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
Apollo Heidelmark, Manager at the Weavers Way Co-op Mount Airy store reports that sales of beef have grown tenfold in recent years. Your correspondent was intrigued by a notice in the co-op’s E-News that the store was giving away beef fat for free so stopped in to find what that was all about! Ideally, Heidelmark would like to sell the fat but the store just has too much of it on hand. The store currently buys two cows a month from a local farmer. The cows, which are born and grow up to between 900 and 1200 pounds within six months to a year are strung up after slaughter to age. The cow is then halved and shipped to the store as a “primal” along with the beef fat. The staff cuts the beef into popular steak portions. Since flank steaks are popular but there are only two per cow, the store needs to buy additional flank steaks separately from a larger cooperative Also, to meet demand for meat, the store has acquired meat grinders to convert trimmings into ground beef. Heidelmark attributes the dramatic increase in demand to the protein value of the meat and great desirability among co-op shoppers for the meat of grass-fed cows. (The meat the coop sells comes from cows that may be “finished off” with grains.) Heidelmark anticipates coop members will render the beef fat for cooking, use it to make candles or soap or feed it to birds, squirrels and raccoons. Watch video here.
Nearly 9 AM this morning your correspondent went to the corner of Ardleigh Street and East Highland Avenue, the time the water was due to cut off to all the houses on our block. They were making the switch from the new water main they had laid on Ardleigh Street to our existing water connector line beneath Highland Avenue. A foreman and the workers amiably indulged my questions and so I share what I learned.
The large crew was assembled working into tow teams on different sides of the intersection. First they took diameter measurements of the existing connector pipe now exposed lying 4 feet down. Excavation had preceded by a day or so. According to the foreman, connector pipes can range from 6 to 8 inches in diameter. I believe ours measured 8 inches. “Feeder” or distribution mains can measure 12 to 16 inches in diameter. ( Before excavation began, I saw large black pipes staged excavation along Ardleigh Street; the ones farther south between Southampton Ave and Gravers Lane, appeared considerably larger than the ones, the next block up, between Gravers Lane and Highland Ave)
A worker then began abrading the existing connector pipe at the point it would be cut. Meanwhile another worker was sawing sections of new pipe to adjoin the existing connector pipe on or street with the main. Pipes are now made of ductile iron said the foreman because they are stronger and more durable than the existing cast iron pipes. He relayed that the stretch of Ardleigh Street north of Highland Avenue was more challenging to excavate because there were a lot of stones in the ground. This Wissahickon schist is commonly seen in our 100 or so year- old homes. Your correspondent saw connector pipes being hoisted, removed then rehoisted into the trenches. A pump was put into place to pump out any water that might accumulate during the process. I could not approach close enough to see the worker affix the collars to complete the pipe connections.
Farther down Ardleigh street, after the main had been laid, workers were replacing connections from individual houses along the street to the new main with three-quarter inch copper piping by snaking it through to the main. The workmen looked like prairie dogs popping up and down from the small pits outside each house by the curb. A worker said people may complain that their street gets dug up three separate times because they might not understand the the multi step process. Temporary, large stone asphalt is used at the preliminary stages before the final fill. When all pipe laying and connection work is done, a layer of sand will be poured on top of the pipe followed by a couple feet of soil. Then comes a layer of stones, then a layer of concrete and finally, the street is repaved with the a finer asphalt material and smoothed down with a roller.
I editorialize: for the customer, the only inconvenience is a few weeks of stepping around construction equipment and navigating some muddy streets. A City of Philadelphia Water Department postcard stuck in our door advised us that water would be shut off on December 22, 2020 from 9 am to 4 pm but in actuality, the water was shut off well after 9 and restored much before 4. Considering the size of the project, interruption to our service was a mere few hours. The true value of a consistent supply of clean water for our health, for our lives, is far beyond the very modest water rates we pay. Rates are so low that some of us think nothing of watering our lawns water or filling our swimming pools with water that is good enough to drink!
UPDATE TO DEVELOPING STORY: PHILADELPHIA GUIDELINES ABOUT SIX FOOT SPACING WERE INCONSISTENT WITH STATE, BECAME CONSISTENT and ARE NOW INCONSISTENT AGAIN, APPLYING A LOOSER STANDARD.
On October 9, Pennsylvania updated May 27 guidelines but still required 6 feet between passersby and diners.
On October 15, Philadelphia revised the guidelines again to only require a 6 foot passageway, not a 6 foot distance between diners and pedestrians. This is no longer consistent with state standards.
October 22, 2020 Several restaurants in Chestnut Hill appear compliant with state standards, more appear to exceed current city standards as shown in the photo on the left.
Documentation on extended pages.
BUT then at least one restaurant proprietor must have friends in high places. It blocks the sidewalk.
ORIGINAL STORY: Approximately July 21, 2020
Living a block and a half away from Germantown Avenue we like to stroll up and down. It's enjoyable and it's healthy. It's one of the reasons we live here.
We understand Chestnut Hill restaurants, several which we patronize (and now do more take out from) are just trying to stay financially afloat. Due to Covid19 many have added extra outdoor seating both next to the building and at the curb. But If you were to walk past a few of these restaurants you might be 2-3 feet away from open-mouthed diners, a delicious opportunity to spread the corona-virus.
In his July 17 Inquirer article,"Eating out during the pandemic is a dilemma. Outdoor dining appears to be the most safe," Craig LaBan writes "It’s nonetheless unrealistic to expect customers hungering for a taste of quarantine escape to consistently respect boundaries, just as it’s naive to expect restaurateurs, with so little guidance or oversight to suddenly become altruistic public health experts, and not try to squeeze in a few more seats than they should."
No, Mr. Laban, there may be little oversight but the guidance is clear. Pa Governor Wolf's Covid-19 *mandate* about outdoor restaurant seating is clear. "Spacing must also allow for physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e. such that pedestrians on a sidewalk can pass with at least six feet of distance to customer)." Source www.governor.pa.gov/covid-19/restaurant-industry-guidance
Here's the math. The average width of an adult is 1.25 feet so a pedestrian would need 6 feet distance from a table on their left side and 6 feet on the right for a restaurant to be in compliance: In other words the width of the walkway to keep both pedestrians and diners safe is *13.25* feet.
I conducted a little informal survey of how wide the pedestrian passage is at Chestnut Hill establishments with outdoor seating. The most ample passage was outside Iron Hill Brewery with a width of 9 or more feet and staggered tables. The general manager was kind enough to pose to provide a sense of scale. Outside Campbell's Place, the pedestrian passageway is 6 feet or less and similarly so at establishments at the top of the Hill. Without addressing the governor's 6 foot mandate, Campbell's owner Rob Mullen writes that according to the City's Health, L&I and Streets Department Campbell's outdoor seating is in complete compliance. (It is not clear what seating arrangement the inspectors saw when they made their inspections.) October 23, 2020 update: the city now appears to have been enforcing its own looser standards, inconsistent with state standards).
Perhaps we should just cross the street, as a friend suggests, to avoid the restaurants. Perhaps the restaurants could take away just a few tables to be closer in compliance with the law. Perhaps I should watch the next episode of "Breaking Bad" on our daughter's NetFlix account and sulk about how the only real thanks health care workers want is the one they're not getting- people and businesses uniformly embracing good public health practices and regulations. Photo gallery here Crowded outdoor restaurant seating puts diners and walkers in danger of catching Covid-19
Documentation follows about changing and conflicting Pennsylvania and Philadelphia 6 foot distancing requirement.
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.
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.
Dancer and dance therapist Morgan Rakay defines dance movement therapy as the psychotherapeutic use of movement or integration of the mind, body and perhaps, spirit. In different contexts, it looks so different she says. When she works with children, her approach is very improvisational and she gets down on their level and responds to what's going on. She engages them in play and makes use of props, colors and music. She indulged your correspondent, a student in one of her adult dance classes through the Mount Airy Learning Tree in making a video. When I prompted her to show some movement, her inner therapist noticed that being put on the spot recalled her discomfort as a child when someone,knowing she took dance lessons, would say "Dance for us!" Watch dance teacher describer dance movement therapy and how she uses it with children.
At the Germantown Jewish Center, outside the "Little Shop" selling Judaica and gifts, Yona Diamond Dansky and Susan Weiss sat a table with their newly published picture books, inspired by their grandchildren.
While her daughter was going through treatment for cancer, illustrator Yona Dansky got the idea to write a children's book for her grandson, then 3 years old, who was affected by the household distress brought about by his Mom's serious illness. Dansky's daughter has recovered and Dansky, since retired, now tells the story of Mooshu the family beagle who was sad because he was getting less attention and had to speak up to be taken out for a walk. Finally, Mooshu cuddles in bed with her daughter, realizing it seems, that he has done nothing wrong and enters the "circle of compassion, comfort and closeness." Dansky hopes this picture book, "Mooshu Worries" will be helpful to families of young children dealing with a serious illness. Watch video interview of grandmother describing picture book about grandson and the family dog during her daughter's serious illness.
Susan Weiss' twin grandchildren have very messy hair and don't like it touched. With their grand-mom the girls like to bake challah, a Jewish bread characterized by large braids. So Weiss convinces them to let her make challahs on their heads. Becky's Braids, illustrated by Deborah Gross-Zuchman, tells the story. Watch video interview of grandmother's challah story about braiding granddaughter's messy hair.
Gabriel Nathan has a 1963 "Love Bug" VW that screams "Drive Out Suicide" on its rear window. The car is the same model as "Herbie", the anthropomorphic Volkswagen Beetle emblazoned with a large encircled number 53 in the 1968 "Love Bug" film by Disney. Having lost an Aunt to suicide, been plagued by intermittent suicidality himself and having worked in a psychiatric facility, Nathan hopes to bring awareness to the issue with his Herbie. He is on the board of Prevent Suicide PA " and trains people in the community, "natural gatekeepers" he calls them, in the QPR ("Question, persuade, refer") method. This short training equips them to perceive when others may be in crisis and what to say and do. Nathan and his Love Bug are the subject of a short documentary film by Bud Clayman, "A Beautiful Tomorrow: Taking Suicide Awareness on the Road" and can be followed on Instagram at @lovebugtrumpshate
Frank Rapoport, an attorney, started SamsaraGear some time after his daughter Alex took her own life at 32. Alex had gone to the Himalayas during her college days, fell in love with it, and converted to Buddhism. According to Rapoport, these experiences were the brighness in her life of struggle with an eating disorder. Rapoport retraced her steps in Bhutan and discovered the colorful textiles handwoven from sheep and yak hair, a thousand year old tradition of the native people. So impressed were his friends with a vest he brought back from a trip to Bhutan, Rapoport decided to make a go of an import business of clothes and accessories as a tribute to his daughter. In Buddhism "samsara" is the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
Related: "End The Stigma is a community that provides education, resources, and discussion about mental health. Your story matters." #EndtheStigma "Leave kind words for someone who may need them" at the Starbucks in Flourtown
One recent, hot morning, your correspondent came across a small group of hikers wearing red t-shirts, carrying backpacks and hoisting two large American flags as they approached an entrance to the Wissahickon woods. They are the the Philadelphia Chapter of Team Red, White and Blue (RWB) teamrwb.org John Bond, second from left, and Joel Stark, center, are both army vets. They are flanked by their civilian supporters, team members Caitlin Pollard, Joan Kim and Heather Jordan, Stark's sister (left to right). Team RWB, Stark explains, is "a veteran service organization based around the United States enriching veterans' lives through social and physical connections." This morning they were out on a "ruck march" with weighted bags. Stark opened his to show a weight that brought his pack's weight to about thirty-five pounds. Bond had college textbooks in his pack for weight. Pollard says,"I always like being part of Team RWB because it allows me to do something with people and not just for people," Stark triggered laughter when he added, "The idea is - we can sweat together."
Watch video interview with military veterans and civilian supporters who are team members of the Philadelphia chapter of TeamRWBV discussing the physical and social activities they sponsor to promote the well-being and health of vets.