Fun with Zoom Scrabble and a new Scrabble "Cheat Sheet"

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.

Download Improved 2020 Scrabble Cheat Sheet.pdf (219.4K)


Our water line gets switched to new water main

Pipe to attach exisitng connector water line to new water main
Thanks to the workers of Seravalli Contractors for putting in our new water main and for their patience in explaining the construction process

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!

Watch video here.

See photo slide show here.


Mount Airy Neighbors recycle Christmas trees

Xmax tree recycle chiipper
East and West Mt. Airy Neighbors jointly hosted a jolly Christmas tree recycling event this first Sunday after New Year’s at Upsala mansion. Dampness and near freezing temperatures didn’t keep people away. Car after car arrived with trees lashed to their roofs. A large, m ostly youthful contingent helped unload the trees and stage them for the chipper. Alex Aberle, president of WMAN and who lives at the mansion will use the chips in his his garden at the historic site. Recyclers were asked to donate five dollars towards the cost of renting the chipping machine. Any remaining proceeds will be split between the neighborhood groups. For those who didn’t make the January event, the Philly Goat Project at the Awbury Arboretum will welcome the trees for their goats to snack on. And the Streets Department has 13 tree drop-off locations, also. Your Jewish correspondent has a very large potted solstice evergreen he drags inside and then back out again at this time of year and hopes someone might resuscitate the rent-a- Christmas-tree drop off and pick up program initiated by a neighborhood high school science teacher some years ago. Watch video here


Trenches dug, pipes laid, switching to new water mains

New water line ardleigh street
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


Chestnut Hill neighbors weigh in on NextDoor polls

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.

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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

 

ND Protect the Results 2020-11-03 at 4.31.16 PM

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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.

20201102 ND election concerns

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)

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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

20201101 Actions words
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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.

20201027 right to housing

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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.)

20201021 wrong with local

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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

Real real fences


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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

20201009 BLM BTB

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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

20201006 town hall

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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"

20201005 name bookstore finalists

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Oct 2 POLL: Should the CDC require face masks?

Takeaway:  The people have spoken; make facemasks the law nationwide

20201002 cdc fase masks

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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

20200928Sorry

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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

20200925 cdc poster misleading

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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.

20200918 police cars

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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

20200915 name bookstore

 

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

ND leafblowers with results

Continue reading "Chestnut Hill neighbors weigh in on NextDoor polls" »


Outdoor restaurants put diners, passersby at risk? Phila defies state, loosens standards

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.

OOutdoor restuarant farewayn July 23, Philadelphia issued revised guidelines to require 6 feet between passersby and tables in line with May 27 state requirements.

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.

Mcnallys table blocks sidewalk

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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.

Continue reading "Outdoor restaurants put diners, passersby at risk? Phila defies state, loosens standards" »


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.

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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