Thursday, December 14, 2017

Money's Best Bank in PA

The November issue of Money Magazine has a list of "The Best Banks in Every State," compiled by Kaitlin Mulhere and Megan Leonhardt (pp. 72-82).  The bank listed for Pennsylvania is Northwest Bank.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Update on SB3

Those tracking SB3, regarding women's health, will be interested to know that it was given second consideration this evening, and is now awaiting a final vote in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  Interesting in knowing what was said today?  Well, good luck.  The official state legislature page on the bill directs readers to today's House Journal.  If you go to the House Journal page the most recent issues of the publication available is for June 6th.  So there is no way for the citizens of the Commonwealth to know what was said in the House for the entire fall (and any session days in July or August, or late June).  (The Senate does better -- there are Senate Journals available into September, and much of the testimony is very poignant and thoughtful).

You can read the text of the bill, which focuses prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks of a pregnancy.  (It is currently 24).  A specific medical procedure is prohibited unless two physicians each separately examine the woman. The only exception listed for performing this procedure is for the prevention of the death of the woman or the substantial or irreversible impairment of a  major bodily function.  I find it interesting that liability is spelled out, with the following being exempt from liability:  the pregnant woman, the nurse, technician, secretary or receptionist who acts on a physician's order, a pharmacist or individual who fills a prescription or provides instruments or materials used in the specified medical procedure. So this seems to be aimed specifically at physicians and threatening them with a felony charge if they perform this specific procedure.

If you feel strongly about this issue please contact your Representative, and do so on Dec. 12th, as that is when the vote is likely to take place.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Holiday Shopping IV: Support Your Local Comic Shop

Geek readers take note -- support your local comic shop this holiday season.  ThinkGeek is great for replacing your Mr. Spock garden gnome if yours, like mine, has developed clay feet and broken.  For more mundane extraterrestrial, supernatural, or superheroic gift giving needs, however, make sure to visit the small businesses in your area.  Here are a few suggestions if you don't know where your comic shop is:

Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse (2578 Frankford, Philly)
Brave New World Comics (55 N. 2nd St, Philly, and 433 Westmoreland Rd, Willow Grove)
Atomic City Comics (638 South St, Philly)
Johnny Destructo's Hero Complex (4456 Main St, Philly)
Fat Jack's Comicrypt (2006 Sansom St, Philly)

There are more options on this list of favorite comic shops in the area:

Last time I was at King of Prussia Mall there was a comic shop somewhere in the complex but I'm not sure it is still there.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Holiday Shopping III: Wild and Scenic Pennsylvania Calendar

For several years now I have bought a Wild and Scenic Pennsylvania calendar to hang on my office wall.  The pictures are beautiful shots of natural settings in our lovely Commonwealth.  It is a great way to explore the varied landscapes in PA.  I find the pictures very relaxing and inspiring.  The calendars are available online and can often be found at your local mall or bookshop.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Holiday Shopping II: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea, by Alyssa Mastromonaco

I read this early last summer.  Who Thought This Was a Good Idea, and Other Questions You Should Have the Answers to When You Work in the White House, by Alyssa Mastromonaco (Hachette, 2017) is a good read.  It is definitely not the first campaign / White House staff memoir but it is one of the few by a young woman.  Mastromonaco served as the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Obama White House and was the youngest woman to have held that position.

Young men write campaign / public service books and I have read more than a few.  They discusses personal foibles, the craziness of political life, and what they learned along the way.  But such books by young women are rare.  Mastromonaco talks about her personal foibles, the craziness of political life, and what she learned along the way; so basically the same stuff the young men write about.  Hearing it from her perspective is refreshing.  She writes about changing majors in college after her first campaign experience, working on campaigns that lost and those that won, and finding herself in the White House.  Along the way she includes stories about trying to find a bathroom while on a business outing, worrying about how her pants fit, finding time for a boyfriend, and other common to many business women. 

I really enjoyed reading this and thought a lot about buying copies for a couple of young women graduating from high school this past June.  The only thing that stopped me was the references to social drinking.  The venue through which I knew the young graduates and their parents would have made it inappropriate; now that the girls are college students I may re-think that and give them the book for Christmas.

It is definitely a great gift for young adults interested in politics or just life narratives for early professional experiences.  Mastromonaco is very forthright about her experiences, decisions (both those she regrets and those she thinks were good ideas).  It is also an interesting look at life in the White House. 

I plan on re-reading the book over the holidays myself.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Holiday Shopping I: Meg Saligman Coloring Book

Meg Saligman, the artist behind the Common Threads mural at Broad and Spring Gardens St. has created a coloring book based on her artwork.  A sample page is available as a free download on her website, .

MegaColor:  25 Years of MegaMurals, The Coloring Book, prepared by the Meg Saligman Studio, is available on Amazon and also on the shop page of her website, and is a very reasonably priced ($16.50) holiday gift for your favorite artistic friend or relative.  If you are still putting your holiday gift list together keep this unique, locally focused item in mind.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Election Resources

I spent this evening reviewing resources for tomorrow's election.  Here are some good places to check:

Committee of Seventy (Philadelphia):

PA Bar Association (read their assessment of judicial candidates and candidate questionnaires):

League of Women Voters (type in your address and you can prepare a personalized ballot sheet):

One thing -- vote no on the Homestead item on the ballot.

Most important -- VOTE!!!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fishtown in the WSJ

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal has an article on tough neighborhoods to build in (Housing stalls in urban hot spots," by Laura Kusisto, 7/17/2017).  Fishtown, a Philadelphia neighborhood is third toughest neighborhood in the US, at least according to the article.  What makes a tough neighborhood to build in?

Residents of these older urban neighborhoods generally have resisted newcomers, complaining about congestion and public transit and seeking to preserve architecture, sunlight and views.

There is a nifty chart with the article showing that Philadelphia generally is slight tougher to build in than average.  A sidebar article, not online that I can find, "A Look at Fishtown area in Philadelphia" goes into some detail.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

I Am Agog

It is inconceivable to me that the United States is refusing admittance to an interpreter who helped US troops in Iraq.  He has been caught up in the new president's recent executive order.  How in the world are we going to persuade people to help us in future conflicts when we treat them so poorly. See "Judge halts implementation of Trump's immigration order," by Ariane de Vogue and Eli Watkins on

Since it is impossible these days to reach Sen. Toomey's office by phone, let me use this blog post to ask the senator to please work against this executive order.  And also, vote against Betsy DeVos.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Note From Larry the Cat

As you may know, British Prime Minister Theresa May is in Philadelphia to visit with President Trump.  Larry, the cat who lives at No. 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister, has a twitter feed.  He recently noted noted that while she will be traveling to the US, she is leaving her pussy at home.  That Larry, what a card!

Transit Alerts for Thursday, Jan. 26th

President Trump is in town tomorrow, meeting with other legislative Republicans, and this will have some effect on public transit.  Here are details from SEPTA:

SEPTA will make adjustments to Market-Frankford Line and City Trolley service, and detour a number of bus routes in Center City, during Thursday’s visit by President Trump and Vice President Pence to the Republican Congressional Caucus’ annual meeting.

Road closures and other restrictions will be in place surrounding the event, which will be held at the Loews Hotel at 12th and Market Streets. As a result, the following changes will be in effect at the start of service on Thursday, Jan. 26:

 13th Street Station, for the Market-Frankford Line and City Trolley routes, will be closed. MarketFrankford Line trains will bypass 13th Street; customers can exit and enter at 11th Street and 15th Street. City Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 will begin and end service at 15th Street Station.

 Bus routes that normally travel through the area bordered east/west by 11th and 13th Streets, and north/south by Filbert and Chestnut Streets, will be on detour due to road closures. Please note that there may be additional routes put on detour and routing changes made throughout the day as road conditions warrant. For up-to-date information on bus detours, go to the System Status page of SEPTA’s website at or follow @SEPTA_Bus on Twitter.

 Customers using Jefferson Station will need to enter and exit at 11th Street or Filbert Street. The main headhouse on Market Street will be closed.

Also, please note that the regularly scheduled January SEPTA Board meeting will proceed as scheduled at 3 p.m. on Thursday. Members of the public who are attending the meeting can access SEPTA headquarters through the rear of the building, off 13th Street, or the underground concourse.

SEPTA is urging customers to check SEPTA’s website,, as well as the Authority’s social media resources for updated travel information throughout the day on Thursday. Travel alerts will also be sent to local news media outlets whenever new information is available.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trying to Contact Sen. Toomey

Late this afternoon I tried to contact Sen. Toomey's office, to encourage him to vote against Betsy DeVos, nominee for Secretary of Education.  I couldn't reach the Philadelphia office, so I tried the Washington DC office.  That call went to voicemail.  I tried the Scranton office.  Either Philly or Scranton had a busy signal, and eventually voicemail but it said the mailbox was full.  The other just transferred to voicemail but wouldn't let me leave a message but on the phone tree was the option to talk with an operator, but that just led back to voicemail.  It is very frustrating.

Monday, January 16, 2017

US Needs Government Cats Who Tweet

After the election I was looking around for things to lift my spirits.

And I found things -- twitter accounts for UK government cats.  That's right, there are moggies at the keyboard in Downing Street and other government buildings.  At least four of them.

Larry the Cat lives with the Prime Minister at #10 Downing Street.  Larry is considered a civil servant and not a personal pet, so he's there regardless of who is in office.   Follow him at

Gladstone counts the mice at the Treasury and tweets at:

Palmerston patrols the Foreign Office and officially tweets at:

Evie is the newest mouser on duty, with her son Ossie.  She patrols part of Whitehall and tweets at:

Even Julian Assange has a tweeting cat:

What does the US have?  Well, John Kerry's dog has a twitter feed:

A few Bo Obama twitter feeds started but none lasted long.

The UK government cats are working cats -- the British press keeps track of their mousing skills (Larry is rumored to be a slacker in this area, but the people and the press like him, so his job is fairly secure for the moment.  Fame is fickle, Larry; step up your game.

Mike Pence has two cats.  Maybe they will follow the trend.  There are surely a few mice around Observatory Circle.

Nice Press for Jared Solomon

The Philadelphia Public Record published a nice article on newly elected State Rep. Jared Solomon.  "Change brings Solomon to the lower northeast," by Tony West 1/13/17 provides a political history and some biographical information on Solomon, who is now representing the 202nd state house district, in Northeast Philadelphia.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Dean New Chair of House SE Delegation

amended press release:

Democratic members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Southeast Delegation on Tuesday elected state Rep. Madeleine Dean as chair of the delegation for the 2017-18 legislative term.
State Reps. Mary Jo Daley and Patty Kim were elected vice chairs, state Rep. Steve McCarter was elected treasurer, and state Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio was elected secretary.
The Southeast Delegation comprises 22 Democratic members. The delegation website can be found Dean replaces former state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks, who did not seek re-election for his Pennsylvania House seat.