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Make no mistake about it; the average American consumer is being ripped off left and right by companies across the board. Since the “Great Recession,” a lot of Americans have unfortunately found themselves the victims of skyrocketing monthly expenses. Here is a quick list of eight expenses that you are more than likely paying too much for each month.

1. Gym Membership
Photo: lifehacker.comIf you are spending more than $40 a month for a gym membership, it is time to reconsider your gym. If you live in a major metropolitan area like Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles, it should be relatively easily to find a chain gym that will charge anywhere between $10 to $30 a month for basic gym access.

2. Personal Training
Like gym memberships, personal training is another monthly expense that you can easily cut down to make it more affordable. Long gone are the days when a personal trainer can justify charging $70 to $100 per session. Look for online deals, group personal training sessions and classes to save money versus wasting big bucks on individualized training.

3. Car Loan
A lot of people rely on financing in order to purchase automobiles. If you find yourself in situation where your interest rate is unbelievably high and you are barely paying off the principal, consider auto loan refinancing. By doing this, you will be able to negotiate a lower interest rate.

4. College Tuition
Costs of obtaining a college degree in the last decade or so have gone up tremendously. However, with the advent of online colleges and other low-cost educational systems, students are now able to obtain a college degree for half the price. Shop around before committing to a degree program.

5. Internet
Major internet providers have literally lost their minds charging anywhere between $50 and $70 a month for high speed internet access. Although this doesn't compare to what people paid back in the 90s for dial up internet service; mobile tethering and other low-cost internet services are popping up all over the place. If you live in a large metropolitan area, look into the possibility of sharing Wi-Fi service with a neighbor.

6. Gas
Ever since Hurricane Katrina and the War in Iraq, it seems as though gas prices will not stop going up. However, you do not have to pay those extreme prices to fill up your gas tank. Some metropolitan areas like Chicago have high gas prices because of gases. Shop for gas in a different county or a nearby state that has a much cheaper gas tax rate.

7. Utilities
Utility providers like electric and gas companies for decades have monopolized and limited people's ability to choose between different providers. Many states have recently deregulated this industry and now are allowing smaller companies to offer affordable electricity and gas rates. Do not be sold into thinking you have to choose the large energy provider. Many options are out there and consumers are literally saving hundreds of dollars of month on their utility bills.

8. Airfare
Buying airline tickets can be quite expensive. If you need to fly somewhere but are being bombarded with expensive ticket choices, your best bet is to shop for airline tickets during off hours. The best time to look for tickets is at night and Tuesday through Thursday.

You should always strive to be a conscious consumer and avoid having companies take advantage of you. Money is hard to come by nowadays and we need every penny we can get our hands on!



Lee Flynn is from the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, UT. After Lee spent years preparing himself, his home and his family, he decided he had to do more. In his free time, Lee helps educate those who want to do the same. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, food storage techniques, wilderness survival and self reliance. After obtaining a bachelors degree from the University of Utah, Lee moved to the Salt Lake Valley where he now lives with his wife and daughter.



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Photo: lifehacker.com

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Jennifer Sherlock






13th Annual International Interior Design Association Product Parade Open to Public During DesignPhiladelphia


PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 13, 2014 — The Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter of the International Interior Design Association announces its 13th Annual Product Parade trade show event slated for 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. on Wed. Oct. 15. This ticketed event will feature 100 vendors in the 15,000 sq. ft. 23rd Street Armory (22 S. 23rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19103).   The event is for the real estate industry, business owners, facility managers, and now for anyone who would want to make face-to-face industry introductions.


Featuring public access for the first time, the Product Parade has evolved from an exciting exhibition of contemporary design directed at the trade to an unprecedented opportunity for manufacturers, suppliers and designers to connect directly with the public.


“My vision for the event is to introduce people outside the commercial architecture and design community to the possibilities presented by these products,” said Ellen Farber, IIDA product co-chair. “There are so many materials to touch and feel for the first time which is appealing to more than just the commercial industry.  Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Community Design Collaborative.” Farber added that the event is unique because the public can meet with these suppliers directly, which is a rarity for the industry.


The event is registered as part of DesignPhiladelphia, a nine-day annual event of the Center for Architecture that is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The local IIDA chapter is also excited to have Cheryl Durst, executive vice president and CEO of IIDA National Headquarters in attendance as a judge this year. “Having her recognition and support at our event, and as part of the larger DesignPhiladelphia movement, confirms that Philadelphia is at the center of design innovation,” Farber said.  Along with Durst, Michelle Ward Chang, president of IIDA’s local chapter, Floss Barber, principal of Floss Barber Inc., and Hilary Jay, director at Philadelphia Center for Architecture, and DesignPhiladelphia will all be judging the booth competition at the beginning of the event.


The event’s theme this year is “Get Connected and Charge On,” with exhibitors showcasing the role technology and power play in furniture design.  The evening also will include a raffle of products, proceeds of which will benefit Community Design Collaborative, an organization providing pro bono architectural and design services to nonprofits.


Admission is free for registered architects, designers and IIDA student members.


General admission tickets are $50, and discounts are available for larger groups. Admission includes light food, two drink tickets, music, inspirational products and endless networking.


For more information contact Ellen Farber (ellen.farber@commintz.com) or Teenie Bracken (mbracken@ewingcole.com). Purchase tickets to the Product Parade here. For more information about donating products or services to the raffle click here.




About International Interior Design Association 

The International Interior Design Association is a professional networking and educational association with more than 13,000 Members practicing worldwide in more than 50 countries. The IIDA Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter supports six City Centers across the region and provides programming for local design professionals. For more info, click here.


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The 3rd Annual King of Prussia Beerfest Royale is now a memory. But boy, did I have one of the best times ever this year! KOP-BID knows how to put on a great outdoor beer event, which is held on the grounds of the KOP Mall, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

Having just completed their third year and getting bigger and better each time, this Beerfest is the place to be. Starting with the Donnerstag Happy Hour on the first Thursday of October, followed for two full beer-tasting sessions on the first Saturday of October, this event promises good food, good music, good beer and a good time.Recap: King of Prussia Beerfest Royale 2014

My evening started with a delectable dinner courtesy of Steve Olsen and his staff at Maggiano’s Little Italy King of Prussia, where the awesome Sarah took care of Stephen and me, serving up fresh white sangria, and warm, melting pan-fried mozzarella. For our entrees, I tried the new Lighter Take Shrimp Fra Diavolo, with 50% less pasta and hand-cut fettuccine smothered in shrimp, garlic and a warm, spicy sauce.

At 400 calories, this made my day- just enough pasta and shrimp in every bite! Stephen enjoyed his creamy, hearty gnocchi and sausage. We rounded off our meal with cappuccinos and brownie bites with a strawberry balsamic reduction and the apple crostada.

Afterwards, we were happily full and headed back to our home for the night, the Hyatt House. This hotel is amazingly gorgeous and relaxed, located close to the mall, restaurants, Valley Forge Park and minutes from Philadelphia. We had a top floor room with a two-story ceiling facing towards the mall. This room is a home-away-from-home, including a marble bathroom, full kitchen (with a full-sized fridge and dishwasher) with a living room. Gorgeous, romantic and comfortable, after a soak in the hot tub we happily drifted off to sleep. We awoke to a soaking rain, but luckily that cleared out just at the stroke of noon to welcome session 1 beer tasters.

This year, I was asked to be a guest food judge, and many people asked me how I got to become a food judge: I love outdoor events, I love KOP, and I love food (and I KNOW food!)! I was judging the carefully crafted edibles, searching the event for the most inspired food dish. There were many small plates to choose from…and which one did I pick…?

With fellow food judges Amy Strauss, Chris Murphy, Donnie Black, Neal Santos, and Caroline Russock, we chomped and guzzled our way through delectable small plates and international and craft beers. My favorite beer was Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer, sweet and spicy with a slice of lime, this drink was delightful for the warm afternoon. I also quite enjoyed Frecon Farm’s apple ciders such as Early Man.Recap: King of Prussia Beerfest Royale 2014

I tasted a great many edibles- the Shake Shack’s hearty grilled hotdog with fiery jalapeños layered within a heavenly cheese sauce and crunchy onions and a nutmeg-spicy pumpkin custard for dessert; Maggiano’s offered full-bodied meatballs and sausage, and a slow-cooked brisket over a crispy grilled brioche with greens, caramelized onions and a rich cheese slice,  California Pizza Kitchen with a creamy guacamole and crunchy chips, Season’s 52 fresh, flaky salmon over divine chilled cranberry quinoa; and Tony Luke’s hearty staple, the always awesome, yet tricky, Philly cheesesteak with a huge amount of meat, cheese and caramelized onions on a warm roll…just how I like it.

It seems some of the dishes were dished up just to serve thirsty, perhaps tipsy beer drinkers, while other restaurants carefully crafted their edibles.

After a good two hours wandering around and eating and drinking and sitting and talking, I was worn out! Fellow judges and I sat down to dish about our favorite food and drink. We all lined up in front of the bandstand and final food judge, FOX 29’s Chris Murphy, would taste and decide the winners.

Conshohocken Brewing Company took Best Craft Beer for its Chocolate Crush Imperial Porter and Best International Beer was awarded to kronenbourg 1664.

Chris tried Neal’s pick of the hot dog, exclaiming that the Shake Shack should stick to burgers (I loved this spicy hot dog!) and he then tried my pick of Maggiano’s brisket…and he declared my pick the winner! Maggiano’s won Best Inspired Dish of Beerfest Royale 2014!

Then all the session 1 drinkers had drunk their fill and were ushered out to bring in the next round of tasters for session 2. Overall, this was an amazing event, full of beer, food and fun.

Special thanks to Stephen Trimble for photography, Brooke Hersh and her staff at KOP-BID, and Nicole Paloux and Zofia Wleklinski at Red Balloon PR, Steve Olsen and his staff at Maggiano’s and all those that make KoP Beerfest Royale the best Beer event in the area!

Catch the rest of the 2014 KOP Beerfest photos on our Facebook page!

Website: www.kopbeerfest.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kopbeerfest

Twitter: @KOPBeerfest


Christine Tarlecki is a food and entertainment writer from Phoenixville and guest judging food and wines. Follow her on her wedding blog: stevechristine2015.wordpress.com or food blog at Engchik Eats at Engchik.blogspot.com. Twitter @engchik.

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When you apply for a loan, you’re basically putting yourself at the mercy of the lender. After all, it’s hard to bargain from a position of power when you’re asking someone to lend you money. Because of this, many borrowers don’t understand that they could be getting better interest rates than what they ultimately settle for. How’s this? Well, let’s take a look at three different types of loans, and see what we can come up with.


1. Home Loans


For most of us, a home loan is far and away the most expensive loan that we’ll ever have to deal with. As such, we tend to try to “shop around” for the best rates. This is all well and good, except that shopping around involves more than just walking into different lending offices and telling them to make you an offer. Photo: www.nytimes.com


The first thing you’ll need to do is determine your credit score. You can do this by having a lender make an inquiry (if you visit multiple lenders, you can share this information between them, rather than having each one make a separate inquiry, which could actually have a negative impact on the score itself). When speaking with lenders, have them help you determine the best time to close on the house, so that you can lock in lower interest rates. Also, be sure to ask about any additional fees, so that you don’t end up getting hit with costs that you weren’t aware of. Next, discuss the option of paying points. Paying points can help lower your interest rates at the cost of higher upfront charges.


The most important thing here is finding a lender that you can trust, so that he or she can guide you to the best options for your circumstances. Ask around between friends and family for possible lender recommendations.


2. Business Loans


There are many factors that go into determining the interest rates for business loans. The type of business being funded will play a part. Riskier businesses will have higher rates to help make up for the higher failure potential, while safer businesses will enjoy lower rates. The size of the loan itself will also have an effect on the rates, with larger loans resulting in lower rates overall. Also, as with most loans, the personal credit score of the borrower will be taken into consideration. So, what can you do to improve your rates? You can start by improving your credit score. Also, consider that foreign banks tend to offer lower overall rates, so you could consider trying to get a loan through a lender outside of the United States.


3. Automobile Loans


Car loans generally come from one of three places: Banks, automakers, and credit unions. As such, the first thing you should know when borrowing money for a car is that most dealerships are happy to set up loan for you from any one of these sources. But in doing so, they’ll be sure to include their own cut in the overall costs. It is often recommended that you contact a lender on your own before you ever visit a dealership, so that you can work out a fair lending deal without having to get the dealership involved. However, that isn’t to say that you should automatically avoid getting your loan through the dealer, because dealerships may sometimes offer specialized low rates from automakers, such as zero-percent financing. Aside from your choice of lender, the loan rates can also be affected by whether you’re buying a new car or a used one (new cars often have lower rates), the length of your loan (longer loans usually have higher rates), and your credit score. So, if you plan on using a loan to buy a car, do what you can to improve your credit, consider all of your lending options, and try to sign up for the shortest term length you can afford.


It’s certainly true that many of the factors that determine loan interest rates are out of your control. But by understanding the factors, you’ll be able to better position yourself to be able to get the best possible rates for your situation.

Lee Flynn is from the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, UT. After Lee spent years preparing himself, his home and his family, he decided he had to do more. In his free time, Lee helps educate those who want to do the same. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, food storage techniques, wilderness survival and self reliance. After obtaining a bachelors degree from the University of Utah, Lee moved to the Salt Lake Valley where he now lives with his wife and daughter.



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Photo: www.nytimes.com

The kickoff to Donnerstag, the largest outdoor beer festival in the Philly area is over…but the King of Prussia Beerfest Royale event starts Saturday October 4 (there are still tickets available for session 1!!)King of Prussia Beerfest Royale 2014 is today!

This event gets bigger every year, and Donnerstag is no exception. Delicious small plates from King of Prussia’s delicious dining establishments: Seasons 52, Maggiano’s, Sullivan’s, the Pub at Wegman’ås, Morton’s, Ruth Chris’s Steakhouse, Ralph’s of South Philly, Valley Forge Casino, T Burke’s, and more!

There was a lot of meat on small plates this year- pulled pork, meatballs, chicken and beef satay sticks, beef bourguignon, short ribs and brisket. It was all delicious, but when I spied seared salmon plates, Philly2Philly.com photographer Diane Cooney and I pounced! That was incredibly delicious.

I think the beer vendors outdid themselves this year – craft and international beers were on display for our drinking pleasure, with of course, bottomless pumpkin beer at the swanky pumpkin tasting bar were on offer.

I’m a little pumpkined-out..oh who am I kidding, when I judge small plates Saturday, I’ll be drinking and eating pumpkin once more! Yes, as an added bonus, I am guest judging beer and small plates during the Beerfest Royal Session 1 tomorrow- snag a ticket now if you didn’t already! Join me, Marilyn Russell from BEN FM, and other local celebs while we taste-test the goodies.

Session One: Saturday, October 4, 2014 @ noon-3:30 pm

Session Two: Saturday, October 4, 2014 @ 6 pm-9:30 pm – SOLD OUT!

Victory Brewing Co. debuts its new cheese & stout spreads, while The Melting Pot offered its signature hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries. Just about every stand offered a pumpkin dessert of some kind- although the sweet potato casserole was to die for. Shake Shack offered an incredibly yummy, creamy nutmeggy and pumpkin custard, Jamba Juice offered a sweet Pumpkin Smash shake, and the Dia Doce cupcake truck offered 4 different mini-cupcakes to taste- chocolate stout, sugar cookie, pumpkin cake and red velvet. .

This year there was much more seating, and more vendors, live music and cigars and coffee, so Donnerstag attendees really enjoyed an entire gamut of decadence. There was also a raffle of amazing goodies from area hotels, restaurants, and sponsors.

Victory, Free Will, Evil Genius, Flying Fish, Conshohocken Brewing Company, Prism, River Horse, Sly Fox, Rock Bottom, and more local and statewide brewers were on hand pouring their brews.

So, prepare now, KoP-ers, for the fun that awaits us! Pack your appetite and I’ll see you there! Come say hi and let me now your favorite beer and small plate and dessert!

Saturday’s Beerfest Royale at the King of Prussia Mall is located on 202 behind the Court and next to the Container Store. Parking is free in the Parking Garage!

And people, please don’t drink and drive. There are special Designated Driver passes for only $15 and it’s worth it. Make this fun event for all and don’t be crazy!

Special thanks to Brooke and staff at KOP-BID, Zofia Wleklinski and staff at Red Balloon PR and all the sponsors, restaurants, brewers and staff!

King of Prussia Beerfest Royale 2014 is today!

King of Prussia Beerfest Royale 2014 is today!

Donnerstag pics: Diane Cooney

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It’s been just about a month since area children kicked off their flip flops and hopped on the bus to start a new school year. September is the month when families trade those blissful summer days for hectic afternoons and evenings, filled with sports practices, homework and other activities.


If your home is anything like ours, you know what it’s like to have a sudden swarm of papers fly out of your child’s backpack each day. It seems almost everything requires a signature, from field trip permission slips to book order forms and lunch menus. And let’s not forget those fundraising brochures and notes from the teacher.Photo: momtatsic.com


Getting and staying organized—for parents and children alike—seems to be an ever-present challenge. Many of us spend long days at work and want nothing more than to hug our children after a long day and enjoy family time. It’s also a daily struggle for families where a parent stays at home. Each day can seem like a race just simply to get ready to do it all over again the next day.


So how do we ensure we’re doing the best we can to help our children succeed? Above all, we hope our children are developing good homework and study habits because education is a tool for their future well-being.


I recently spoke to Jen Drummond on WCHE 1520 am about the daily hectic after-school routine, how to help our children manage these hours each day and the importance of carving out time to relax. Drummond is a former local educator and currently runs O and M Tutoring, a tutoring practice in Exton. Drummond walked me through several helpful steps that parents can follow to set the stage for their children’s good homework and study habits.


Drummond recommends that your child’s regular after-school schedule should look something like this:

1.)    Eat a healthy snack

2.)    Unpack backpack with essential papers

3.)    Place papers in labelled baskets: “papers that need to be signed,” “papers for home,” and “assignments to complete”

4.)    Use a portable homework caddy for children that contains essentials such as pencils, a highlighter, ruler, calculator and crayons

5.)    Do homework in a designated area or what she refers to as a “homework zone”


Such a routine, along with the organizational tips she recommends, can help both parents and children stay organized and focused. Parents should also ensure their children are getting the proper amount of sleep each night for their age.


Routines help children from getting too overwhelmed, says Drummond. She also says that simple measures, such as checking off completed tasks on a calendar, or doing a large project in manageable chunks, can make all the difference. Finally, parents should be nurturing, create reasonable time limits and make sure that everyone earns valuable personal time.


Drummond says that homework should never make your child cry and if it does, to contact the teacher. Drummond further emphasized that homework is meant to be a time for your child to reinforce learned material and that if your child is consistently doing homework for more than 45 minutes each evening, to contact the teacher.


Hopefully, these simple measures can help make your children’s transition from school to home each day smoother, while making homework less of a hassle for your entire family.

Jen Drummond spent nearly 20 years working in the West Chester Area School District, where she recently retired in June as a distinguished teacher. She has her Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education and a Master of Arts in General Education. She’s taught on the elementary and middle school levels. You can reach her at 610-836-1079 or via her website at oandmtutoring.com.


Julia Sherwin, a mother of three, is the host of “Perspectives on Parenting with Julia Sherwin,” which airs on Mondays at 1 pm on WCHE 1520 am You can send her your parenting questions at parentingwithjuliasherwin@gmail.com, or connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/perspectiveonparenting  or on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JuliaSherwinPoP



Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: momtastic.com

As a parent, I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I hate the sight of blood. I’m thankful that I’m not as nervous about the other bodily fluids—of which there are many—that accompany this job. I didn’t think it was possible, but it appears that I’ve passed on my genetic weakness to at least two of my three children.

Recently, while on vacation and at a local park, my daughter skinned her knee. The injury left my daughter’s skin scraped off, her knee dirty and bleeding and me doing my level best to keep her calm while her younger sister was clearly squeamish in reaction to it all.  

Thankfully, my husband and I usually carry a basic first aid kit. Because we were on vacation, he had his larger kit on hand, which was readily available. While I had already sat my daughter on a park bench with her leg elevated, he opened the bag and enlisted the help of her six-year-old younger sister who has often told us boldly: “don’t talk about blood or I will die.”Photo: www.lek.si

While a skinned knee clearly isn’t a life threatening injury, I recognized that my girls were still pretty freaked out. What if they were ever to sustain a more serious injury? Would they be able to handle it? I know that ambulance personnel often carry stuffed animals to help keep children calm in the wake of an accident. But what could I do for my children to help make them a little braver in such situations?

Amazingly enough, after I had cleaned my daughter’s knee, my husband was able to walk our younger daughter through applying gentle pressure and wrapping her sister’s wound.

Will this experience miraculously remove any fear should something similar happen to either of them in the future? Likely not, but it’s a good place to start according to Michelle Kreger, a Chester County resident and EMT.

“By teaching children what to do in an emergency when they are young, they are less likely to panic or be afraid if something happens to them because they are aware of what rescuers are doing,” she says.

Kreger, whose husband is Medic 93-Brandywine Hospital professional Scott Kreger, says children should be taught some basics first, specifically to call 911 for help, when necessary, and know their address and be able to describe their surroundings.

We sometimes see news stories with children who’ve saved others by administering life-saving techniques, and this is when it becomes apparent that children can be valuable first responders. Kreger says that children can start to learn some simple steps as soon as they’re old enough to understand that someone needs help.

“Even if they just know where the first aid kit is kept or how to access it is a good start,” she says.

Some other first-aid measures, such as the Heimlich Maneuver, which is used to help choking victims and CPR, can also be taught to young children. However, says Kreger, those younger than 12 may not be strong enough to do the CPR chest compressions effectively.

As parents, it’s our job to first teach children to:

1.) Keep calm in any situation.

2.) Know when to dial “911” and know information such as home address and phone number.

3.) Administer basic first aid, such as applying pressure to a wound, securing a bandage, elevating a sprain or making a simple sling.

4.) Not turn their back on helping others

These skills will undoubtedly help children gain compassion for others while also empowering them with a crucial life skill.

I also am an ASHI certified instructor for First Aid and CPR.


Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  and followe her on Twitter @JuliaSherwinPoPYou can also follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: www.lek.si

Don’t get me wrong, I will (and so will many Philadelphia 76ers fans) miss Thaddeus Young. Young is one of six players in franchise history to have recorded at least 7,000 points, 2,800 rebounds, 700 assists and 700 steals with the Sixers. But Hinkie and the Sixers have propelled the chess pieces forward once more. As a 76er, Young was a true gamer. He played larger than 6’6” and had power and finesse in his game. Young also excelled in transition, ran with a commitment to score, sacrificed his body, defended, and read the defense well at the “point of confrontation” on NBA screen and roll options.Sixers photo: http://www.gcobb.com

So why let him go? 

Simply put, by the time the 76ers are viable, he will be a veteran and no longer a core member of the team. I am hopeful that he will star for the Wolves at the young age of 26 and hopefully well beyond.   

Building Chemistry

Hinkie has done it again and this may be yet another win/win situation. Consider Hinkie’s vision and perception: Mbah a Moute, a heady defensive juggernaut, was brought in to create comfort in the locker room for incoming Joel Embiid, as both are from Cameroon.

Most proponents of the Young deal look at it quite logically. While it pains a basketball junkie to see Young go (talent & “character” are always missed), the truth is, by the time the 76ers have the pieces in order, Young would be 30 or 31 years old. Now is the time to make such deals, and Hinkie’s bold implementation is to be admired. Hinkie represents the person in leadership who moves forward philosophically without compromising his mission. He is trying to surgically repair the franchise one thread at a time.

Another feather in Hinkie’s cap is that the Young deal shows his ability to make sensible additions by subtractions. No one can accuse you of tanking when you acquire two more players with intangibles, plus a first-round pick from one of the great franchises in sports.

As for the detractors, they will claim that Young was the heart and soul of the team. Which is of course, true, but this does little in helping sustain the big picture. It actually would be cruel to have Young show up in Philly every day for four years while they rebuild, knowing you could have dealt him away while giving everyone a better opportunity.

Scouting the Newest 76ers

Alexey Shved: Devastating shooter, especially off the catch, but he can shoot off the dribble as well. He has the ability to find the open man and he can get to the rim. Defensively, he is still developing as his foot speed is not the best. In light of this, he is very efficient and has an excellent economy of motion. He ran a lot of the standard “Horns” formation and the “Jungle Series” at Minnesota, (i.e. the old “Corner Offense” of Rick Adelman) which entails many same side cuts, ball-screens on the wing, and high post feeds. Shved can shoot off flare screens very well and is effective in broken plays in the half court. 76ers Assistant Coach Vance Walberg, a master clinician and drill coach, will delight in Shved’s abilities from all five perimeter spots.

Luc Mbah a Moute: A very tough and physical player that likes contact and has the ability to turn a 45% field goal jump shooter into a 39% shooter. This is crucial at any level. Also, he is known as a good help-side defender that jams cuts and he takes jump shooters out of rhythm by “crowding” or what George Karl would call, “body bumping.” He attacks the glass strong as a weak side rebounder. He also plays post defense well and forces players out of mid-range and onto the perimeter. How good of a defender is he? He has often been called on to cover the likes of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant – so, you do the math.

Dan Falcone is a teacher and basketball coach with more than ten years of experience. He has a Masters in Modern American History from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and currently teaches in secondary education near Washington, D.C.  Dan is also a writer for the Sixer Sense.



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Photo: gcobb.com


Book Review: A Snowball’s Chance: Philly Fires Back against the National Media

By Dan Falcone


The writers of Philly2Philly.com have developed an extremely interesting piece of local sport’s history in, A Snowball’s Chance: Philly Fires Back against the National Media. ASC, (I will call it) was written by Joe Vallee, Dennis Bakay, Matthew J. Goldberg, Ryan Downs, and Billy Vargus. In ASC, the authors set out to counter the litany (or the constant and tedious recital and repetitive series) of misconceptions about the Philadelphia fan base. The title essentially boils down to a triple entendre.


First, the amount of success the teams have experienced is disproportionate to the market size and overall enthusiasm. Second, the national media’s actual knowledge of the Philadelphia sports culture is significantly disproportionate to the lore that encompasses it. Third is the reality that the shorthand “booing” does not help to explain the longhand or the reasoning behind the “boos.” When you add together all three, being a Philadelphia fan (4/4) becomes esoteric indeed. Like a snowball’s chance in hell, there is little or no likelihood of occurrence for success, or for the snowball to be understood.

The book opens with a pivotal moment for Vallee. He recalls the infamous Philly internet headline: “Philadelphia Flyers Fans Boo during Anti-Cancer PSA;” which is a “true” and “correct” headline. What the headline fails to mention is that it was merely the booing of Sidney Crosby making an announcement. The Philadelphia fans have a difficult time getting ahead of the propaganda, for that is what propaganda is designed to do. Mark Twain once remarked that, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

The book’s first chapter opens with the explanation of the most famous Philly fan incident of all-time. To be clear, Philadelphia fans did in fact boo Santa Claus, but with further context, the story gets more complicated and interesting while failing to warrant the litany. Of December 15, 1968’s booing and snowball pelting of Father Christmas, Vallee writes, “And in the beginning . . . . Philly fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus.”  


This is obviously a very clever literary reference to Genesis in the Bible. In other words, the setting and origins for Philadelphia fan’s and their original sin was set and frozen in time at this moment. All future superstitions, tropes, truths, half-truths, myths and actions by a vast minority of fans brings us back to a Genesis like fable and the “forbidden fruit.” Vallee researches how Frank Olivo was a fill-in for the real Santa that day and how he was a participant in the all-encompassing fanfare of the game. Vallee explains the Olivo perspective of how the real protest was in disgust to the extraordinarily poor performance of the team, and the unprecedented contract extension for Coach Joe Kuharich.


Since the Olivo history is of course too long for a headline, a simple and unexplained headline is what entered the memory and discourse. Luckily, the writing of Vallee is insightful and tells us the history of the day as opposed to its surviving memory. In Mystics Chords of Memory, Cornell Historian Michael Kammen says “what people believe about their past is greater than determining their behavior in response to the truth.”   I am reminded of the Iraq War in 2003 when the Saddam Hussein statue was toppled in Firdos Square. The American media had the site surrounded by various Western media. The American military utilized close-ups to film the celebrations around the statue of what appeared to be jubilant Iraqis. The truth of the matter was that if you panned the cameras away, you could immediately notice that this was a very small event, a staged event, and with very few people involved. This is what the national media does to the Philadelphia sports fan. It zooms in to a select few and tries to create a narrative without zooming out and gaining a picture of the whole. The author wants you to know this.


The second chapter of ASC is by Billy Vargus, as he completely dismantles the national media’s notion that Andy Reid’s job as Eagles head coach should have been secured, and that the fan base was irrational to think otherwise. In one of the more rational pieces ever written about the Eagles, Vargus is honest and pragmatic. He fully admits that Andy Reid was a good coach and did a good job for the team while simply adding, when it’s time, it’s time. Vargas used empirical data and the slapdash remarks by the national media to show that the fans were correct to be skeptical of Reid’s ultimate prospects for success as head coach. It is Vargus’s contention that Reid lost the team in theory and practice and he shows that the team philosophy was no longer the appropriate brand and fit for the personnel or the city.


ASC has a section called, “The 1st Intermission: The J.D. Drew Incident by legendary public address announcer Dan Baker. Baker tries to recall the battery throwing (two) incident and explains how the incident, and his handling of it required genuine empathy. Baker was able to read the social psychology of the fans and actually diffused the situation while preventing it from escalating. Furthermore, Baker, who has a signature way of announcing players, indicates that the national media misinterpreted how he introduced Drew. Baker was accused of inciting a riot through his typical (and not atypical in the case of Drew) measured diction. In any event, the situation created yet another example of how the national media tied past perceptions to elevate the magnitude of what seemed to be an extremely isolated, senseless act.


ASC continues on its creative trajectory when Joe Vallee breaks down the nuances of the “boo.” In breaking down: the sarcastic boo, the despised player boo, the less than regarded local player boo, poor performance booing, booing a bad call, booing a team that defeats yours - in high stakes, booing failure at crucial moments, and a wonderful, textured, variety of additional descriptions of the ancient Greek inspired tradition. (Where “common jeering” was in order to “show displeasure”) Ryan Downs provides a logical and coherent response to the “pro-cancer” Flyer fans – a truly intellectually lazy and dishonest enterprise in relation to the Crosby announcement.


The book even attempts to provide a balanced analysis and contains a section delineating how, at times, Philadelphia fans crossed the line in “incidents that even we can’t defend.” I personally think that in some small part, each incident from J.D. Drew to Michael Irvin and others also belong in this section in spirit – with the necessary qualifications of course. But the Philly fan, it seems is damned if he boo, damned if she don’t. Most of this self-actualized part involves insinuations to destruction, drunkenness, violence, or outright examples of crime. (Judge Seamus McCaffery’s Veterans Stadium Courtroom) Also, there is a section where the national media agrees with the perceived groupthink. Even here, where the story starts to get subjective and even jingoistic perhaps, the authors try to credit the national media for acknowledging Philly’s grit and nostalgia and appreciate it. The authors suggest, for it is possible, that even a disillusioned national media can, at times, simply see the fan as endearing in light of the subtle condescension.


ASC continues with a portion dedicated to the perceived “class” of the fan base in Philadelphia. Matt Goldberg and Vallee make interesting arguments and observations on the customs and regional approaches to fandom in Philadelphia. They give a cultural topography of the fans in relation to other media markets and franchise locations as well. It is an interesting section of the book and placed intelligently and strategically. Understanding a Philadelphia sports fan is not just a psychological exercise, and being one is an intellectual exercise. How is it that being a true sports fan gives you the ability to demean and elevate something or someone at the same time? (Interesting concept)


In a lengthy interview section, ASC covers a multitude of athletes and how fond they were to play in/for the city. I especially enjoyed reading interviews seldom seen such as the legendary World B. Free and the four - echelon Philly hoopster, Sixer Aaron McKie; perhaps the only such figure in Philadelphia sports history to play high school, college, pro, and then coach pro in same city. (Aaron McKie of Simon Gratz, Temple, 76ers player, 76ers coach). ASC winds down with another lengthy interview section calling on sportscasters to weigh in. This section is highly informative and one has to imagine how many games combined and hours spent of sports coverage these individuals have put into their careers. The wisdom found in Hall of Famer Ray Didinger and the worldliness of Mike Missanelli, are just two highlights of this section. Howard Eskin’s realist and honest perspectives were also quite compelling. He should still be considered relevant in the local sports discourse. (After all, he saved the Eagles from moving, it could be argued.) Matt Cord, Tom McGinnis, and Marc Zumoff are also personal favorites of mine, since I am a biased basketball fan. The book, as I said, is very clever, useful, interesting and insightful. It even “closes” with a conclusion by Brad Lidge. The timing and structure of Lidge in the book is just as pronounced and noteworthy as in 2008.


The book sets out to do what it was supposed to do; and consistently aims in addressing its thesis: addressing the national media stereotypes and comparing them with the realistic portrayals on the ground. Michael Wilbon, etc. may have an okay time seeing Philadelphia from 30,000 feet while Mike Missanelli has a skilled perspective. This is worth understanding and contextualizing.


ASC is not without limitations. What book isn’t? At times, it seems to undercut the offensive nature of Philadelphia sports fans, even in light of the critical section. It is possible for the national media to be correct but for the wrong reasons. Furthermore, we should not underestimate the fanaticism aspect of being a fan. We can’t expect fans to be technical experts in the sports they love but we should not conflate individual knowledge with respective passion for entertainment either.


Lastly, as it relates to sports and fandom, the issues and opposing viewpoints concerning the sociological topics and impacts of: ramped alcohol use, the madness of crowds, social class divisions, racialized antagonism, homophobia, and, gender coding are further possibilities in fan analysis for any northeastern large city. These areas undoubtedly influence fan behavior and thinking in every American city and have throughout the ages. At times they are the potential sources of the undercurrents and controversies coinciding with the contents ASC so magnificently discusses.    


Vallee, Bakay, Goldberg, Downs and Vargus did an outstanding job. It is not easy to produce something. A lot of work goes into something like this, a highly entertaining and well-researched docu-fan-tasy on paper.


I proudly own A Snowball’s Chance, (a gift from my sister), and so should all Philly fans.


Dan Falcone is a teacher and basketball coach with more than ten years of experience. He has a Masters in Modern American History from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and currently teaches in secondary education near Washington, D.C.  Dan is also a writer for the Sixer Sense.




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Putting together a food storage system takes a good deal of thought and some equipment. Having emergency food in your home can get you through any crisis created by unforeseen events that restrict your access to food and water.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that you have at least three days worth of food, along with three gallons of drinking water for each person. However, other groups maintain that you need a more extensive supply to wait out an emergency. As long as you practice food safety and rotate your supply, investing in food storage isn't wasted money because you can eat it before its "use by" date has passed.


These steps will help you start putting your food supplies together:


    Decide how much food you want to store.


    Query your family members about the kinds of food they'd like to keep on hand, remembering that eating healthy during stressful periods will help everyone cope better.


    Find a space in your pantry or cabinets to store the food. You may want to separate it into categories based on type. If you plan to store food supplies for more than the three day minimum, you may want to use storage shelves and containers to keep it. Those with open shelves make it easier to find and rotate your food supply.


The food to consider is canned, dried, freeze-dried and shelf-stable at room temperatures. Nearly all food is available in these forms. Freeze-dried fruit and vegetables are easy to reconstitute, as are dried eggs, cheese and milk products. Shelf-stable dinner entrees are available in single-serving portions and don’t require refrigeration. Canned foods of all kinds will last slightly longer than its recommended use by date.Photo: modernsurvivalonline.com


Food Safety


Some kinds of food are vulnerable to insect infestations, especially those made from grains. It’s a good idea to continuously rotate your grain products to avoid wasting it because of bugs or worms that hatch inside the package. If you’re buying pancake or biscuit products, pay close attention to the expiration dates, since some of these products develop toxic compounds once they pass a certain date.


Other types of food, particularly those high in fats like nuts will become rancid and inedible. Exposure to light, air and warm temperatures hastens this process. Although many people prefer frozen to canned food, in an emergency it won’t last long enough for you to count on its safety once it thaws, particularly meat and low-acid fruit and vegetables.


Home canning is enjoying a resurgence, but before you eat any low-acid home canned food, listen carefully to the sound as you open the lid. It should make a hiss or a pop. If it doesn’t, it may not be safe to eat. Low-acid food and canned meat should always be boiled for 10 minutes before eating it. Any jar that has an off color, smell or has mold growing inside the jar needs to be discarded.




Regardless of whether you use an electric or gas stove, it’s a good idea to have a backpacking stove, charcoal or a gas grill, or even a solar cooker. Solar ovens and cookers will cook your food nearly as quickly as those that use fuel, but they can’t be used at night or on cloudy days. These types of cookers use no fuel other than sunshine. Having a grill and a solar cooker is the ideal way to make sure you can cook regardless of the weather or time of day.




Water is crucial to surviving a crisis. Have enough on hand, and watch the expiration dates carefully so that you use your supply before the date lapses. If you use tap water to refill the bottles, clean the bottles first with hot, soapy water, rinsing well.


Saving Money 

Save money with by taking advantage of grocery sales and specials, as well as coupon offers. Since there’s little urgency associated with stored food for emergencies, you don’t need to pay top dollar for it.

Lee Flynn is from the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, UT. After Lee spent years preparing himself, his home and his family, he decided he had to do more. In his free time, Lee helps educate those who want to do the same. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, food storage techniques, wilderness survival and self reliance. After obtaining a bachelors degree from the University of Utah, Lee moved to the Salt Lake Valley where he now lives with his wife and daughter.



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