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Knitting in public, celebrated worldwide

About 20 women and your correspondent gathered in the park outside Lovett memorial library in Mount Airy on Saturday June 13, 2015 to celebrate World Knit in Public day. According to co-organizer Eleanor Pabarue of Ladies of the Knit and the Hooker Auxiliary, ours was one of 867 similar events that day worldwide. Many of the women knit for relaxation and oh what beautiful useful handmade clothing and accessories that relaxation was producing. With the steady patience of Teresa Glover, your correspondent managed to knit  a few not totally straight rows on his own and was rewarded with yarn and a pair o needles to practice his technique at home. The consensus was that he was not quite ready to learn to purl.

Crazy for Bingo

Sallmen's Hall hosts Bingo

Every Friday night and Sunday afternoon Bingo happens at the Sallmen’s Social Center and Bingo Hall in New Castle, Pa. All proceeds go toward organizations like the American cancer society or an individual or family in need says Marylou Diaz who operates the hall. On a recent night players were after a $450 jackpot and many were playing multiple cards to increase their chances of winning. Watch video here.

Crazy About Bingo

Janet Maines has been playing Bingo ever since her grandmother introduced her to the game when she was only 5 and now she travels all around to play.  “In 1998, in Clarksburg, West Virginia, I won $20,000.” At the Sallmen’s, Maines exhibited a talent for carrying on a conversation while playing nine Bingo boards at a time. When a number is called her eyes scan in a zigzag pattern through the boards as her hand is poised, dauber ready, to stamp every appearance of the called number. Watch video here.


Singing without her ukulele

Julia Weekes loves to sing with a musical instrument and to bash out non-ukulele sounding songs like hard core rock on the ukulele she got from a jazz bass player friend of a friend who was giving out ukuleles to all his loved ones. She immediately fell in love with the instrument, which felt, to her from the outset like she was playing a heart that had been plucked out from the chest. At a Bar Mitzvah luncheon, your correspondent imposed on her to sing some impromptu Radiohead and more as if she were playing along with her uke. Your correspondent would like to video her singing these songs with her uke. Watch video here.


Sew yourself at Handcraft Workshop

Claire Chappelle had passed by the Handcraft Workshop in Germantown for a year before she ventured in and took a pillowcase-making class. So enthusiastic was she about the experience that in the days leading up to Christmas she was coming in to sew dozens of pillow cases for gifts to friends to family. On the Friday eve before Christmas Chappelle, attended an Open Sew and was putting the finishing touches on some pillowcases while proprietress Heather Hutchinson Harris was cutting fabric and giving instructions to a gentleman working on pajamas.  Harris says the pajama making classes are popular with students who take the introductory pillowcase class and then want to move on to a more challenging projects that require working with a pattern.  Harris sewed up a career as a teacher and geriatric social worker before launching her shop. Husband Andre Harris, an IT professional, was on hand at the Open Sew helping out.

Watch video here.


Retired CSI cop, "Crazy Ed" sells plants outside his home

After 40 years in the police department Avon "Crazy Ed" Wilson now sells plants outside his home on Chew Ave in Germantown. He had seen enough murder and war in the last twenty of his police years working in CSI. Now, four years running, he's been doing "something nice" for the neighbors. He buys plants at Home Depot and Produce Junction and makes arrangements of them in pots. He will bargain with customers but not if they disparage his plants. Wilson's not out to make a profit because he has a pension but tries to break even nonetheless. With his steady customers he tells a running joke: "The thing about my plants - you can't eat 'em and you can't smoke 'em."

Watch video interview here.


How Lego conquered the toy industry brick by brick

Legos - it's about the brick

The Lego Company has been fantastically successful. In each of the last 5 years sales have risen 24% and profits, 40%. But it was not always so. For most of its 80-year existence, its reach did not extend so far beyond Billun, Denmark, where Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter unable to secure enough wood to build furniture during the 1930s depression, began experimenting building wooden toys.

The company under Christiansen’s progeny soared in the last couple decades but tie-in products to the Star Wars and Harry Potter movies nearly doomed the company in 2003; sales of those products crashed when the movie franchises hadn’t yet come out with new films.

This, according to Wharton Professor Dave Robertson and former LEGO Professor of Innovation and Technology Management at Switzerland's Institute for Management. Robertson, a Chestnut Hill resident, discussed his new book, “Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry” at the William Jeannes Library in Lafayette Hill this past Thursday evening.

He began his slide talk by distributing baggies, each packed with the identical same six logo pieces, and instructed the audience to “Build a duck” and gave us only a minute or two. Participants then brought their “ducks” up to the front table. At the end of the talk, Robertson pointed to the wide variation of these Lego “ducks” as evidence that incredible creativity is possible even when severe constraints are imposed, a major thesis of his book.

He credits Lego Company’s resurgence to its imposition of key constraints: drastically reducing the number of parts (about 14000 different ones at peak) that had made the manufacturing process unwieldy, getting back to products that are more “Lego-y” and subjecting product proposals to the approval a committee of 3 seasoned Lego designers. And, ultimately, insisting that projected profitability be a constant constraint.

What Lego pioneered was not just a toy, Robertson maintains, but a system of play. And that system “is about the brick.”

Watch video here.


Night geocaching at Andorra Natural Area

Night geocaching

Scenes from the video featuring Wen-Young and his son Manny of Plymouth  Meeting, PA.

“That’s what we’re looking for- the waypoints”

“It’ll say the gecoache is that way but the trail goes this way or this way.”

“We won’t send you through the woods bushwhacking”

Destination- “Soggy Bottom” at the troll bridge

Garmin device accidentally restarts

Device  now says ready to navigate

On the trail to the cache

“It must be around here”

“Found it!”

What’s inside the cache which is a canteen?

Is it a toy toilet or a stamp out of ink?

No, it’s a star punch to punch our paper to prove we found it.

Another group arrives at Soggy Bottom

Excitement back at campfire

Night geocaching with Wen-Young and Manny

“How was your first geocache experience?”

----  >

“Sweet. Marshmallow- sweet, get it?”

Found 6 caches!

Credits the gps device and the help of friends.

Watch video here


Vaulting bride and groom sculpted by blind uncle

Vaulting couple marries

Michael Gieschen, left

Because Mike Gieschen’s niece met her fiancée while competing at vaulting event, a passion they share, the blind artist decided to create a wedding gift depicting their shared hobby. (Vaulting is essentially the striking of gymnastic poses atop a horse).

Constructed of celluclay and smoothed with joint compound, built over a wire and paper armature, a male and female couple are shown, each standing on one leg atop a horse with an arm around the other’s waist, the other arm extended horizontally forward and the other leg extended horizontally back as if they were flying. Taking artistic license, not knowing whether this is an actual vaulting pose, Gieschen, in this work, expresses his hope that the newlyweds will soar together and happily in their new life together. The couple marries today

watch video here