The Phoenix Files

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What business would you like to see on Bridge St. ?

When tragedy hits your family

Last Friday, tragedy struck one of the closest people in my life, my maternal grandmother Violet Kozel, as she fell victim to a major stroke.

I couldn't have done anything to have prevented what happened to her, but I feel guilty because I haven't been able to afford to visit her in Detroit in over five years.

She's always been there for me going back to my infancy, but now, her once irascible voice has gone silent. The stroke has afflicted her with a condition that deprives her of the ability to speak and has left her paralyzed. Now what really tears me up inside is the knowledge she will have to be placed in a nursing home.

My grandmother always has been fiercely independent, and at 86 she was still driving. But her stubborn independence also cost her because she refused to wear the life alert around her neck.
As a result, it took three hours for her to be found by a neighbor in her bathroom -- three hours where she could have received emergency-medical attention. But she didn't.

I told my paternal grandmother that she had better learn from this and wear hers too.

I'm hoping to be able to go see my maternal grandmother in a few weeks, and I have been praying for her like a madman because she has always been there for me. Now its my turn to be there for her.

Posted by
John Rossomando
Managing editor of The Phoenix

A Good Way to Waste Time

My Web site recommendations have been kind of vapid thus far, but, hey, what's the internet if not a great way to waste time? But I thought for a change of pace I would venture into the world of the written word with a Web site called Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern.
McSweeney's is a quarterly literary journal and humor site, run by the publishing company McSweeney's (everyone still following). Created by one of my favorite fiction writers Dave Eggers, McSweeney's is the leader in publishing independent literature, and has featured other writers like Neal Pollack, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Chabon and Susan Straight. (Come on, how in are you with the hip, arty girl when you break out how much you enjoyed the latest Joyce Carol Oates piece.)
This is one of the Web sites where, after viewing it, you walk away feeling like you have accomplished something, and are a better as a person for it. Not only do I recommend visiting the site, but subscribing to the publication as well. Today's cutting edge writers, focusing their craft on today's relevant social issues, how can you go wrong?

Matthew Byrd

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Den Around Town: The X-mas Tree

Reaction to State of the Union Address

I doubt I was the only one who felt this way last night, but I found President Bush's State of the Union address to be an absolute farce.

It has nothing to do with "oh, I'm young so I must be a Bush-bashing liberal." It's just that I'm tired of his empty promises and his administration's ability to mislead the American people, be it regarding the economy, the war in Iraq or any number of issues.

It's reached the point where I can't even get angry anymore, I just have to laugh. I was especially fond of how he said there needs to be bipartisan cooperation to aid our economy, then follows that up with "but hey! If you don't do what I say, I'll veto whatever you put in front of me!" So I paraphrased a little there. But that was how I perceived it.

Towards the end of his address to congress, it seemed that Bush forgot what to say and just rambled the names of different countries to make himself sound intelligent or pretend that he actually planned on doing something about them. He mentioned Ukraine and how the people there have embraced democracy and free election. Um. Didn't that nation effectively shut down following a contested and allegedly rigged election? And wasn't that a while ago too?

Oh, and he also said we need to do something about Sudan. What did he say? Oh yeah. "Action needs to be taken in Sudan." Thanks.

Two last things I enjoyed about the State of the Union address. First, how the number of times Congress applauded, and how many people stood up to applaud, slowly but surely diminished as Bush continued to talk. Second, seeing the reactions (or lack thereof) of Dick Cheney and Nancy Pelosi to what Bush was saying.

Thankfully, this is the last time we have to sit through one of these with him.

Posted by
Brian McCarthy

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gas Leak on Taylor Alley

Friday, January 25, 2008

More Considerate Developers

I think that it’s heartening to see that some local developers are trying to take into consideration the impact they will have on their neighbors (of course, this is by no means across the board and for every one step forward, two steps back) when they come and propose a plan.
In Kimberton, Green Ventures is trying to get the community as involved as possible even before they submit a plan to the township. They held a meeting to go over the plans suggested by engineers and scholars and asked that residents come and discuss the plan with them.
In Upper Providence, White Springs Farm developers came before the board with a plan for mixed use and the residents of the town were so upset that the board suggested they redo the plan after talking to the residents. Now, there is an age-restricted development and an age-targeted development that many members of the community have come to the meetings to support.
I hope this is a step in the right direction because as we continue to build (out and up), there will always be residents negatively affected. If they at least get to say their piece, they have a fighting chance to get a development they don’t hate, even if they don’t love it.

Posted by
Laurie Perini

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Update to fire on Hall St.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quick Step John at Steel City

Fire at Main St. and Hall St.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Upcoming News Coverage

Production crews with FOX 29 News will soon be coming to Phoenixville to film a piece on our town's revitalization. The station has been in contact with Dave Friday, owner of Hipster Home on Main Street, who said that FOX plans to come to Phoenixville on a Thursday, though an exact date hasn't been decided yet.

Friday also said he wasn't told by FOX where they would shoot when they stop by Phoenixville. I think its great we're getting recognized by the news media, and soon the greater Philadelphia area will see what our town is going through.

What places: neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, etc. would you like to see FOX cover, and give greater exposure to? How do you hope the rest of the Philadelphia region will view us once the segment airs?

In any case, heads up: you may soon find yourself on the ten o'clock news.

Posted by
Brian McCarthy

Laurie Talks with the Folks of People to People

Monday, January 21, 2008

Home Remedies

I find it interesting that we have all these "quick fixes" for common ailments that people swear by without any proof.

For example, there are plenty of ways to "cure" the hiccups, including drinking water and holding your breath, having someone say your middle name, or, according to my aunt, breathing so deep that you can hear your diaphram "snap back into place" (yeah, I haven't tried that one yet).

There are also elaborate rituals for hangovers:
"wake up, have some 'hair of the dog that bit you' (drink whatever you were drinking the night before), eat two McDonald's hashbrowns (or something equally as greasy, if that exists), take two tylenol or two aspirin or two ibuprofen or two..., drink a specific kind of water all day and go to bed early."

So, do these things actually work, or do we want to believe they work and so we convince ourselves they are working? I've had some of them work sometimes, and I know people who swear by these ideas, but personally, I think it's all a bit of luck in the end.

What other home remedies do you guys have?

Posted by
Laurie Perini

Friday, January 18, 2008

Den Around Town: The New Business in Town

Moving sucks

Brian and I have been discussing getting a place down here in Phoenixville and we're going to start looking soon. We're really looking forward to becoming closer to the community by being able to spend more time here (and waking up late too, we want that).

I am excited, but I am dreading moving. Throughout college I moved at least twice a year, not to mention taking everything back home. Currently, I have a bunch of stuff up at school and I have to go pick some of it up now, when we move, and some later, after the semester is over and my (former) roommate and her roommate don't need it anymore. There is just stuff everywhere and a lot of it. I can't even fit it all in one room at my parents place and I seriously need an apartment just so I can fit all my stuff somewhere.

It's such a pain to try to load everything into cars and I have a futon with a mattress that is so impossible to move that Dad said he would never move it again (plus, it's been folded up for so long it might have a nasty crease in the middle).

But, it's too cool of a deal to pass up and I certainly can't wait.

Oh, and by the way, anyone know where we can get a couch?

Posted by
Laurie Perini

This morning, downtown along Bridge Street, the streets...

This morning, downtown along Bridge Street, the streets are looking pretty clear. How is it where you live and work? Has your borough/township done a good job cleaning up the snowfall?

Posted by
The Phoenix Staff

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Changes in education

When I went over to Artisan's today (a daily ritual and sometimes more than that) I saw a bunch of high school kids sitting in the window seats and at first I was puzzled. Then I remembered hearing that they are in the middle of midterms.

When I was in high school, I'm not even sure if we had midterms. I was lucky enough to be in the second or third class that was allowed to leave for finals as seniors (all underclassmen were stuck inside all day). I remember that I had a 9 a.m. final the one day, but other than that, I don't think I did anything cool like hang out at the coffee shop (ok, we didn't have a coffee shop to hang out at, but you get the idea). I'm not even sure I stayed up late.

It got me thinking about how much education has changed since I've been in school. My sister, who has a Elementary Education degree said that education is like a pendulum between schools of thought. I guess we're getting to the more liberal side of the pendulum, with more freedom for students, the popularity of montessoris and inclusion in the classroom.

Posted by
Laurie Perini

A Good Way to Waste Time

This week’s website recommendation is Most are probably reading this and saying “Geez, thanks for the tip, Professor Obvious;” and granted Homestar and the rest of the gang have been apart of many of our lives for so long that this review is a bit like recommending Chaucer to someone as a promising new writer (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about then you need to read more). But I was talking with some co-workers the other day, and to my surprise they had never heard of this wonderful waste of time. is a collection of short flash animation cartoons following the adventures of Homestar and his “friends” living in the town of Town. The site is broken down into different features including the crown jewel that is “The Strong Bad Emails”, where the local “cool guy’ Strong Bad answers viewers’ emails.
The site is the creation of the Chapman Brothers, who thought up Homestar as a children’s book done in Mario Paint on their Super NES. From these humble beginnings the Brothers Chap have become masters of Flash Animation, as well as two of the funniest writers on the internet (which makes it funnier then anything on television).
I recommend that for your first time on the site take a Saturday where you have six hours to kill, because it’s a great way to kill time.

Posted by
Matthew Byrd

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Borough manager pink-slipped

Borough Manager Anthony C. DiGirolomo was given notice by borough council late Tuesday night of council's intent to terminate his contract.

A resolution reported out of a council executive session by Mike Handwerk (D-Middle) agreed "to provide Borough Manager Anthony C. DiGirolomo written notice of Council's intent to terminate his contractual agreement with the Borough."

The resolution passed by a vote of 5-3. AYES: Kendrick Buckwalter (R-West), Jeff Senley (R-North), Mike Speck (D-East), council president Henry Wagner (D-Middle) and Handwerk. NAYS: Carlos Ciruelos (D-East), David Gill (D-West) and Rich Kirkner (D-North).

During the 30-day notice period required under DiGirolomo's contract "and effective immediately," the resolution read, "Mr. DiGirolomo shall be placed on paid leave." A formal written letter of intent was delivered to DiGirolomo at the close of the meeting, near midnight.

Posted by
G.E. "Skip" Lawrence

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Now Your Life Has Meaning!

Hey look kids, has a myspace page. You can see it at

Friend us...have all your friends friend us...and their friends.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ask Skip

Curious about current events and happenings in the Borough? Have a question about Borough politics? Or is there something you’ve learned you would like to have investigated? The Phoenix’s resident Borough expert Skip Lawrence would be happy to answer any of these questions you might have. Email your questions to
with the title “Phoenix: Ask Skip.” Skip will try to answer all relevant questions, either through blog posts, podcasts or videos. Stay tuned to to see Skip answer your questions.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Great Debate

I admit, I was getting a little tired of all the presidential debates by December.
But now that the primary process has begun, and the stakes are much higher, suddenly I’m excited again. I’m watching the debates, plus I’m catching analyses on NPR, and of course reading Associated Press reports.
ABC, apparently not having any better plans for Saturday night than I did, aired the complete two hours of Republicans and two hours of Democrats debating at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. I found it all very entertaining, as well as informative.
I missed the Republican debate Sunday on the Fox Network. So did candidates Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter. The network said neither had enough support in national polls. Amazingly, the New Hampshire Republican Party actually withdrew its endorsement of the debate over this issue!
Paul was back at his podium with five other remaining GOP hopefuls for Thursday night’s debate in South Carolina.
But apparently Fox didn’t completely learn its lesson, because Duncan Hunter continues to be excluded, despite his third-place finish in Wyoming (picking up a delegate, which is more than Rudy Giuliani can claim so far).
Look, I know it was a little tough trying to keep everyone straight in the fall, with the huge fields of candidates on both sides. Our newsroom’s biggest criticisms during the fall debates were for the networks that didn’t label the candidates when they spoke.
But the media have NO BUSINESS making a decision to cut the field. It’s an insult to the voters and to democracy itself for a network to decide that because a candidate is polling lower than some others, coverage isn’t necessary. Polls don’t tell the whole story; just look at New Hampshire, where all the experts were predicting another victory for Barack Obama, and Hillary won instead.
(Besides, the campaign process will narrow the field on its own, as various people run out of money and support. Bill Richardson dropped out on Thursday, following Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and others before, and more will surely follow.)
If a candidate gets enough people to sign petitions in a state, he or she will be on the ballot. Once there, they all have a chance of winning. It’s not for the media to decide whether that chance is good enough to deserve any time in the spotlight. That’s not objective journalism, that’s interfering with the political process.
If candidates are on the ballot, they’ve earned their airtime and their print coverage. Period. End of story.

Posted by
Patricia Matson

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Pessimist

Cynic, defeatist, depreciator, doomster, downer, gloom merchant, gloomy Gus, killjoy, misanthrope, party pooper, sourball, wet blanket, worrier, worrywart, however you want to say it, I am a pessimist. I often walk into situations expecting the worst, always waiting for the hammer to fall, so I can say to myself “I knew it; to good to be true.”
It’s where a lot of my sense of humor comes from; my stand up is often turning this viewpoint to an absurd degree. But in my real life this makes me a negative person and sometimes not very fun to be around.
A good example of this pessimism in my life is working at The Phoenix. This is the single coolest job I have ever had: I work with great people and have an unprecedented amount of creative freedom. A good part of my day is spent talking with artists, musicians and members of the business and political community, which is something I enjoy even when I’m not being paid. But no matter how much fun I am having, there is always that thought in the back of my mind, “This isn’t going to last, this is going to go away tomorrow; you need to do this better.” It’s a character flaw. We all have them, but I don’t want to live that way.
It’s hard to reflect on those aspects of ourselves that need improvement and one of the best ways to work through these flaws and make ourselves better is by reaching out to friends and others who can objectively look at the situation and offer advice or constructive criticism.
So I turn to the community and ask how would you combat this characteristic, and move forward?

Posted by
Matthew Byrd

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

CDC 2008 Agenda

If you have been both reading The Phoenix and listening to our podcasts, then you know that Barry Cassidy, Executive Director of Main Street CDC, has outlined an agenda of projects the CDC hopes to accomplish by year's end. Here's a quick, paraphrased list of these projects:

- CDC hopes to act as "point of contact" between PPG and the Borough to make progress on development of the steel site.

- Perform a market study for the proposed passenger rail line between the Borough and Frazier.

-Secure grants for the Elm Street housing program on the north side.

-Implement a $2 million construction grant for the Streetscape project. To my understanding, this includes finishing the brick sidewalk on Bridge Street.

-Create a parking authority. Also, to make progress on the plan for a parking garage on the current Taylor Alley lot by the Family Dollar Store.

-Continue promotions, such as First Fridays.

-Continue to make progress on parks, including implementing $220,000 contract for development of Andre Thornton Park.

Which of these projects, in your opinon, would you like to see completed the most? Are there any that aren't as high of a priority as others?

Personally, I'd like to see the proposed passenger rail study completed as soon as possible, just so we can know if this will become a reality. This is a great opportunity for both bringing jobs into Phoenixville and bringing Phoenixville residents to jobs.

However, at a recent planning commission meeting I attended in a nearby township, some of the planners questioned the feasibility of the rails. One planner said that since the existing rail lines have only been used for freight trains, work needs to be done on the rails in order to accomodate passenger trains. Another official simply questioned the reasoning behind creating a rail line that covers such a short distance.

But that's the point of the market study, to reveal flaws like these above-mentioned theoretical ones, and determine solutions how to solve them...if they're solvable, that is.

So that's the high priority agenda item for me. Others are certainly important as well...I hope they finally get that sidewalk finished once and for all.

Later on,

How do you enjoy the nice weather

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Your Turn

Though our blogs are still relatively new, there is a comment that has been running through many of them that we need to address.

At least some of you are not happy with our coverage and we have heard more than once that we don't cover enough hard news.

We don't always hear everything that's going on in Phoenixville and that's where you can come in and help us. You know you can always call us or email us to tip us off about a story you've heard, whether it's rumor or not and we'll do our best to track it down and find out what we can find out.

So what are some of the things you want us to investigate? What should we be spending more time on? In addition, what sorts of videos do you wish you'd be seeing?

We really are trying to make the paper (and website) better and give you the news that YOU want. We just need your help to figure out some of what that is. Please continue to give us feedback and call, email, or post on the blog about the stories you want.

Posted by
The Phoenix Staff

Good Way To Kill Time

I hate playing video games, which makes me the odd man out with most of my friends. The last video game I was addicted to was “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out” (which is just such a sad statement: “My favorite video game is 20-years-old, and stars a rapist from Brooklyn”), so I’m not up on all the latest titles and releases. That’s why I was surprised the first time I went to and to the Zero Punctuation video review section, and found I was hooked.
The reviews are written and performed by Yahtzee Croshaw, “…British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder.” I watch his reviews about video games that I have heard of but have never played and have virtually no interest in playing. But his humor and writing are so funny and spot on that I will go to the site several times a week and watch one of the reviews. His reviews are done in Windows Movie Maker, and are simple clip art animation, which he narrators at a break-neck cadence.
If I had to wager a guess, I would say that Yahtzee approaches his reviews under the simple premise “I’m smarter than you, that’s why you are watching me and not the other way around,” which I find really entertaining.
The first review that I watched was of Halo 3, which my roommate was in the middle of playing at the time. So I might be bias, but watching someone point out every stupid element of a game that I have had to watch someone play for the past three days straight was just sheer enjoyment.
At this point I need to state that the reviews are not always for all audiences, and are not above using profanity, sex, and inappropriate humor in general. But for the mature nerd, it’s a very entertaining way to kill time.

Posted by
Matthew Byrd

What's New At

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Patience is a Virtue

So I have to share with you my crazy Friday with all of you because maybe we can all learn a lesson from it (I'm still searching for it, so maybe you can clue me in).

It started out last Wednesday, actually, when Brian said he wanted to get a laptop. I having been thinking about getting one too, so I was browsing on the internet and found this awesome deal for a laptop at Best Buy.

I figured I'd purchase it on Thursday, but never got around to it and then decided that it would be best if I went into the store so I a, didn't have to wait and b, didn't have to pay shipping and handling.

I got to the store Friday morning and waited for about forever, only to find out that they didn't have it in the store in Wyomissing, but they still had it online. I got into the car to come down to work and I thought I would call Matt and ask him if he could check at KoP. Well, not only did they not have it at KoP, but between the time I left the store and Matt called KoP, it sold out online too.

Well, my heart was set on that, so I was pretty bummed. We were trying to figure out what to do when a friend suggested checking at Circuit City. Circuit City had the same computer (even though it was technically a different model) so we called the store in Exton. They had one left, and it was an open box, so I would get it for cheaper than the one they were selling at Best Buy. Golden!

So we (Matt and I) jump in the car and rush to Circuit City, only to find out they have been searching for the box all day and can't find it, so they think someone might have stolen it.

The salesguy said not to worry when I asked if they'd have more laptops for this sale though, because they were getting a new shipment in the middle of this week and they were having sales all month long. Yeah, the new sale means the same laptop is 100 dollars more than a week ago.

Needless to say, I still don't have a laptop and if I want one, I'm going to be paying at least 150 more than the original laptop I wanted (which is discontinued, by the way).

I hope I earned lots of good karma for this whole fiasco, cause otherwise, I don't think it was very worthwhile.

Posted by
Laurie Perini



One phrase that is heard from time to time is that, "it is too cold to snow today". In actuality, earth's troposphere is not too cold to snow but rather it is "too dynamically stable to snow". Dynamic stability may be present due to low-level cold air advection, a lack of upper level divergence, and/or a lack of low level convergence. Also, if dynamic lifting does occur it may not produce precipitation that reaches the surface due to low relative humidity values in the lower troposphere.

The ingredients for snow are: (1) a temperature profile that allows snow to reach the surface, (2) saturated air, and (3) enough lifting of that saturated air to allow snow to develop aloft and fall to reach the surface. In a situation when it is said "it is too cold to snow" there is in reality not enough lifting of air that causes snow to reach the surface.

The phrase "it is too cold to snow today" probably originated as a misapplication of the relationship between temperature and the maximum amount of water vapor that can be in the air. When temperature decreases, the maximum capacity of water vapor that can be in the air decreases. Therefore, the colder it gets the less water vapor there will be in the air.

Even at very cold surface temperatures significant snowfall can occur because: (1) intense lifting can produce significant precipitation even at a very low temperature, (2) the temperature aloft can be much warmer than the temperature at the surface. The relatively warmer air aloft can have a larger moisture content than air in the PBL, (3) Moisture advection can continue to bring a renewed supply of moisture into a region where lifting is occurring, (4) Even at very cold temperatures the air always has a capacity to have some water vapor.

If the air cools to truly frigid Arctic temperatures such as -40 C and below then the moisture capacity of the air will be so low that likely not much snow can occur. Only at these extremely low temperatures is the phrase "it is too cold to snow" fairly valid.

At the temperature of absolute zero ( 0 K, -273 C, -459 F) all air including water vapor condenses and loses all molecular energy. The temperature can not cool below absolute zero.

Posted by
Leslie Wenzel

Strike Starts Hitting Home for Viewers

I’ve had more than enough to do over the holidays, so I haven’t really missed not having fresh TV episodes over the last few weeks. And with a few series launching this week (“Law & Order,” with half the cast new) and next (“Dance War,” “Medium”), I won’t be lacking for entertainment in my small amount of spare time.
But I’ve been following the Hollywood writers’ strike with growing interest, the more I find out about it. It seems clear to me that the writers are fully justified. The networks and studios get money for putting their content online, whether as downloads you pay for or as free streaming video that has commercials, so they shouldn’t be allowed to call it “promotional,” royalty-free content. Good writing is every bit as important as good acting, if not more so — especially when repeated viewings are in question — so the writers should be paid residuals for their creative efforts.
So far, the strike has mostly been a (non)spectator sport for the viewing audience. The only way a person can affect the strike has been to download or stream (which supports the studios) or abstain from their TV addictions (which supports the writers), or to write letters to one side or the other, urging settlement.
Starting tonight, however, there will be a direct competition between writers’ guild supporters and nonsupporters, on the late-night talk shows.
Actually, Carson Daly came back a few weeks ago despite the strike (he says he was told a lot of people on his staff would be fired if he didn’t), but he’s on really late, and had no competition, so it was a little hard to measure the effect.
But tonight (Wednesday), David Letterman and then Craig Ferguson will come back with live shows, with the help of their writers, because Letterman’s production company struck a separate deal with the guild. On the other hand, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel will also be broadcasting live — but they will be writing their own material (although monologues and various other materials will be prohibited by guild rules) and their guests will be crossing the picket lines.
Sure, it might be interesting to see how well the strikebreakers cope without their staff. Some people may tune in to their shows for that reason, or out of habit. But without monologues and other gag bits, and a lot of strike-sympathetic actors apparently planning to shun guest spots on their shows, their ratings will probably suffer increasingly as time passes.
Meanwhile, if you want the strike to end early, in the writers’ favor, you can have a small impact by choosing your late-night viewing based on that, by boycotting the online episodes that currently exploit the writers, and/or by writing to the studios to tell them to be fair.

On the Net:
Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (networks/studios):
Writers Guild of America, West:
Writers Guild of America, East:

Posted by
Patricia Matson
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