Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 20, 2010

Around town

ODDEST HOUSE? ... Think your house (or a neighbor's) is really special, unusual or just plain quirky? The website Www.TopTenRealEstateDeals.com is seeking nominations for an upcoming Top Ten Homes web feature. "We are looking for homes that are truly different the kind of homes that make you say, 'Wow, look at that' or 'What were they thinking?' or 'I wish I were that brave,'" Jason Wakefield, web design director for the real estate website, stated in a news release. "Homes can be in any style or price range. The important thing is the home's 'out-of-the-norm' quotient." Nominations, with photos and a brief description, can be sent to homes@toptenrealestatedeals.com.

SUFFRAGETTE CITY ... It's been 90 years since American women earned the right to vote, and the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto will celebrate that landmark anniversary Aug. 26 with a free meeting at the Garden Court Hotel, 520 Cowper St., from 7 to 9 p.m. Back in the day, Palo Alto had many strident suffragettes fighting for the vote, including Virginia (Jennie) Arnott, Anna Zschokke and Alice Park. "It's time to remember the courage of those who undertook the long fight for women's voting rights," Phyllis Cassel, league president, said. The celebration will feature entertainment with special guests, and participants are asked to RSVP at 650-327-9148 or lwvpaoffice@gmail.com.

FINALS BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS? . . . The hot-button issue of scheduling final exams before or after the December holidays will soon come before the Palo Alto Board of Education as it considers the school district's calendar for 2011-12 and beyond. Until now and at least through the upcoming school year Gunn and Paly students have taken first-semester exams in January, after the holidays. But several area high schools, including Menlo-Atherton, Castilleja and St. Francis, have switched to finals before the holidays as a strategy to dial down student stress. "I think we need to look at a calendar that gives kids some breaks," Superintendent Kevin Skelly told school board members at a recent two-day retreat. A possible calendar change is no simple matter, since it also must be negotiated with the district's two employee unions, the Palo Alto Educators Association and the California School Employees Association. Skelly said a decision needs to be made by November.

BUCKING THE TREND ... Who says the real estate market has slowed down? Alain Pinel Realtor Mary Gullixson, who works in the company's Palo Alto office, ranked fourth nationally in real-estate sales volume for 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal. Her sales? Nearly $149 million, making it no surprise that she's surpassed $2 billion in career sales. Other APR agents on the list included Kathy Bridgman at No. 21 and Judy Bogard-Tanigami at No. 56, both from the Los Altos office. From the Menlo Park office, Carol Carnevale and Nicole Aron ranked No. 58 on the Top Teams by Sales Volume list, with $78 million. The Journal's Top 400 survey was tallied from 7,000 brokerage firms, Realtors associations and individuals in the field.

TO INFINITY ... Cosmic Cosmos and Beam Me Up Martinis were among the drinks of choice this past weekend at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara. Mountain View's SETI Institute which searches for extraterrestrial intelligence was hosting its first SETIcon. Speakers at the gathering included scientists, science-fiction writers and actors such as Tim Russ, who played Tuvok on "Star Trek: Voyager." Two popular events were the panel discussion "Warp Eight, Mr. Scott: Will It Happen? The Future of Space Travel" and astronomer Mike Brown's talk "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming." Unlike at sci-fi conventions, popularized and satirized over the years, SETIcon failed to attract throngs of folks wearing pointy ears and Klingon garb. It was a mostly T-shirts-and-blue-jeans crowd, one attendee reported.

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