New camera helps eye doctor maintain safe distance

Dr amy weber clarus fundus

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.


A community takes sides: Back the Blue or Black Lives Matter

Two separate rallies, one for Black Lives Matter and the other for Back the Blue both kicked off at 10:30 am on October 10, 2020 in Springfield Township, Montgomery County Pennsylvania in two nearby township parks. Was it coincidental??? Watch short video of rallies here.  An unscientific poll of 99  respondents on the NextDoor app indicates that people who support both causes are in a distinct minority, about 27%. It also indicates 76% support Black Lives Matter and  47% Back the Blue. Caveat: there is always the question of what people are thinking who are neither participating in such a poll or even on the social media platform where the poll was conducted. It's also worth noting that people may support the causes espoused without ascribing to a provocative movement or slogan.

ND back blue  black matter poll screenshot
As a member of the minority who espouse both causes, your correspondent attended only part of each rally so the material here is certainly not comprehensive and due to personal history, not necessarily well balanced. Photos of both rallies here.

A-little-girl-with-a-back-the-blue-flag-at-springfield-township-rally_50446102426_o
At the Back the Blue Rally in Cisco Park, your correspondent heard 37 year veteran, Michael E. Pitkow, Chief of Police, thank the community for their support and the dedication of his officers. He spoke of a survey being conducted [the outgrowth of community meetings] among community residents soliciting their input about what they want from their police department. He remarked about the challenging times ensuing after the onset of the corona-virus pandemic and the "death of Mr. George Floyd" but noted Springfield Township hadn't experienced the civil unrest occurring in many other places around the nation.

Michele Chesaitis, an active member of the Friends of the Springfield Township Police is concerned when people make negative generalizations about the police. She comes from a police and fire department family and is proud of her family’s service. She considers the close knit community of law enforcement as part of her family, too. When asked whether the Black Lives Matter protesters had any legitimate issues she answered "There are legitimate and valuable issues for every walk of life," and as to what whether police could do better, "that we stop lumping police into groups.” When introduced she began her public remarks by asking everyone to join her in a prayer for the police, "In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit...."

Watch video interview here.

Black and white teens unite at black lives matter rally

At the Unity and Diversity rally to honor Breonna Taylor, clumps of young adults, families and older adults were spaced far apart in Mermaid Park listening to the speakers. Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence contrasted the actions of Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend who fired out from inside their home, defending their home with the act of a white vigilante who traveled from his home and killed protesters “There’s a hypocrisy. That’s why Black Lives Matter. Because when it happens to us it’s always something that we did wrong to end up dead.” He highlighted a recent incident in Upper Gwynedd Township in which police successfully de-escalated a situation and no one died; they were able to disarm a man who had fired a shotgun at them. “It absolutely can be done.”  Napoleon Nelson, who is running for representative in the 184th district of the Pennsylvania State House, encompassing Springfield Township spoke next. He had visited the police rally, too, and a photo of him there appears in the photo album above. Your correspondent regrets an opening didn't present itself to interview him, being apparently only one of three African-American adults present at the police rally. The African American Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette was similarly engaged with others and Barnette's  mother declined to be interviewed. The below is only an excerpt of Nelson's remarks. Readers are encouraged to listen to the fuller versions of both Lawrence and Nelson here.

"Before I got here I was over on the other side of the Township at a Back the Blue rally. And I do, I support police. I think there’s an important role for law enforcement in our community. But this day, this time, is not about backing the blue.

Continue reading "A community takes sides: Back the Blue or Black Lives Matter" »


Religious activity: feeding the hungry, reaching out to youth

 

Two fish five loaves
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 wyncote video

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


Alleging racism, Free Library staff protests to oust Board Chair

Protest free library board chair balija
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.

Genovese library protest oust board chair

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.

Watch video here


Shirtless boxer, Trump supporter, rails against fear

Shirtless boxer rails against fear and for Trump
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. Face covering required

Mask up philly

Download Mask-Order-Signed-06-26-20.pdf (159.1K)


Sculptor carves massive sunflowers into tree trunk

Tree trunk sunflower carving
Shawnee Street resident Beth Eames was very sad to see the grand, 100-some year old sugar maple tree in her front yard succumb to disease and have to be cut down last year. So, to honor the tree, she commissioned noted local ice and wood carver Roger Wing to convert the 12 foot high remaining trunk into a work of art, only giving him the high vision prompt of "flowers." After working two straight weeks in the heat, Wing just completed carving what appear to oversize sunflowers, using a special wood-burning tool to set the flowers and stalks off against a dark background. He will return twice a year to apply a natural oil to preserve the work. Eames also had Wing carve an alcove with a seat in the trunk so that people can come by, sit and take selfies. (Why not take a selfie and post it here: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/chtreetrunkcarving/ ) The current times were added motivation for Eames to do something nice for the neighborhood and give an artist good, paying work. Watch video of tree trunk sculpture and interview here.

 

 


On boarded up Chestnut Hill storefronts, store owner writes messages of hope

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."

No boards pie paintsJoe 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.

Boarded fresh marketOutside 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."

Boarded black lives matterLarge, 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.

Ocarroll chalking boards

On the Tailored Home store, O'Carroll's message is simply "This is home"

-----------------------------------------------------------

Comments of John Roesser, GM of Weavers Way Cooperative Association

Driving down Gtown Ave this morning, it seems we're part of a vanishing minority of businesses who've chosen not to board up; lumber yards must be rejoicing.  
 
For starters, please know I don't question the motives of other business owners.  Whatever drove them to decide to board up, I'm sure it made sense for them.  I understand PPD recommends boarding up businesses as a precaution.  PPD would have no reason to recommend anything different.  And they are busy and hard pressed and I'm sure not just a little tired by now.  
 
Our principal reason for not boarding up was consideration of our staff and customers.  Still in the midst of the pandemic, grocery shopping is already a stressful activity (working in a grocery store is even worse).  The masks and the hand sanitizer and the social distancing and the 15 person customer cap, it's all disconcerting enough.  Boarding up our windows would aggravate the stress.  Our Chestnut Hill store is small.  Boarding up the windows would block out the natural light and make it feel even smaller.  Who wants to work in a plywood box?  
 
In making this decision I had 100% support from the Co-op's management team and 100% support from our Chestnut Hill employees (at least the 25 or so with whom I spoke on Sunday and Monday).  Last night I received 100% affirmation of the decision from our board of directors who, as you know, are democratically elected by the Co-op's 10,000 member households.  
 
Having spent much of yesterday in Chestnut Hill chatting with customers (masked and 6 feet apart!) I received thumbs up from all of them.  Many expressed dismay at the acres of plywood along the avenue.  One out of four households in Chestnut Hill are member-owners of the Co-op.  They patronize other businesses on the avenue too.  
 
Yesterday's demonstrations were largely peaceful.  Things could change but the folks who are out protesting the murder of George Floyd and demanding the end of institutional racism are not vandals or looters.  PPD is as always hard at work tracking down the bad actors who are taking advantage of the demonstrations (and undermining the demonstrator's message) by causing mayhem.  It is too early to say but we can perhaps be hopeful that the worst of the looting is over.  
 
I have to say, again not questioning the motives - or the politics - of other business owners, the sight of all those boarded up buildings along the avenue is unnerving.  And it can't be good for business.  I do hope the other businesses along the avenue will consider taking the boards down sooner rather than later.  
 
It will take one hooligan, armed with a brick and a strong arm, to make us look like fools.  Maybe we are fools. "

Ewe lamb - just 10 minutes old! 🐑


10 minute old ewe lamb
As your correspondent was taking a break from some landscaping work at the Weavers Way Farm located at W.B. Saul Agricultural high school, Gail Koskela, a large animal science teacher at the school,l asked if I wanted to see a newborn baby ewe that had seen first light just 10 minutes ago! This was the fifth lamb born this season and Koskela said they were looking for pie-themed names for the baby since the first two lambs were born on March 14th (3/14 as in 3.14, an approximation of the constant Pi) Accordingly those two were named "Pi" and "R squared." The next two lambs were christened she "Chocolate Mousse" and "Lemon Meringue." Koskela says she may have assisted the ewe sooner than she needed to but this first time mother had been pushing for a little while and Koskela didn’t want her to be become exhausted. So as the baby's legs and head began to emerge, she held on with a little tension so the mom could push it out completely. Very shortly after birth, the baby got up on its legs. The mother started licking her clean and the two were baa-baa-ing back-and-forth as seen in the video. The breed of sheep raised at the farm is selected for their confirmation and meat traits not for their wool which, in this breed, grows very slowly. Classes in the fall typically are in charge of breeding season and the spring classes learn about lambing hands-on. But because of the COVID-19 quarantine, only a few Saul students have been physically able to work with the animals. Koskela gave a little plug for the school's 24-7 "Ewe Tube" channel where everyone can follow the sheep in action, such as it is, in the spacious new blue barn. See newborn lamb and mom and video interview here.


Nashville, Librarian Style at the Public Library Conference

Your correspondent accompanied his spouse for the Public Library Association Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, February 25-29, 2020 and had a blast. Here are some photos and videos captured from that time.

=================================================

For two consecutive days, some attendees of the Public Library Association Annual Conference stood outside and nearby the convention center soliciting signatures on petitions in support of IMLS funding. According to one of the signature gatherers, the President has been trying to shut down the Institutes for Library and Museum Services (IMLS) for four years. IMLS is the major federal source of funding 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums according to everylibrary.org, a political action committee for libraries.

----------------------------------------------------

Our guide, Texas born, North Carolina raised Caitlin, belted out facts while walking backwards to groups of prospective students and their parents at the college she attended.
This prepared her well when she moved to Nashville with her partner recently to pursue a career in tourism. We heard her loud and clear as she informed and entertained us with fun facts aboard the tour bus which looped us around the city. After the tour, she obliged your correspondent for an interview touching on the serious flooding several years ago and current concern about the high level of the Cumberland River, the Woolworth's restaurant, site of sit-ins during the civil rights era and still open for business, her enthusiasm and hopes about Amazon's upcoming opening of its eastern U.S. headquarters in Nashville, line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon and paying to get insulted when served at Dick's Last Resort.

----------------------------------------------------

This is a collage of little videos from the Public Library Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee, February 25 -29, 2020. In order they are
- the steps with PLA 2020 on the risers at the Music City Center (MCC)
-dressing up for the "Wonderosity" green screen at Demco's booth at the exhibit area, MCC
-Michelle Bloom singing along with her album "Big Backyard" in the exhibit area
-Changing color light entrance to the children's area at the Nashville Public Library (NPL)
-Petitioning the government to fund public libraries through the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) outside the MCC
-"String City" History of Country Music puppet show at the NPL
-Country band at the Ingram party at the NPL
-Salt Lake City librarians partying at the Ingram Party, NPL
-Country line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon along with Matt McAtee
-Time lapse view of street outside MCC
-Country singer in MCC lobby
-Revelers partying and pedaling on a Nashville Pedal Tavern
-Crossing music bar packed Broadway
-Music pouring out of Legends Bar on the corner of Broadway

----------------------------------------------------

On her album of children’s songs "Big Backyard" , Michelle Bloom motivates kids to go outside, explore to find bugs and such, and just to experience nature! She encourages families to visit the national parks - "It'a big back yard” she exclaims. Bloom was promoting her CD at the Public Library Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee and obliged your correspondent by singing along to some of her songs, producing a wonderful stereo effect.

----------------------------------------------------

Every day at 4:30 there's free line dance lessons at the Wild Horse Saloon on 2nd Avenue in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Country line dancing continues for hours with a live performer. We were entertained by Matt McAtee, who says he always get asked to play his song, "I can't stand Tome Brady" and when he did, there didn't seem to be any Bostonians or Patriots football fans in the bar.

----------------------------------------------------

Librarians pass the time in a lobby at the Music City Conference Center in Nashville waiting for the doors to open to the ballroom to hear an interview with comedian -personality-commentator Samantha Bee at the close of the Public Library Association conference.The soundtrack is singer KC Johns and fellow musicians singing at the Legends Bar on Broadway.

----------------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------

PLA Feb 2020 Nashville

----------------------------------------------------

Nashville Trip Feb 2020


Maintaining bird boxes in Wissahickon meadows

Bird box maintenance

Amanda Miles of South Philadelphia tightens screws on a bird box while Dave Stehman of Conshohocken cleans it out on a Friends of the Wissahickon work day at Andorra Meadow. The previous day a large volunteer crew worked on the bird boxes at Houston Meadow. FOW Field Assistant Varian Bosch who was overseeing the projects and simultaneously training new crew leaders says the boxes are occupied by bluebirds, sparrows, swallows and wrens. Each box is numbered so the birds frequenting the meadows can be tracked from season to season. Watch video of volunteers maintaining bird boxes in the Wissahickon meadows.