Forget SEPTA’s QuietRide. Who’s Up for a Book Club Car?

First car will be your QuietRide Car. Please, respect the QuietRide Car. If you’ve ever ridden a SEPTA train, or even set foot in one of the city’s bustling stations, you’ve heard this. And if you’re a commuter, you’re probably sick of it.

I’ve ridden in the quiet car, and I’ve ridden in the other cars, and the rest of the train really isn’t particularly loud. If you’re riding with a friend, you might be chatting among yourselves, and it’s true that many people (myself included) talk on their cell phones. Read more »

I Tried It: Neti Pot for Spring Allergies

April showers bring May flowers, and those damn flowers bring many of us the horror that is seasonal allergies.

With pollen coating everything from our cars to our clothes, daily allergy medications oftentimes just don’t cut it. I recently found myself popping Claritin like an addict, tissues in hand, clawing at my eyes. Everything itched: my eyes, my throat, the bridge of my nose, the roof of my mouth, the insides of my ears. My entire head was one giant, itchy mess.

Every year, I cross my fingers and hope that this spring will be different and I won’t wake up with eyes that make me want to pull an Oedipus and forget seeing forever. And every year, I struggle with just taking over-the-counter allergy medication. A few weeks ago when I began suffering from a sore throat due to postnasal drip, I found myself wondering if there was anything else I could do.

If you read our recent Ask the Health Coach column, you know that using a Neti pot can greatly help allergy suffers. This teapot-shaped device has been used for hundreds of years to clear out sinuses; a saltwater mixture is poured in through one nostril and comes out the other. But this process tends to intimidate most people. Who would actually do that?

Read more »

Philadelphians Sorry for Low Voter Turnout

Yesterday, we took an informal street poll around Rittenhouse Square, and pinned down about 50 passersby for four easy questions with yes or no answers. Here are the results, along with a few of our favorite quotes from respondents.

Will the Phillies win the World Series this year?
Yes: 23.4% (“That’s a toss-up. Maybe. Hopefully.”)
No: 76.6% (“I’d like to say yes, but no.”)

Are you excited for the NFL draft this week?
Yes: 27.7% (“Very much so!”)
No: 72.3% (“Honestly, I’m not a football fan.”)

Do you know who won the Democratic primary for attorney general?
Yes: 21.3% (“Kane won, surprisingly.”)
No: 78.7% (“Not my boy Patrick Murphy. I don’t know the other guy.”) For the record, the “other guy” was actually a woman named Kathleen Kane, who was referenced by multiple people as “The Lady Kane.”

Did you vote Tuesday?
Yes: 23.4%
No: 76.6%
Note: We may be apathetic, but at least we’re sheepish about it: Almost everyone apologized for not voting.

Have Girl Scouts Lost Their Hustle?

At my office, there’s a table in the kitchen that I’ve been avoiding like the plague. Casually sitting next to the microwave, there they are: the delicious, expensive banes of my winter existence. It takes all my willpower to stop myself from ripping open a box of Thin Mints and devouring an entire sleeve in one go, cookie crumbs coating my face and the floor. Read more »

Most Frustrating Part of SEPTA Commute Is Escalators

I recently discovered a Suburban Station shortcut that allows me to avoid two blocks of outdoor walking. When it’s raining and I’ve forgotten my umbrella, this shortcut is wonderful. When I’m late and rushing to the office, it isn’t even worth it. Why? Because it involves an escalator, which one might assume makes a trip a little bit faster. However, I’ve noticed that in Philadelphia, this can only slow you down. Read more »

Dr Pepper 10: Just for Men?

Anyone who’s seen the new commercial for Dr Pepper 10 knows why it’s garnering a good bit of attention for being sexist. It’s set up like an action movie and features a male actor running through the jungle, saying that action movies aren’t for women—and neither is Dr Pepper 10. The calories in the drink are called “manly,” too, and the advice for women is to “keep the romantic comedies and lady-drinks.”

We get it, Dr Pepper execs—you’re marketing to guys. But does that mean we women can’t give Dr Pepper 10 a whirl? I decided to do a little taste testing to see exactly how women feel about it.

The test
I wondered whether there was a real difference between the new drink and the apparently feminine version, Diet Dr Pepper. My hypothesis was that the only significant change was the packaging, which proves that the marketers have gotten one thing right: the Dr Pepper 10 label certainly wasn’t designed for women (gunmetal gray and maroon? Really?). More importantly, though, is what’s inside the bottle. Would women even like it?

After calling around to locate the stuff (Wawa sells it), I bought a few bottles of both versions and set up a blind taste test to see how nine Philly Mag women would react. Everyone was presented with small cups of soda “A” (Dr Pepper 10) and “B” (Diet Dr Pepper) and asked which they preferred and why.

Read more »

What Happens to Discarded Marathon Clothes?

Michael and Madeline Resnic at Philadelphia Runner for their sneaker drive.

The Philadelphia Marathon on November 20th is likely to be one of the best days of the year for Michael and Madeline Resnic. But not because they’re running it. Look for them behind the pack: They’ll be the ones picking up discarded clothes along the Ben Franklin Parkway.

In 2007, this father-daughter team created the nonprofit Clothes-Pin, which collects and donates discarded-race clothing to homeless shelters. That year, Resnic and his daughter followed behind the runners, stuffing a total of 50 articles of clothing in a trash bag. In 2008, it was 5,000, and they’ve continued to expand since. They collected over 12,000 articles at last year’s Philadelphia Marathon alone, and they’re anticipating an equally impressive haul this year.

Because of the typically cool temperatures at the start of the race, runners dress in layers to keep their muscles warm as long as possible. After the gun goes off and they get moving, they begin tossing clothes left and right—that’s where Clothes-Pin steps in.

Read more »

Do You Keep Your Kid on a Leash?

It’s 11 a.m. on a Friday in Center City, and I’ve just spotted a leash kid. My blood boils. Typically, parents use the “safety strap” or “stay-close harness” to keep watch over their children in packed places like Disney World. However, most seem to ignore the fact that those are just fancy names for a leash.

While I am strongly against leashing children, even I respectfully acknowledge the terror of taking a three-year-old to the Philadelphia Zoo in the summertime (or, really, any time) and keeping track of him. However, we’re not at the zoo right now. We’re in the city, and it’s honestly not very crowded. There is no reason that this little boy should be straining against his mother’s firm grip on the leash attached to his frog backpack. Whatever happened to holding a child’s hand when walking down the street? When did leashes become a replacement for good parenting?

What bothers me the most is that they attach the leash to an animal-shaped backpack and give it a cute name, like the “Harness Buddy.” They’re available at Wal-Mart and Target, and I’ll admit they are pretty darn adorable … until you realize what they really are. The fuzzy backpack comes in a plethora of different animal shapes, including monkeys, lions, koalas, giraffes and even unicorns. Similar products claim to make harnessing “more friendly,” and while parents may have fooled their kids into accepting this practice, I know better. These are still children on leashes, Philly.

The parents who purchase products of this nature complain that their children can slip away when merely holding hands. When using the leash, parents feel safer because they can keep track of their kids while walking in crowded areas. But what about when the area isn’t crowded, like this morning? There weren’t many people out and about, at least not enough of a crowd to lose a child in. Worried he might dart into the street? Just hold his hand; it’s Parenting 101.

This experience had me questioning my own childhood. I kept seeing flashes of yellow and green and hearing the sound of Velcro … repressed memories, perhaps, of a leash ghost of 20 years past? I decided to ask my mother.

“Was I,” I began, fearing the worst, “Was I a leash kid?” She laughed, and I felt extreme relief as she reassured me that she tried using a strap that linked our hands together once while we were out in a crowded place. Apparently, toddler me wasn’t having it (probably because I felt like a child criminal being handcuffed), and she never tried again.

Still, I feel for the children out there who lose their dignity each day to leashes. Please, let’s end the inhumanity and unleash our kids on the world (yikes).

Really, Philadelphia moms and dads: Are our children animals?

On second thought, don’t answer that.

Philly Bike Shop Owner Wins Track Cycling World Championship

Joe Wentzell, center, is all smiles after winning the UCI Track Cycling Masters World Championship

Joe Wentzell returned to Philadelphia victorious this month. The owner of Breakaway Bikes in Center City, he won a gold medal at the 2011 UCI Track Cycling Masters World Championship on October 14th, placing first in his age group, men 40 to 44. Wentzell beat 23 cyclists from around the world at the event in Manchester, England. This victory closely follows his National Championship win in August, which was held locally at the velodrome in Lehigh Valley.

Wentzell, who took up track cycling at the age of 26, says, “I’ve been an amateur my whole career,” noting that it’s rare to turn professional later in life. A former Temple football player, Wentzell once weighed in at 285 pounds. He lost 80 pounds in two years by cycling and currently clocks in at a lean 190. Though he loves road racing, Wentzell believes that he races best on the track because it suits his body type and physiology.

For Wentzell, winning the Masters World Championship was a lofty goal. “It’s so rare to set a really high goal and actually achieve it,” he says. “It was definitely shooting for the moon.”

Read more »

« Older Posts