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February 2011
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April 2011

March 2011

Nuclear faith, nuclear fears- workmates differ on energy alternatives


Workmates Stephen McShane and Jarek Heljak (seated on other side of table) of Northeast Philadelphia talk about the nuclear plant crisis in Japan and energy generation alternatives. McShane has a Japanese friend whose parents in Sendai were far west enough to have only lost power. He expressed grave concerns about water and food contamination and favors solar or wind energy. Heljak, who says his native Poland relies on coal and has no nuclear plants due to the expense, favors nuclear. Starbucks Coffee, Chestnut Hill. Watch video interview here.

Racing, maneuvering miniature cars


Matthew Glover maneuvers his finely tuned miniature vehicles with a remote device at the Water Tower Center and elsewhere. Here HE has them doing sharp turns, climbs and leaps on and around the dirt hill next to the baseball field. The truck (off camera) that he is controlling in the photo above and accompanying video can reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour he says. His fine control appears to keep the vehicles well away from the few kids and dogs out enjoying a spring-like early evening. Watch video here.

Student cuts school to hear author

Sherman Alexie fans

Tim Wood and Kate Stover picked up their daughter Lydia during school to come and see a talk by author Sherman Alexie, whose works Lydia has been reading in school.Lydia likes how Alexie makes the narrator sound like a teenage boy in the "Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian." Mom likes how Alexie gives a window onto the experience of Indians on a reservation. Dad was entertained by hearing Alexie on the radio and thought it would be fun to see him.Chestnut Hill Library, Philadelphia, PA.

Video interview here

Chestnut Hill Newsstand News- cigarettes and handouts out, treats for A grades?


New owner, Chestnut Hill resident Stewart Graham is introducing Brings healthy snacks and flowers to the top of hill newsstand. And cigarettes are out.  Jazz pianist Chris Marsceill daylights behind counter

Watch part one video here.

The Newsstand, at the top of the Chestnut Hill West rail line, is considering continuing the tradition started by Jay, a former SEPTA worker, of handing out treats to students who come by and show A grades on tests. But handouts are out.

Watch part two video here.

Jazz pianist Chris Marsceill daylights behind counter,

Philly Roller Girls Jam at 23rd Street Armory

philly roller girls

Competing in the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, the Philly Roller Girls jammed their way around the track before an enthusiastic multi-generational crowd at the 23rd Street Armory Saturday Night.

Philly's Independence Dolls took on and over the Wilmington, North Carolina Cape Fear Roller Girls. In the second match, two Philly teams faced off: The Heavy Metal Hookers and the Broad Street Butchers, attired, respectively,with tiger striped shorts and blood-red stained butcher aprons.

Vanessa Jackson "Euro Thrasher"

Vanessa Jackson, a bartender, aka "Euro Thrasher" of the Hookers doubles as co-head of public relations. Five years ago, a girl working at the bar behind hers invited Jackson to a game; it "blew her mind" - she knew she had to do derby and now "Thrasher" cannot imagine life without it.


"Mercedes Bends" of West Philly and Germany, a student teacher of the German language,  was selling roller derby paraphanalia at the event because her teams, the Britches and nationally 4th ranked travel team Bells weren't on the bill. "Bends" progressed into the sport through a combination roller skate dancing, soccer and karate!  Skater "Gingervitis" introduced her to roller derby and in 2009 she earned best team Jammer and MVP awards.  Her profile quote is "German engineering meets American crash standards."

Watch video here.

Gasland comes to Philly - fracking for natural gas in the Delaware River watershed?


Punctuated by first hand accounts  of health problems caused by fouled air and water and scary stunts  by homeowners across the country setting their polluted tapwater on fire, the film “Gasland”, an Academy Award nominee,  documents the dirty production side of  what’s marketed as clean natural gas.

On Tuesday evening,  about seventy five people attended a showing  of the banjo-playing filmmaker Josh Fox’s movie at the Germantown Jewish Center, organized by the synagogue, Weavers Way, the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement and the Unitarian Society of Germantown.

Afterwards. a panel of scientists and directly affected individuals and activists from the Marcellus Shale region of upstate Pennsylvania described the adverse health and environmental  impacts of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas (“fracking” in common parlance, “frac jobs” in industry terms). SEE PANELIST INFORMATION BELOW

It’s a process that injects water combined with several of some hundreds of available chemicals, many known toxins such as benzene,  at high pressure, to release the gas.  Developed by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s Haliburton company, fracking was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water act by the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Under newly elected  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, it appears to be open season for the drilling of new wells in Pennsylvania which may extend into the watershed area which is the source of drinking water in Philadelphia. This is cause for serious local concern as expressed by Linda Cherkas, a Mount Airyite attending the filming  and the subject of a  Philadelphia city council forum the very same evening.

After the showing, attendees flocked to tables to sign letters urging President Obama, who voted for the 2005 Energy Act, to direct his representative on the Delaware River Basin Commission to vote against finalizing draft rules on gas drilling and urging the President to call a nationwide moratorium until an Environmental Protection Agency study is complete.

Watch video here.

linda cherkas

This account makes use of critical analysis of the film and counter-allegations of its critics in the New York Times by Michael Soraghan of Greenwire at

Continue reading "Gasland comes to Philly - fracking for natural gas in the Delaware River watershed?" »

Kilian's Hardware peddles $7900 wind turbine

kilian hardware's wind turbine

Kilian’s Hardware drew many onlookers when it displayed a  large wind turbine of about 7 feet in diameter outside the store. Kilian's Russ Goudy Jr. estimates the turbine might save a homeowner $100 a month in electricity bills, depending of course, on the wind, which needn’t be more than 2 miles per hour from any direction to generate current. The item retails for $7900 and, if this one doesn’t sell, Goudy may mount it on the store’s roof. Watch video interview here.

Judicial candidate collects signatures to appear on ballot

Drew Aldinger for judge

WHERE DO YOU STAND ON MERIT SELECTION FOR JUDGES? “One of the great things, I think, about the election of judges, is that it really forces the candidates for judges to go out into the different neighborhoods and learn things by going on the ground that they wouldn’t have to learn otherwise through the merit selection of judges." WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING ABOUT CHESTNUT HILL? "Well, Chestnut Hill happens to be the community in which I reside so I’m not really learning anything by coming out into these streets so much as what I know from living here. But I was born and raised in the city of Philadelphia. I went to magnet school for middle school. I went to Masterman for high school. I went from Saul and one of the great things about going to a public school, a magnet school specifically is that it gave me an opportunity to learn about folks from all different neighborhoods all throughout the city of Philadelphia.” Drew Aldinger, Democratic candidate for judge with daughter Hannah.

Watch video interview here.