Flourtown is going solar

Solar panels roof
If one of their kids breaks a solar panel with a stray ball, Gail and Chris Farmer are responsible for replacing it. But if a falling tree branch breaks one, Solar City pays - as Solar City did for the entire solar installation two years ago at the couple's Flourtown, Pennsylvania house. The company, now owned by Tesla, placed 5 panels on the south sloping front roof and another 8 on the southwest facing side roof. The company reaps the benefit of excess energy generated back into the grid during the 20 year contract and the family, which satisfies 65% of its electricity needs from the sun, realizes modest cost savings as it moves toward a more fossil fuel - free lifestyle.

The Farmers' was one of three houses with solar panels on the same stretch of College Avenue in Flourtown, just outside Philadelphia, that were part of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association ("MAREA") 2018 Sustainable Living Open House Tour on Saturday, May 5th.

Solar panels electricy energyYour correspondent also visited the freestanding installation at Joy Bergey's house around the bend. Some 10 feet off the ground, 9 solar panels are mounted billboard-like atop a substantial tube pole. The panel began to slowly turn while I was there; motors automatically adjust the angle facing the sun and the map direction to maximize exposure according to weather conditions and time of day. "What have I done?" was Bergey's first reaction the night the structure was first installed because it seemed so industrial. However, her neighbors have been supportive of the project and she has since softened the visual impact of the structure, which sits in her backyard next to a big open field, by surrounding it with garden plantings. Installed in 2016, Bergey sells excess power back to PECO, the regional electric power company, through net metering and expects to break even on the $20,000 investment over 8-9 years. And she believes her house becomes more appealing for resale as buyers increasingly seek out solar energy alternatives.

Watch video and interviews of homeowners in Flourtown, Pennsylvania advancing  renewable energy by install solar panels to generate their own electricity.


2018 Wissahickon Day Parade with oldtimer and author

Wissahickon day parade doctor tom
Dr. Tom Fitzpatrick of Flourtown, a retired biochemist with the US Department of Agriculture, rode in this year’s Wissahickon Day Parade, which took place this past Sunday. For 10 years he rode a horse and for another 25 years. drove a horse carriage in the parade.The event commemorates when several hundred horse-people and their horses converged on the Wissahickon path in 1927 to successfully protest plans to open the route up to vehicular traffic. Fitzpatrick’s roots go deep. His mother was born at the nearby stable atop Forbidden Drive (now Northwestern Stables) owned by his grandfather in the 1890s. He owns horses and he heads the Philadelphia Saddle Club whose riders are regular parade participants. Although he rode in a friend’s wagon at this year’s parade, should one of his stalls open up, he might purchase a good driving horse. At 94 he says, “I got 10, 15 more good years.” Watch video of Wissahickon Day Horse Parade celebrating Forbidden Drive becoming closed to vehicle traffic and interview with old-timer Dr Tom Fitzpatrick

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Horseback riding horse book author

Nancy Peter has ridden in the Wissahickon Day Parade on Forbidden Drive, a tradition dating back to 1927 when riders successfully protested a plan to allow cars on the path, but this was the first time she rode a horse of her own. Cheyenne is a spirited, 12 year old, 15 hand, quarter horse - paint mare who had been trained for Western reining competition. "She's the love of my life," Peter professes before quickly adding, "one of them." Peter has just published a memoir of her horseback riding "escapades" called "Twenty Horses". Cheyenne released a whinny when Peter obliged her to pose as they appear on the cover of the book. Watch video of horse memoir author ride her new mare and talk about the book of her horseback riding escapades.


TCNJ alumni day, 104 year old + the Travers 5

The college of new jersey alumni reunion coed dorm

The “Travers 5” students at Trenton State College in Ewing, New Jersey were an “intentional democratic community” of young men and women on the fifth floor of the Travers dorm in 1976-1977 and 1977-1978. They governed themselves and with the $5000 they received for cleaning the bathrooms, they re-signed from “men” and “women” to “people” they went on camping trips and held bi-weekly parties. On April 28, 2018, forty years later, some 25 of their number including your correspondent’s spouse descended upon what is now “The College of New Jersey” for Alumni day festivities on the much renovated campus and gleefully revisited the bright student painted hallways where they once lived, studied and caroused. Watch video of alumni reunion 1970s coed dorm students with their unisex bathrooms and parties.

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TCNJ hundred four years oldest alumna 85th reunion

Vera McChesney, 104 years old, graduated with a degree in early education in the first class, 1934, from the all women Trenton Normal School at its new location at Hillwood Lakes in Ewing, New Jersey. Accompanied by her nephew Sam Persi on April 28, 2018, she was honored as the most senior at alumni day celebrations at what is now The College of New Jersey. Attending her class’s 84th reunion, she bested the next most senior alum by 19 years. Her nephew recounts she acquired two graduate degrees and retired as director of library services for the Mesa public schools in Arizona. Watch video of oldest alumna by far at the Trentnon Normal (State)/ The College of New Jersey alumni day.


Yardsale features draftsman chair, convex mirror

Yardsale vintage furniture chair mirror
On a warm early spring day Tony Roman was setting out vintage items for a yard sale. First catching your correspondent’s eye was his Aunt Phil‘s ornately framed convex mirror. According to Roman, she had picked it up at a yard sale on Lincoln Drive in 1930. 88 years later here it was back in a yard sale! A handsome high wooden chair with a low back took on additional appeal when Roman explained that it’s a draftsman’s chair specifically designed with slightly shorter front legs so as to tilt the draftsperson forward over the work table. An early Bendix record player housed in a wooden cabinet with storage space below for records was also on offer. Senior talks about vintage furniture, sterio, draftsman's chair, convex mirror at yard sale in video interview

Singing opera in car, Lyft driver pursues greatness

Cu lyft opera singer
Ricardo Jimenez always liked to sing along to the radio when he was young. one time in Italy, his grandfather called him over to the television to watch the three tenors sing and he became transfixed. The next day he joined the school choir. At 14 he entered conservatory full time. He has performed in his home state of Florida and in Nicaragua. He also pursued a degree in accounting for economic security. Six months ago he moved to Columbus, Ohio to be with his girlfriend. While he chauffeurs people around as a Lyft driver he has a keyboard in the front passenger seat. When he can, he practices warm-up scales and sings. He aspires to the greatness of Pavarotti and Caruso and other opera stars whose biographies he has read. He has just successfully auditioned for the local production of Madama Butterfly and heard the kind of words from a conductor he has been longing to hear, " You have an incredible instrument." After delivering your correspondent to the Blackwell Inn he was bravo-ed by passersby when he sang “Santa Lucia” outside. Watch Lyft driver sing scales in car in hope of becoming opera star.


PLA Conference Exhibitors Tout their Wares

Frey conveyer belt system

At the 2018 Public Library Association conference in Philadelphia Exhibitor Hall.

Choose Your Own Adventure marketer Elizabeth Adelman introduces the line's new card game and "demo guy" Greg Loring-Albright demos it. Stephanie Kardon talks up Voyant's job and company searching and tracking platform. Catherine Hazlitt of 3branch shows how a light table designed for a library children's room can illuminate plastic manipulatives and xrays. Anthony Frey (above) of tech logic demonstrates how the Hennepin Library Director designed library conveyor belt system moves RFID and bar-coded returned materials into their proper bins for re-shelving. Mark Unthank, whose name is centuries old, is the chief Cool Nerd at the eponymous company that aggregates library ebook offerings and the like. Natalie Nardini promotes the Bedtime Math Foundation which encourages you to do some math with your kids at night with a book or their app. Felicia Ambrogio of Infobase Learning touts the tons of information available through their platform. Rhode Island Novelty guy says the squishy ball and the sequined marine animals are what's hot. Watch publishers and library software, furnishings and technology vendors talk about their services and products for public libraries.

PLA 2018

A vignette here

 


Forty plus ukulele players strum and sing along

Phoenixville ukulele event singing strumming
Robert Vince used to play the tuba but once he had kids it wasn’t practical to practice such a loud instrument after bedtime. Listening to the late Canadian musician and songwriter Stan Rogers sparked his interest in acoustic, folk style music. He took up the ukulele to make music he could share with his kids. Now he sometimes leads the Maine Line Ukulele group and his five year old has begun strumming on the ukulele. Suzanne Kane, a music therapist by trade, picked up the ukulele a couple years ago and began attending sessions to learn the instrument. Now she, too, leads the monthly sessions. She gravitates toward upbeat "high vibe, positive, good message" songs like Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" and "I melt with you" by the Modern English. Both ukulele-ists each led a hand-picked set at the group's premier spring event at the Steel City Coffee House in Phoenixville Pa on Sunday March 11th.  Watch ukulele playing and the stories of two who became group leaders here.

 


Career day features sound engineer, pet groomer, funeral director and more

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Career day pet groomer
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Career day sound engineer motion
 And concert sound engineer Barbara Adams wowed students when she told them she once worked with Kanye West (before he became famous). She talked about what her job is like - lots of heavy lifting and much more. And to illustrate the science of sound and hearing she disassembled a speaker. Students excitedly bunched around to see the diaphragm pulse to Michael Jackson's "Beat It."
 

Things are looking up! Paint the Cresheim Bridge! Open Call for Artists

 

Cresheim railroad bridge mural arts philadelphia

5/21/2018 UPDATE:  According to Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, the selection committee is seeking additional submissions but anyone visiting the official website for the project http://mtairyusa.org/cresheimproject/ would not know that the deadline of April 13  for artist submissions has been extended.

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Before a couple dozen community members at the newly renovated Lovett Library this past Monday evening, Cathy Harris of Philadelphia Mural Arts issues a call for artists to design a mural for the rusted abandoned railway trestle over Germantown Avenue below Cresheim Valley Drive. First envisioned fifteen years ago, the project is being relaunched now that the City of Philadelphia is acquiring the former Pennsylvania Railroad trestle from PECO. Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, a project partner, provided historical information on the structure and Mural Arts founder Jane Golden encouraged attendees to "spread the word" to artists to answer the "Call for Submissions." The Deadline for submissions is April 13, 2018. Your correspondent has posted a PDF of the "Cresheim Trail Mural Project Call for Submissions" here until it becomes available online from the collaborative which also includes the Trolley Car Diner, Friends of the Cresheim Trail (FoCT), Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, Chestnut Hill Rotary, the Mount Airy Learning Tree and ChestnutHIllPa. The abandoned railroad is being converted to a trail linking Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill with Springfield Township. See reporter Sue Ann Rybak's coverage in the January 18, 2018 Chestnut Hill Local The mural’s completion is intended to coincide with the opening of the extension to the existing trail which begins at Allens Lane and Lincoln Drive. In June the public is welcomed to vote "in several community locations" to choose a winner from among a handful of proposals narrowed down by Mural Arts. After the meeting, I approached Sam Hanna who had been intently taking notes during the presentations. As a business account manager for the Center for Employment Opportunities, Hanna planned to relay what he had learned to a client. While in prison for twenty years, that client began to do art. And after getting out last year at the time of the Monday evening meeting, was at a job he had just started. Things are looking up.

(In the photo left to right -standing:  Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, Jane Golden and Cathy Harris of Mural Arts Philadelphia, seated 2nd from left- Sam Hanna of CEO and Judy Weinstein of MALT)

Video of public meeting by  Mural Arts collaborative in call for artists to submit design for old rusty railroad bridge in Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.


Impeach Trump Party draws candidates for Congress

Impeach trump party democrats midterm election
Your correspondent, a reliably strident protester of former candidate – now President Donald Trump, signed an online petition earlier this year calling for Trump's impeachment. This past week I received an email invitation from Tom Steyer at "Need to Impeach" inviting me to "and [sic] impeachment party", space permitting. The invite didn’t explain at all what would happen at the party but I sniffed free food. Sure, I would "stand with Tom" as other emails asked me to do. Steyer turns out to be a billionaire former hedge fund manager turned born-again environmental activist and Democratic Party candidate funder and fundraiser. I adhere to the credo that “behind every great fortune is a crime,” so it didn’t take long to find an academic critique of hedge funds that concludes they provide no social value and while they provide returns on investments no better than average they do make some managers extraordinarily wealthy. ​

https://www.alternet.org/economy/hedge-funds-serve-very-little-useful-purpose-except-make-few-people-very-rich

In a subsequent email we were instructed to arrive at the Liberty View Ballroom at the Independence Visitor Center in downtown Philadelphia with photo ID. We arrived. The other partygoers were mostly middle aged and white like us but much better dressed. We were ushered into a room with waiters walking about offering hors d'oeuvres and an open bar! I schmoozed and conducted some interviews

I engaged Paul Shrader, a tall man with an “impeach trump” t-shirt, the only one I spotted sporting political attire. He was an ATF-Explosives certified military man who felt it wasn’t appropriate to continue service in an administration where 130 people in leadership positions do not, according to him, have security clearances. Working with the enemy? he asked disbelievingly. That’s the number one thing you don’t do and that the administration has been doing.

I also interviewed Lindy Li and Rich Lazer, both young idealistic Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District. The map was redrawn just today by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to correct court found Republican Party gerrymandering. Li, who came to the US from China when she was 5 years old, was propelled into politics when a shooter killed children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut on December 14, 2012. The date happened to coincide with her birthday and, in her words, damaged her “eternally.” She is vehement about diminishing the influence of the NRA in gun control matters and big oil on environment, climate change matters. Lazer had just resigned his position as labor liaison for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and opposes Trump‘s measures clamping down on sanctuary cities and calls for Trump’s impeachment for obstruction of justice in the FBI’s investigation of Russian state operatives’ interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. I also saw candidate Nina Ahmad who smartly drew attention to herself with a sign with her name on it.

Steyer eventually took a high seat at the front of the room alongside Pennsylvania State Representative Donna Bullock who spoke about how her constituents were being damaged by both Trumps policies and his manner. Seated at her right was Baltimore psychologist John Gartner who has been making the case that Donald Trump suffers from deteriorating pre-dementia and malignant narcissistic personality disorder. He speculated Trump might find relief, vindication and perverse pleasure in starting a nuclear war.

Steyer followed with remarks abut the need to energize college students to participate in the midterm elections. When he couched the situation as one of "absolute" right versus wrong, your correspondent impolitely rose before the third and final question that had been chosen from ones earlier submitted by attendees, to question Steyer about his extraordinary wealth. Steyer promised to be transparent. Considering how unrevealing he was in the party invitation, that’s a good thing.

Watch Impeach Trump Party video interviews with people and candidates for Congress here.