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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? “I’m a people person so I just talk to people.” Watch video and interview of vendor selling roses in heavy traffic here


Huge machine lays asphalt street

Huge pneumatic paver lays asphalt street

Watch video and interview here. An operator high atop a pneumatic asphalt paver was assisted by two "back men" (otherwise called a screed or back end operators) at the rear of the machine on a little platform slightly above street level and by a crew of about 10 holding rakes, "lutes"and shovels laying down new street "mat" in northwest Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill. One back man who has been with the streets department since 1997 explained how this new half a million dollar computer-enabled paver is much superior to the 1996 model he originally worked with. He can monitor the job on a 7 inch display as the paver lays down what appears to be a couple inch thick layer of hot steaming asphalt and smoothly seam in a new section to an existing one, in automatic or manual mode turning the levels. It's important to regulate the speed, depth of material and and create a proper crown proper sloping down to the curb edge for rainwater to drain off. And a good back man, he says, makes less work for the foot crew who finish off the leveling work.


Vet with PTSD dog carries flag on solo walk for fallen comrades

Vet walks for fallen comrades

Watch video interview of Iraq war vet on long solo Memorial Day walk with PTSD dog. On Memorial Day, Iraq war vet Bobby Caroselli, gears up and takes a trek to commemorate his 28 fallen battalion comrades until he can walk no further. One arm and shoulder cradle the pole upon which a large American flag is hoisted while the other hand firmly holds the harness of his PTSD German Shepherd, "Corporal." He is outfitted in a camouflage flak vest, as is his dog, and his backpack bears the names of his fallen mates. He served in the army infantry during the 2007 surge and, only 19 at the time, he says he grew up fast. When asked about his combat experience he relates only that he had "seen enough." He remembers his buddies fondly and, recalling their humor and imaginative pranks, a smile comes over his face. Your correspondent struck up a conversation with Caroselli after he had paused near the war memorial atop the Water Tower Recreation Center fields. He and Corporal then resumed their solitary Memorial day march under gray, drizzly skies, the red and white striped flag flapping and snapping smartly behind.


Leaf blowers noisy dirty and unhealthy

Leaf blowers noisy, dirty and unhealthy

​Watch video here.

Our immediate neighbors' leaf blower landscape man is our bane. I know when he and his crew has visited: our front side and back walk areas are much covered in grit and leaves. We live in very modest size twin houses on an urban street graced with large sycamore maple trees. We have very little land area and about 15 feet between non-adjoined houses. The landscaper makes heavy use of a gas powered leaf blower

At times we are unfortunate enough to be at home when he comes. The blower creates a roar from which he is protected by large ear muffs- but not us. On his last visit, I left the house and he was blasting away plant and soil specks more than an hour later when I returned. In addition to being gratingly loud, the blower stirs up a large amount of particulate dust which may contain mold, bird feces and what not, a definite health hazard, which is why some communities have banned them. See New York Times article. I wrote about the issue for WHYY Newsworks back in 2010; click here.

We appreciate that our neighbors want to keep their garden areas looking attractive. One a lawyer, the other a doctor, keep their windows closed with the heat or air conditioning usually running so are not personally disturbed by the noise, leaf and dust storms created by their landscaper. The lawyer, who complains about breathing problems and asthma is not going to start doing her own modest yard work any time soon. The doctor appears not to have the time or inclination to do her own likewise modest yard work.
 
Sadly, their indifference to our distress prompted me to call our City Councilwoman's office. I described the noise and pollution problem to an aide and asked, "Is there anything I can do?" She answered "Not as long as they are doing their job." I then asked "Is there a noise ordinance" and she answered, "No." I believe the aide is wrong on both counts.
 
I've begun a little campaign by posting signs to encourage our neighbors on the block to refrain from garden power equipment use on their small yards and, instead borrow our rakes and push mower!
 
To be continued...

No to leaf blowers

Leaf blower grime


Geese chasing dog

Geese chasing dog

​Each day, Lisa Backe, "Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator" of the Goose Squad, LLC travels 100 miles and opens the door to her car at 28 different sites to allow her dog to chase away unwanted Canada geese. Your correspondent ran into Lisa and her small, friendly, rescue dog, Rita, on their second trip that day to the Morris Arboretum in Northwest Philadelphia, zipping around in a small car to the geese hotspots. It's a matter of harnessing the dog's natural instincts to chase the birds, Backe says. Goose Squad owner Joe Rocco estimates that seventy percent of the geese in our area reside here year round. Grazing on plentiful open grassy, areas each bird can leave a pound and a half or more of droppings a day. "We get the flock out of here" is the company's motto. Alas for your correspondent on this particular afternoon, the flock had already gotten out of there so there are no action shots in the video. Watch video interview here.

Goose Squad


Mail Carrier wears tank top to beat heat

Mail carrier beats heat in tank top

Kalam Shaheen a new United States Postal Service mail carrier hasn't yet received an official uniform allowance so when a guy came around the Post Office [in the hot weather] offering workers tank tops emblazoned with the Postal Service logo, she bought one out of pocket. Now she believes she is starting a style trend among "the girls."  Your correspondent recalled seeing her making deliveries Sunday, the day before. Shaheen says that substitutes are required to work Sundays, delivering Amazon packages. She knows she has a lot of hard work ahead of her the next couple years but as someone who hasn't attended college. she is hoping to turn this job into a career as it offers benefits and a pension. Watch video here.


Meet these local soapmakers

They make soap and more

Watch video here.

Tim Minor and Theresa Peoples who originally were in IT fields started a bath and body business 14 years ago because they wanted soap where good ingredients like shea butter, coconut and olive oils were the primary constituents. Theresa concocts the soaps and Tim builds the molds to hold them. They experiment with new products: pureed cucumbers work just fine for their "cool cucumber" but not all fruits are amenable to the hot, lye using process. The couple also runs a mobile spa, giving massages and applying their fragrant essences. They were outside of Weavers Way Coop, one location where they market their locally produced products, as part of "meet the makers day."


She helps people find work

Helps people find work

Sandy Ellis-Johnson, an interviewer at the Pa Career Link in Germantown (Philadelphia) office for helping people get jobs is the first staffer a person meets.  According to Ellis-Johnson, employees laid off from jobs may find they do not have up to date skills necessary for re-entering the job market. Like the now unemployed baker who has been doing the same job for 30 years. The busy center holds workshops throughout the week on topics such as how to use the job gateway website to find jobs, resume writing and do's and dont's of interviewing. Clients may also be assigned a workforce advisor for one-on-one help in landing a job. From a list, Ellis-Johnson reads off the "hot" jobs these days - merchandisers, auto mechanics, CNAs, registered nurses, forklift drivers, administrative assistants, cooks. She enjoys meeting people from all walks of life, she relates. "We're all basically the same. We all have to find a means of income and we're all looking to just do better." Watch video interview here.

Bethlehem and Sad Patrick play music for public

Bethlehem and Sad Patrick

If you've ever had a butterfly collection, "Sad Patrick" says, you know the butterflies didn't die naturally- they were either stuffed in a jar and suffocated or stabbed with a pin. The realization gave Patrick the idea to title a love song, "Jar and Pin." He accompanies vocalist partner Bethlehem on the guitar at an impromptu concert on Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, one recent summer Saturday afternoon. Watch music video here. The duo cover "You are So Beautiful" here.

Bethlehem and Sad Patrick