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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Guys' (and Girl's) Night Out

It was probably the hottest night of the year, but that didn't stop a family tradition.

Every year, in honor of my grandfather's birthday, the men in the family attend a Phillies game. The tradition started when he turned 70; this year, he turned 81 (his actual birthday was a couple of months ago). Normally, I bring a nurse, but this year, I decided just to have my father help me. Nothing against my nurses, but it was nice to be with just my family for a change. The extra ticket went to my now baseball-adoring sister, Amy.

Pictured above (from left) are my father; cousin, Benny; grandfather; me; Amy; and uncle, Steve. (Yes, I know there's some guy's head behind Uncle Steve, but he's not part of our family. At least not that I am aware!)

Of course, in typical Philadelphia fashion, the Phillies failed to cooperate on this
night. But my father and I deserve some of the blame for that.

With the Phillies leading 2-0 halfway through the game, my father turned to me and said, "This guy's pitching great. He hasn't given up anything."

"Dad, stop it," I warned him, "They'll hear you."

Naturally, the next pitch ended up sailing over the fence for a homerun. Still 2-1, Phils, though.

My sin was worse.

"Don't walk people," I said out loud as Phillies relief pitcher Tom "Flash" Gordon ran a deep count to the first batter he faced in the eighth inning, "Make the guy hit the ball. Worst he'll do is tie the game."

And in a flash, that was exactly what happened: a game-tying homerun! My father just looked at me. It all spiraled downhill from there. Final score: 4-3, San Diego Padres.

But, hey, at least I was with my family, having fun. It's a good thing, too, because otherwise I may have jumped off the Walt Whitman Bridge, wheelchair and all, the way the Phillies played tonight!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Takin' the Trail to Town

With the sun shining after what seemed like an eternity of rain and unseasonably cold temperatures, it was time to get out of the house. Today's destination was the Schuylkill River Park, an extension of the trail on Kelly Drive (see my entry from 7/21), which runs along the Schuylkill River, starting at the Fairmount Waterworks and ending up alongside the western edge of Center City. Accompanied by my friend, Lauren (pictured to my right) and my nurse, Frank (he's quite a photographer), I took the trail into the city, ending up in Rittenhouse Square.

It's the pefect combination of nature and urban life. As I learned when I was a graduate student in urban studies a few years, parks like this have become increasingly popular in cities across the country, especially among young professionals.

While I miss my urban studies days, it is great to actually live what I learned. Of course, I'm not exactly a "young" professional anymore, but don't tell anyone!

What makes the trail so great is its easy access to Center City via the ramp that connects with both the Market and Chestnut Street bridges. (In the above picture, my friend and I are returning to the trail from Chestnut Street) Built in accordance with the standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the ramp is long (as you can see in the picture to the right), but therefore not too steep for wheelchair users. Being able to get into town, free of any transportation other than my wheelchair, is extremely liberating and makes the big city feel smaller and more approachable.

Now, if only the prices in the shops and restaurants were more approachable!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Chowing Down in Chinatown

The last time I was in Philadelphia's Chinatown, I was a college freshman -- 11 years ago! Tonight seemed like a good time for me to return, along with friends Bekezela and Mike (pictured above) and my nurse du jour (taking the picture.

As usual, parking my high-top van in Center City proved a royal pain in the ass. We picked out a perfectly good handicap space, only to be told by the attendant to go to other side of the lot -- the equivalent of half a block away, where the pavement was broken up -- because there was "more room over there."

Fortunately, dinner proved worth the trip. I even got a bit adventurous in my old age, trying Lamb Hunan Style and Pineapple and Lychee Duck. I enjoyed both and had no trouble chewing either, always a concern when straying from my predominantly chicken and fish diet.

We decided to walk around after dinner, as I wanted to get a picture at the well-known Friendship Gate. Halfway up the block, a restaurant worker carted out a trash can full of foul-smelling water and dumped it all over the sidewalk. So we backtracked half a block and crossed at the corner (jaywalking isn't possible when you're in a wheelchair with curb cuts only at corners), proceeded up the block, only to be confronted with, you guessed it, another pool of fishy water! With no choice, I drove through it quickly. It's always an adventure, isn't it?

Fortunately, the only smell emanating from my wheelchair when I got home was that of the leftover egg rolls and sesame chicken. My father was only too happy to give me a hand with that!