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Nose Under the Community Tent

By Paul Losch

About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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On becoming a blogger ...

Uploaded: Mar 24, 2009
Becoming a "blogger" is something I never envisioned as a path in life -- mainly because that avocation didn't exist. And, perhaps like most of us, I'm not even sure what that term, "blog," or "to blog," means. I think it's something between being a columnist and a Twitterer (Tweeter?), whatever that is. But here goes.

First, thanks to Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson and Publisher Bill Johnson for inviting me to be a contributing "blogger" for Palo Alto Online. I hope those of you who read my comments find them enjoyable and thought provoking.

I have been weighing in on various matters under my full name on Palo Alto Online for a couple of years now, so some of you may be familiar with my thinking. And many people in town know me from various things in which I have been involved during the 20-plus years I have lived in Palo Alto.

Since this my first official blog, I will set the table a bit with some background. I have been married to a psychiatrist who works at the Menlo Park VA. She attended Stanford for medical school and residency, which is how I got here. The marriage is ending, but the current economic environment is making the divorce more complicated than we had expected. We have two college age children, both of whom went through Palo Alto schools, K-12.

I was responsible for the care of my increasingly feeble father, from when he became widowed unexpectedly a few years ago until he died last year. I live in Community Center. I have a beagle, who likely will get mention from time to time in my future musings.

I moved to California to attend University of California, Davis, where I got a double major in relations and economics. I then got my MBA at Harvard Business School. For 15 or so years I was a corporate-marketing type, most notably at DHL Worldwide Express when it was headquartered in Redwood Shores. I worked as a management consultant for Accenture and on my own for a period of time.

A few years ago I purchased a small business, Fremont-based Sootheze, which makes heat and cold therapy items in the shape of small stuffed animals, such as "Toasty Bears," that soothe and relax a person. (They sell at Whole Foods, so please help me work my children's way through college.)

I have been involved with various things in Palo Alto over the years. I currently am serving my second term as a city Parks and Recreation commissioner. I was president of Babe Ruth Baseball when my son played in the league, and served as chief umpire for both Little League and Girls' Softball -- I got a great deal of instant public "feedback" about my work doing those umpiring jobs. I was on the Walter Hays Elementary School Site Council, and also was involved with getting Spanish immersion introduced to the school district in the mid-1990s.

My politics are not easily labeled. I am registered as a Democrat, and I was very glad to see President Bush leave office. I think President Obama is a much more capable president.

I believe that the greatest good we get from our public institutions can be found at the local level, such as our city and school district. I believe we must act as stewards of the assets Palo Alto has, and that means investing appropriately to keep them in good condition, not letting them deteriorate due to benign neglect.

I am a skeptic on certain public projects that come over the transom from time to time, and there are others that for this community make sense to me. I think Palo Alto is fortunate to have a distinctive character, and I will discuss the pillars that I believe make up that character in future commentaries.

For a variety of reasons, this is a time where this community is at a big inflection point, where we change direction as if we were steering through an S-curve on Skyline Boulevard.

Both the school district and the city have new leaders at their helms. There are some huge capital projects underway and under consideration. The world as a whole seems to get smaller and simultaneously more robust and more fragile each year. The economy is very shaky right now, and that is affecting people in a variety of ways. My personal life has changed as my youngest left for college this past fall -- the proverbial empty nest. And there is the stuff that always is around, but at times offers up topical grist for the mill.

The Weekly did not confine me to address any set of things in particular, so if I think something is fair game and that people would like to read about and discuss I may write about it. In choosing topics I will be mindful of my position on the Parks and Recreation Commission. I will take stands, and I expect people will disagree with my points of view. That's fine by me, if lively, thoughtful discussion comes about as a result.

I do have a request from those of you who wish to comment on what I tee up. Let's keep it civil -- let's not attack people's character based on something they say or do. Please think clearly and then write clearly, whatever your opinions may be. As Aretha Franklin sang, "Just a little respect. ..."

Back at you soon.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Kerry, a resident of ,
on Mar 24, 2009 at 4:47 pm


Did you support HSR, before the November election, like 100% of our CC did? If so, why? If not, why not?

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of ,
on Mar 24, 2009 at 4:53 pm

No, I did not support HSR, and wrote extensively on this forum about how I think the funds are better spent on local transit, and a variety of other major problems I see with the entire concept. I have a column teed up in the coming weeks about it. It is already written, but I have some others I will post before that one.

Posted by Arthur Dent, a resident of ,
on Mar 25, 2009 at 10:05 am

It appears to me, Walter, that if you won't be respectful you'll be asked to leave the kitchen.
Paul, I share your 1-liner opinion of HSR and look forward to that blog.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of ,
on Mar 25, 2009 at 10:18 am


Your beef is not with me, the Online editors control the content, I merely contribute.

I consider Diana to be a friend, and took what you said as a compliment.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of ,
on Mar 25, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

If they ask me to leave, I'll go, but I suspect the forum would be the worse for my departure. Someone needs to speak for the individual.

Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of ,
on Mar 26, 2009 at 12:13 am

Good luck, Paul. This is an online community with a few thoughtful people and a lot of hypercritical know-it-alls who are distrustful of nearly everything and everyone.

Walter, if I may... it's not your viewpoints that irritate as much as your style. Case in point: are the rest of us somehow less "individual" than you?

Posted by Danny, a resident of ,
on Mar 26, 2009 at 9:50 am

Great blog Paul! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to future blogs from you. And I have to say I like Walter's involvement here. He's one of the few Republicans who doesn't just spew out anti-Obama propaganda and endless links to "the world is ending" nonsense. Walter has his own sometimes humorous, sometimes persnickety voice. I actually enjoy his insights despite being on the other side politically.

Posted by Kerry, a resident of ,
on Mar 26, 2009 at 10:53 am


Thank you for your clarification on HSR. Since you are an insider in Palo Alto politics, can you explain why our CC decided to support HSR, unanimously?

BTW, I also appreciate Walter's pithy comments. I also like OhlonePar and Gary.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of ,
on Mar 26, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Hello Kerry,

I cannot explain the thinking that went into the Council Members' support of high speed rail. Anything I say would be pure speculation, and I choose not to do that.

Speaking for myself, well before I voted against it in the November election, I put some thought into the matter and concluded it is rife with problems, and offers little meaningful benefit. As I said, I intend to blog about this topic at a later date. Most of my observations have to do with aspects of it outside of the potential impact on Palo Alto, which clearly has hit many people's radar screens in recent weeks.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of ,
on Mar 31, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

"...are the rest of us somehow less "individual" than you?"
Yes you are, because I lack the need for approval of others. This armors me against those who think to hurt my feelings. And, Danny, I was Republican only long enough to vote in the primary for Shirley Temple Black against Apostate Pete McCloskey. Before that I was an Adlai Stevenson democrat. I guess you would say I am now a fallen away libertarian. And, of course, a Rice and Palin fan.

Posted by Keith Schuman, a resident of ,
on Mar 31, 2009 at 9:49 pm


I enjoyed reading this from Sai Gon...pretty gutsy to put yourself out there like that. Much appreciated. I look forward to some more stuff!

- Keith

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of ,
on Apr 1, 2009 at 6:01 am


I agree with Keith and others. It is nice to have your voice on community matters.


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of ,
on Apr 1, 2009 at 7:00 am

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Keith and Steve,

My compliments to you two as well for providing your blogs to PA Online.

For the record, I have been close friends with Keith's uncle since my college days and UC Davis, and have known Keith's family for many years, There is an annual touch football game in which we both have participated, and I openly admit that Keith and my college age son have performed considerably better on that gridiron than have I.

Posted by Make it relevant, a resident of ,
on Apr 2, 2009 at 12:01 am

I wish Paul could control his need to talk about himself. The self promotion and promotion of his business is a not appropriate. And not interesting.
If he wants to write about issues, great. I'm waiting.

Posted by Pat Markevitch, a resident of ,
on Apr 2, 2009 at 9:48 am

I serve on the Parks and Recreation Commission with Paul and know him to be very straightforward and knowledgable when it comes to local matters. I look forward to reading more of his blogs especially when it comes to the HSR which I also voted against last November. Way to go Paul!

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of ,
on Apr 3, 2009 at 5:44 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

So far, a waste of pixels.

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