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Notes, comments and observations from the Lifestyle and Entertainment desk by Lifestyle Editor Aixa Torregrosa-Vazquez.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Philly Toadlets Are Hoppin’!

This just in!

I have never heard about this. Kind of cool. They're asking for volunteers.
Here's the press release from Toad Detour

Thousands of Toadlets Migrate Across Port Royal Road Back to the Woods

PHILADELPHIA – Thousands of toadlets started their annual migration from the Roxborough Reservoir to their new woodland homes. On May 21st, toadlets were sighted hopping along the path at the Reservoir, where their parents mated in March. Since then, toadlets were seen moving en masse across Port Royal towards the woods. Volunteers set up road barricades to detour traffic from 7-9pm, when most of the toadlets cross. Migrating toadlets were impossible to count, but numbers were estimated at a couple thousand each night.

It is quite a sight to see them swarming around your feet. They are the size of a spider and look more like insects than toads from a distance. Up close, they are perfectly formed toads, like miniature adults. They can sit comfortably on a fingernail. Very cute to toad enthusiasts and children alike! Rich Giordano, Vice President of the Upper Roxborough Civic Association, was the first to report toadlet sightings, “The numbers have increased dramatically since this morning. I had to be careful not to step on several with each stride.”

The Philadelphia Streets Department issued a permit to close Eva Street and part of Port Royal for the toadlet migration. Although the permit is from May 21st-June 30th, roads will only be detoured during the migration. Selected streets in the area around the Reservoir will be closed, depending on where the toadlets are migrating. From now until approximately June 3rd, Port Royal will be closed from Hagy’s Mill Road to Eva Street and Eva Street will be closed from Port Royal to Summit Street. The road will remain open to drivers traveling to the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehab Center and the Worship Center. (Drivers will be asked to enter these locations from Eva Street to avoid killing toads on Port Royal.) From June 3rd to the 20th, Summit Road will be the only road closed, based on predictions from last year’s migration data. Signs will alert drivers of these detours.

Detour locations are subject to change, depending on the travel patterns of the toadlets. Please consult our website or contact Lisa Levinson at 215-620-2130 or for updated detour locations.

Watch for other toad migrations in the Philly area (sightings reported on Wise’s Mill Road, Rt. 23 through Valley Forge Park). Please drive slowly and carefully on rainy nights near parks and waterways. Please check for toadlets before mowing lawns, which can be deadly for toadlets. Pool covers can also be emptied to avoid toad and toadlet populations from forming there.

Volunteers Needed
To sign up for a volunteer shift, please visit the website: Volunteers are needed to place barricades and signs, distribute Toad Migration leaflets to commuters, count migrating toads, and help toads safely cross the road. You will automatically be added to the “on call” email/phone list to be contacted during the nights of heavy migration. If you have additional questions, please contact DETOUR Coordinator, Lisa Levinson: 215-620-2130,

Toad Detour Background
Each spring, between mid-March and late-April, hundreds of toads migrate from the forest at the Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education (SCEE) across Hagy’s Mill and Port Royal roads. They also migrate from the surrounding woods across Eva Street. These toads are headed towards the Roxborough Reservoir to mate. Their journey is a dangerous one, since they cross at night and must evade oncoming traffic. Hundreds of commuters who seek to avoid lights on Ridge Avenue travel these roads daily. Before the Toad Detour, the toad population was steadily decreasing due to traffic fatalities. With community help, toads can safely cross the road again. Toads are very important members of the food chain in our area. The entire ecosystem depends on their survival.

The DETOUR Project (Detour for Emerging Toads Of Upper Roxborough) is an effort to protect toads as they migrate to and from their breeding ground each year and to raise public awareness about the migration. The DETOUR Committee is composed of local citizens and officials from various agencies (Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Mobilization For Animals Pennsylvania, Fairmount Park, Applied Ecological Services, Residents of Shawmont Valley Association, Philadelphia Police Department 5th District, Philadelphia Streets Department).

The Committee initiates new policies improving migration safety for local toads, such as road detours and public education programs. During the migration, community volunteers man the barricades and erect signs to detour oncoming traffic towards alternate routes. Students from local schools learn about the toad life cycle and participate in activities to help educate the public about the migration.

Photo by Doug Wechsler

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mark your calendars for a cheesesteak fix

This just in from the Reading Terminal Market.


A special Father's Day Weekend Edition of Taste of Philly Food Tour Focuses on Cheesesteaks

PHILADELPHIA -- Cheesesteaks will be the focus of a special Taste of Philly Food Tour at the Reading Terminal Market Father' Day weekend.
The 75-minute, Market-based walking tour will be led by the author of Great Philly Cheesesteak Book" ( Running Press, $15.95) and will cover the history and culture of Reading Terminal Market and of the cheesesteak and include small tastings of several cheesesteaks or cheesesteak variations sold in the market.
Tourgoers will learn how the cheesesteak's inventor helped it gain national renown, participate in an in-depth discussion of the cheesesteak's meat bread and cheese ingredients.
The tour leaves from the Market Information Desk at 12th and Filbert streets at 10 a.m. Sat., June 19, by advanced reservation. The tour costs $15.95 and can be booked by itself or along with an authographed copy of " The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book." Tour guide/author Carolyn Wyman will sign books at The Cookbook Stall in the Market following the tour (from noon to 2 p.m.).

For more information or to make a pre-paid reservation (required) for this or any other Taste of Philly Food Tour, call 215-545-8007 or visit To reserve an autographed copy of “The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book” (recommended), call The Cookbook Stall in the Market at 215-923-3170 or visit

"Tweeter Convention"

Recevied this from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
Have fun.


Daily tweets from insider delegate offer challenge to the public:
Who is the mystery tweeter?

Philadelphia – 223 years ago, the Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia in strict secrecy. Today, the National Constitution Center is reenacting the events of the Convention on Twitter through the perspective of a secret delegate, intent on giving the public a glimpse into the private proceedings. The public is challenged to guess the identity of the mystery tweeter, who will begin tweeting clues on May 25 – the day the Convention began in Philadelphia. The “Twitter Convention” will conclude on September 17, Constitution Day – the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution – when the rogue delegate will be revealed.

The Twitter Convention feed, located at, will feature imaginative, educational tweets from the secret delegate, one of the 55 men who attended the Constitutional Convention. The daily tweets will give followers insight into the disagreements, compromises, and lighthearted moments of the Convention, and will provide clues as to the identity of the tweeter. Followers should e-mail their guesses to to find out if they are correct.

In conjunction with the Twitter Convention, the Center is producing trading cards depicting 12 of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Each card will detail the delegate’s biographical information and key contributions to American history – helpful tidbits for discovering the identity of the secret tweeter. These cards will be distributed throughout the summer around Independence National Historical Park and at National Constitution Center events. Visitors are encouraged to collect all 12 cards.

In addition to the Twitter Convention, the Center will host an array of activities in celebration of Constitution Day on Friday, September 17, 2010 . [See below calendar for event listings.]

The Center also continues to serve as the nation’s central resource for education on the Constitution through its Constitution Day website at This interactive site provides a variety of resources for educators, students, community leaders, and government officials to promote the historic day. The website includes video clips of Constitution Day events at the Center, educational resources and lesson plans, online versions of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ naturalization test, and the “Which Founder Are You?” quiz, allowing users to compare his or her personality traits with the men who wrote the Constitution.

Additionally, educators can purchase the Center’s “To Sign or Not to Sign” Constitution Day lesson plan, which teaches students about the revolutionary document that established our nation’s government. With activities designed at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, the lesson invites students to role-play as delegates to the Constitutional Convention and analyze arguments for and against ratification. The lesson plan is part of the Center’s Constitution Day Kit, which also includes a 31-inch by 55-inch laminated copy of the Constitution’s original articles and its 27 Amendments, the “Creating the Constitution” DVD, and a special marker for signing the Constitution. The kit costs $30 in the museum store and $35 at

The National Constitution Center, located at 525 Arch St. on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the ideas and values it represents. The Center serves as a museum, an education center, and a forum for debate on constitutional issues. The museum dramatically tells the story of the Constitution from Revolutionary times to the present through more than 100 interactive, multimedia exhibits, film, photographs, text, sculpture and artifacts, and features a powerful, award-winning theatrical performance, “Freedom Rising.” The Center also houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach, which serves as the hub for national constitutional education. Also, as a nonpartisan forum for constitutional discourse, the Center presents – without endorsement – programs that contain diverse viewpoints on a broad range of issues. For more information, call 215.409.6700 or visit


223: The Preamble Challenge, 8:30 a.m., FREE
223 students from Constitution High School will gather at the Center to recite from memory the Preamble of the Constitution.

Virtual Field Trip: Signing the Constitution, 9:00 a.m., FREE
Classrooms around the country can join the Center via live webcast for a special demonstration in Signers’ Hall about the signing of the Constitution. Participants will also learn about the Center’s virtual field trip program. Educators can register at

Preamble Printing and Calligraphy Demonstrations, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., FREE with museum admission
Guests can visit the Center’s old-fashioned print shop, complete with a replica printing press from the 1700s, to print a copy of the Preamble in the same way Claypool and Dunlap did when they printed the Constitution. Visitors can also join in calligraphy demonstrations and learn about the Copperplate printing technique used to sign the Constitution.

Constitution Birthday Party, Noon, FREE with museum admission
Visitors are invited to a birthday party for the Constitution, complete with cake! To commemorate the Constitution’s 223rd year, guests will sing “Happy Birthday” and indulge.

Constitution Celebration, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., FREE with museum admission
Visitors can learn about the three branches of government during the interactive Balance of Powers Demonstration and the Separation of Powers Show. Visitors can also participate in a special Decoding the Document Workshop to discover more about the Pennsylvania Packet printing of the Constitution, which is on display in the Center’s main exhibition, The Story of We the People. In addition, visitors can compete in a race to reassemble the words of the Preamble during the Preamble Scramble. The Center will also offer special tours of Signers’ Hall, focusing on the leadership styles of the Founding Fathers.

Naturalization Ceremony, FREE
Program times vary; check the visitor guide upon arrival for daily show times
Immigrants from across the globe will take the Oath of Citizenship to officially become citizens of the United States. Opening remarks will be made by a prominent naturalized citizen, and the Honorable Mary A. McLaughlin, federal judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, will preside. This moving ceremony is a meaningful welcome to our newest citizens, providing an opportunity to honor the talents, skills, and cultural heritages they bring to our nation.

American National Tree Induction Ceremony, FREE with museum admission
Program times vary; check the visitor guide upon arrival for daily show times
A special honoree, still to be announced, will be inducted into the American National Tree, a popular exhibit inside the Center’s main exhibition, The Story of We the People, which tells the stories of over 100 Americans whose actions have helped write the story of the Constitution.
The Center, in partnership with Scholastic Inc. and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, will select a high school student as the winner of the 2010 M.R. Robinson National Constitution Center American National Tree Award, to author the biography of the inductee.

Monday, May 24, 2010

If you are Puerto Rican, you need a new birth certificate

According to a new law (Law 191 of 2009) enacted by the Puerto Rican goverment, all Puerto Rico birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010, will be invalidated.
To learn how to process your new birth certificate ...
Go to and click on the blue bar, it will take you to a "New Birth Certificate" information page and the application form. (Or go to
According to the website, you do not need to rush to get a new birth certificate unless you need it right away for official purposes.
And, "Those Puerto Rican-born living in the states will be able to request and receive their new birth certificates through a simple process by mail. The fee is $5, but will be waived for people over 60 and veterans."

Personally, I think, you may not need it right away, but you should secure one as soon as you can. For the same reasons they want to invalidate the "old" certificates, for your protection.

Player portrayed in 'A League of their Own' dead

I've watched the film "A League of their Own" a few times. I don't understand baseball that much, but in the film sometimes that is secondary, I think, to the stories of the "fighter" women who sougth their place in the world through their athletic abilities.
One of those women, Dorothy Kamenshek, just passed away. She leaves a wonderful legacy to the world.

Here's the obit, in case you missed (like I did).


Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO (AP) — Dorothy Kamenshek, a former star of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League who helped inspire the lead character in the movie "A League of their Own," has died. She was 84.
Kamenshek died of natural causes May 17 at her home in Palm Desert, Calif., according to the Riverside County coroner's office. She had been having lung problems, said Jeneane Lesko, vice president of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association.
Kamenshek, who also went by Dottie and Kammie, played for the Rockford Peaches in Illinois from 1943 to 1953. The left-handed infielder was a seven-time All-Star and named in the top 100 female athletes of the century by Sports Illustrated.
"She was the greatest first baseman in the league," said Lesko, who also played for the Grand Rapids Chicks of Michigan. "She's been an inspiration to all the members in the association."
Kamenshek, and other league players, were the basis for Dottie Hinson, Geena Davis' character in the 1992 movie about women's professional baseball in the 1940s and 1950s.
Many players were consulted before the movie was made and several others made cameos, including Sarah "Salty" Ferguson, who played for the Rockford Peaches in 1953 and 1954.
Ferguson, 74, said she remembers Kamenshek as a laid-back person who was a great hitter and "slick first-baseman."
"She knew the game," said Ferguson, of Orangeville, Penn. "She was very, very good."
Private funeral services were planned Tuesday in Cathedral City, Calif.
Check: All-American Girls Professional Baseball League:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Friday is Bike-to-Work Day, who's riding?

Friday, May 21, is Bike-to-Work-Day -- the whole week has been Bike-to-Work-Week (and May is Bike Month) according to the League of American Bicyclists -- check ... so who's biking to work on Friday?

If you are, have fun and be safe on the road.

Following is a list of safety tips previously published in The Reporter courtesy of the Partnership TMA.

Don't ride against traffic. Your bicycle is considered a vehicle and should be going in the same direction as traffic.
Keep an eye out for parked cars that can suddenly open a car door or pull out quickly from the curb.
Vehicles backing up, especially trucks, can present a danger to cyclists. Listen for engine noise and don't assume you will hear a beeping noise as they back up.
Be sure to wear a helmet and never use earphones. You need to hear everything that is going on around you.
When you are riding with a group, don't ride side by side. Ride single file and keep at least one bicycle length away from the cycle in front of you.
Never pass a car on the right when it is parking. Shoulder check and if it is clear, pass the car on the left.
If you should encounter an angry dog, yell, "Go home." If the dog still poses a threat, don't try to pedal away. This encourages the dog to give chase. Instead, get off your bike on the side opposite the dog. Keeping the bike between you and the dog, walk away slowly.

If you have any questions about trails in your area, biking to work or what type of bike is best for you, contact your local municipality, visit your local bike shop or call the PTMA at (215) 699-2733.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Living the life in the south of France

These bears seem to be living the life in the south of France ...
Polar bears "Flocke,"foreground and "Rasputin" are seen at the Marineland aquatic park in Antibes, southeastern France, Saturday. "Flocke" female 2 years old, born in the Nuremberg zoo, and Rasputin, male 2 years old , born in Moscow zoo, will now make their living at the park in Antibes, mandated in the European program for endangered species.

check the video at

Friday, May 14, 2010

On May 18, vote then view art, for free

Here's one more reason why you should go out on Tuesday, May 18. After voting in the Primary Election you can treat yourself to a museum outing .....

The Philadelphia Museum of Art will offer free admission on that day in conjunction with International Museum Day. Here's the press release ......

The Philadelphia Museum of Art will offer free admission all day on Tuesday, May 18, in celebration of International Museum Day. Free admission will also be extended to the Museum-administered Park Houses, Cedar Grove and Mount Pleasant, as well as the nearby Rodin Museum. Initiated in 1977, International Museum Day was organized by the International Council on Museums (ICOM) as a way of recognizing the vitally important role that museums play in contemporary society and as a means of highlighting their ability to encourage dialogue, promote understanding, and encourage creativity. It is held annually on May 18.
“We are pleased to join museums around the world to build a broader awareness of the role art can play in our lives,” said Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “We hope that visitors from our community and beyond will make discoveries that help them appreciate the richness and diversity of the world’s cultures and reflect upon the sense of the connectedness that art can inspire.”
Museums from many different countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Greece, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, and Zambia will participate in International Museum Day, contributing special programming, admission discounts and events held on and around May 18. This year’s theme is Museums and Social Harmony, which will highlight the ability of art to promote cultural heritage through sustainable development and intercultural relations.
Visitors to the Museum have the opportunity to enjoy more than 2,000 years of exceptional human creativity in masterpieces of painting, sculpture, works on paper, decorative arts and architecture. Several new special exhibitions will be on view, including Art in Revolutionary Philadelphia, showcasing artwork and objects from the revolutionary period, and Live Cinema/Histories in Motion, highlighting stop-motion and mixed-media animation created by young artists with local ties. Other new exhibitions that will be on view May 18 include the print exhibitions Water Work and Visions of Venice, and Forms of Contingency: New York and Turin, 1960s - 1970s, the newest installation in the Notations series. The Museum’s Perelman Building will also be open, featuring five exhibition spaces, a soaring atrium filled with natural light, and a café with outdoor seating that complements the newly installed sculpture garden on the Museum’s west side.
Visitors to the Rodin Museum (general admission by donation) can enjoy the newly restored Meudon Monument gates and façade, and inside, more than 120 sculptures, including bronze casts of The Burghers of Calais, Eternal Springtime, and The Thinker. Fairmount Park House offerings include views of Mount Pleasant’s 18th-century country estate, and Cedar Grove, the summer residence for five generations of the Paschall family during the early 1800s.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In this garden, it's all about the weeds

With spring comes the dreams of a beautiful garden. Aha.
For now is all about the weeds. They reing supreme. They take over and do not want to let go. Here's my interpretation of the state of things in my garden -- it's all about the weeds .... a sea of greenish/brownish weeds (with some plants trying to survive in between) ... on paper it looks better. (watercolor pencil on paper/may 2010/aixa torregrosa-vazquez)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Need a Caribbean vacation, here's a virtual one

From RTVE -- Spanish TV.
"Españoles en el Mundo" is a series that visits spaniards living around the world. In this episode the program visits with spaniards living in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.