Wednesday, June 30, 2010

'Big Brother 12' Meet the Hamsters

I just about literally got in the door from work. But I wanted to get this video posted. I have to investigate these new hamsters a bit more, write up an article for TV Squad on them and then comment more on them here over the next few days.

Hmm ... I'm not seeing a lot of age diversity at a first quick glance, are you? But Allison said she listened to what we (the fans) want!



And here is the new house ...

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Saboteur in the Big Brother 12 House?

The latest commercial for Big Brother 12 has Julie saying that one player won't be in it to win it. Instead, that person will wreak havoc in the house. I'm thinking it's along the line of "America's Player." However, I don't know if we'll get a vote on what the person will do or not. I'm not sure if they'll even reveal the person to us in the beginning. This should be interesting!



Press day in the house is set for Wednesday. Once again, I wasn't invited. (sniffle) I expect the cast announcements and house reveal should be Thursday ... on The Early Show and Entertainment Tonight. I might be a bit off on those as I'm hearing rumors and guessing the timing. Either way, I'll be at work. But I'll post as soon as I can!

UPDATE - THE CAST REVEAL WILL BE ON WEDNESDAY ON THE EARLY SHOW. And, we do get a say with the saboteur -- check it out.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - June 27, 2010

It's time for my weekly off television topic look back at the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. Huh. Oh my. I haven't posted anything about television this week! How could that be? I guess it's a mix of being weather-related lethargic and perhaps just not overly excited about anything I have watched.

That will surely change by the end of this week as I expect the cast announcements for Big Brother to be made. The show starts on July 8, so they'll probably be in the house without active feeds by next weekend. My guess is that they'll be in sequester and doing promo bits as early as tomorrow. The official website has removed the hamster photos from last year and stuck up generic ones, thirteen in all. We could have thirteen in the house, or they might just be filling the spots from last season's photos. All the mysteries will be revealed soon.

Sigh. I so hate high temperatures accompanied by high humidity levels. I don't like to sweat unless I'm doing something physical. To stand outside not moving and sweat is annoying. I've been running my air conditioning way too much. That bill is going to be interesting! In the winter, my heat is included in my rent. However, my electricity is all on me. I told Vincent (my cat) that he needs to go out and get a job if he wants the air conditioning on while I'm at work. He scoffed.

I don't even get cross-ventilation from my windows as they all face the same direction. Well, my bathroom window (which is basically just for plain old ventilation) faces a shaft in the middle of the building. That doesn't really count. There's nothing I enjoy more than a comfortable evening with the windows open and maybe a fan going. But those nights have been few and far between this past week.

Let's see ... what else can I whine about? Hmm. Well, I was quoted in an article in the New Jersey Star Ledger (the state's main all-encompassing newspaper). My name was misspelled and the street I live on was totally off. While the news reporter was pleasant enough, he was no Mark Spivey (the more local Courier News reporter) on the case.

Of course, this was all in relation to the landlord woes of my building and so many others properties all flummoxed up by mismanagement. My quote was about knowing where my deposit is and filing a 1099 for for the first time so I can reap the gazillions in interest. Okay, not gazillions. I'm just happy to know my security deposit still exists! Oh ... and I also noted some eviction notices going up in my building. None for me. But, then again, I pay my rent.

My town (Plainfield) is still having gang-related shooting issues on the west side. Supposedly the mayor has declared a state of emergency, but I see no differences here or in my travels around downtown to the train station and such. I'm still in the situation where a teenage boy from my building exits, sees me approaching, runs back to unlock and open the front door for me with a grand gesture and a friendly greeting. I guess, although it's the people causing the problems on the west side, it's the people who make this town such a friendly place for me on the east side. I have no answers.

I missed a good photo opportunity in town yesterday as I work on Saturdays. They had a big street fair downtown. Local blogger Bernice got some good shots. I'll also miss next Saturday's 4th of July parade for the first time since I moved here nine years ago. It goes right by my building, so it's hard to miss. They always have it on the 4th and I always have the 4th off as a paid holiday (or a Sunday with another day off). This year, they're having the parade on the 3rd, a Saturday. Vincent is going to be entertained at the windows. I'll be at work.

Onto this week's shots -- clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window ...


Synchronized Squirrels

Yep, it's the Olympics of the animals! I took this shot as the squirrels frolicked on the oak trees by the Plainfield Train Station.


Just call me Butterfly Whisperer

The shots I had this spring of butterflies were in a butterfly enclosure. This one was "real life" near the Bridgewater Train Station. I had just missed shooting (with my camera) both a chipmunk and a rabbit as they ran by me. Not together, of course. I decided to stand under a tree for shade when this butterfly joined me. I took several shots. I could almost swear he was panting in the heat. He just sat on the leaf slowly opening and closing his wings.

I don't know what kind of butterfly he is. He has most of the colors of an Eastern Swallowtail, but is missing the bold definition, the orange spot, and the wing shape. With his wings outstretched, we're talking maybe around three inches. He flew away and my train came. It made my day that I got a wild butterfly without chasing it all over the place in the heat.

Added note: I found out what the butterfly is --
'Astyanax' Red-spotted Purple. Its red spots are just very muted, yet show when the photo is enlarged.


Yes, it's a New Jersey Transit bus

I still can't get used the these shrink-wrapped ads on buses (nor on buildings in the city). If you try to look out the windows from within, it's all dots obscuring the view. If you're waiting for a bus, the appearance can throw you off. I guess they make money from the ads, yet they raise the fares. That's life. On Watchung Avenue in Plainfield.


Another Day, Another Dollar

I edited this one, muting the colors on the man and making the background black and white. Early in the morning at the Plainfield Train Station.


Downtown flower

Yet another flower from the planters on East Front Street in Plainfield. Although the planters themselves aren't all that great on an aesthetic level, the flowers are very pretty this year.


East Front at Richmond

The house on the corner always has the prettiest flowers, winter decorations, and more. The one next to it is where the sunflowers are. Well, will be. Right now all the plants are much taller than me, but no flowers yet. Soon. Plainfield.


Westfield Trader Joe's

I went out to dinner then a Trader Joe's run with a friend early this week. Yes, they had my sea-salt brownies! I didn't buy any of the Two Buck Chuck you see in cases in the window (the Charles Shaw wine). I'm not a big wine drinker -- it gives me a headache. But the wine, at $2.99 a bottle, seems to have quite a group of fans. And, apparently it's decent quality, unlike Boone's Farm which I recall from my college days. (Hiccup.)


Red Sky at Night

Sailor's delight? After a quick storm passed, the clouds at sunset were nothing short of magnificent. Tuesday evening.


Lone Lily

A lone tiger lily has burst through a hedge on Berckman Street in Plainfield.


Breakfast of champions ...

... cheesy popcorn. Plainfield Train Station, early in the morning. Yes, I edited it to leave him in color, the rest black and white and "posterized."


Fuzzy Wuzzy

No wonder I'm sneezing! Not dandelions, but we're talking seed spore activity here. Bridgewater Train Station.


I Will Survive

Or, perhaps "Against All Odds." It's amazing that plants can take root in the middle of cement.


Cute Weed

I haven't a clue what it is.


Yet another weed

This plant is very tall ... some are well over three feet. The blooms are dandelion-esque, yet not quite the same. Bridgewater Train Station.


Disrepair at the YWCA

The mayor of Plainfield actually wanted to buy the building for 5.5 million dollars (when the town needs so much more important things and has budget woes). I see a lot of deterioration with the YWCA building on East Front Street in Plainfield. I understand that the Y itself is having financial woes (aren't we all?). But I can't help but think that those who benefit so much from the programs the Y offers could get together, chip the paint off, paint the window frames, and replace missing glass without a great expense. It's a gorgeous and cool building. Why are they allowing it to go to ruin?


Start spreading the News ...

Meanwhile, the State News convenience store at the corner of Watchung and East Front has new signage. I don't know whose skyline it is on the sign ... certainly not Plainfield's! I took this early in the morning before most of the businesses open.


Sittin' in the railway station ...

... got a ticket for my destination ("Homeward Bound" by Simon and Garfunkel). This young man started taking the train a few months back. He has severe vision problems and a white cane. He always wears suits, sneakers, and tucks his pants legs into his socks. I follow him getting off the train in the evening as he shouts "Let me out! Let me out!" and waves his cane around. Hey, it clears the way for me, too! Proper train etiquette is that boarding passengers wait for people to detrain, but they don't always wait.


African braids

Many of the hand-painted signs on downtown businesses look like they're decades old. It's kind of a neat trip back in time. Watchung Avenue in Plainfield.


Let me look in my (not so) crystal ball

The orange building scheme from the corner of Watchung Avenue and East Second Street as reflected in the lamp at the Plainfield Post Office.


Busy bee

I've been getting a lot of bumblebee shots as these bushes are alive with them. Most are cooperative. They're more interested in what they're doing than they are in me.


Accidental flash

These are the same weeds as I posted above, but my flash went off. I liked the darkened background.


Rent a bird feeder

Oh. I guess they mean an apartment in the house, eh? East Front Street in Plainfield, edited (obviously). I guess the tree is dead as it didn't bloom this season. It usually has pretty pink-purple blossoms. It doesn't even have a leaf this year.


East Second Street rowhouses

I don't think "rowhouse" really applies, but I can't think of another name for them. They round the corner at Church Street and have a bit of a courtyard in the back. Alas, although some details are nice such as the painting of the trim, they're rundown. When I walk by and a door is open into a hallway, they're rough. No wonder the landlord offers two free months of rent!

Also, when I go by, all I can think of is a line from an old Supremes song, "Love Child" -- "I started my life in a old cold rundown tenement slum (tenement slum), my father left and never even married Mom (married Mom) ..." Oh, great. Now I'm singing.


I will just lie here and look listless

This is part of Vincent's morning routine on a workday (of mine, not his). I pay attention to him when I get up. He sits on my lap or shoulder as I have coffee. But once I have to actually get ready, he goes to his chair, literally falls over to his side, and looks listless and forlorn. I can only think that he believes I go off having great adventures every day and leave him home.

How was your week?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - June 20, 2010

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off TV topic reflection on the week gone by ... in both words and photographs I've taken. It's also Fathers Day. So, if there are any fathers out there reading this, have a good one! I often wonder how my father would react to today's world. He died young when I was very young. He always told me I was his favorite daughter. I have three siblings, all brothers. Heh. He was a good Dad, worked too hard, and has been gone from my life longer than he was in it. I still miss him.

In other news, I don't have much other news. It's been one of those weeks in which I work, eat, sleep, then do it all over again. Sometimes I shake up the eat and sleep order just to liven things up. Vincent is well. I bought him some catnip mice to replace the now gone mice in the wall. It's just not the same for him. But I sleep a lot easier knowing that I don't have to worry about mice in the apartment, nor blood on the duvet.

My elevator is still working, yay! It's such a relief not to trudge up the stairs with groceries and such. After all, the elevator was one of the reasons I went for this apartment so many years back. That and the laundry room in the basement.

Plainfield is still having shooting incidents, gang woes, and now a (probably) gang-related murder on the other side of town. Unfortunately, people outside of the town basically hear about the crimes in town. I find it one of the friendliest places I've ever lived. People say hello (or howyadoin') as you pass, folks stop and chat, teenagers hold doors open for me.

No, I wouldn't wander around on foot in the wee hours of the morning. However, there aren't many places I do that these days. Maybe Manhattan if I miss the last train to New Jersey. But there's always people around there. I feel safe enough in my own neighborhood to take trash out at odd hours if the whim hits. True, this warfare between gangs has to stop.

But Plainfield is a lot more than just crime -- a lot of decent, hardworking, and even some wealthy folks live here. Heck, actor Dudley Moore lived his last few years and died here (not due to gang violence) and Judy Blume penned books here. We won't even go into the George Clinton and P-Funk! ;-)

Onto this week's photographs ... clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window.


Not blooming yet

While the sunflowers on the left are taller than the man on the right (or they were when he walked near them), no sunflowers yet. I'm watching! East Front Street, Plainfield.


Bunny in da 'hood, bunny in da 'hood

This is next door to next door from me. It used to be a church-related private school's playground. However, it shut down and eventually all the playground equipment was removed ... probably a liability as the neighborhood children liked to play there after the school vanished. The church is still there and I don't miss screaming children at recess and lunch periods.


East Front Street flowers

The planters in Plainfield are full of pretty flowers.


Uh-oh

He knows I took his photo. He's probably going to hunt me down, sting me, and kill me. I'm deathly allergic to bees. Actually, these bees aren't overly excitable. They're not all that interested in humans.


Hubba hubba!

Probably someone's husband husband. But I can man watch from across the tracks, can't I? Plainfield Train Station.


Quiet late spring morning

East Third Street in Plainfield. I messed a bit with the editing to make it look a bit more like an illustration -- more noticeable when you view the larger size.


Mad World

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
-- "Mad World" by Tears For Fears

On an NJ Transit train, Raritan Valley Line. I edited it to leave only the window in color.



Master of His Domain

East Front Street, Plainfield.


In which I risk my life for the shot

Now, THESE are ornery! I don't know if he's a wasp, a hornet, or a cicada killer. I didn't ask.


What about George?

This is the cemetery in back of the Friends Meeting House (Quakers) in Plainfield, along Church Street. They dug a trench along the fence for a stretch of fifteen feet. I think they're just a bit too close to George for comfort!

Gravedigger, when you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain, Gravedigger.
-- "Gravedigger" by Dave Matthews

I hope George wasn't shallow!


Now they're ordering Chinese take-out and littering!

I tell you ... those birds are plotting against us. Even worse, I think this was chicken. That's creepy cannibalism, isn't it? East Front Street in Plainfield. I hate litter and this meal looks like it was barely touched!


Rapunzel, stay out!

Nope! No tresses here! I'm always aghast when folks PAY for signs with misspellings. There isn't just one, but two with this same spelling on either side of the entrance to ScottWay Townhomes off of East Front Street. Of course, I may be misspelling "ScottWay." But, if I were making a sign, I'd check the spelling first!


Kewl

Shouldn't be parked on the street without paying the meter, but there is a license plate in the window. Front and back bumpers might help, too. Outside of Custom Underground on East Fourth Street, Plainfield with the Plainfield Train Station in the background.


Buggy!

I don't know what it is, but I don't think he did all the damages to those leaves.


Where Plainfield Auto Body WAS

They even swept the lot, ripped the windows out, put in new, put up a new fence, stuck two chairs and two planters out. But no one seems to be in there, per se. I edited this to make it look a bit more like an illustration. East Fourth Street, Plainfield.


And then there were two

Blue chairs in sea of grays. Yeah, I messed more with it.


Carved in stone

The stairway leading to the westbound platform at the Plainfield Train Station. I don't use it, but I always think it's kind of neat.

Berries

I don't know for sure what they are. I won't eat them. I prefer to be sure of my berries!



Too Much Catnip

I woke Vincent up from a nap and it looks like he's hungover!

How was your week?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Talkin' TV

I know I haven't been posting all that much television talk as of late. Perhaps I'm in a bit of the doldrums awaiting Big Brother with its live feeds and a bit too ambitious posting schedule here and on TV Squad. As of now, there are still no official announcements on casting or possible twists. Since it's due to start on July 8, I expect casting to be announced somewhere around the end of June.

My latest feature article on the show is up over on TV Squad -- A Wish List for Big Brother 12. As usual, those who don't like either the show or reality TV in general are posting comments. I never understand why folks who don't like something take the time to read, then complain. There are plenty of shows I don't like. Guess what? I don't watch them, nor do I waste time reading about them! That's the marvel of living in this technological era -- tons of TV channels from which to choose, shows on the Internet, movies on demand, a collection of DVDs and books. Let others watch what they enjoy. It's a big enough world for us all.

So, what have I been watching?

I've gotten hooked on Persons Unknown, reasons unknown. It's weird, perhaps a bit contrived. But, since it's only thirteen episodes and nothing else I'm hooked on is in the 10 PM Monday time slot, there I am. It seems obvious that the "kidnapping" of the mother has something to do with the grandmother. But then, many things aren't as they appear. It leaves me confused. But I'm mesmerized for the hour. Plus, it's created by the person responsible for The Usual Suspects. That was nicely done.

I like The Good Guys on FOX. Oh, I wouldn't panic if I were to miss an episode. However, it's a fun little romp through a non-realistic world of cops and robbers. The whole timing bit reminds me of the backwards Indian wedding episode of Seinfeld.

I've been watching both So You Think You Can Dance and America's Got Talent. Tonight I will record the latter as SYTYCD is two hours. I'm still not sure whether I like the idea of only eleven new contestants and the return of the best from the other seasons. While I enjoy seeing folks like Twitch again, it seems to limit the possibilities for new dancers on the show. I guess we'll see how it works for tonight's first real competition show. The fact that it will be live intrigues me. I'd surely fall on my butt! But, then again, I never thought I could dance. Well, at least since I stopped being a teenager.

What are you watching and enjoying?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - June 13, 2010

It's Sunday morning, the start of another humid and perhaps storm-laden day here in New Jersey. But, more importantly, it's time for my weekly off television topic look back on the week gone by in words and photos I've taken.

Sigh. When I was a child, I think I lived for the summer. Well, the summer, my birthday and Christmas. Although I tended to look like a lobster with sunburn all summer long, I loved it. I never sat around sunning or anything, but loved to swim and play outside.

As I've grown older, I don't like the heat. I don't like being sweaty. I definitely don't like being sunburned. I never tan. So, as you can see, I'm not all that keen on the heat and humidity we're in right now. We did have a few gorgeous days this week with temperatures in the 70s, dry and sunny. I liked those days. All of summer should be like that!

In my local area, there was a heated city council primary election going on. I'm just an innocent bystander to a lot of the local politics here. However, I probably see and know a lot more than I than I actually would ever talk about. I'm so not a political activist type person. That said, I want to congratulate blog reader Rebecca Williams on her win.

I just couldn't come out and say during the campaign period that I first "met" her on this blog due to her interest in the Big Brother show. Hopefully she'll have time in her busy schedule to keep up with the show this summer! I think, if elected, she'd do well in the new position and know that she's dedicated, honest and intelligent. Yay, Rebecca! Her own personal blog is a fascinating read.

Even closer to home, otherwise known as my apartment building, there have been noted improvements with the bank running the operation and the receivership appointed for us. First, apparently the extermination worked. Vincent no longer stares at the radiator. I know he loved catching mice, but I really never liked Wild Kingdom going on in my living room. Plus, I was very worried he'd actually eat one and get ill. He's back to paying more attention to his toys.

Second, the elevator is working again! Yes! I came home with a ton of groceries and didn't have to lug them up the stairs! Not only that, but it's working more smoothly and better than it has in years. It no longer provides a rather jolting ride and the door closes once again after you get out. That's the way it should be working -- the last few years, the door would sit open until someone pushed the button on another floor.

Third, I finally know that my security deposit does indeed exist and has been transferred to a different bank. Connolly never did that right and I should have exercised my right to use it for rent at one point or another because I never received my interest payments and such. Now that a bank owns the building again, I received a W9 form to fill out and notification from TD Bank (hello, Regis!) exactly how much is there and the interest rate. I was very worried that my security deposit would have been squandered by him or "lost" in the shuffle.

I still don't know anything about whether I'll be living here come fall or not. Since that whole foreclosure went down right around the time I should have gotten my lease renewal, I never got the renewal form this year. I don't think they'd want me out as I'm a good tenant, not destructive, no complaints about me, never pay my rent late, quiet, etc.

I've lived in this apartment for nine years. I like the town, the location, the neighborhood, most of my neighbors, the access to public transportation and stores, the elevator, laundry room in the basement and all. I'd rather not move. I guess I'll see. I can't make arrangements to have the other knee replacement done until I'm sure I won't have to move in the middle of recovery.

Onto this week's photos -- clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window:


Scout

I'm sure he's just watching for humans to swoop down upon.


I Met a Cat

Sigh. I believe this cat is "owned" by the people who live in the house. But it saddens me to see pets allowed to roam on busy city streets. When I was a child, I thought the life expectancy of a cat was only two years because they kept getting hit by cars and suffering other injuries due to roaming about freely. East Front Street, Plainfield.


A Tainted Sun

Well, maybe tinted at the very least. This is the view of the upcoming sunset as seen out the train window on my way home from work last night. Hazy, humid and even tinted by the slightly darkened train windows, it seemed almost other-worldly.


Whazzat?

Has there been a horrible accident? Is it a BEAR? (Since NJ freaks out so much about them, I always look for a good bear to shoot with my camera.) I sneak up, sneak up and ...


... he runs!

You know, it's hard to sneak up on a chipmunk! Bridgewater Train Station.


Plainfield Train Station

Obviously, I edited this shot. I left the guy and signal lights in color, making the background black and white and "posterized." On a fashion note -- if I wore pants like that, people would probably point and giggle. Well, they may point and giggle anyway, but I'm talking pants here. That style is almost as bad as "pants on the ground."


Chicory

Growing wild at the Plainfield Train Station until they mow the grass once again.


Deadly Nightshade has gone berries on us

I guess these are what you're not supposed to eat. East Third Street, Plainfield.


HEY! How 'bout ME?

Huh? As I was shooting the deadly nightshade on East Third Street, I heard someone yelling to me. Um. Okay. I shot him. I don't know who he is, never saw him before. He's wearing a jacket (and shorts) when it's hot and humid out. He wanted his picture taken. I obliged. In back of him is the embankment up to the railroad tracks. It was all a bit odd. But he moved along after I shot him. (So I must not have seriously wounded him, eh?)


PiƱatas over produce

Hmm. In the Supremo Supermarket in Plainfield, they now have piƱatas hanging all over looking down on the produce department. Cool. I was tempted to pick up a yucca root and test 'em.


Who you gonna call?

I don't think you could even call GhostBusters on most of the public pay phones in Plainfield. This particular one on East Front Street has had a broken receiver for more than a couple years. Most either have receivers in this shape or the phone has been removed completely, just leaving the shell. I guess it's because, with the prolific use of cell phones and increased vandalism, it's just not a money making business. I edited this shot to make it look a bit more like an illustration than a photo.


In the early morning rain

"You can't jump a jet plane
Like you can a freight train
So I best be on my way
In the early morning rain" - Gordon Lightfoot

Not all that far from the freight train tracks, I had to be on my to work in the early morning rain in Bridgewater, NJ.


Also in the rain that morning


Mickey D Tea is for the birds

East Second Street in Plainfield.


YWCA

I edited this one to leave the reflection of trees in one window in color, the rest black and white. East Front Street, Plainfield.


Tiger Lily

Berckman Street, Plainfield.


Vincent

"Will you turn off that air conditioner and open this window, please?"

How was your week?