Rob Porter used his large 90s Cadillac to haul his Daihatsu Midget II pickup truck from Cheyenne, Wyoming to the east coast to tool around in while he’s in the area on business inspecting welds at power plants.
Chris Levey, a saturnine looking yet pleasant 3-day a week volunteer at the barren- looking Travelers Aide kiosk at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia says that Travelers Aide doesn’t offer all that much. The most common question is where the bathroom is followed by where the BOLT bus location is. People also ask about tourist destinations and Levey directs them to the Independence Hall area and offers a map.
Not infrequently Levey gets approached by people who don’t have money and need a place to stay. Men he sends to the Roosevelt Darby Center, women to the House of Passage, emergency housing shelters. They relate all kinds of stories, he says. A guy the week before said he had come for a job interview, didn’t get the job and had no money to get home. Levey supplies these down-on-their-luckers with a token to get to the shelter.
While taking a leisurely, easy bike ride along the relatively flat Forbidden Drive, my daughter and I were amazed to see a young man atop a unicycle on the opposite shore of the Wissahickon Creek, tooling up and down a hilly, narrow trail. High-schooler Peter Hildebrandt took up mountain unicycling after a knee injury ended his running career. With his high end, fat-tired, disc-brake equipped mountain unicycle, he meets regularly in the Wissahickon with other unicyle friends and enthusiasts and is preparing to compete in the 2013 North American Unicycling Convention and Championship to be held in Butler, Pennsylvania this coming July. Watch video here.
Officers Manuel Lorenzo (left) and Carmello Oquendo (right) were patrolling Chestnut Hill along Highland Avenue astride their mounts. Lorenzo was riding Ruben, a black coated Dutch warmblood and former dressage horse and Oquendo was riding Ranger, a rescued Belgian draft who had been pulling farm carriages. The policemen are two of the 12 officers riding horses from a stable of 15. They patrol throughout the City, says Oquendo, and could be in Chestnut Hill one day and in Old City, the next. Although there were a couple hundred in the unit in the 1950s and 60s, the hope is for the unit, re-introduced in 2010, to build back up to a more recent level of 30 riders. Although the officers can perform all regular police functions, their main purpose is deterrence and the officers equate a mounted duo’s effectiveness to that of 20 officers walking a beat. The horses are trained to deal with different conditions, disturbances and people. Ruben and Ranger were receptive to pats on the neck and the officers say they are good for community relations - the public loves them. The Philadelphia Police Foundation website accepts donations at http://www.phillypolicefoundation.org/projects/mountedunit/ to rebuild the mounted patrol. Watch short video here.
A couple guys in wetsuits were out in the surf kitesurfing on a late afternoon off the Seaside Park beach. The surf was rough and just the day before two swimmers had drowned in the vicinity. I spoke with one as he was packing up his kite for the day.
15 knots of wind or more make for good surfing he said, so it was nice out there. They will go out in winds up to 40 knots. When the winds are stronger they use smaller sized kites. The key to staying afloat is keeping the kite powered up all the time in the power zone, an area of the sky, usually downwind, that has a lot of well, power in it. You have to be able to maneuver the kite in two directions because you need to bring yourself back in. The kite gets inflated with air so if it lands in the water, it doesn’t sink. They use surfboards, sometimes, but today were using “twin tips” which can go in either direction. That way you can go right back out after coming in without having to make a turn.
The sportsmen showed great skill tacking back and forth and jumping waves. Sometimes they’d approach a wave at an angle that would launch them in the air for several seconds, sailing aloft at what appeared to be 10 to 20 feet above the surface before coming back down. Seaside Park, Island Beach, New Jersey. Watch video and interview here
It’s a company called Philly Compost. What they do is organic trash. So anything you can put in your mouth or anything that can compost, they take, they’ll put into a field, mix it with dirt and leaves and then resell it as compost. WHAT ARE YOU PICKING UP TODAY IN CHESTNUT HILL HERE? Today, Tavern on the Hill is a local restaurant. I’ll get two cans off of them, all their restaurant waste, lettuce heads, anything gone sour or leftover from a plate after a customer ate it … So this is the back of Tavern on the Hill. This is our logo, ‘In Soil We Trust’ WHAT DO THEY GOT IN THERE? Hopefully green bags. These green bags are compostable. There’s napkins, banana peels are great, carrots, paper. IT LOOKS LIKE THERE’S SOME CHICKEN BONES TOO. CAN YOU COMPOST THAT? Anything organic, anything that will break down is fine. We can’t take plastic, metal, Styrofoam. WHO’S PAYING WHO TO TAKE THIS AWAY? There’s two advantages. One if I’m a restaurant and I say to my patrons “Hey, I’m reducing trash that’s going into a landfill by separating it out and composting it, that’s a benefit to the environment. The second thing is, now I’m reducing what I pay in my dumpster so my trash costs go down. DO THEY PAY YOU A FEE TO TAKE IT? They pay us, they do a monthly thing and then per can. AND IT’S LESS THAN PUTTING IN A DUMPSTER? Ideally, yes. And we pay to dump it and that guy’s making money when it’s dumped and when he sells the compost. Jason Hopler, Philly Compost.
Eudene Yardehope loves her New York Police Deparment family on the traffic enforcement scooter patrol and her dual homes of America and Barbados. Watch video here.
WHY ARE YOU MOVING THE TOADS ACROSS THE STREET?
"So they don't keep keep running over and don't keep dying out. Because they're so small it takes them a while and they keep on getting run over by cars" Volunteer boy.
"This week is the peak week for the toadlets to be migrating back to the woods. The toads are coming from the reservoir. That's where they were born a few months ago. The adults mated in the reservoir and this is the product of their experience. This is what would be called a reverse migration. The adults left [the reservoir] after they were done mating. And these are the babies migrating from the reservoir to the woods.The detour is set up each night from 7 to 9 pm. We have a permit for about a month." WHAT GROUP IS DOING THIS? "The toad detour. Last night we counted two thousand toadlets and there were also a few thousand that we didn't count They were all over the street. So you have to be very careful where you step." Lisa Levinson, Toad Detour, on Port Royal Avenue and Hagys Mill Road in Roxborough, Phladelphia, near old Philadelphia Water Department reservoir. Levinson is a co-founder and the director of Public Eye: Artists for Animals, "teaching compassion for animals through the arts." Watch video here.
"I grew up in Philadelphia and when I came back- the differences between there and here – people are more friendly here even though that’s the city of brotherly love. I went to this gas station and a sign as big as this building said “Self Serve” I went to grab the pump and this big monster just knocked me out of the way and said, “Hey, man, that’s my job to pump the gas.” So I let him pump the gas. And I went in to pay and I should have known it was a bad neighborhood because there’ a guy behind bulletproof glass inside. So I’m sitting there waiting for him to finish pumping my gas so I can pay for it. He pumps it and I pay the guy and I’m looking and the guy reaches in the window and steals a pack of my cigarettes off the dashboard. I used to box so I don’t want to be afraid of anybody but I can tell you I was a little bit afraid. So I came out and I’m thinking should I say something to this guy or should I not say something. I figured my life is worth more than a couple dollars of cigarettes. I didn’t say anything. But then he grabs me and he says, “Hey, man, where’s my tip?” I had seven dollars in my hand from change so I figured, the guy just stole my cigarettes, do I have to give him a tip, too? I figured what the heck, I gave him the seven dollars. And I went around to get in my car. Here comes this other guy. He puts his head in the door so I can’t close the door. And he says, “Hey, man, where’s MY tip?” I said, “See your partner.” He said, “He ain’t no partner of mine.” Well, by this time, I pretty much about had it. So I kind of politely told him what to do with his head because I was closing that door. And when he didn’t move I started to close it. He moved his head and I drove away. That was the last time I was in Philadelphia." Tim Davis, who lived in Philadelphia until he was sixteen, now proprietor of a bed and breakfast in Washington, PA south of Pittsburgh. Watch video interview here.