-burial sites – Forever Fernwood in San Mateo County is one such example – Meckler hopes laws can be changed to enable burial sites to be reused after 50 years, long after a body has decomposed. And grazing pastures are a waste of space, too.

“There’s no reason not to use agricultural lands (for green burials),” she said.

 

Green rules

The rules for going green underground are simple – and cheaper on the pocketbook, Meckler said.

• Bodies cannot be embalmed. Contrary to popular belief, embalming is not usually required by law.

“It doesn’t stop the smell, it doesn’t stop the decay. It just makes you look better,” she said.

• Burial containers must be biodegradable. Untreated pine boxes, shrouds – Final Footprint offers wicker coffins – the container must return to earth like the body.

• Levels or horizons of the plot must be removed and returned, level by level. Meckler said it’s important not to mix the different layers of soil in order to protect the living organisms.

• Natural grave markers only are allowed, including a log piece or stones with written or chiseled names. Some green cemeteries issue GPS data on the location.

“But it should just look like open space,” Meckler said of a green-burial site.

And it’s important to understand the difference between a burial and a funeral – just because a burial is simple doesn’t mean the farewell needs to be, she added.

“You can have lavish flowers and music. A green burial doesn’t negate the excesses of a funeral,” she said.

 

Lessons learned

For Meckler, it’s important to prepare a dead loved one for burial rather than handing the body over to strangers. The FCA’s Web site offers advice and guidelines in returning to the traditions of bygone days.

Surprisingly, people aren’t appalled at the idea.

“They’ve cared for loved ones in hospice – for many, they want to do it. It’s no big deal,” she said. “Touching is very important to get that sense of ‘goneness.’”

Others don’t want to discuss death.

“One of our taglines is, ‘Would it kill you to talk about?’” Meckler said.

But while older adults often do want to talk about their deaths and their disposition wishes, children don’t always want to hear about them.

“It’s good to put it in writing,” she said.

And as leaching arsenic from Civil War soldiers’ embalmed bodies becomes a problem in groundwater in the East, Meckler hopes green burials become the trend.

For more information, visit www.fcapeninsula.org or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Contact Mary Beth Hislop at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The 129th Rescue Wing Aids in Hurricane Harvey Rescue

Read the full story about the rescue here.
 

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The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

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