From multiple sources your correspondent (“I”) had learned about and followed through with signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine through the Philadelphia government website. Shortly after I got my first vaccination! Here’s how it went down. A few weeks after registering I received a notice that I could make an appointment for a shot by filling out a form. The form took me step-by-step through what I needed to provide in the way of information about my health and age and and such. I was given an opportunity to select a time of day and then was assigned appointment date on March 15 at 9:30 am. By about 9 AM hundreds of us were already gathering in a long line along the western wall of the convention center. Yellow vested attendants prompted us to keep our distance and to have our identification ready. They also asked few preliminary questions about our health today. The line moved slowly but deliberately along to the entrance. There, a uniformed soldier asked to see our ID again and provide a couple particulars. Once inside, we were directed into long lines and turning a corner, were directed by a small cadre of military personnel assigned us to one of what seemed to the hundreds of tables where other personnel were administering shots. I said at the end of the table and another person at the other end. As soon as the marine finished administering her shot he had me roll up my sleeve to the shoulder and and politely shot me with what looked like a small orange click needle, handed me my CDC vaccination card and directed me to the area where I needed to sign up for my second shot. A jolly FEMA worker stickered us, those willing, with “I got my Covid-19 vaccine!” labels. I could have waited in line to schedule an appointment with personnel but I opened to scan with my phone camera the QR code that another worker offered me to do this online. This took me step by step through the registration system for the second shot. And then, we vaccinated, wound our way toward the exit where another attendant cheerily reminded us, “See you on April 5th!” As we exited the doors, hardly 20 minutes after we had first entered, I may have felt like waving my arms above my head in exultation but the woman in front of me actually did. Watch military personnel administer vaccines to people at FEMA mass vaccination site in Philadelphia here
Your correspondent participates in a Scrabble group which used to meet at some place where we could eat, drink, talk and, yeah, play some scrabble. We've made the switch to online Scrabble and although there are digital options for multiplayer scrabble games such as through POGO, we have been sticking to the tactile experience and playing via Zoom. There has been some contention about the play of certain words such as "jew" as a verb, especially since the "j" is worth 8 points! In the 2020 version, "jew" is gone as is "wop" and "wog" from the handy 3-letter word list.
Workers put in new water mains along Ardleigh Street north of Gravers Lane in Northwest Philadelphia. An excavator scoops soil to form a 5 foot deep trench. A section of pipe is then strapped to the machine and lowered gently into place. One of the workers says that before the line becomes active it will be filled with chlorinated water to “shock” it and then flushed with clean water. Water running through the new line will then be tested to make sure it meets quality standards before the switch is made to the new line. The existing pipe runs just adjacent to where the new pipe is being laid. Some days before a new juncture was put in at the intersection of Ardleigh Street and Gravers Lane. The pipes that had been staged along the street south of Gravers Lane appeared to be of a wider gauge than those to the north of Gravers. These photos and video were taken on December 3. On December 21, a worker hand delivered postcard size notices from the Philadelphia Water Department advising residents along East Highland Avenue that the water would be shut off on December 22 from 9 to 4 due to construction. Your correspondent supposes that this will be the time when the switch is made from the old to the new line. Watch video of construction hereFor more information visit PWD at https://www.phila.gov/water/wu/drinkingwater/MainBreaks/Pages/default.aspx
Since September, your correspondent has been posting polls on NextDoor to inform and learn from the community, to take its pulse and to move the community on issues near and dear to him. As few as four and as many as 330 people have voted in these polls with naming the bookstore and a ban or leafblowers being the most popular. See more about NextDoor at the end of this post.
Nov 3 POLL: DO YOU SUPPORT PROTECT THE VOTE RALLIES BEGINNING NOV 4?
Takeaway: Most support the rallies but after 16 people registered their choice, NextDoor shut down commenting but left one comment from a detractor standing. It may also have closed voting in the poll. Here's the poll link
Nov 2 POLL: WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?
Takeaway: Before the poll was taken down only hours after its posting, 17 people voted, many citing counting of mail-in ballots as top concern. 3 or 4 people had grumbled about the post as harmfully sowing anxiety.
WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?Our State Rep Chris Rabb and a local computer expert don’t believe our electronic voting system is secure. https://youtu.be/2n9uraDCSng
And there are news reports of confusion over PA’s mail in ballots counting https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/02/us/politics/Pennsylvania-presidential-election.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage . Some polling places are bracing for possible voter intimidation http://www.pikecountycourier.com/news/local-news/open-carry-and-voter-intimidation-what-does-pa-law-say-DC1370036 Of course you have voted or are going to BUT WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?
Mail-in ballots may not be accurately counted
Electronic voting system may be hacked
Irregularities at polling stations may negatively impact the count
Other (See my comment)
Nov 1 POLL: DO ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS?
Takeaway: the NextDoor algorithm may have made this the last visible post on anyone's news feed
Oct 27 POLL: HOMELESS IN MOUNT AIRY - IS THERE A RIGHT TO HOUSING?
Takeaway: 40% believe not or are unsure and since children are people, that means that nearly half are unwilling to say that children have a human right to housing.
Oct 21 POLL: WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE OCT 22 CHESTNUT HILL LOCAL?
Takeaway: A fair amount worth saying something about. (In the 10/29 edition there is a help wanted ad for an associate editor.)
Oct 21 POLL: DO GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS?
Takeaway: You will know your good neighbor by the good fence they build between you and them
Oct 9 POLL: DO YOU SUPPORT BLACK LIVES MATTER OR BACK THE BLUE?
Takeaway: Of 133 votes, less than a third believe it is possible to support both
Oct 6 POLL: WOULD YOU ATTEND A (VIRTUAL) CHESTNUT HILL TOWN HALL AND WHO MIGHT HOST?
Takeaway: There is only some interest in a virtual town hall and even less interest in the question
Oct 5 POLL: NAME THE BOOKSTORE, THE FINALISTS ARE...
Takeaway: By a considerable plurality but with only a third as many people voting in this finalists poll as in the original poll, the peoples really like "Books on the Hill"
Oct 2 POLL: Should the CDC require face masks?
Takeaway: The people have spoken; make facemasks the law nationwide
Sept 28 POLL: I'M SORRY: WHAT ARE YOU SORRY ABOUT FOR POSTING ON NEXTDOOR?
Takeaway: For the most part, NextDoor users stand by what they posted
Sep 25 POLL: IS COVID-19 POSTER AT POST OFFICE MISLEADING?
Takeaway: If you've posted to a NextDoor group with only 6 members don't expect more than 6 responses
Sep 18 POLL: POLICE PERMANENTLY PARKED TOP OF THE HILL? PROTECTING BANKS OR PEOPLE?
Takeaway: Most people believe the police presence at the top of the Hill benefits some combination of the public and small businesses but 25% believe they are there at the bank or banks' behest. The police have not responded to a request for clarification.
Sep 15: NAME THE BOOKSTORE, THE CH LIBRARY FRIENDS WANT YOUR IDEAS
Takeaway: 324 people and likely more with opinions is giving the Friends Board pause before deciding on a name
Sep 4 POLL: SHOULD WE BAN OR RESTRICT GAS POWERED LEAF BLOWERS?
Takeaway: About half or more people would consider a ban or restrictions on gas powered leaf blowers
Because Covid-19 has forced ophthalmologists to spend less time close to a patient's face, Thorp Bailey Weber Eye Associates have acquired a Zeiss Clarus Fundus camera to take wide angle high resolution digital images of the retina. Dr Amy Weber explains that in a traditional eye exam, after a patient’s pupils have been dilated, she needs to be in close proximity to the patient to do the exam. Now, with the images produced by the Fundus she can zoom in close enough to see every blood vessel. Dilation is only needed in special circumstances such as when the patient has a history of retinal tears or is experiencing flashes. Watch video interview of Dr Weber explaining how high resolution digital camera helps her keep safe distance from patient during exam.
The "Two Fish.Five Loaves" ministry of the New Covenant Church of Philadelphia gives out free food to the neighborhood and beyond. Many volunteers help with the distribution of nearly 1000 free boxes of food each week. During these pandemic times, demand is growing according to Minister Sandra. (Volunteers are welcome to sign up for either packing or distribution tasks at https://nccop.church/2fish5loaves ) People arrive in cars, on foot and on the bus to pick up food, no questions asked. The food is provided by Common Market, a non-profit food distributor sourcing product from sustainable local farms and Caring for [Friends], also a non-profit organization. This past Saturday, boxes were brimming with fresh peaches and blueberries. Separate packages contained dry goods and meat. For the recipient, the different food items are considered one box. "Two fish, five loaves" references a Bible story in which two fish and five loaves were brought to Jesus; with it, he fed thousands with food left over. Minister Sandra says the ministry is following out Jesus' instruction to Peter to "Feed my sheep." "That's what we are doing every Saturday, feeding his sheep." Watch video interview here.
Calvary Church of Wyncote Associate Pastor Tom Tweedle and some church youth were on the front lawn of a home in East Mount Airy making a video. The finished video will encourage teens to get active in the church's youth group which is restarting in September. As one young woman pointed a hose in the air to create a gentle arc of rain over the pastor's head, another took a video of him talking into the camera. "Baby Come Back" the 1978 song by Player played aloud in the background. Expect to see the video on the Church's website calvarywyncote.com/youth/and perhaps, also, on TikTok. Watch video Watch video here
White staffers of the Free Library of Philadelphia, in support of their Black colleagues, staged a protest outside the Chestnut Hill home of the Library Board Chair, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Pam Dembe, as part of a campaign to oust her for insensitivity and alleged racist comments and actions. In this video, a handful of Black employees watch from a corner across the street as the protesters hold signs and shouted chants such as, "When libraries are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!" Librarian Sunita Balija was one of the first to address the gathering of about 25 of her colleagues, who presumably had authorized time off from library work to attend the morning action. She excoriated the board chair, making a case for "The People vs. Pam Dembe" and running down a bullet list of factors to support the demand for her resignation. "Fact: Black staff are largely relegated to non-professional jobs including custodians, guards, and library assistants and therefore they earn seven-thousand, five-hundred, thirty-three dollars less than the median salary while White staff earn twelve-thousand more than the median salary." Watch video here.
AFSCME Labor Union (District Council 47) shop steward and Free Libary of Philadelhia staffer Perry Genovese explains the protest outside the Chestnut Hill home of the Chairperson of the Library Board.
"I'm here today for the Campaign for a Just Philly Budget calling on Judge Pam Dembe to step down..this is a call being made in solidarity with the Concerned Black Workers of the Free Library who successfully ousted" now former Executive Director Siobhan Reardon. Genovese refers to disparaging remarks made by Dembe and widely reported in the mainstream media. "She doesn't get anti-racism." Genovese says the Concerned Black Workers wanted the protest action taken to Dembe's residence because they hadn't been listened to. Genovese says the black workers were given a slap in the face when the Chair only responded to a letter from white staffers to the Board on behalf of their black colleagues, whose original letter to the Board she had ignored.
Driving along Northwestern Avenue past the top of Forbidden Drive, I noticed a shirtless, mask-less, older man wearing red boxer shorts and blue boxing gloves. Next to him was a heavy punching bag hanging from a post of the wooden Wissahickon Valley welcome structure. In our video interview, the man, who gave his name as XXXXXXX, indicated he was taking a break from six to eight sets of fifty punches each and obliged me by demonstrating his technique. He would not disclose his age, residence or occupation but asked "What's your story?" which I told him in brief. XXXXX indicated he was positioned where he was, at the busy entrance way to the valley park, so as to engage people. As he approached the car, challenging me "What are you afraid of?" but not giving me time to answer about Covid-19 concerns, I would press the button to raise the car window up but for a crack, with him standing just on the other side of the window. And so our conversation continued with me lowering the window as he backed away and raising it again as he approached, railing about fear and telling me I wasn't alive, wasn't living. Unsurprisingly, he asked what I thought about President Trump. And, uncharacteristically, I abided by the maximum "If you don’t have anything nice to say..." and said nothing. XXXXX answered my silence with "I'd take a bullet for Trump." Watch video interview here.
NOTE: At the time of this interview, Philadelphia had a mandatory face mask requirement due to Covid-19 in public places where it is not possible to consistently maintain a distance of six feet from other people.
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, most businesses along the Germantown Avenue business corridor (excluding some of the vacant ones ) had been securely boarded up in the wake of widespread protests and looting elsewhere in the city. The Weavers Way Coop market, which has a wide expanse of windows, was a notable exception. (The Coop's General Manager, Jon Roesser, explains its decision not to board up below.) When asked why he was boarding up the Wells Fargo Bank a workman replied "It's a job. Do you think I like doing this? It's sad."
Joe Pie of McNally's Tavern, was putting a new coat of dark green paint on the entrance door (No boarding up to do because the tavern hasn't had windows on the narrow facade for more than fifty years.) He said that businesses along the Avenue had been "cased" the day before and was very alarmed should any photos be posted on social media. Bohemian Pink owner Monika Schermer said her store was boarded up based on the advice of the Chestnut Hill Business Association and the 14th District Philadelphia Police. Schermer directed questions to the Business Association. Its Executive Director Phil Dawson could not be reached for comment.
Outside the Fresh Market at 7 pm, a market employee stood outside watching two workmen prepare to board up the doors. He relayed that the CVS, farther down the street, had been broken into. Talking on the phone, one of these workers could be heard saying he would be back at the store in the morning to take the boards off so the store could open for business. "Hopefully I'm going to be putting these boards on and off for a couple days."
Large, delicately lettered chalk messages have already appeared on some of the boards. "Love lives here" on one and "Community" on another. Hillary O'Carroll proprietress of Isabella Sparrow, captured in a photo in the below tweet, is behind the heartwarming words. She says she wanted to add non-political messages of love and home by writing on the the boards. The one shown above "Black Lives Matter - donate: NAACP.ORG & phillybailfund.org" she attributes to an employee of Caleb Meyer.
On the Tailored Home store, O'Carroll's message is simply "This is home"
Comments of John Roesser, GM of Weavers Way Cooperative Association
We received a voicemail on our landline from Pennsylvania State Representative for the 200th district Chris Rabb (pronounced like "dab") with an invitation to try out, this past Friday, Philadelphia’s new ES&S voting machines at the Wadsworth Branch Public Library. Your correspondent planned to first attend a yoga class at the nearby Lovett Branch Public Library, then head over to Wadsworth to get acquainted with the new machines which have been in the news. See Philadelphia's New Voting Machine Contract in Jeopoardy... Coincidentally, PhD renaissance man, yogi and fair election activist Josh Mittledorf was substitute teaching. After class, I asked Mitteldorf to explain his concerns about the new machines. He pointed out the ES&S company’s sordid history and claimed that the software it uses could possibly skew results; even election officials purchasing the machines do not have access to the software to verify its integrity because, in legal terms, the software is considered a trade secret.
I headed off to Wadsworth where a representative from the Philadelphia City Commissioners' office walked me through how to use the new machine and referred me to Rep Rabb for any additional questions. The voting process is initiated when a voter inserts a physical ballot into the machine. On a large display screen, the voter then touch taps the candidates they want and, when done, the printed ballot with the voter’s choices shows up behind a window panel for the the voter to approve before submitting their vote. Predictably, on the demonstration machine, your correspondent voted for Democrat Party candidate Nick Foles for President and Green Party Candidate Julius ("Dr. J" Erving) for U.S. Senate. Then it was time to buttonhole Rabb.
Interview with Rabb
BR (your correspondent, Brian Rudnick): Are these machines secure?
CR (his Pa State Rep Chris Rabb): No.
BR: How do we know the election is not being stolen?
CR: We don’t.
BR: We don’t? Well that’s not good.
CR: I agree. Just like any system, Any system is imperfect.
BR: Any system- even a paper ballot system…
CR: Well paper ballots can be stolen…
BR: Why don’t we have access to the software in the systems?
CR: I don’t know.
BR: You’re our representative, can you ask?
CR: The City Commissioners’ office is here so you can ask directly.