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.
Zak Zaklad leads Mount Airy Tai Chi one early spring day outside at Ned Wolf Park. The group is learning the 37 form Cheng Man-Ching Simplified Yang Style Tai Chi. A self-desribed martial arts guy who began to find Karate's fast explosive moves hard on his aging joints, he's being doing Tai Chi for twenty years. "To my mind, Tai Chi is the most wonderful healing practice-body mind and spirit. Watch video here.
On a business trip 30 years ago to the west coast, Kim Neubauer's desire to go Israeli folk dancing prevailed over her wariness that it might be a meat market. Now with two grown children, she jokes how she approached her Israeli husband Avram of nearly 30 years now to dance and how, despite his stepping on her toes with his two left feet, she was drawn by the fun he was clearly having. Their fun continues at Israeli folk dancing at the Germantown Jewish Center in Philadelphia. Watch video here.
Aficionados gathered on Saturday at the Water Tower Recreation Center in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia to play "pickleball" to mark the sport's half century mark. The sport, a mid-way mash-up of ping pong and tennis, was made up 50 years ago by a Washington state U.S. congressman and some friends to amuse their bored families after a shuttlecock couldn't be found to play badminton. Pickleball is becoming increasingly popular among aging baby-boomers who enjoy racket sports but find it difficult to cover the ground required on a regulation size tennis court. Dan Wheeler founded the Northwest Philadelphia meetup group which now numbers over 500 members. Watch video and interviews here.
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.
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.
At Philadelphia's summer pop up park on the waterfront, kids splash in the fountains, a kayaker waters the wetland garden art insallation,families take photos and more at the harbor park
"The Spruce Street Harbor Park at the Penn’s Landing Marina is a two-month summer program throughout July and August that will bring a boardwalk, urban beach, fountains, and misting areas to the Delaware River Waterfront. The centerpiece of the project is a series of floating barges complete with lily pad water gardens, a pop-up restaurant and bar, and nets that will suspend visitors over the water. The full design of the project including the landscaping and programming will help evoke the maritime history of the area, and will celebrate the River’s industrial past and the bright future ahead for Philadelphia’s waterfront. Come down and enjoy a day or evening at the park with your whole family (that includes the pup, who's allowed in the park, but not on the barges)" from the Delaware Valley Riverfront Corporation Website.
Your correspondent volunteered for a week cleaning dishes and bathhouses at the Audubon Society Camp on Hog Island off of Bremen, Maine. He collected an old glass bottle encrusted with barnacles and these stories. See photo slideshow here.
A large aquarium in the lab building of Hog Island affords a micro view of aquatic life in coastal Maine’s tidal pools. Off the pier, swaying mats of seaweed. Watch video here.
“Puffin” Pete Salmansohn, Project Puffin outreach coordinator and director of Hog Island Educators week, describes how puffins were saved from near extermination from the Maine Coast on a boat trip out to Eastern Egg Rock Island where island sitters carefully monitor and study them. Along the way, seals sunning themselves on a small island, produce whoops and hollers among the day-trippers as they dive into the water toward the boat to investigate or perhaps be fed? Watch video here.
On Hog Island, early morning guided birding, a photographer and his camera level with the osprey nest, an osprey parent guarding two fledglings and later the same day foraying out and back. Watch video montage here.
“Seabird” Sue Schubel, Project Puffin Outreach Instructor and Hog Island Camp Coordinator, puts the finishing touches on a large batch of cream “puffins.” They will be served to oohs and ahs and camera flashes at the conclusion of the farewell lobster dinner for Educators week. The confectionary puffins, like their living counterparts, Schubel says, could be either male or female, as they look the same. Their breeding plumage, bright orange bills, mark them as mature adults. Watch video here.
Susan Spitzer Williams, a career guidance specialist participating in Educators Week on Hog Island, seen here rushing to get her camera to the photogapher and back in place for a group shot. In the video, she pauses before swimming to share one of the many ways in which she is superior to her dear older brother, Nick Spitzer, host of the widely syndicated, public radio program, “American Routes.” For one, she met and played pool with Muddy Waters and he didn’t. Watch video here.
A short, live action, instructional video for kitchen volunteers at the Hog Island camp on how to use the Hobart 4 sided, hood mounted, pass through, commercial dishwasher. Watch video here.
She’s been skinning road kill, preparing pelts, skull specimens and mounts for museums for some time but this was Carolyn Zaino’s first beaver. Discovered by a couple Hog Island staffers, the road kill became the object of Zaino’s artistry and industry in between stints in the Hog Island kitchen. Zaino is nonplussed by the gore and gruesomeness of her vocation as befits the pathologist’s daughter for whom, as a child, the hearts, lungs and brains in her father’s lab were naturally things of wonder. Her work lets her give these animals “another life” and educate people about them. Watch short video here. Watch full-length video here.
Lillian Bijl (left) and Tara Bucci, Mt Airy USA interns, are going around the neighborhood stapling up posters for the popular “Moonlight Movies” series this summer. Starting with an outdoor showing of “Frozen” at 8:30 pm on June 20th in the park adjacent to the Lovett Library at Germantown and Sedgwick Avenues , the series continues on Fridays there, and on Saturdays next to the Trolley Car Diner. At Lovett, moviegoers may patronize “Dining under the Stars” food trucks or bring their own picnic dinners. Mount Airy USA, Trolley Car Diner, the Free Library of Philadelphia, Valley Green Bank and a certain big box store sponsor the popular series of mostly G and PG rated films through August 16th. For more information, visit http://gomtairy.com/events/moonlight-movies-in-mt.-airy.html.
Meanwhile, Keven Wang was busy at his "Asian Name Painting" stall deftly brushing water colors with small, handmade leather brushes.
Outside the new "Greenology" store, Fritzie, Ken Hay and Harvey Gurst, described the mechanics and construction of koi ponds for aquaponics, growing greens and vegetables.
I returned in the windy but sunny late afternoon to hear a winsome young woman singing "I can't wait". Further up the street the peoples were boogie-ing to "Happy" and "She's a Good Girl" by the City Rhythm Orchestra.
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.”