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.
Save A Lot grocery stores will drive you home after you shop and, as one sly driver pointed out, will drive your groceries home, too. The driver says he's back at his store for another trip every ten minutes. A $60 minimum purchase is required to hop aboard and your destination should not be more than 2 and a half miles from the store. Your correspondent conducted this interview at the Chew Ave and Washington Lane store, formerly home to a Bottom Dollar food store, where cherries were on sale for $1.99 a pound and tasty they were but cannot vouch for whether they were ethically sourced. Watch video here.
James drives for Lyft so he has the time to talk to his passengers about credit and pitch his company's services (FES Protection Plan) for credit restoration for a monthly payment of $87, and to pitch identity protection through Lifelock and to hook people up for trust/will attorney services and insurance products. Watch video here.
Adil Tijer, an immigrant from Morocco, drives a “black car” for Uber, a service which connects riders with drivers through its mobile apps. On your correspondent’s first trip with Uber, Tijer explained driver licensing, passenger insurance and Uber’s rating system. But for the occasional late night drunk, Tijer’s rating might be a perfect 5-star. The rating system works both ways. Uber drivers get to rate their riders, too, and drivers can refuse to accept a fare. Watch video ride and interview here.
Tijer worked previously as a medical assistant and pizza deliveryman. He visits friends and family back home every year and describes his country as a democracy, tolerant of different religious practices, where the people love their king. Tijer, now an American citizen, came to the U.S. as one of the quota-set 2500 Moroccans who won the lottery some years ago and hopes to own his own store one day. He lives in Northeast Philadelphia where he says there is a sizable Moroccan community. Watch video interview here.
Rob Porter used his large 90s Cadillac to haul his Daihatsu Midget II pickup truck from Cheyenne, Wyoming to the east coast to tool around in while he’s in the area on business inspecting welds at power plants.
Chris Levey, a saturnine looking yet pleasant 3-day a week volunteer at the barren- looking Travelers Aide kiosk at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia says that Travelers Aide doesn’t offer all that much. The most common question is where the bathroom is followed by where the BOLT bus location is. People also ask about tourist destinations and Levey directs them to the Independence Hall area and offers a map.
Not infrequently Levey gets approached by people who don’t have money and need a place to stay. Men he sends to the Roosevelt Darby Center, women to the House of Passage, emergency housing shelters. They relate all kinds of stories, he says. A guy the week before said he had come for a job interview, didn’t get the job and had no money to get home. Levey supplies these down-on-their-luckers with a token to get to the shelter.
While taking a leisurely, easy bike ride along the relatively flat Forbidden Drive, my daughter and I were amazed to see a young man atop a unicycle on the opposite shore of the Wissahickon Creek, tooling up and down a hilly, narrow trail. High-schooler Peter Hildebrandt took up mountain unicycling after a knee injury ended his running career. With his high end, fat-tired, disc-brake equipped mountain unicycle, he meets regularly in the Wissahickon with other unicyle friends and enthusiasts and is preparing to compete in the 2013 North American Unicycling Convention and Championship to be held in Butler, Pennsylvania this coming July. Watch video here.
Officers Manuel Lorenzo (left) and Carmello Oquendo (right) were patrolling Chestnut Hill along Highland Avenue astride their mounts. Lorenzo was riding Ruben, a black coated Dutch warmblood and former dressage horse and Oquendo was riding Ranger, a rescued Belgian draft who had been pulling farm carriages. The policemen are two of the 12 officers riding horses from a stable of 15. They patrol throughout the City, says Oquendo, and could be in Chestnut Hill one day and in Old City, the next. Although there were a couple hundred in the unit in the 1950s and 60s, the hope is for the unit, re-introduced in 2010, to build back up to a more recent level of 30 riders. Although the officers can perform all regular police functions, their main purpose is deterrence and the officers equate a mounted duo’s effectiveness to that of 20 officers walking a beat. The horses are trained to deal with different conditions, disturbances and people. Ruben and Ranger were receptive to pats on the neck and the officers say they are good for community relations - the public loves them. The Philadelphia Police Foundation website accepts donations at http://www.phillypolicefoundation.org/projects/mountedunit/ to rebuild the mounted patrol. Watch short video here.
A couple guys in wetsuits were out in the surf kitesurfing on a late afternoon off the Seaside Park beach. The surf was rough and just the day before two swimmers had drowned in the vicinity. I spoke with one as he was packing up his kite for the day.
15 knots of wind or more make for good surfing he said, so it was nice out there. They will go out in winds up to 40 knots. When the winds are stronger they use smaller sized kites. The key to staying afloat is keeping the kite powered up all the time in the power zone, an area of the sky, usually downwind, that has a lot of well, power in it. You have to be able to maneuver the kite in two directions because you need to bring yourself back in. The kite gets inflated with air so if it lands in the water, it doesn’t sink. They use surfboards, sometimes, but today were using “twin tips” which can go in either direction. That way you can go right back out after coming in without having to make a turn.
The sportsmen showed great skill tacking back and forth and jumping waves. Sometimes they’d approach a wave at an angle that would launch them in the air for several seconds, sailing aloft at what appeared to be 10 to 20 feet above the surface before coming back down. Seaside Park, Island Beach, New Jersey. Watch video and interview here