A sense of wonder
S E C T I O N
BY DAVE BOYCE Almanac Staff Writer Photos by
April 13, 2011 ■ ALSO
Stories about people and events in the community.
A RO U N D T O W N 1 9 | C A L E N DA R 2 0 | R E A L E S TAT E 2 1 | C L A S S I F I E D S 2 6
A Los Trancos Woods inventor has not put away his childhood imagination
magination tends to be a realm populated by children, but perhaps with some gentle and persistent nurturing of one’s inner child, adults can play there, too — as Los Trancos Woods resident and inventor Olivier Redon appears to do on a regular basis. “I work as a child because I spend a lot of time (imagining),” Mr. Redon, 49, told the Almanac recently. “When I have an idea, I put it in a box in my brain, on hold (until) I have more time. I continue to (allow) it to evolve without going too fast. The most important thing for me, it is taking time to think,” he says. “Sometimes it takes me years. I observe the world around me and I observe things that are missing in everyday life.” Mr. Redon grew up in Marseilles, has lived in the United States for five years and is engaged in improving his fluency with the English language. He is married to Yanting Zhang, a real estate investor. Chloe, the couples’ daughter, is 3 1/2 and helped her father out with some early testing of his Mooonbike (spelled with three O’s), a seven-piece bicycle
that he invented in 2010 and that is the product of some 200 hours of thinking, he says. Its components are made from ordinary materials and it operates on solid ground, sand and in shallow water. “People think you wake up in the morning and you have an idea,” he says. “No, it’s not true. You have to think and think and think.” The bike has removable pedals, allowing a newcomer to practice without them and then have them restored after gaining proficiency on two wheels. “Pedals can make it very difficult for the child to learn how to balance,” he says. “Without the pedal system, it is lighter and easier for a child to maintain balance and steer.” Children who are learning to ride not infrequently fall over because they can’t get their feet off the pedals and on to the ground fast enough, Mr. Redon says. Among his other inventions: ■ A straightforward way to raise the temperature, and the cold-weather effectiveness, of windshield washing fluid as it makes its way from a vehicle’s reservoir under the hood to the nozzles
at the base of the windshield (2005). ■ A wallet insert for credit and debit cards from which the cards cannot come loose while at the same time being individually available to swipe through a card reader (2009). ■ A thin cardboard package for CDs and DVDs that goes beyond a simple sleeve and is as much a conversation piece as a desktop promotion (2004). ■ A traffic light that displays elapsedtime progress bars to inform drivers how much time they have left on red and green signals (2009). Of these, the CD/DVD package won a juried gold medal in a 2005 international inventors fair in Pittsburgh and, according to Mr. Redon, earned him about $30,000 — his only moneymaking invention so far. But he has plans, including a trip to China in September to look into the manufacture of a children’s size Mooonbike, he says. A retail price of $80 would be about right; an adultsized bike would come later. He says his credit card insert could be appealing to banks as a promotional gift — if he can get their attention. “It is very difficult for an inventor to
Olivier Redon, a Los Trancos Woods resident, keeps the various products of his imagination at his office in Palo Alto. His idea for a children’s training bike, the Mooonbike, is shown without the pedals, the mode meant for kids learning to balance on two wheels.
make known their inventions,” he says. “I’m trying to sell my licensed patented inventions in the world of companies that are seeking new products.” Money not a priority
“I invent not because I want to make money,” Mr. Redon tells the Almanac. “I’m more excited with new inventions. I like inventing. I don’t like marketing.” “If I make money, I don’t keep it for myself. You don’t need too much money to be happy. You have a short life. You need to open your eyes,” he says. “People think I’m stupid. I don’t care. I don’t care.” “With money, can you buy the smile of your own child? Can you bring back a mother (who died) too young?,” he asks. “If, with one of my inventions, I earn much more money (than I need), I would have the joy of giving some of that money to poor people in poor countries who suffer every day. But not for me, for I have need of a simple life without artifice.” “My best memories of my life have See INVENTOR, page 19
On the cover: An ancient oak tree in Portola Valley’s Coal Mine Ridge open space is a place to contemplate new ideas for Los Trancos Woods resident Olivier Redon, an imaginative inventor who spurns inventing for money. Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac. April 13, 2011 N The Almanac N 17
Journey to Easter 11:00a.m. 11:00a.m.
You Are Invited Sunday, April 17th Sunday, April 24th
Palm Sunday Easter Service
WESLEY UNITED METHODIST 470 Cambridge Ave (one block off California) Rev. Karen Paulsen
ST. MARKâ€™S EPISCOPAL CHURCH PALO ALTO
Peninsula Easter Services
Maundy Thursdayâ€” April 21 V 6:15pm
Monastic Supper & Liturgy of the Word followed by Holy Eucharist & Stripping of the Altar
Good Friday â€” April 22 V Noon to 2:00pm Stations of the Cross with Reflections V 2:00 to 3:00pm
Labyrinth Stations: A Walking Meditation
V 7:30 to 8:30pm
Good Friday Prayers, Art and Meditation
Easter Vigil, Eucharist & Baptism
V 8:00 to 9:30am
Festive Breakfast & Family Easter Activities
Festive Holy Eucharist
Easter â€” April 24
600 Colorado Ave, P.A. (650) 326-3800 www.saint-marks.com
Holy Week Services
Holy Week Maundy Thursday 4/21 | 7:30 pm
Good Friday 4/22 | 12 pm & 7:30 pm
Easter Vigil 4/23 | 7:30 pm
Easter Sunday April 24 | 8:30 am and 10:45 am
8BWFSMFZ4USFFUt1BMP"MUP $" www.gracepa.org ]
Staffed child care available at all services.
April 21 April 22 April 24
6:00 pm Seder Dinner Noon & 7:00 pm Good Friday Services 9:30 am Easter Festival Service Childrenâ€™s Easter Egg Hunt after the service!
Free gift for every family.
Bethany Lutheran Church 1095 Cloud Avenue, Menlo Park 650.854.5897
Episcopal Church 2650 Sand Hill Rd, Menlo Park
AN EPISCOPAL COMMUNITY IN MENLO PARK
Palm Sunday, April 17: 8:00 am and 10:00 am* Maundy Thursday (The Last Supper) April 21, 6:00 pm* (with simple meal) Good Friday, April 22 7:00 am and Noon The Great Vigil of Easter Baptisms & First Easter Communion Saturday, April 23, 7:00 pm* Easter Sunday, April 24 6:30 am in the Memorial Garden 8:00 am* & 10:00 am* in Church with Festival Choir *Indicates child care available.
18 N The Almanac N April 13, 2011
For more information please call Blanca Yoc at 650-326-8210 ext. 6596 or email email@example.com Holy Week & Easter
Join Us For Easter The great question of Easter is about us: where are the tombs in our life that God is inviting us to leave and where is new life rising in us? Join us at Trinity as we celebrate the promise and possibility of new life.
A resource for special events and ongoing religious services.
Valley Presbyterian Church
April 21 t MAUNDY THURSDAY 12 noon Foot Washing 12:10pm Holy Eucharist & Healing Rite 7:15pm Foot Washing 7:30pm Holy Eucharist April 22 t GOOD FRIDAY
Love Wins! Easter Sunrise Service 6:15 a.m. Easter Worship 9:00 & 11:00 a.m. 945 Portola Road, Portola Valley, CA 650-851-8282 www.valleypreschurch.org
12 noon Service of music, reflection, and prayer 7:30pm Meditation on the Passion of Christ April 23 t HOLY SATURDAY 9:00pm Great Vigil of Easter, Holy Baptism & Eucharist April 24 t EASTER SUNDAY
8:00am Eucharist with Hymns 10:15am Sung Eucharist 11:30am Easter Egg Hunt Nursery available 10-11:30am
C O M M U N I T Y
Nine polo tournaments set for Atherton
Cardboard is magic in the hands of Olivier Redon. In 2004, he invented the CD/DVD package shown above. It won him a juried gold medal at a 2005 international inventors fair and earned him about $30,000, he said.
INVENTOR continued from page 17
nothing to do with money,” he says. He adds that he is untroubled by the prospect of his ideas being stolen. “It’s OK if someone takes my idea. It’s OK.” “I have a dream,” he says. “To create a community of inventors for inventions developed in common. ... My worldview is different,” he adds. “I see it from another angle and that is why I (was an) inventor from an early age.” In 1976, at the age of 17, when he was “too young to sell the idea,” he says he imagined a third brake light center-mounted in the rear of a vehicle. (Such lights became mandatory in the United States in 1986, according to Wikipedia.) His light would have been higher up so it could be seen by more than one trailing vehicle. Olivier may have been a trial as a youth. “At school, I (did) not
agree to anything (they) told me and I asked many questions,” he says. “Education does not leave the place (for) curiosity and (requires students) to learn foolishly what professors teach, and when we ask questions, that often bothers the professors. The teaching is too based on memory and not on reflection.” “We are taught that all questions have an answer,” he adds. “One should teach us that the majority of questions have several answers or no answer.” “I was very curious. I dismantled all my toys to see what (was) inside.” It was when he was “very young” that he thought about life after death. He has yet to hear a satisfactory answer. “Now I ask myself this question: Why (is it that) people who live around me do not ask this basic question. What happens to (us) after death is an important issue,” he says. “I do not understand this lack of curiosity.” A
The Menlo Polo Club is planning nine tournaments for the 2011 season, including three premiere events, according to club spokesperson Christine Vermes. All tournaments will be played at the Menlo Circus Club, 190 Park Lane in Atherton. Admission is open to the public. The club’s opening weekend begins Friday, April 29. The first major tournament, the U.S. Polo Association Ladies Cup, takes place Saturday, May 28. Menlo Polo Club Invitational events will be held June 25 and 26, and Sept. 24 and 25. Founded in 1923, the Menlo Polo Club is one of the oldest polo clubs in California. Lyn Jason Cobb is president and a third-generation polo player. Her grandfather, William Gilmore, founded the club in 1923. Her father, Mack Jason, was the club’s president for 46 years. The club is managed by Erik Wright, who also manages The Horse Park Polo Club. Go to facebook.com/MenloPoloClub for more information.
Energy efficiency class Thinking about ways to make the monthly utility bill go down? On Tuesday, April 19, the city
Models include Janet Ericksen, Carolyn Miller, Hope Johnson, JoAnn Bright, Sue Thomas, Eileen Duvall, Peggy Ogren, and Ramona Gaunt. Jane King of Menlo Park is the Atherlons president. Tickets to “Hats off to Spring” are $60 each. Checks made out to Atherlons may be sent to Virginia Peterson, 3511 La Mata Way, Palo Alto 94306.