The flying Nicholas

Nick won an award at the swim club for Most Improved Diver, which was an impressive feat considering this is the first season he’s even tried it. Diving champs were held last week, and our man did some aerial acrobatics on his way to an 8th place finish in his age group.

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Usually it’s Maria that we catch in midair photos, but Nicholas spent an impressive amount of time this summer in flight. Who knew?

A programming note: We’re away on vacation next week, so posting will resume on Monday, the 16th. Happy summer!

Christmas in July

That was the theme at our other baseball game a couple weekends back. Nick, Maria, and I were out to see the Phillies on a steamy Sunday afternoon with my folks, my sister Kate, and some colleagues from my Dad’s office who are here for the summer from China. A regular baseball game is inscrutable enough for international visitors, and so the concept of “Christmas in July” was a whole extra layer of puzzlement.

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In any case, Nick was well prepared with his 2008 World Series Champions Santa hat:

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My dad got the seats, and they were ridiculously good. This was the view from our seats, on the right field line and about four rows off the field:

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We were close enough to run out on the field and be a part of the game, assuming we were prepared to get Tasered:

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We were sitting right in the spot where the ball girl sits on the field… it took me seven innings to convince Nick that he needed to get a picture with her:

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Everybody was decked out in their Phillies regalia:

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Some thunderstorms passed through the area, so we ended up having a 90-minute rain delay:

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Afterward, we had our seats all to ourselves for a while:

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The Phillies prevailed in the end, and we had a great time at the ballpark:

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Tomorrow: You’ll flip for Nick.

Take me out to some more ball games

After our whirlwind visits with friends and family, you might expect us to slow down for a little bit. You’d be wrong. After sending our guests on their merry way, we caught two baseball games in 24 hours – a Saturday evening Reading Phillies game, and a Sunday afternoon major-league Phillies game.

The Saturday evening game was incredibly hot – game time temperature was 96F/36C, and it was humid to boot. Fortunately, the Reading ballpark was just as much fun as I remember from my childhood days, when my dad would take our baseball team to a game to celebrate the end of our season.

Here’s the crowd, feeling that 96 degrees in our bones:

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Notice that Nick’s face and shirt are pretty much the same color:

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Chelsea and I made several drink runs for the kids, and at one point we picked up some funnel cake and some tennis balls for a fundraiser they do at the end of games… they put some hula hoops on the field and they also have a truck drive around the perimeter of the field. Land a tennis ball inside a hula hoop, or in the bed of the truck, and you can win a prize. Chelsea took the opportunity to show off her juggling skills:

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The visiting Akron Aeros beat the tar out of the R-Phillies, so there wasn’t much in the way of rooting for the home team. Even so, the Reading Phillies really deliver on minor league baseball entertainment. In addition to the usual endless circus of on-field games between innings, they also had a live concert in their food court after the game, and a post-game fireworks show:

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The whole adventure was a gift from my Mom, who bought the tickets as part of a fundraiser for the school that one of our cousins attends. Thanks, Mom!

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Tomorrow: Back to The Show.

Vegetables: The story of Aldi

I know we have a lot of Aldi shoppers out there, so I thought everyone would enjoy reading this profile (from Der Spiegel, but in English) of the legendary German no-frills supermarket chain:

“Whenever American newspapers write about Aldi, they always mention the quarters. Incredulous journalists like to tell their readers about how shopping carts in front of the German discount store can only be released after a coin is inserted. It’s a clever trick: Customers are then sure to return their carts, meaning the company does not need employees to go and collect the trolleys from the parking lot, thereby saving money.”

It’s a remarkable story – a small family business that has grown to cover the world.

Happy anniversary!

My dad’s parents are celebrating their wedding anniversary today. I won’t embarrass them with the precise number of years they are celebrating, except to say that I hope Chelsea and I are so lucky to reach the same heights someday.

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Congratulations!

Wayback Machine: Christmas 2009

Last night when I laid down with Anna for bedtime, she had a strange song request: “Daddy, can you sing ‘Jingle Bells’?” So I did, and then followed up with “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

In honor of Anna’s song choices, here’s a quick look back at last Christmas. Maria is putting the angel atop one of our trees:

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In the background you can see the remnants of that epic, record-breaking snowstorm we had just a few days before Christmas. Funny to see that again, especially after I was out mowing that lawn over the weekend.

[Correction: In his original post, your intrepid correspondent incorrectly identified the tree-topping Christmas sprite in the picture above. That’s Maria, not Anna. Your correspondent regrets the error. Special thanks to eagle-eyed Aunt Kate for catching the mistake.]