Homeowner invents way to renew energy


Town Crier/Ginny Prior

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” Could Plato have foreseen our high energy costs when he penned this phrase?

Montclair homeowner John Orfali has taken this philosophy and has run with it, inventing a quick, easy way to make renewable energy for his home.

It involves a windmill and solar panel connected to a battery, which he and his sons have installed on their property.

“We run our TV and bedroom lights off it at night,” said his wife, Mary, who claimed it could also come in handy during a power outage. “If there is a major earthquake and we are without electricity for days, how are you going to charge your cell phone or run some lights?”

John’s invention offers a solution, and with any luck he’ll find the financial backing to go public soon.

CHANGE METERS: Want to put your money where your mouth is? Top Dog in Rockridge is selling hot dogs for two-bits to anyone who pays with a quarter from 1964 or earlier. Why? The older quarters have silver — enough silver to make them worth about 3 bucks today — or the price of a hot dog. There’s a deeper political message about the government minting worthless money, these days, but you’ll have to go to the sausage shop to get that “food for thought.”

NATURE RETREAT: Speaking of sausage, there’ll be plenty of brats at the Aug. 3 Biergartenfest at Nature Friends. This German retreat is like a Bavarian Village overlooking Butters Canyon in the hills. There’s a beer garden, kitchen and dance hall on the wooded property, which is open several times a year for folk dancing and festivals. The late summer event will feature a live band from 2-6 p.m. and the Nature Friends Schuhplattler Dance Group. Call 510-531-2930 for more information.

MAIL BAG: The Town Crier continues to get complaints about Oakland ‘s new parking meters. Reader Maleah Simpson says there’s no consideration for our aging population.

“Walking, in some instances, half a block to print out a ticket, return to the car, walk the same half block up hill to the shop they want to visit — it may be difficult for some,” she said.

She also points out that the city is losing money because people are taking up more than one space.

“There is no guideline,” Simpson said.

E-MAIL BAG: Thanks to reader Tod Vedock for alerting me to his year-long crusade to fix a buckled section of roadway along Broadway Terrace. He said the roots of a large tree have pushed the pavement up there, creating a nasty hazard for bicyclists and an eyesore for everyone else.

“I thought I would get this corrected,” he wrote, “as I’m sure you are bouncing all over it on your scooter!”

And in response to my recent piece on the renovation of Royal Ground, Eric Reynolds wrote that Raquel Saldana has left the coffee shop after 13 years.

“She’s been there almost everyday, from the crack of dawn until the late afternoon,” he said. “She’s loved by many of the Village moms because she kisses and hugs their babies and she’s not afraid to say hello to anyone.”

Saldana hasn’t gone far, however. She’s reportedly moved across the street, serving coffee at the Malt Shop.

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