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OMVNA Newsletter

April 2007
Volume 19, Number 3

The OMVNA Newsletter is distributed to 1900 households and 175 downtown businesses by dedicated volunteers.  The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the OMVNA Steering Committee. Let us know what you think!

Editor: Bruce Karney
Phone: (6 - 9 PM only) 964-3567
Mail: 833 Bush St., Mountain View 94041

OMVNA Spring Meeting
Soap Box Derby: It’s All Downhill on Dana Street
Leadership Mountain View Seeks Future Leaders
Letter from the Chair:   Better Never than Late
Acoustic Concerts in an Intimate Home Setting
The Critter Column: Cooper's Hawks in OMV
Senior Day Care at Avenidas
Meet Hugh Donagher
Energy Action: HHI is MPG for Your Home
50 Years of Caring at CSA
Tall Tree Contest for Kids
Volunteers Needed
Steering Commmittee Meets
Steering Committee News
Our Newsletter Sponsors

OMVNA Spring Meeting

Live presentation of the content of
An Inconvenient Truth
plus an Energy Solutions Workshop

Speaker: Twana Karney

Twana recently traveled to Nashville where she was trained by Al Gore and other members of The Climate Project to present the content of the Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth in a live, interactive format.  Twana is a long-time resident of Old Mountain View.

City Hall Council Chambers
Sunday, April 29  3 - 5 p.m.

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Soap Box Derby: It’s All Downhill on Dana Street

The Soap Box Derby is coming to our neighborhood on June 9th and 10th!  It will be run on the 100 block of W. Dana Street, just east of Calderon, and will cause traffic diversions both days.

The Soap Box Derby, a 70 year old tradition, was first held in Akron in 1936, and several of today’s well-known names in auto racing got their start in this gravity-powered event.  Winners of our race will win a trip to Akron and the chance to compete for thousands of dollars in college scholarships.

The Palo Alto Elks, the Mountain View - Whisman School District and several local business people are sponsoring the race.  Participants will come from all over the Bay Area.

If your child is between 8 and 17 and you would like them participate and enjoy the ride of their life, you should contact Derby Director Joe Sparaco at (650) 493-7919 or check out the web-site:  The web site also includes information for potential derby car sponsors.

Participants must participate in building his/her own racer, pass Joe’s driving school, and be available to race in both the local race and, in case of victory, the national race in Akron the week of July 15.

According to Joe, this is a wonderful opportunity for a parent and a child to bond.  Kids who participate will learn about sportsmanship, fairness in competition, and craftsmanship.  Because of the nature of the sport, the playing field is level, and any kid can win the big prize, regardless of size, age, strength, or athletic ability.  Joe believes that every child deserves an opportunity to win a big trophy and that Soap Box Derby provides that chance.

There is also a class of car called the “Super Car” in which special needs children can compete and enjoy the thrill of the hill.  You simply must come out and enjoy the races in June.

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Leadership Mountain View Seeks Future Leaders

Leadership Mountain View (LMV) is a ten-month training program for emerging community leaders.  It is now accepting applications for its class of 2008.  The program consists of 9 1/2 day-long sessions.  They take place one Friday a month, starting in September and running through June, 2008.

Class members explore leadership and community issues through discussions, expert speakers, workshops and field trips.  Topics will include how city government works and issues facing the regional economic, environmental, human services and educational systems.

To apply, simply go to to access the online application. The cost of this year-long experience is only $1,750.  Payment schedules are available, as well as some partial scholarships.  The class size is limited to 32 participants, and LMV is committed to seeking participants who reflect the rich diversity of the area.

For more information you can contact Fiona Walter, Recruitment Committee Chair, at

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Letter from the Chair:   Better Never than Late
By Ken Rosenberg, OMVNA Chair

I’m going to use this column to kvetch about a disturbing trend.  More and more, both at work and at home, I find that people cancel appointments with no concern for the impact on others.  I suppose it’s not called an appointment when you’re supposed to meet friends for a drink, but nonetheless, if I have a “date” on my calendar blocked off, it’s reserved time that goes to no other person.
Nod your head if any of these sound familiar:

  • I set an appointment with a prospective client and they fail to show up.  No phone call.  No message.  Just me wondering where they are.
  • I organize a Dad’s night out with six friends.  The night comes, and three of them let the group know just 30 minutes before the event is to start that they can’t make it (for various reasons). 
  • A contractor says he’ll be at our house at a certain time, and shows up 4 hours late.
  • We invite friends over for brunch.  They call that very morning to cancel or to reschedule.

Why do people do this!?  It drives me nuts!

I recognize that sometimes emergencies prevent us from following through on plans.  Illness, unforeseen business trips, etc. are valid excuses.  But last-minute cancellations often take a huge toll on others.

Have you ever cleaned your house, purchased special food, bought new fancy napkins for a party at your house, only to have the guests not show up?  Have you ever planned an event because ‘everybody’ said they were interested, only to have ‘everybody’ back out when it came time to commit?  Have you ever stayed home from work to let a repair person into the house and they show up four hours late?

What this is, in my opinion, is a lack of common courtesy.  There is a very selfish thread throughout our society that it is acceptable to break appointments.  What is missing is the awareness that the other person has actually blocked out time and made himself (or herself) available to and for you, and that they pay a real price when you back out of the appointment!  It’s easy to dismiss this as a petty complaint. But if you make your living by the appointments you set, then when someone doesn’t show up, they’ve stolen time that can never be recovered.

I do appreciate when someone who misses an appointment calls to explain and apologize.  Those who don’t, I frequently write off.  Life’s too short to invite people into my life who don’t appreciate my efforts and my friendship.

Let’s make society better by simply accepting the dates we can actually attend and recognizing the sacrifice of those who planned the event when we have to cancel.

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Acoustic Concerts in an Intimate Home Setting
By Bruce Karney

You may recall an article that ran in The Voice on Feb. 23 about Daniel Steinberg, a Mountain View resident who has been offering acoustic concerts in his home for the past 11 years.  As Alexa Tondreau’s story in The Voice put it, “Steinberg favors traditional music from around the world, particularly styles that fuse different elements together. Among the acts he has welcomed in his home are a quintet from Madagascar; a klezmer ensemble of Eastern European Jewish and gypsy music; and a Venezuelan mandolin virtuoso.”

Daniel lives near San Antonio Road, not in Old Mountain View, but I think the kind of evenings he hosts would be very interesting to people from our neighborhood.

The next three shows, all of which start at 8 p.m., are:

Wednesday, April 25 - Hillbillies from Mars
Thursday, May 24 - Klez-X: Klezmer Extravaganza
Wednesday, June 13 - Solstice: Female Vocal Ensemble

If you'd like to attend a concert, or be added to his concert announcement list, contact Daniel at

Guests are encouraged to make a voluntary donation that goes directly to the performer or group.

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The Critter Column: Cooper’s Hawks in OMV
By Jack Perkins

The Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) is a bird of prey that is becoming more common in our neighborhood.  For the last four years a pair has successfully raised broods on Velarde Street.

Sometimes called the Chicken Hawk, its population is increasing nationwide because of growing environmental awareness and the willingness of the hawk to adapt to urban areas.  Their natural habitat is open woodland, which is a good description of our neighborhood.

Cooper’s Hawks belong to the Accipiter genus of hawks, which primarily prey on smaller birds.  Hawks are one reason why there re fewer pigeons and doves in the neighborhood than five years ago.  Cooper’s Hawks will eat any small bird they can catch.  I’ve seen them eating Scrub Jays, Chickadees, Sparrows and one rat.  I’ve also seen them at bird feeders, which are like cafeterias to them.

I used to avoid sitting outside at Red Rock Café because of the pigeons perched two floors up.  That’s no longer a concern now; thank you Cooper’s Hawk!

Their wings are short and elliptical.  They have a long barred tail with rounded tip, dark back and head, and yellow legs.  The females are the size of a crow, the males the size of a pigeon.  They are very vocal in the Spring and their call is “kek-kek-kek-kek”.

We occasionally see Sharp-shinned Hawks too, which look like Cooper’s Hawks only smaller.  They typically migrate through here in winter and nest farther north in the summer.

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Senior Day Care at Avenidas By Lenny Park and Gail Nyhan

Are you caring for an elderly parent or spouse, but still need to work during the day?  Do you need respite from caring for your loved one?  The Avenidas Rose Kleiner Senior Day Health Center can help.

Located at 270 Escuela Avenue, next to the MV Senior Center, Avenidas is a state-licensed, non-profit, private program that provides daytime services for less independent seniors who can ’t safely stay home alone and might otherwise need skilled nursing care.  About 50 seniors attend each day, and participants need to enroll for at least two days/week.  Fees range from $50 to $113/day on a sliding scale unless the participant qualifies for VA or Medi-Cal coverage.  Transportation, lunch and all health services are included in the fee.

Call Jane Molony at (650) 289-5494 to arrange a tour and see the program in action.

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Meet Hugh Donagher

Hugh Donagher, the newest member of the Steering Committee, comes to Mountain View from San Diego, where he lived for thirteen years. Yahoo! recruited his partner, Brian Rountree, in late 2005, and Hugh and Brian have lived in a lovely apartment on Hope Street since then.

Growing up in Windsor Locks, Connecticut (population 12,000) Hugh observed and participated in Town Meetings, a grassroots form of governance that is traditional in New England.  His parents were active in town affairs and set the example he would later follow.

Hugh is an active member of the Lions Club and was formerly an Eagle Scout and Scoutmaster. He is interested in city planning and zoning, having served as a Planning and Zoning Commissioner for several years in Wind-sor Locks.

Hugh looks forward to being active in our CERT team with a particular interest in improving access to emergency services for the deaf and hearing impaired.

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Energy Action Column: HHI is MPG for Your Home
By Bruce Karney

“Energy Action” is a new column that will provide information on ways that we can reduce the amount of energy we consume, thereby saving money and helping the environment.  We welcome reader suggestions and feedback!

You probably know how many miles per gallon (MPG) your car gets.  You may even know your body mass index (BMI), which tells how trim or tubby you are.  But have you ever heard of the HHI?  It’s an important measure of your home’s energy efficiency.

HHI stands for Home Heating Index.  It allows comparison on a common scale of buildings of different sizes and in different climates.  HHI ranges from 2 to 20 or even higher.  Lower is better!

The definition is: HHI = BTUs of heating / square feet / Heating Degree Days

As you can see, you need to know 3 things to calculate HHI: 1) how much energy it takes to heat your home, 2) its size, and 3) how severe the winter climate is.

Figuring Out BTUs

The hardest number to figure out is how much energy it takes to heat your home.  If you simply take your gas bill for the six months of the heating season (Nov. – Apr.) you’ll over-estimate it.  That’s because you almost certainly use gas for water heating and clothes drying that don’t contribute to warming your home.

You also need to include winter electricity use in the calculation.  Even appliances you don’t think of as heaters give off a lot of waste heat that keeps your home warmer than it would be otherwise.  For example, a Comcast DVR consumes 48 watts and produces 1.15 KWH of heat daily, the same as running an 1150 watt space heater for an hour every day.  On the other hand, an outdoor spa consumes a huge amount of electricity, none which heats your home.

Here’s how I suggest you calculate the energy it takes to heat your home.  You’ll need a year’s worth of utility bills.

First, find out how many therms of gas you used from Nov. 2005 to April 2006.  This is your Winter Gas Usage (WGU).  Your Summer Gas Usage (SGU) is the therms consumed from May 2006 to Oct. 2006.  Calculate Winter Heating Usage (WHU) by subtracting SGU from WGU.

In our case WGU = 453 and SGU = 187, so WHU = 266.

Now find the number of kilowatt hours of electricity you used in the 6 winter months and divide by 29.3 to convert KWH to therms.  For us that is 3222 KWH / 29.3 = 110 therms.  Adding this to WHU, we find that our home consumed 266 + 110 = 376 therms of heat during the winter.  Finally, the conversion from therms to BTUs is 1 therm = 100,000 BTU. Our home used 37,600,000 BTU.

Measuring Square Feet

When you measure your home, include only the space that you heat.  Don’t include your garage.  Our home is 1430 sq. ft.

Heating Degree Days

If you’ve lived in a cold climate, you may already know about Heating Degree Days (HDD).  HDD is a measure of the severity of weather during the heating season.  Our area had 2000 HDD in the six months from Nov. 2005 through April 2006.

Calculation and Interpretation

Now we can calculate the HHI of our home.  HHI = 37,600,000 / 1430 / 2000 = 13.1

The scale that tells us what HHI means is given below.  (Source: “Residential Energy” by J. Krigger and C. Dorsi.)

HHI < 2: Airtight, super-insulated, 90+ heating efficiency furnace, heat-recovery ventilator, small window area and high window R-value.

HHI 2-4: Well-insulated, low air leakage, efficient heating systems. 

HHI 4-8: Better-than-average homes with good insulation, relatively low air leakage and better-than-average heating efficiency.

HHI 8-13: Average homes with average insulation, average air leakage and average heating efficiency.

HHI 13-18: Worse-than-average homes with little insulation, high air leakage and worse-than-average heating efficiency.

HHI 18-22+: Older homes with poor insulation, abundant air leakage and very inefficient heating systems.

As you can see, our home, with its HHI of 13.1 is no paragon of efficiency.  Knowing our HHI helps us to understand that we will need to take action just to get to the middle of the average bracket with a score of 10.5 or less.

Why not take a few minutes right now to calculate your home’s HHI?  Once you know your score, you can make a plan to improve it!  Energy auditors, insulation companies and heating contractors can all help you figure out the best way to make your home more energy efficient.

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50 Years of Caring at CSA

Poverty in our area is often hidden, but it is far from rare.  Its manifestations are hunger, food-insecurity, homelessness and isolation for seniors.  Shame and guilt may keep us from acknow-ledging poverty even when we do see it.

If any organization in our area knows about poverty and how to alleviate it, it is the Community Services Agency (CSA), which is commemorating its 50th anniver-sary this year.


4,000 people a year - one in every 25 residents of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills - receives free groceries from CSA’s Food & Nutrition Center.  The agency also provides hot, nutritious lunches to more than 100 seniors a day at the Mountain View Senior Center.

It all began in 1957 when a group of caring Mountain View residents founded the forerunner of CSA out of a concern for the human welfare of their neighbors in need. That was at a time when orchards blossomed throughout the valley and a transistor was considered high-tech. What began as the Mountain View Welfare Council is now CSA, the social safety net and service provider for so many.

That same commitment and compassion for human welfare still inspires CSA’s staff, Board of Directors, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors.  Their mission is to ensure that a safety net will always be there for the working poor, the homeless, and the elderly in our community.

To mark the milestone fiftieth anniversary, and to raise funds for the future, CSA is hosting a Dinner, Dance and Fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 12 at the Crowne Plaza Cabaña Hotel in Palo Alto. The theme will be “The Fabulous 50s” and individual tickets are available for $150.

You can learn more about CSA, including volunteer oppor-tunities and ways to contribute, on their web site: or by phoning the agency at (650) 968-0836.

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Tall Tree Contest for Kids

Our neighborhood is home to thousands of trees.  Just like the human inhabitants, they come in all sizes, shapes and colors.  Some are young, many are middle aged and a few are very, very old.

Arbor Day (April 27) is a day we honor trees and plant more.

This spring, OMVNA is sponsoring a contest for kids aged 8 to 16 who live in Old MV.  The goal is to find the tallest tree in Old Mountain View.  Once we’ve found it, we will ask the city to mark it with a plaque.

To enter, send the location, estimated height, and your best guess as to the tree’s species, plus your name, address and age to: Tall Tree Contest, 833 Bush St., MV 94041.  The first 20 correct entries will win a $10 gift certificate to Gelato Classico.

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Volunteers Needed!

Volunteers are needed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 28 to help build an Outdoor Classroom at Landels.  Tasks will include painting, rolling out turf, building a shed and creating raised garden beds.  Lunch will be provided by Rebuilding Together, and snacks, drinks, and childcare will be provided by the Landels PTA.

If you can help out, call Kristi Dees at 961-9514 (or e-mail her at with your name, phone number, whether you will attend the full morning or just certain hours, and whether you will need childcare.

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Steering Committee Meets

Future meetings: May 14 and June 11, 7:30 p.m., 580 Castro, Chamber of Commerce Board Room.  Open to all members.

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Steering Committee News

At its March meeting the Committee elected Hugh Donagher to the vacant At Large position.  Hugh runs Mobile Notary Services and lives on Hope Street.  The Committee also heard a presentation from the Silicon Valley Soap Box Derby organizers about their event on Dana Street on June 9 and 10 (see article on Page 1).

Scott Ward of Classic Communities made a presentation about the proposed redevelopment of most of the eastern half of the block between Villa, Evelyn, Bush and Calderon.  The plan submitted to the City calls for about 95 townhomes, as specified in the Evelyn Avenue Corridor Precise Plan adopted by the City in the mid-1990s.

Twana Karney was selected as the speaker for the next OMVNA General Meeting on April 29.

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