Thrives despite non-verbal learning disability

Teacher overcomes nonverbal learning disability
It wasn't easy growing up for this educator. When he was about 10 years old, he got diagnosed with a non-verbal learning disability. He was not picking up cues and it was difficult and taking him longer to comprehend things. He also showed signs of ADD, tending to rush and not keeping things in their place. He says he is unique, nearly affected with Aspergers syndrome but not actually on the autism spectrum Academically, he was accommodated for the disability by being given special homework and prep materials and allowed more time on tests. But his trouble reading social cues kept him from being part of social groups at school and subjected him to bullying. At college, life became easier because his classmates were more accepting. Meanwhile. he has developed several coping strategies - writing things down more, using organizers and technology such as an electronic chip that lets his keys, should they be misplaced, communicate with his phone. He is finding that talking with others openly about his disability, such as with your correspondent, is helping him build his confidence. He has come a long way since he was younger and terrified of talking on the phone. Video Interview of teacher who overcomes non-verbal learning disability.

Inspired art teacher, inspired student art work

​ Art teacher clothesline exhibit
JS Jenks Academy for Arts and Sciences Teacher Jon Tietz is motivated to have his students produce good art. And to do that, he regularly integrates math concepts of patterns and perspective into student lessons and projects. He recently showed off eye-catching student works of art in a variety of media, some inspired by Greek classics, Alexander Calder or M.C. Escher, dramatically on display along the school's first floor corridor. Tietz has built 12 large collapsible wooden frames with horizontal wires for moveable clothesline type exhibits in the school. The frames can hold over 400 pieces, using front and back. When not in use, they are folded up and stored behind the auditorium stage. Walking down to his art room Tietz, pointed out the framed artwork along the stairway walls, part of the growing Jenks Art Gallery or "JAG," a reference to the school teams' mascot, the Jaguars.
Student clothesline art exhibit and video interview.

Street musicians serenade holiday shoppers in Chestnut Hill

Street musician chestnut hill coffee

Street musicians Tahir Jamal and Carty Brown (above) both grew up in Northwest Philadelphia. On a temperate fall day Jamal was outside Kilian Hardware improvising on his keyboard while Carty Brown, on the guitar, tried out instrumentals he just recently composed outside the Chestnut Hill Coffee shop. Watch music video and interview of Chestnut Hill street performers.

Street musicians chestnut hill

Tahir Jamal (drums) and Eddie Flotte (guitar) entertain passersby on Germantown Avenue. Watch video of street musicians playing What a Wonderful World.


First Christmas Trees πŸŽ„ πŸŽ„ πŸŽ„ of season arrive!

Drilling hole in christmas tree

First Xmas tree of season
Charlie Gangloff of Top of the Hill market and a helper hoist the first Christmas tree of the season onto an upright the Monday before Thanksgiving. They expect to receive 1000 trees this season, all grown in Bloomsburg Pa, 90 miles northwest of the city. This one is a 9.5 foot Frasier Fir weighing from 75 to 100 pounds. At the end of the season, Gangloff says customers can drop off their trees through a program of the CH Business Association which will donate them to nature preserves where they provide shelter for animals. On the day after Thanksgiving, Gangloff and helpers were busily drilling holes in the bottom of the trees using a special drilling contraption that makes sure the tree will stand erect when mounted on a post. Drilling Christmas tree so it stands straight.

Costumed horses, riders parade for Halloween at Northwestern Stables

​ Horse rider Halloween costume contest parade
"Welcome to the Northwestern stables Haunted Horses Event 2017. Today we're inside because it's raining but it's still a lot of fun. As you can see we have pumpkin decorating here, we have cupcake decorating and then the feature of our event is always the horse and rider costume contest which I believe is starting soon! Northwestern Stables is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit. We do a lot of equine-focused programs for children and adults. We have a riding program. We have summer camp. We have two 4-H programs for young kids and big kids and invite people to come and tour the barns and learn to be friends with and not be afraid of our large equine friends." Kristen Kavanagh, Stables Board VP and leader, pumpkin decorating

Costumed horses, riders parade for Halloween

Jesus Sect Confronts Harry Potter Fans

​ Harry Potter witchcraft Jesus sin
Brandishing bold "Jesus or Hellfire" and "Abortion is Murder" signs, Pastor Aden and his small flock accosted passersby who were out to enjoy Friday evening festivities starting off Chestnut Hill's Harry Potter Festival (video here). Aden pointed to their "True Love Warns" sign and likened their in-your-face action to a parent stopping their kid from getting run over by a truck. "Every sinner is going to hell except they repent and Obey Jesus Christ... Witchcraft is sin, right next to drunkenness, drugs, homosexuality, adultery, rape, murder." He believes the fictional Harry Potter novels are a stepping stone like marijuana leading to crack. A young teenage preacher among them lashed out at the public, calling a woman dressed as a witch a "witch slut" and others "faggot". The group was soon enveloped by counterprotestors hoisting "Hate has no home here" signs and intermittently breaking into chant. A police line formed between the preachers, backed up against the corner bank, and people who spontaneously assumed the role of counterprotesters. A lively, largely confrontational dialog ensued. One woman shouted out at the hellfire preachers, "Get Out of My Neighborhood" before moving on. The wizardly merrymaking carried along the rest of Germantown Avenue, largely unaffected by the Pastor Aden "Jesus or Hellfire" event.
Hate no home counterprotest

New tire laser reading at auto dealer

​ Tire tread laser reading hunter engineering

I finally got around to having my car's defective Takata airbag replaced and driving into the dealership, discovered that the service area had been completely renovated into a covered structure with multiple lances. Conicelli Honda in Conshohocken is one of the first in the nation to be equipped with new Hunter Engineering automated technology according to service advisor Russ Hauer. As explained by Hauer and demonstrated by Assistant Service Manager Marc Varallo, as you drive into the service area over a red plate, a laser in the device reads your tire tread depth. Simultaneously, a camera takes of a photo of your license plate; the system is tied in to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and brings up your Vehicle Identification Number so there is no need to present your car registration for manual entry. A valet takes your car and you then walk inside the waiting area where a service agent greets you and promptly presents you with a graphic printout of the condition of your tires and whether a tire rotation or replacement are recommended. See new auto tire laser reading technology and interview here.

Octegenarian trash picks large mattress, enlists help

Trash picking elder artist
81 year old ​Fiametta Rubin had been sleeping scrunched on a "horrible little mattress” when, on a recent morning walk along Evergreen Avenue, she came across a large plastic-wrapped mattress leaning up against a meter left out for trash pickup. As she tells it, a tall athletic looking man was getting out of a car and after quickly sizing him up she decided to ask him if he could help her move the mattress to her apartment down the street. He looked at her, paused, then told her to stand guard over the mattress while he went for help. Meanwhile she stood in the cold wondering if she was crazy or he was crazy or they both were. The accompanying video reveals why she was sleeping on a horrible little mattress, why the big mattress was put in the trash, how it is now serving as a bulletin board in her apartment, why she's not going to keep it, and what else she just trash-picked. Watch video of trash picking senior here.

Sword fighting for stage and film

​ Sword fight stage film
Participating in Renaissance fairs is what brought teacher Ken Nichols and student Ann Nicholson together in Nichols' current class through the Mount Airy Learning Tree, "Swashbuckling for Stage and Screen." At fairs around the country, Nichols would focus on swordplay, jousting and choreographing. He eventually earned certification in stage-fighting and now teaches the art at colleges and choreographs fights for theater productions. At the medieval fairs, Nicholson, alternatively focused on the dramatic portrayals and now hopes to add combat skills to her repertoire. Your correspondent signed up for the course fancying it might be fun to flourish a sabre like Errol Flynn. In class, we are learning and practicing an array of thrusts, slashes and parries with our blunt edged and tipped swords along with some footwork. We are working our way toward performing a convincing sword-fight scene and, with proper cuing, not getting hurt! Video of class stage-fighting with swords for theater and movies

Learning to sword fight

Selling roses in heavy traffic

​ Selling roses heavy traffic
Jason Cohen sells roses, 3 for $6, on a narrow island dividing the noisy, rushing north and south bound traffic on Stenton Avenue. For several years, an amiable elderly man from Mali known to your correspondent as Joseph, sold flowers at this busy location where Bethlehem Pike branches off from Stenton at Paper Mill Road. The flowers come from a wholesaler in Glenside and the vendors generally get dropped off in the morning and picked up in the evening. Cohen, from South Philly, has been selling flowers for a few years mostly in center city and came out to where Chestnut Hill borders Springfield Township about a month ago. Before that, he was making rolls in a bakery but it wasn't for him or he wasn't for them. How does he weather the 8 to 9 hour-long days? β€œI’m a people person so I just talk to people.” Watch video and interview of vendor selling roses in heavy traffic here