Gasland comes to Philly - fracking for natural gas in the Delaware River watershed?


Punctuated by first hand accounts  of health problems caused by fouled air and water and scary stunts  by homeowners across the country setting their polluted tapwater on fire, the film “Gasland”, an Academy Award nominee,  documents the dirty production side of  what’s marketed as clean natural gas.

On Tuesday evening,  about seventy five people attended a showing  of the banjo-playing filmmaker Josh Fox’s movie at the Germantown Jewish Center, organized by the synagogue, Weavers Way, the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement and the Unitarian Society of Germantown.

Afterwards. a panel of scientists and directly affected individuals and activists from the Marcellus Shale region of upstate Pennsylvania described the adverse health and environmental  impacts of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas (“fracking” in common parlance, “frac jobs” in industry terms). SEE PANELIST INFORMATION BELOW

It’s a process that injects water combined with several of some hundreds of available chemicals, many known toxins such as benzene,  at high pressure, to release the gas.  Developed by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s Haliburton company, fracking was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water act by the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Under newly elected  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, it appears to be open season for the drilling of new wells in Pennsylvania which may extend into the watershed area which is the source of drinking water in Philadelphia. This is cause for serious local concern as expressed by Linda Cherkas, a Mount Airyite attending the filming  and the subject of a  Philadelphia city council forum the very same evening.

After the showing, attendees flocked to tables to sign letters urging President Obama, who voted for the 2005 Energy Act, to direct his representative on the Delaware River Basin Commission to vote against finalizing draft rules on gas drilling and urging the President to call a nationwide moratorium until an Environmental Protection Agency study is complete.

Watch video here.

linda cherkas

This account makes use of critical analysis of the film and counter-allegations of its critics in the New York Times by Michael Soraghan of Greenwire at

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Personalizing grave monuments


Gallagher Memorials has been at the corner of Ivy Hill Road and Cheltenham Avenue, across from Holy Sepulcher Cemetery for more than 100 years. In that time, the use of marble has given way to using granite, imported from as far away as India or China or quarried as close as French Creek, Pennsylvania. Granite lasts much longer, “forever,” according to Manager Larry Conroy. Computer assisted technology now allows personalized engraving of scenes or depiction of hobbies dear to the deceased or even a carving of the departed’s own visage.IMG_4482.JPG

Watch video interview here.



From township manager to candle king

bill binder candlewic

Bill Binder’s father loved the milk box, candle-making project his son was doing some 40 years ago with his cub scout pack so much so that what began as a family hobby grew into a substantial family owned business, Candlewic in Doylestown.  After college and many years as a professional township manager in New Jersey, Bill joined the business which caters to the wholesale candle trade but turns no small, individual customer away either. More recently, the company has branched out into soap products.

Jim Reed restores 1943 telephone


HOW OLD WOULD YOU SAY THIS PHONE IS? “It’s stamped inside. I think it’s like 1943.” HOW IS IT THAT YOU CAN FIX THIS PHONE THAT I TRASHPICKED SO IT STILL WORKS WITH MODERN TECHNOLOGY? “It’s definitely a statement about how our technology creeps along slowly. Luckily our technology is backwards compatible which means they’ve added new technology but haven’t phased out the old stuff yet although I think they always threatened that your old phones wouldn’t work. But it never happened.” Jim Reed, Chestnut Hill. Watch video interview here. 

Why my world looks colder after cataract surgery


I NOTICE THAT OUT OF THE EYE WITH THE NEW LENS IN IT, THE WORLD SEEMS A LITTLE LESS WARM “More cool or bright?” COOL OR BRIGHT. NOW IS THAT BECAUSE MY PUPIL IS STILL OPEN? “Actually, because you’re comparing it to the right eye which is developing a mild cataract. A cataract is kind of an amber-colored filter. It’s more brownish as you get older. So your brain has been adjusting to that slightly yellowy color over the years and interpreting that as white. Now we suddenly take that amber filter away and your brain says, ‘Man, this is very bright and blue.” This is actually the correct color you’re seeing out of your left eye and your brain will adjust.” Amy E. Weber, Ophthalmologist, Wyndmoor, PA. Watch video interview here.