Stay-at-home special: Los Altos crossword setter creates local puzzle

Courtesy of Viresh Ratnakar
Viresh Ratnakar, pictured with dog Oona, has a framed copy of Gussalufz’s first crossword in The Hindu on display at home.

Los Altos resident Viresh Ratnakar’s pursuit of clues began with doing crossword puzzles, then making them, then building the infrastructure hosting the puzzle itself.

You can use his free open-source software, Exolve, to create your own interactively solvable crosswords (and discover how he constructs his). At the bottom of this story you'll find a cryptic crossword, "Last Solo," Ratnakar created for Town Crier readers this week (see if you can notice a theme as you work it). He’s a regular crossword setter for The Hindu, one of India’s major English-language newspapers, and follows the British convention of using a playful pseudonym – Gussalufz – to sign his work. It’s a punning transliteration of “crossword” to Hindi.

Videos capture spectacle of local wildlife

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Courtesy of Ron Marks
The wildlife videos of Ron Marks can be seen on his YouTube channel.

Visitors to the usually peaceful Redwood Grove, located off University Avenue in Los Altos, might have been aware of increased activity in recent months. It turns out that the source of the strange – and loud – chattering and squawking, high in the canopy, was a colony of nesting great blue herons.

Neighbors shelter, garden in place to beautify entrance

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Courtesy of William Dolan
Neighbors on Woodstock Lane beautify the entrance to their Los Altos street last month.

Woodstock Lane resident William Dolan and his neighbors grew tired of what they saw as neglected city-owned property at the entrance to their 12-home neighborhood.
“I have been living on the street for 43 years,” Dolan said. “Despite several attempts, we never could get anyone interested in making the … property look better.”

Genealogy experts share tips, motivations for researching family roots

From arts and crafts to Marie Kondo-grade reorgs, the COVID-19 pandemic has afforded the sheltered in place plenty of opportunity to complete any number of long-delayed personal projects. Count among them the family tree chart.

El Camino Hospital nurse fosters kittens with special needs

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Courtesy of Diane Foxen
Diane Foxen takes care of sick infants as a nurse, as well as kittens, above, with special needs.

Most days, Diane Foxen works 12-hour shifts as a nurse caring for sick infants in the neonatal intensive-care unit at either El Camino Hospital or Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. When she returns home, her day is far from over – Foxen has kittens to care for.

Los Altos History Museum goes on the road to honor volunteers

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Courtesy of the Los Altos History Museum
Longtime museum volunteer Pinky Whelan displays her award outside her home.

The Los Altos History Museum took to the road to honor 14 nominees for Volunteer of the Year for its annual appreciation event. The museum usually holds the awards ceremony in its garden courtyard, inviting all 180 volunteers, but with shelter-in-place guidelines restricting large gatherings, the museum changed plans.

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