When Philadelphia Inquirer syndicated columnist Trudy Rubin called on a young man to pose his question after her talk, "7 years, 4 months and counting: the Syrian Civil War" at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Philadelphia on Saturday evening, she addressed him by name. In an interview afterward, M. Eisa, a Syrian refugee, who had been living with church Reverend Jarrett Kerbel, echoed what Rubin had concluded- that the presence of foreign forces from Russian, Turkey and Iran fighting in pursuit of their individual agendas bode very poorly for the civilian population remaining after millions of Syrians have fled. As Rubin put it, they are fighting over Syria's dying body. Rubin believes the United States missed an opportunity to militarily back non-Islamist rebel forces many years ago and a United Nations powerless against Russia's security council veto, has sealed Syria's fate. M Issai says he tempted fate in 2013 when he stayed amidst regular bombing by the Russian supported Assad regime of his Homs neighborhood in order to finish 9th grade exams. He then fled with his mother to Turkey via Lebanon, received a scholarship to attend Friends Select High School in Philadelphia in 2016 and now is bound for Bard College in upstate New York where he intends to study philosophy. Of friends and family, he has lost a lot. "I don't think there's a single household in Syria that hasn't suffered losses." Grandparents and aunts who remain are facing economic hardship and food shortages. Watch video interview of young Syrian refugee describing escaping bombings by his own government and taking refuge in Turkey and U.S. and the plight of his remaining countrymen and women and kin.
In 2013, Kim Hyunh got so tired of hearing about fantasy football from the guy she was then dating that she joined his league. He was the league commissioner and she went from on to beat him - and perhaps, not coincidentally, break up with him. Now she's a league commissioner herself. Her teammates,all guys, liked her idea of having a rubber ducky race to determine draft order and of having a weekly challenge. And how could they veto the "Kim"missioner? She wishes more girls would play. Watch video here. And in this video she explains how fantasy football works and her current role as commissioner of her own fantasy league, the "Ducking Awesome League."
Nine hundred dollars is how much Kabria Johnson’s friend told Johnson she made in one day driving for the ride-sharing service Uber. Out on just her third day on the job, the pretty, twenty-one year old “Uber X “driver says she is not afraid for her safety. She knows where to hit you. And since Uber tracks the time and distance through GPS and charges the customer’s credit card, drivers don’t need to carry cash.
Johnson holds down a job in customer service with U.S. Airways and is in the process of being approved, also, by the competing ride service, Lyft. She is saving up to pay off a loan on her other car, get an apartment and buy furniture. And she’s planning a big cookout for herself and five younger siblings this coming Mother’s day which, sadly, will be their first without their Mom who died last October.
It was a smooth ride in Johnson’s newly acquired 2006 Toyota Prius with over 200,000 miles on it, but seeming in good condition, that she uses exclusively when driving for Uber. She was unfazed when another driver rolled down his window at a stop to point out that one of our tires appeared to be flat. We pulled over into a gas station briefly to get some air. Johnson says she has Triple A service and family all over the city to come to her aid if need be. As for me, her rider, Johnson smiles, if she hadn’t been able to get me to my destination, another Uber driver would likely have been summoned to scoop me up for the final leg of my journey within a matter of minutes.
A father and son "mine" bitcoins and litecoins 24/7 in their unfinished Chestnut Hill basement.
These "coins," son explains, are virtual currencies not under the control of any government. As such, the world of digital money has attracted illegal activity such as the Silk Road online black market that the U.S. government has shut down for dealings in drugs.
Rocky relates that bitcoins are convertible to dollars and that when China recently clamped down on their use, the price crashed from upwards of $1200 per bitcoin to $700.
These exchanges depend upon an army of computer geeks called miners (like the duo) to verify transactions through the use of computers installed with software that solves complex mathematical formulas. As explained in an Internet video, miners may work together in "pools".
The son enjoys both the technical challenge of configuring and adding hardware and the money-making aspect of mining. A friend of theirs, he says, has earned $100,000 with a shed full of equipment. For now, the duo are transitioning from bitcoin to litecoin which uses the same peer-to-peer network protocols as bitcoin but can be mined using consumer level graphics cards. They currently earn about $16 a day from running their set-up around the clock out of which $2.50 a day covers additional electricity charges.
Dad is not new to home industry; he also keeps bees.
Amy Hsu came by our house in her car to pick up a tall bookcase. She had seen my post on the popular Northwest Philly Freecycle website, where people give and get things –for free!
I had trash-picked the sturdy bookcase just a couple days before but then realized I could not use it as planned. Hsu says her husband may use it for his beer brewing containers and supplies. Hsu is an enthusiast of the free online exchange. Through notices on the website she recently gave away a couch and a chair and dug up a plant from an offeror’s yard. She likes when she gets “repeats” like the woman who had given her cinderblocks who, thinking of her grandkids, responded to Hsu's offer of stuffed animals.
NW Philly Freecycle, a moderated website, was launched in 2004 by Meenal Raval and the Mount Airy Greening Network (MAGNET) as an offshoot of the citywide Philly Freecycle. It boasts over 5000 members and in April alone hosted 610 posts, a combination of “Offer”, “Wanted”, “Taken” and “Curb Alerts” for all kinds of household items imaginable.
Angie Brown and a friend react to the 30 day jail time imposed on the defendant in the notorious New Jersey spycam case. Watch here. "[Dharun]Ravi, 20, of Plainsboro, N.J., was found guilty by a Middlesex County jury in March of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, and hindering prosecution for using his laptop to secretly live-stream an intimate encounter between his Rutgers roommate, Tyler Clementi, and another man two years ago"from Philly.com
Sherry Canary, of the musical group “Hot Club Canaries” takes DJango Reinhardt songs and puts lyrics to them. And she writes her own songs in the gypsy jazz idiom. She does a lot of collaborating as a member of an Internet group FAWM February Album Writing month., http://fawm.org Members compose 14 songs in 28 days and listen and comment on each other’s work. Participants include all kinds of composers from housewives to professionals. Canary also participates in “skirmishes” - writers have only one hour to write the music, the lyrics, produce it and get it online. Watch video interview and singing here. In another video, Canary sings her composition satirizing the world's dictators, "Coffee with Gadaffi." The Hot Club Canaries perform at the Mermaid Inn on Thursday May 10, 2012
“Nayus, son of Hamuka. You wish me to talk into your box, yes? There’s a man in there. He captures the moment as though it was real for all the world to see. He comes to the festival to partake in such beautiful festivities. Look at the lovely, lovely lasses as they play their music. Nayus likes to do such… Nayus is actually from a place called Tamriel. Yes, for you see he was transported here. Oh yes, my name is Nayus, apologies yes. Nayus, son of Hamuka is my name. I am from a place called Tamriel. A lot of people don’t understand what Tamriel is. Maybe you have actually heard of Skyrim, yes? No, you have not heard of Skyrim? It is a place really popular among these people, they understand. Nayus, on his last trip, he encountered, how you say, the dragon priest, yes. And the battle raged on for hours on end. And finally, Nayus finally got the upper hand on the dragon priest and the dragon priest got weak and tired and ripped open a portal and sent Nayus through the portal and here is in this realm amongst all the lovely young women and lasses and lads. And now I am here but I really wish to return to my home even though, like I said, the lasses are truly beautiful. Yes, that is who- Nayus…” Nayus, son of Hamuka, of Tamriel of Skyrim, in the realm of the Japanese Sakura Festival, Fairmount Park Horticultural Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Flourtown Bakery just started a Facebook page announcing its specialties like Flag Day cakes, Father’s day shirt cakes and strawberry shortcakes. On a sign at the checkout counter announcing the Facebook page is a QR code (a unique, small black and white checkered square) Customers can scan the pattern with their smartphones to jump to and follow the Bakery on Facebook. Beth Alio, Flourtown Bakery, Montgomery County, PA. Watch video here.
Suzanne Poncen talks about how she met Dan Jessen, not pictured, on Match.com at a party in Germantown. Watch video here
Julia Staico of Chestnut Hill, a stylist at the Hair Cuttery in Flourtown, is in love. Watch video here.