Friday, May 31, 2013

City to food trucks: Achieve at least 5 miles to the gallon by 2015

Under Greenworks Philadelphia, the city's sustainability plan implemented in the spring of 2009,  food trucks have increased fuel efficiency from 0.7 miles per gallon to two miles to the gallon by 2010, and 3.5 by 2011 on average. In 2012, the average fuel efficiency actually dropped to 3.2 miles per gallon.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

High Line's new curling sheet to keep park users cool during summer heat

Manhattan--When the plan to install several above-ground pools on the popular High Line elevated park fizzled out in the fall after strong opposition from park users, politicians, and, well, pretty much every one else, officials for the one-mile-long greenway--often teeming with crowds--scrambled to come up with an alternative project. The pools were intended to provide a way for people to keep cool during the sometimes scorching New York humid summers. "We were ready to just scrap any sort of plan for this summer when one of the interns mentioned curling. She said, 'Hey, what about installing a curling court on the lawn to help keep things cool?'" said Elaine Trumwell, president of Friends of Friends of the High Line (a subsidiary of Friends of the High Line). The curling sheet--not a court--was installed over the course of three weeks in late April and early May and has been very well received thus far. Every Thursday and Friday evening from May through August, Friends of Friends of the High Line sponsors prominent curling match-ups between the sport's most talented stone sliders. "On hot days I can read a book while sitting on the curling sheet, and two nights a week I can catch some of the world's best athletes compete right on the High Line," said Dennis Chalmers, 52, of Chelsea. Others were upset about the cold, new neighbor and how it  transforms a tranquil segment of the park into a meeting place for rowdy curling fans. "The lawn was supposed to be a place to gather and just relax," said Karen Andersen, 39, of Hoboken, NJ. "Do we really need curling competitions on the High Line? I mean, seriously?"

Monday, May 27, 2013

Number experiment: French Open first major tennis tournament with numbers on shirts

Paris--In February, the World Tennis Association (WTA) unanimously passed a new rule requiring players to wear numbers on the back and front of their shirts. Based on seniority, the racket toting athletes were asked to choose a number they would like to be associated with before March 15.  The clay courts at Roland Garros will be the first major tournament--or any tournament for that matter--to see the numbers in action firsthand. "The French Open is a testing ground. We feel that the numbers will help fans better identify the players on the courts," said Claude Montreax, special adviser to the WTA and to the world's largest professional clay court tournament. The new numbers are also expected to sell millions of jerseys worldwide, which means hundreds of millions of dollars for the WTA. Many critics of the new rule feel this money is the only reason behind approving such a "preposterous" regulation. "Tennis has a rich tradition and having numbers on shirts insults and contaminates the integrity of the game. There's only two or four players on the court at one time, I think I can figure out who is who without help from numbers. This rule is a total sham," said former tennis star and current tv analyst John McEnroe.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Family and friends wait excitedly for returning soldier in wrong airport terminal at wrong airport

Loved ones gathered at Newark Liberty International Airport's Terminal B in New Jersey, while the Afghanistan veteran, coming off an 18-month deployment, was due to arrive at LaGuardia Airport's Terminal A. Little did the two sides know that it would be nearly another eight hours before the loving embraces and tears of joy would finally occur.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Nearly 19 years later, Kevin Bacon in Philadelphia to scout locations on lower Schuylkill River for 'The River Wild 2'

Philadelphia--Kevin Bacon has been wanting to make a sequel to the 1994 film "The River Wild" since filming wrapped nearly two decades ago. "I knew we had made a special movie," said Bacon, of the white water rafting flick filmed on several Oregon rivers and co-starring Meryl Streep. "It taught us all valuable life lessons about rafting and strangers and ... I don't know, all that jazz. Not to get too deep, but the river obviously symbolized the vein of life and the water represented blood. The hijacked raft was a blood clot moving through the vein of life." The Philadelphia native is in town to scout locations for the "The River Wild 2: The River Mild," which is set to begin production in late July of this year with Bacon as the director. Though Bacon's character Wade supposedly dies in the original, he makes a return and hunts down Meryl Streep's character for revenge in Philadelphia during a teacher conference where a low-speed chase is carried out somewhere along the tidal Schuylkill River. "I truly believe that a slow-moving, meandering river can offer just as much action and suspense as a torrent," added Bacon. "This is gonna be a thriller."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

To ensure skateboarding in new Paine's Skatepark, Mayor bans skateboarding

Philadelphia--Moments after Mayor Michael Nutter cut the ribbon opening the highly anticipated Paine's Skatepark near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the city's leader did a 180 and banned skating anywhere on the premises. "Today, we open a great skatepark that finally gives the dedicated skating community a first-class facility to perform their craft. So, it is with great pleasure that I now officially ban skating in any portion of this park," announced Nutter to an utterly stunned crowd. "Now, folks, bare with me for a second. My team of advisers has spent  a lot of time analyzing the consequences of this decision. We feel that by banning skating in Paine's Skatepark it will only ensure that the new skatepark is heavily used by skaters. So, keep out, but, you know, enjoy!" The park's founders were very confused by what had just transpired at the podium. "I think I get the strategy of the mayor's decision but not really," said one park official. "Yeah, to be honest, not really at all."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Comcast SportsNet to broadcast Halladay surgery live

Philadelphia--Comcast SportsNet (CSN) anchor and host Michael Barkann will team up with Chris Wheeler, Ike Reese, Ricky Bottalico, and Ray Didinger to broadcast Roy Halladay's arthroscopic shoulder surgery live on CSN from a Los Angeles operating room on Wednesday. "Oh, we'll be bedside to make all the calls and analysis," said Bottalico, former Phillies' pitcher and current CSN baseball analyst. "We will give viewers a play-by-play and get the doctor's thoughts while he's making incisions and scoping." This is a first for the network and Major League Baseball, which expects ratings to go through the roof during the four-hour procedure. "We're expecting big numbers," said Barkann, referring to the potential number of viewers tuning in. "So big that we'll all be wearing surgical masks with the F.C. Kerbeck logo and Chickie's and Pete's scrubs." The broadcast team, which will fly to California on Tuesday, will also live-tweet the event for fans unable to view the procedure on television. "It's funny," said one CSN employee, "we didn't contact the doctor, the doctor contacted us." (Former Pennsylvania Governor and Eagles Post Game Live analyst Ed Rendell will not be making the trek west because he "does not do well with the sight of blood.")

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Suburban commuter boldly taking lack of passenger rail service into own hands

The coffee spills on the center console of the two-door, 2007 BMW 300 series--some, perhaps, years old--act as proof (and, incidentally, lint magnets) of the often relentless stop-and-go traffic that is standard on the Schuylkill Expressway, a nearly 25-mile long spur that connects the Pennsylvania Turnpike to central Philadelphia.

The road accounts for more than half of Dave Berstein's daily one-hour-plus commute from Royersford, Pa, a former mill town on the Schuylkill River, to Center City, roughly 32 miles to the southeast. "I don't like to use the word hate, but I really do hate my commute. I want to be able to kick back and read, relax during the journey," said Berstein, an insurance claims adjuster.

Don't let Royersford's nearly 5,000 residents fool you, the borough is part of rapidly growing western Montgomery County. With a population of 800,000, most in the urban and first ring suburban eastern half, the County boasts more people than Boston, D.C., or Baltimore.

Also making up part of Berstein's trek to the city is US Route 422. The spine of the rapidly developing 422 corridor, the highway stretches from King of Prussia to Reading and beyond and threads together portions of Chester, Montgomery, and Berks Counties.

"It wasn't until the 1980s that 422, the highway, was completed in MontCo," said Ben Kalvin, an urban consultant with the sometimes controversial Southeastern Pennsylvania Federation of Counties. "Why, for the most part, large stretches of land adjacent to the highway remained undeveloped for years is somewhat of a mystery. But, western Montgomery is growing now and it needs transportation alternatives to ease pressure on the roads."  

The Delaware Valley, when it comes to national or international congestion reputation, may not rival Los Angeles or Mexico City, but traffic in the tri-state area can crawl, even if it doesn't appear on a top ten roadway congestion list. Traffic can be awful at peak hours, uglier and nastier than a non-Philadelphian's pronunciation of Schuylkill.

Cliff Lee tells Halladay to grow a pear ... tree in the backyard of his offseason home to help take mind off of shoulder issues