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OMVNA Newsletter

October 2007
Volume 19, Number 7

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

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Noted SETI Astronomer to Speak at OMVNA Meeting
Brave Souls Visit Haunted Cemetery at Bush and Yosemite
International Friendship
Donít Sit, Keep Fit
OMVNA Steering Committee Nominees for Coming Year
I Donít Love Squirrels
OMVNA Now Provides $50 Stipends for Block Parties
OMVNAtalk Reaches Milestone of 2000th Posting
Energy Action: New Types of Cars and New Fuels on the Horizon
Steering Committee Meets
Downtown Longs Opens
Council Discusses Purchase of Bakotich Home on Calderon
Mountain View Reads: City-wide Book Group
Meet Tess Uriza Holthe
Free Films at MV Library
Our Newsletter Sponsors

Noted SETI Astronomer to Speak at OMVNA Meeting

Our General Meeting and Election will be held Saturday, Nov. 3 from 7:30 – 8:30 pm at Landels School’s Multipurpose Room.

Not only will we be voting for OMVNA’s officers for the coming year, we’ll also have the chance to hear Mountain View’s most famous astronomer, Seth Shostak, talk about his work on the SETI Project.  SETI stands for “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” and the locally based SETI Institute has been engaged in this fascinating work since 1984.  The institute employs more than 100 scientists, educators and support staff.

Seth is the author of many scientific papers as well as the co-author of three books: “Sharing the Universe,” “Life in the Universe,” and “Cosmic Company: The Search for Life in the Universe.”

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Brave Souls Visit Haunted Cemetery at Bush and Yosemite

For the 17th year, Brent Ross and his family will entertain the neighborhood with their haunted cemetery.  It will be open after dark from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.  Brent’s bone-chilling handiwork will also be featured on the HGTV network at 9 pm on Sunday, Oct. 28.  (Channel 75 on Comcast cable.)  To learn more about Brent’s extraordinary creation, visit  Donations help keep the cemetery in business, so bring a few dead presidents to drop in the donation box.

Haunted Cemetery

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International Friendship
By Ken Rosenberg, OMVNA Chair

I spent the summer of 1985 as an exchange student in Sweden.  It was the most memorable summer of my life.  My host family was the epitome of kindness and graciousness.  My “father,” Lars Eric Ericsson, was the mayor of Uppsala, the fourth largest city in Sweden.  He had worked in Swedish central government for years before he decided to run for mayor on the Social Democratic ticket.  His wife Eva treated me as her own son.  She made sure we had activities to do every day I was there.  Her meals were extraordinarily good.  When I departed I told them that someday I’d return with my own family.

As the years went by, I kept in touch with Lars Eric and Eva.  First it was through letters and holiday cards.  Then in 1995 we all got email and communication became more frequent.  I entered UC Irvine after returning from Sweden and later earned a master’s degree from Purdue and lived in Indianapolis for a time.  A job at Intel brought me up to the Bay Area and I met Jennifer who was later to become my wife.  We had our first child when I worked at Excite.  We had our second when I was unemployed during the “dot-bomb” years.

Through 25 address changes, I always kept in touch with Lars Eric and Eva.  He was termed out of office a couple years after I left.  The Swedish Prime Minister appointed him to be a regional chairman (equivalent to our state governor).  His mailing address was a castle.  He lived there for over ten years.  He is retired now and living in a wonderful small town in northern Sweden on the bank of a river.

This summer I took my family to visit.  It was the first time in 22 years since we had seen each other. We were there for midsummer festival.  The kids ran up and down the grassy hills for hours.  They played in the meadows.  They fed the sheep that would pass by every morning.  And they ate Eva’s fabulous cooking.  The adults sat around and talked and enjoyed our slow pace and each other’s company.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Gustaf (my Swedish “brother”) that said “Tomorrow is Eva’s 66th birthday and her funeral. “  I couldn’t stop crying.  I spent one summer and one week with this family and I feel like one of their own.  I feel like I lost a loved one from my own immediate family.  Rest in peace, Eva Ericsson.  You will be missed. 

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Don’t Sit, Keep Fit
By Dale Dunlap

I have been an Old Mountain View resident since 1977, when the houses were small and a progressive potluck brought neighbors to share remodeling ideas.  Back then, I was teaching ballet and yoga classes and being active in the community was an integral part of my life. 

Now, I’ve brought health and fitness back to the old neighborhood by opening a health and fitness studio off of Castro Street.  With nine-to-five jobs and a family to take care of, most of us don’t think we have the time to get and stay fit.  However, if we live with awareness, we can all make positive changes in our lives.  Whether or not you have time for strength and conditioning training in a studio setting, it’s important to integrate exercise into your daily life.

Many of us start an exercise program to look good for our high school reunion, a wedding or a vacation in the tropics. Although it is good to have an impetus to help you begin exercising, we often lose steam halfway to the goal.  But instead of treating exercise like a crash diet, it’s important to find ways to fit it in our busy lives – every day. 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends walking ten thousand steps a day to improve health.  One way to do that is to be purposely inefficient in your daily activities.

  • Wear a pedometer and use it to count the number of steps you take each day.
  • Challenge yourself to find ways to add more steps to your daily routine. 
  • Park at the back of the parking lot.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Take out one or two pieces of laundry at a time and make as many trips as possible between the dryer and where you fold.
With the right strategies, we can all make exercise a natural routine.  These small changes really do add up.  In the end, fitness is not just about looking good – it’s about living longer, better, and stronger.

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OMVNA Steering Committee Nominees for Coming Year

Each year a Nominating Committee is formed to identify residents who are willing to spend a few hours each month serving on the OMVNA Steering Committee.  This year’s Nominating Committee was chaired by Kim Copher (our Community Liaison) and it nominated the slate of candidates listed below.  

  • Chair: Noam Livnat
  • Vice-Chair: Bruce Karney
  • Treasurer: Aaron Grossman
  • Secretary: Becky Reyna
  • Newsletter Editor: Velva Rowell
  • Community Liaison: Ken Rosenberg
  • At Large: Hugh Donagher
  • At Large: Ayelet Har

All of the candidates except Becky and Ayelet have served previously on the Steering Committee.  Bruce, Velva, and Ken have all been OMVNA’s Chair, so this is a very experienced group of candidates.

The Nominating Committee also tapped Aaron Grossman to continue to lead the CERT Committee.  The election will be held during the General Meeting on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 7:30 – 8:30 pm at Landels School’s Multipurpose Room.  We will also vote to adopt the 2008 budget.

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I Don’t Love Squirrels
By Jack Perkins

They look so adorable, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by their appearance, underneath the cute exterior lies a pest bent on ruining our lives. They chew holes in my garden shed, dig holes in my lawn, and rip up my palm tree to build their nest, destroy bird feeders and raid my apple crop.  Then there’s the aggressive squirrel that pounced on and bit a 4-year-old boy last year in Cuesta Park. The boy had to undergo rabies shots.
They raise two litters per year of three to five young. No wonder they are so ubiquitous.

They eat just about everything, even baby birds in their nests. There are probably enough tree squirrels in Mountain View to feed every man, woman and child for a week if our food supply is interrupted. It’s a cheery thought and you can Google the recipes too. But they do look cute, even when they lie very still in the road.  Once, however, I did find a baby squirrel about to be pounced on by two cats. I scooped it up and took it to Squirrel Rescue. The baby ones are about as cute as it gets. I was afraid to admit this, but it feels good to confess. Still, never “misunderestimate” them.

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OMVNA Now Provides $50 Stipends for Block Parties
By Bruce Karney, Editor

We normally print the summary of actions taken by the Steering Committee, but I really liked the way Hugh Donagher drafted this resolution, so I’m running the complete text.  I thought he did a great job reminding all of us why OMVNA exists.

“WHEREAS Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association (OMVNA) was formed to encourage community responsibility, identity and pride, and

“WHEREAS OMVNA counts among its primary purposes the promotion of cultural, civic, social, educational and recreational activities for the benefit of the residents of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, and

“WHEREAS neighborhood block parties are a popular way for neighbors to socialize and become better acquainted with one another, fostering and promoting a sense of community and "neighborliness",

“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Steering Committee of OMVNA, in an effort to support and promote the responsible use of block parties to the stated purposes, will provide an annual grant of a $50 gift certificate or gift card from a local retailer to help defray the costs of paper goods, soft drinks, snack items and other foodstuffs for neighborhood block parties.  Only one such grant will be made per block party, per year, and the OMVNA grant may not be used for the purchase of alcoholic beverages.”

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OMVNAtalk Reaches Milestone of 2000th Posting

OMVNAtalk is an online community that operates like our neighborhood’s back fence in cyberspace.  It was launched seven years ago and there have been more than 2000 postings.  About 2-3 new ones are added each day.

Recent conversations among the 300+ subscribers have covered a wide range of topics:

  • Reviews, pro and con, of the new Castro Point restaurant
  • Raccoons in OMV
  • Places to get flu shots
  • Lost cat (it was returned to its owner)
  • Reactions to the Day Worker Center

To subscribe to OMVNAtalk, send an e-mail to

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Energy Action: New Types of Cars and New Fuels on the Horizon
By Bruce Karney

This will be my next-to-last Energy Action column.  Before moving on to this month’s topic, I’d like to remind you briefly of the topics covered in past columns.  All are available online at

In October 2006 I wrote about wall insulation, a timely topic now that fall’s nip is in the air.

Last December’s article recommended LED Christmas lights.  January’s column was a detailed analysis of tankless water heaters and traditional and solar water heating alternatives.  In March I explained the benefits of the solar photovoltaic buying group I was organizing (it turned out to be a smashing success).

The April column explained the “home heating index,” a figure that tells how energy efficient your home is.  June’s column covered the benefits of programmable thermostats – another topic that becomes more relevant as the weather cools and natural gas prices rise.  In July I explained what a carbon footprint is and how to measure it, and the September column covered carbon offsets.

As you can tell by reading through this list, most of the Energy Action columns have dealt with reducing energy consumption in your home.  But the biggest energy-consuming device you own isn’t your home, or anything in your home – it’s the big thing with four wheels parked in your driveway.  Decisions you make about what you drive, how much you drive, and how you maintain your vehicle have more impact on your energy use than everything you do to make your home more energy efficient.  So let’s review the new alternatives to gasoline-powered automobiles.

Diesel Cars

About a third of the cars in Europe run on diesel, compared to just 2-3% in the US.  A typical European diesel auto has a turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine and gets 40+ MPG.

The fuel-efficiency advantage of diesels has two components.  First, diesel fuel is denser than gasoline and delivers 15% more energy when burned.  But diesel engines are also more efficient, boosting their overall mileage advantage to about 30%.  The higher engine efficiency also means that diesel engines produce less greenhouse gas than equal sized gasoline engines.

New diesel cars have been banned for sale in California for many years.  They just became legal again this year after new laws resulted in huge decreases in the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel.  Unfortunately, the auto industry has not yet begun to sell high MPG diesels in California.  Your best bet is to buy a used diesel (with at least 7,500 miles on the odometer) in a nearby state.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

Electric cars can’t yet offer the range of gas-powered autos, but they cost far less per mile to operate.  Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) are a “second car” option for many who live in neighborhoods like ours.  They excel for trips of under 20 miles that don’t require getting on a freeway or expressway.  NEVs typically have a top speed of 25 MPH and are street legal only on roads with speed limits of 35 MPH or less. 

Brands include GEM, ZAP Xebra, and ZENN.  You can learn more at


Hybrids were introduced by Toyota and Honda as high-MPG cars, but hybrid technology has moved rapidly into heavier vehicles like the Toyota Highlander and Ford Escape SUVs.  Expect to see this trend continue.  Hybrids run on gasoline and charge an onboard battery bank that allows the gasoline engine to shut off during low speed travel and when stopped.

Plug-in Hybrids

Only a few dozen plug-in hybrids exist in the US, and most of them were created by adding extra batteries to a Prius and then modifying the electronics to allow those extra batteries to be the sole source of power for short trips.  The extra batteries are charged by being plugged into an electric outlet.  A group called touts plug-in hybrids as being capable of exceeding 100 MPG.  Under certain driving patterns they seldom need the gas-powered engine to turn on.

Local Source for Biodiesel

The first gas station in Mountain View to offer biodiesel is the Rotten Robbie at the corner of Middlefield and Whisman.  They are currently selling a B20 blend (20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel) for $3.39, the same price as regular diesel.

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Steering Committee Meets

Future meetings:  Monday Nov. 12 and Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at 580 Castro in the Chamber of Commerce Board Room.  Everyone is welcome to attend!

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Downtown Longs Opens
By Bruce Karney

The new Longs Pharmacy opened earlier this month.  Located in the ground floor of the new parking structure at Bryant and California, the store offers all of the traditional products and services found in a mid-sized drug store.

My wife reported that transferring her prescriptions from the Longs on El Monte was quite easy.  I was deputized to pick up some refills, and found the store to be uncrowded on a recent Saturday afternoon.  The pharmacist was very pleasant and the process of getting her prescriptions was easy.

The grocery area has stock similar to what you would find in a neighborhood quick stop.  The little stores at Calderon and Church and Moffett and Central may find that Longs will draw away some of their customers.

There are about 20 parking spaces in the garage that are right behind the Longs.  These are marked as 30 minute spaces, and most were filled when I visited the store.

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Council Discusses Purchase of Bakotich Home on Calderon
By Bruce Karney

Anne Bakotich, long-time owner of 445 Calderon, passed away in June at the age of 90.  Her home was built in the 1880s and is the second oldest in the city.  The lot on which it sits is long and narrow, and you need to look carefully to see the house behind the many trees and shrubs that crowd the front garden.

On Sept. 25 the City Council considered purchasing the 1.3 acre parcel.  The asking price is $3.2 million.  The land is so valuable because it is zoned for 13-25 apartments.  The proceeds from the sale will be divided among Ms. Bakotich’s nine great and great-great nieces and nephews.

The Bakotich family used to own many acres of adjoining land, but sold it to be developed into apartments.  This was a decision that Ms. Bakotich said she regretted.

The Council discussed various ideas for the property if the city bought it, including turning it into a park or history museum.  They decided not to purchase the property, but are continuing to explore options.  If you have an idea about what should happen to the house and property, please contact a City Council member.  Ronit Bryant, Nick Galiotto and Margaret Abe Koga all live in Old Mountain View.

One option would be to relocate the home to a vacant lot that is zoned R1 (single-family residential).  This would preserve the home and leave the property on which it currently sits available for development as apartments, which would match the land use of adjoining parcels.  There are few vacant lots in Old Mountain View, but the home would not look out of place if moved to one of the city-owned parcels on Shoreline.  Some of the other homes along Shoreline date from the 1910s.  There is also a privately owned vacant lot at the corner of Bush and Yosemite that could accommodate the Bakotich house if it were moved, but the houses in that area were built in the 1940s.

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Mountain View Reads: City-wide Book Group
By Sharlene Gee

What if everyone in Mountain View talked about one book and its ideas for an entire month?

Mountain View Reads Together takes place again this November. This program creates a shared community experience by offering a series of events related to one book.

Do you live in an Old MV home with a basement?  Can you imagine spending weeks in your basement hiding with several of your neighbors while a war rages above?

When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe, the book selection for 2007, opens with: “Papa explains the war like this:  ‘When the elephants dance, the chickens must be careful.’”  The war is World War II, the elephants are the Americans and the Japanese, and the chickens are ordinary Filipinos.

Three siblings narrate their stories, revealing life in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation.  As their family and their neighbors hide in a cramped cellar, they tell family and magical stories based on Filipino folktales to pass the time and to teach important lessons.

For more information, visit, or call 650 265-7198.

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Meet Tess Uriza Holthe

Tess Uriza Holthe, the author of When the Elephants Dance, will speak and answer questions at two local events in November.

On Thursday, Nov. 1 she will appear at the MV Senior Center (266 Escuela Ave.) from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in conversation with her writing teacher Linda Watanabe McFerrin.

On Thursday, Nov. 29 she will appear from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at the Mountain View High School Auditorium (3535 Truman Ave.)

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Free Films at MV Library

Flags of our Fathers
Saturday, November 3, 2 pm
Enjoy a free screening of this 2006 Clint Eastwood film, showing one perspective on WWII, and discuss it afterwards.

Letters from Iwo Jima
Sunday, November 4, 2 pm
See another perspective on WWII.  Enjoy a free screening of Easwood’s Oscar-winning film and discuss it with other audience members.

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