Costumed horses, riders parade for Halloween at Northwestern Stables

Horse rider Halloween costume contest parade
"Welcome to the Northwestern stables Haunted Horses Event 2017. Today we're inside because it's raining but it's still a lot of fun. As you can see we have pumpkin decorating here, we have cupcake decorating and then the feature of our event is always the horse and rider costume contest which I believe is starting soon! Northwestern Stables is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit. We do a lot of equine-focused programs for children and adults. We have a riding program. We have summer camp. We have two 4-H programs for young kids and big kids and invite people to come and tour the barns and learn to be friends with and not be afraid of our large equine friends." Kristen Kavanagh, Stables Board VP and leader, pumpkin decorating

Costumed horses, riders parade for Halloween


Jesus Sect Confronts Harry Potter Fans

Harry Potter witchcraft Jesus sin
Brandishing bold "Jesus or Hellfire" and "Abortion is Murder" signs, Pastor Aden and his small flock accosted passersby who were out to enjoy Friday evening festivities starting off Chestnut Hill's Harry Potter Festival (video here). Aden pointed to their "True Love Warns" sign and likened their in-your-face action to a parent stopping their kid from getting run over by a truck. "Every sinner is going to hell except they repent and Obey Jesus Christ... Witchcraft is sin, right next to drunkenness, drugs, homosexuality, adultery, rape, murder." He believes the fictional Harry Potter novels are a stepping stone like marijuana leading to crack. A young teenage preacher among them lashed out at the public, calling a woman dressed as a witch a "witch slut" and others "faggot". The group was soon enveloped by counterprotestors hoisting "Hate has no home here" signs and intermittently breaking into chant. A police line formed between the preachers, backed up against the corner bank, and people who spontaneously assumed the role of counterprotesters. A lively, largely confrontational dialog ensued. One woman shouted out at the hellfire preachers, "Get Out of My Neighborhood" before moving on. The wizardly merrymaking carried along the rest of Germantown Avenue, largely unaffected by the Pastor Aden "Jesus or Hellfire" event.
 
Hate no home counterprotest

New tire laser reading at auto dealer

Tire tread laser reading hunter engineering

I finally got around to having my car's defective Takata airbag replaced and driving into the dealership, discovered that the service area had been completely renovated into a covered structure with multiple lances. Conicelli Honda in Conshohocken is one of the first in the nation to be equipped with new Hunter Engineering automated technology according to service advisor Russ Hauer. As explained by Hauer and demonstrated by Assistant Service Manager Marc Varallo, as you drive into the service area over a red plate, a laser in the device reads your tire tread depth. Simultaneously, a camera takes of a photo of your license plate; the system is tied in to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and brings up your Vehicle Identification Number so there is no need to present your car registration for manual entry. A valet takes your car and you then walk inside the waiting area where a service agent greets you and promptly presents you with a graphic printout of the condition of your tires and whether a tire rotation or replacement are recommended. See new auto tire laser reading technology and interview here.


Octegenarian trash picks large mattress, enlists help

Trash picking elder artist
81 year old ​Fiametta Rubin had been sleeping scrunched on a "horrible little mattress” when, on a recent morning walk along Evergreen Avenue, she came across a large plastic-wrapped mattress leaning up against a meter left out for trash pickup. As she tells it, a tall athletic looking man was getting out of a car and after quickly sizing him up she decided to ask him if he could help her move the mattress to her apartment down the street. He looked at her, paused, then told her to stand guard over the mattress while he went for help. Meanwhile she stood in the cold wondering if she was crazy or he was crazy or they both were. The accompanying video reveals why she was sleeping on a horrible little mattress, why the big mattress was put in the trash, how it is now serving as a bulletin board in her apartment, why she's not going to keep it, and what else she just trash-picked. Watch video of trash picking senior here.


Sword fighting for stage and film

Sword fight stage film
Participating in Renaissance fairs is what brought teacher Ken Nichols and student Ann Nicholson together in Nichols' current class through the Mount Airy Learning Tree, "Swashbuckling for Stage and Screen." At fairs around the country, Nichols would focus on swordplay, jousting and choreographing. He eventually earned certification in stage-fighting and now teaches the art at colleges and choreographs fights for theater productions. At the medieval fairs, Nicholson, alternatively focused on the dramatic portrayals and now hopes to add combat skills to her repertoire. Your correspondent signed up for the course fancying it might be fun to flourish a sabre like Errol Flynn. In class, we are learning and practicing an array of thrusts, slashes and parries with our blunt edged and tipped swords along with some footwork. We are working our way toward performing a convincing sword-fight scene and, with proper cuing, not getting hurt! Video of class stage-fighting with swords for theater and movies

Learning to sword fight


Selling roses in heavy traffic

Selling roses heavy traffic
Jason Cohen sells roses, 3 for $6, on a narrow island dividing the noisy, rushing north and south bound traffic on Stenton Avenue. For several years, an amiable elderly man from Mali known to your correspondent as Joseph, sold flowers at this busy location where Bethlehem Pike branches off from Stenton at Paper Mill Road. The flowers come from a wholesaler in Glenside and the vendors generally get dropped off in the morning and picked up in the evening. Cohen, from South Philly, has been selling flowers for a few years mostly in center city and came out to where Chestnut Hill borders Springfield Township about a month ago. Before that, he was making rolls in a bakery but it wasn't for him or he wasn't for them. How does he weather the 8 to 9 hour-long days? “I’m a people person so I just talk to people.” Watch video and interview of vendor selling roses in heavy traffic here


Why her fainting goats fall over

Breeding fainting goats
Carrie Eastman raises fainting goats for sale at a farm near Gettysburg, PA. Staying over at her bed-not-breakfast we had the chance to become a little acquainted with her herds. Just as we entered the field, some goats scampered across a narrow land bridge over a small creek and the last in line froze in place then fell flat over on her left side. After a few seconds she righted herself, "slightly wet, slightly annoyed." Fainting goats, she explains have a genetic condition called myotonia congenita. "Basically, the enzyme that tells your muscles to relax after they've contracted is low. Most of the time it's not an issue but if they get that adrenaline hit from being excited - feeding time, breeding, something scares them, the muscles contract and then they're not able to release right away and the goat stiffens." In terms of natural selection the characteristic is not desirable. For the fainting goat breed, the key is to breed for a moderate amount of the condition. For the goats, it's like doing isometric exercises. For humans, those exercises result in a high meat to bone ratio. Eastman speaks lovingly of her goats by name, tells how several are related to each other - and has not eaten any of the goats she's raised. Watch video of fainting goat being picked up by farmer who breeds them.

Free coffee draws crowd on National Coffee Day

National coffee day free coffee
Hearing that WAWA convenience stores were giving out free coffee in celebration of International Coffee Day, on Friday morning your correspondent headed over to the Mt Airy store to grab a cup. The scene in the coffee area was crowded, festive- and a touch frenzied. The barista, who was refilling large coffee canisters non-stop, expected the store would serve about 4000 free cups that morning and said WAWA observes NATIONAL Coffee Day each year. He wasn't sure where WAWA coffee is sourced from but assured me all l needed to know was that it is the "best possible quality." It tasted just fine to me but, actually, I did want to know more so a little bit later that morning I visited the High Point Cafe in the Allen Lane train station Their barista wasn't acquainted with the unofficial holiday but quipped that every day is International Coffee day at High Point and comped me a delicious cup. He elaborated that High Point's "ethically sourced - locally roasted" coffee comes from small farms in Guatemala, Ethiopia, Sumatra and elsewhere. Watch customers crowd store for free coffee on National Coffee day and interviews.


Naturalists raise, launch Monarch butterflies

Naturalists raise monarch butterflies
Naturalists at the Wissahickon Environmental Center Treehouse are raising and launching monarch butterflies. In the Andorra meadow a short distance above the Trreehouse, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation staffers Christina Moresi and Maris Harmon harvest milk weed leaves on which monarch butterflies have laid their small white eggs. They bring the leaves down to the Treehouse where the eggs hatch into caterpillars. They demand an abundant supply of milkweed leaves to munch on and grow. Moresi has filmed the whole metamorphosis. The grown caterpillars will climb to the top of a screen mesh and spin into milky green colored pupae. As the pupae mature, their casings become translucent and the butterflies' distinctive orange markings become visible. Finally the encapsulated butterflies emerge out of the bottom and pump blood to stretch out their new wings.
The naturalists place a small round tag on each newborn's wing and register it in an online database so if it is found in Mexico or en route, it can be identified. Moresi (right in photo) explains that the butterflies which lay their eggs in the Andorra are the fourth generation of butterflies migrating from hibernation in Mexico. Before they are released, the young monarchs are fed a rich diet of nectar and become flight worthy in a tall netted enclosure. The Center announces when they are about to release a group of monarchs. They are bound for Mexico, an extraordinary 2000 mile journey.
(Interviewer's Note: Conservationists have been actively engaged in combating a severe long term decline in the population of the monarch butterfly, a beautiful and important pollinator, that has been attributed to habitat loss from logging and pesticide use)

Watch monarchs metamorphosis and interview here 


Toss a Bean Bag for Racial Unity

Toss bean bag for racial harmony
Aron Goldschneider and his fine artist step-father designed a circular racial unity logo to counter the hateful and divisive rhetoric of the times. According to his website,  www.standforracialunity.com, racial harmony is a personal matter; he grew up on a block as a minority white kid and his wife is a Japanese national. Their daughter, Bronwyn (shown in lower photo panel above) and her friends Ameer Johnson and Claire Gunawan were out at the Mt Airy Village Fair on Sunday September 17 selling t-shirts and car magnets bearing the design. For a small donation fairgoers got 5 turns to toss a bean bag through the empty center of the logo mounted on a large board for the chance of winning a t-shirt or magnet. Proceeds benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center to support its legal fights for racial, economic and LGBTQ justice. The students have been successfully bringing their racial unity t-shirt campaign to their diverse Philadelphia high schools. Watch bean bag toss for racial harmony video and interview here