On October 7, 2021, a SEPTA bus traveling south on Germantown Avenue came into contact with the elbow joint of an aerial lift holding painters doing work on the “One West”midrise complex just above Hartwell Lane. The roof of the SEPTA bus appeared to be badly mangled and a SEPTA employee at the scene said that a “crane” had “fallen on the bus.” Matt Spector, VP of Operations for Bowman Properties, owner of the property, in a statement released later on social media, said that Bowman has owned and operated the lift to do maintenance on its properties for years without incident and that the lift was parked, in contact with the curb, surrounded by safety cones and stationary at the time of impact. “The lift didn’t fall. The bus ran into the elbow joint that was sticking out over the street. I happened upon the scene not long after it occurred, when the lift was still there,” posted a Mount Airy neighbor on social media. “Fortunately there were no major injuries,” added David Hoylman, Director of Leasing for Bowman. Spector declined to share security camera footage of the incident or elaborate about the injuries to Bowman personnel, passengers or driver or about precautions being taken to prevent future, potentially serious injurious, collisions of this kind. A right-to-know request has been filed with SEPTA. See more photos here.
A renewable energy advocate and practitioner, Aaron Stemplewicz showed off both his house and his Tesla Model 3 for the National Solar House Tour on October 3, 2021. On multiple sections on the roof of his house in Wyndmoor, Pa he has a 16 panel, 5 kilowatt hour system. In 2016, he entered a Power Purchase Agreement with Solar City (now part of Tesla.) It cost him nothing to install or maintain. Now he is exercising his contract option to purchase the system outright. He has crunched the data and figures the purchase will make money for him eventually.
Next year, he says, Volkswagen, Hyundai and other manufacturers are introducing electric cars with bidirectional batteries. These big batteries will be able to act as backup power to a house like his . (His current Tesla has only a grid to car battery.) He advises people who are thinking of getting battery backup for their house to wait and buy such an electric car if they can swing it. The upfront cost of an electric car is much greater but Stemplewicz did lifetime analyses of the total cost to maintain an electric car versus a gas-powered vehicle. He deduced that the cost of his Tesla was comparable to that of operating the Subaru Impreza he was driving before.Stemplewicz’ electric cost is based on a time of use scheme. He pays approximately 19 cents per watt at peak time and, the rest of day, about 4 cents. Between midnight and 3 am, it goes down further to 3 cents. He touts the advantage of being able to rely on his own solar power during peak time and, if he generates more energy than he needs, selling back to the grid at 19 cents. By charging his car at night he captures the low rates. “So it will be super cheap to charge the car and I sell back to the grid at 19 cents. Can’t beat it!”
Mark Mumbauer commutes 25 miles round trip each day with his 10 year old son, Gabriel, on an electrified carbon bicycle from their home in Mount Airy to work and school in West Philadelphia. (Click link for video interview.)The bike , their second, is a “Larry vs. Harry” model imported from developers Lars Malmborg and Hans Fogh in Copenhagen. “It’s our daily commuter, our Septa bus, our second car and our everything.” Through August of this year, they had ridden it every day except when conditions had been icy. Otherwise, for rainy or inclement weather, they put a cover on it. They had begun commuting on their first electric bike from Kensington where Mumbauer had lived for twenty years. Their new bike, which cost about $6000 has many features like an electric assist which helps up the big hills, Mumbauer says. “It works great as long as your battery doesn’t die.” It weighs about 40 pounds, has an all-aluminum frame, Shimano XT components like a mountain bike does and electronic shifting. It also features a ball joint, articulated steering, and dual disc breaks, front and rear. It can carry up to 250 to 300 pounds. Mumbauer relaters that UPS is using these models in Seattle. Drivers park their trucks nearby and load them up with packages to deliver downtown.
The Larry versus Harry Bullit is available from Firth and Wilson Transport Cylcles in Fishtown, Philadelphia. Kaspers Cargos in Maryland, Mumbauer says, sells these bikes to families with children with special needs at about cost
What does his son, Gabriel, like about the bike? The stickers. And sitting in the front over sitting in the back which he he had to do when he was in kindergarten; the view is much better. He even takes his violin along to school and sandwiches it between his legs and the frame.
Coin collecting employees of the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) make one of their last if not their very last appearance along Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill, northwest Philadelphia. A small team walks quickly down either side of the street going from parking meter to parking meter. One hand chained by the wrist to the wheeled collection box meteropens the round metal flap with a key and the other hand pulls out the cylindrical coin container, attaches it to the portal atop the box, twists to release the coins with a jingling sound and then inserts it back in the meter. Your correspondent surmised that a thief interested in stealing a box would not need too large a bolt cutter to cut through the chain but would likely be deterred by the physical brawl likely to ensue trying to part the money box from the human collector.
According to Phil Dawson, PPA is expected to begin removing the old meters and installing SmartMeter kiosks on the Avenue on Monday, June 7. The project is part of a city wide plan to shift parking fee collection to credit cards or through the smartphone app, “MeterUP” which allows a driver to be notified when their parking time is running with an option to refill remotely. The user can stop the time early so as not to be charged for unused time.The meters currently have a slot for some type of card in addition to the one for coins but they seem blocked/non-functional.
Alex Bartlett, archivist of the Chestnut Hill Conservancy located photographs in the Conservancy collections indicating that they were installed at some point between around 1950-1955. He writes , “The Chestnut Hill Development Group (later Business Association) [and] the Parking Company (later Foundation)were very much involved in dealing with issues associated with parking at the time, including the creation of the parking lots behind the stores.
Last year we were driving by Wings Field, a small airport just outside of Philadelphia in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania that was founded in 1928. We noticed some people siting on lawn chairs atop a small knoll directly across the street from the one landing strip watching the action. Just a few weeks ago we decided to follow suit.
The airport was busy, especially with what appeared to be practice or training flights. About four planes landed in approximately a three three minute interval as confirmed by the time stamp on the videos we took. One red and white plane, remaining within our sight, took off and landed at least four times. Some planes overshot the runway on their approach and had to make corrections. A couple others took somewhat sharp turns to line up with the runway and descended steeply. Twice a plane came in for touchdown, likely too far near the end of runway and ascended again without landing.
These practice flights were interspersed with commuter flights. After these landings we saw cars exit the parking lot. Occasionally we exchanged congratulatory waves with the drivers who only minutes before had been airborne.
The aircraft we saw were all propeller planes of different vintage. One larger plane that appeared to seat four or more had its wing above the cockpit , evoking the Spirit of St. Louis. It was followed by a shiny sleek new model that looked like a hornet.
Watch video of airplanes landing in quick succession here. For more information see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wings_Field
Wings Airport administration has been asked to contribute to this story and it will be updated when new information becomes available.
At the Philadelphia Folk Song Society's Fall Fling at the Green Lane Camp, Linda Catinella worked a shift operating the "taxi" (golf cart) shuttling participants to and from different workshops and events, and cheerily engaged fellow camper on her loops around the camp. Your correspondent attended the camp and in lieu of a direct interview with Catinella, captured her in action.
Christian Romig has plastered “Hillary for Prison 2020”, “Police Lives Matter” and similar bumper stickers on the back of his compact SUV. But most prominent are the banners for “States Rights” and “Jesus Saves”. On the window portion in large letters are “Homeles [sic] Outreach” and “Soul Patrol.” In this photo, Romig was taking a breather in the Wissahickon at the top of Forbidden Drive on a nice spring day. He grew up in Chestnut Hill and now lives in Erdenheim The push broom and coolers strapped atop his vehicle are part of his own personal ministry of providing socks, blankets, novena candles and such to the homeless in center city and sweeping their living areas. A terrible struggle with Lyme disease concluded his long term employ at the Woodwards’ Cresheim estate some years ago, he says. Overcoming despair, Romig has been acting on his longstanding concern for those in need by going on “soul patrol” for the homeless. “What Jesus has done for me, I want to show to others.”
Ricardo Jimenez always liked to sing along to the radio when he was young. one time in Italy, his grandfather called him over to the television to watch the three tenors sing and he became transfixed. The next day he joined the school choir. At 14 he entered conservatory full time. He has performed in his home state of Florida and in Nicaragua. He also pursued a degree in accounting for economic security. Six months ago he moved to Columbus, Ohio to be with his girlfriend. While he chauffeurs people around as a Lyft driver he has a keyboard in the front passenger seat. When he can, he practices warm-up scales and sings. He aspires to the greatness of Pavarotti and Caruso and other opera stars whose biographies he has read. He has just successfully auditioned for the local production of Madama Butterfly and heard the kind of words from a conductor he has been longing to hear, " You have an incredible instrument." After delivering your correspondent to the Blackwell Inn he was bravo-ed by passersby when he sang “Santa Lucia” outside. Watch Lyft driver sing scales in car in hope of becoming opera star.
Chloe Wang fell in love with the lower Schuylkill River after she put in the river down by Bartram’s Gardens. The boat was an English style flat-bottomed canal "punt" that she and other Haverford College students had just built earlier in the day during a breakneck 6-hour workshop led by the Brooklyn based activist artist boat-building collaborative, Mare Liberum, www.thefreeseas.org That was 2015. Now she works for Bartram’s Gardens in its community boathouse program. The initiative allows people to take out kayaks and rowboats on the river for free on Saturdays from April to October. Just this year the “punt” was pulled from storage and dusted off. Wang was invited by Mare Liberum to help paint a mural on the bottom depicting the river’s tides and the non-humans that inhabit the river environment for a new exhibit on the Hudson and Schuylkill rivers at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. Painted on one side is a black silhouette of downtown Philadelphia, on the other the silhouette of the South Philadelphia oil refineries: both border the river. Your correspondent engaged Wang in the art gallery some minutes before the Center’s annual Richard James lecture, honoring its founder, which this year featured experts discussing “Water: Peril and Promise.” Watch video interview of college student who built then navigated canal boat,then painted mural on bottom for nature center gallery exhibit on rivers.
As your correspondent was walking home, a guy operating a drone above was in the street opposite a white sports car idling in the driving lane. Maki Hristo has a mobile car detailing business. Before he and his partner started cleaning and detailing the sports car in a nearby parking lot they were filming the car while it was still dirty with a drone-mounted 4K camera for their aerial “before” shots. Both the “before” and “after” will likely soon be presented among the slick music videos showcasing their detailing talents on Instagram and YouTube @MakiMotors Watch car detailers make movie with 4k drone camera