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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


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.

 

 


Electrofishing the Wissahickon

Electrofishing

In a short time, aquatic biologists from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission netted hundreds of fish from the Wissahickon Creek just above the covered bridge - and then returned them to the water. Biologist Aaron Henning (center in photo) relayed that SRBC had won the contract to assess the health of the waterways in this region as part of a national study commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The day before, Henning, his teammate Matt Shank and Michelle Peck from Region III IEPA were working down on the Schuylkill River in the less scenic refinery area. Electrofishing entails putting a weak electrical current in the water through a rod, which actually attracts the fish Henning says, to momentarily stun them. This gives the biologists enough time to identify them by species, take measurements and, for some of the larger specimens, take plugs of tissue to test for PCBs and other contaminants. Henning showed off two large, American eels, a species that lives in fresh water but migrates to spawn in the ocean. The squirming pair were eager for release. More photos here

Watch video here


Eye surgeon walks through cataract surgery

Eye surgeon cataract

"So typically, when patients arrive in the preoperative area, we meet and make sure that the plan is correct. And then the nurses will put a small IV in your hand through which we can administer a very, very gentle sedative. We also give you many eye drops to prevent infection and to dilate the pupil as widely as possible before we take you to the operating room.

Once in the operating room, we make sure that you're positioned comfortably on the table. There is a large microscope that goes between your face and my eyes. It's quite large and it's in between us (I take it for granted now) and so my view of your eye is quite magnified. And with the foot pedals, I'm able to focus in and out and zoom the microscope- and that's the right foot. And with the left foot, I'm able to control the irrigation, the aspiration and the fluidics of that machine that breaks up the cataract. Both feet and both hands. And my hands are hovering right above the patient's face. And then your neck has to be extended enough that you're looking through the microscope and able to see everything. The surgeon is sitting at the patient's ear. So right eye? I'm sitting by your right ear. Left eye, we switch the room around, move the pedals and sit on the other side.

We cleanse the area around the eye with antiseptics again to prevent infection. And then we put a sterile sheet over your face and open just the area for the eye that we're going to work on. We put a metal speculum, a little holder, in between the eyelids so that if you would happen to fall asleep during your surgery I'll still be able to do the work and continue on. And then we make two very small incisions into the eye. We gently open the front of the capsule of the cataract in a perfectly round fashion. And then we use a phacoemulsification hand probe which pulverizes and aspirates the debris from breaking up the cataract. So we remove the hard, nut-like aspects of the cataract. Then we use a different hand-piece to tease out the sticky bits leaving the capsule of your own tissue open, clear and intact. Then we fold the lens implant and put it into the capsule and let it unfold in place. Then it's just a matter of removing some of the gel that we had used to smooth the entry and exit of instruments in and out of the eye.

We inject a little bit of antibiotic into the eye, make sure the wound is secure, and take away the drape. And then we put a few more drops in, put a protective shield on the surface of the eye and take you to the recovery room. And within about 20 minutes you're able to get up and go.

The eye is a moving target. there is nothing at all that paralyzes or stills the human eye. So we need to just talk you through it and make sure that you are kind of playing our game to hold still and to look straight up at the light. When you're looking through the microscope, the view is so magnified that the tiniest of movements looks large which is very helpful in what we need to be doing. But also it's a problem if the patient is moving because even one millimeter is too much. There's not a lot of wiggle room within the anterior chamber of the eye. There's between two and five millimeters of depth we have to work within.

Microsurgery!"

Walking through cataract surgery video interview with an ophthamologist

Amy E. Weber, MD


Fish fresh from Jersey's Atlantic Ocean trucked to farmers market in Chestnut Hill

Fresh jersey fish
A New Jersey van packed with fresh Atlantic seafood did a brisk business its first time out at the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market last Saturday. They plan to come every other week, alternating with the market they do in Bryn Mawr. Justin Hetrick introduced eager new customers and your correspondent to the fresh fish operation. "We are called Local130 Seafood [A large patriotic painting on the side of the van shouts it out] We are out of Asbury Park, New Jersey. The "130" stands for the amount of New Jersey coast line. All the fish that you see here today, with the exception of halibut which comes from New England, is coming right off the coast daily. Sea scallops out of Point Pleasant. You know Barnegat Light, Long Beach Island? We are Asbury Park, only 20 minutes from Point Pleasant and we can go the day they come in off the boat and get everything fresh that day. There’s a fleet of commercial boats that run out of there. Arguably, I think it’s the third largest port in New Jersey next to Barnegat Light and Cape May. They go out in all kinds of weather to catch us the fish that we need. We are pretty lucky and blessed to have that. Nothing here is ever frozen. Nothing that we sell in the shop is frozen. We pack it fresh and we put it on ice so it keeps the temperature nice and cold without ever actually freezing it. So it’s still soft to the touch. Here are some of the information cards that I didn’t put out yet - we have skate wings, the black sea bass, sea scallops, weakfish, fluke, A lot of people know it as flounder but we like to call it fluke. The only thing I don’t have a card for today is cod.” Watch video interview of fishmonger
at Chestnut Hill farmers market in Philadelphia of fish caught fresh from Atlantic Ocean here.


City crew grinds tree stump

Workers grind tree stump

A severe storm earlier in the summer uprooted a large maple tree on our street and it fell on the roofs of our neighbors’ houses. Some weeks after the tree was cut down and removed, a city work crew and contractor Scott’s Tree Service arrived to grind down the stump. City worker Ed Jardell described how the stump is ground down in sweeping back and forth passes of the grinder’s large rotary blade. The machine takes off more or less two inches at a time depending on the species and hardness of the tree and whether there is any sponginess or rot. Watch video of Philadelphia City crew grinding down the stump of a maple tree uprooted by a storm


City workers grind down tree stump

Stump grinder
A severe storm earlier in the summer uprooted a large maple tree on our street and it fell on the roofs of our neighbors’ houses. Some weeks after the tree was cut down and removed, a city work crew and contractor Scott’s Tree Service arrived to grind down the stump. City worker Ed Jardell described how the stump is ground down in sweeping back and forth passes of the grinder’s large rotary blade. The machine takes off more or less two inches at a time depending on the species and hardness of the tree and whether there is any sponginess or rot. Watch video of workers grinding down tree stump and interview of worker describing process.

Career day features sound engineer, pet groomer, funeral director and more

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Career day pet groomer
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Career day sound engineer motion
 And concert sound engineer Barbara Adams wowed students when she told them she once worked with Kanye West (before he became famous). She talked about what her job is like - lots of heavy lifting and much more. And to illustrate the science of sound and hearing she disassembled a speaker. Students excitedly bunched around to see the diaphragm pulse to Michael Jackson's "Beat It."
 

Keep those safety goggles on! prevent eye injury, vision loss

Eye doctor safety goggles power tools vision
“I was wearing safety glasses and I just took them off for a moment when ...” Ophthalmologist Amy Weber says that is the moment when traumatic eye injury resulting in vision impairment or total and permanent vision loss too frequently occurs. In an eye practice where the staple is treating maladies of the elderly such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetes, Weber expresses sadness that so many preventable injuries in the younger are not prevented. She commonly treats, and may operate on, the homeowner who had just taken off safety goggles to inspect a stuck weed whacker, the plumber who, wanting a better look at a pipe overhead, takes off goggles while still using a power saw and the parent who took a moment to wipe some sweat away while observing their kid’s paintball game.
 
 
 

Thai food truck serves Thai tacos New Year's Eve