Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!


As it's Christmas morning, I'm going to skip the photos this week. They will return next week! 

I want to wish everyone a happy holiday and hope you can spend some time with loved ones. Thank you all for being a part of the blog this year!

In closing, here's a bad video of clips I took while looking at Christmas in NYC ...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Survivor South Pacific Season Finale and Reunion Show Blog Party

Survivor South Pacific


Survivors ready? It's the two-hour season finale followed by the reunion show! Alas, since it's Sunday night and CBS is a %$#, football has delayed the show. Sigh. I'm not sure when it is to start. I believe football was still on at 7:30 PM (I'm not fan). When I checked at 7:42 PM. 60 Minutes was on. So, I'll get this post up for 8 PM but the show won't be started then.

Once it does begin, I'll be updating this post with major events. But the real fun and active discussion can be found in the blog party comments. Stop on in and share your thoughts on the show!

8:33 PM ET and we're finally ready to start!

Duel time! They hve to hold onto a pole. Um. Okay. Brandon played a good pole dance, but Ozzy won. Ozzy is back in the game!

Immunity challenge -- it's building a high house of cards time. Ozzy wins!

Tribal Council --

Rick
Sophie
Rick
Sophie
Rick

Bye-bye, Rick!

Final immunity challenge has them racing through an obstacle course collecting five bags of puzzle pieces, first puzzle completed wins. SOPHIE WINS!

Tribal council time.

Ozzy
Albert
Ozzy
Ozzy

Bye-bye Ozzy!

In Los Angeles, here are the votes:
Coach
Sophie
Coach
Sophie
Coach
Sophie
Sophie
Sophie

Woohoo! My blog pool pick person actually WON!

Player of the season -- Ozzy by a landslide. Cochran was second, but not even close.

Next season -- new twist. Survivor One World -- two tribes, one island.

Thank you to all who have made this blog your Survivor home!

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - December 18, 2011

It's Sunday morning, time for my off television topic look back on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. My apologies to the Plainfield folks who come by looking for photos of our town. I'm only posting a few this week -- I'll make amends next week!

The reason I'm not posting more Plainfield photos is because it finally wasn't raining on a Tuesday night. Yep, that's why! Y'see, one of my favorite things I used to do before bad knees was to head into the city (NYC) and do what I call "photo stomping." Well, the knees are both good now and it's the perfect time of year to start up my photo stomping once again! 

However, I'm fussy. I have to get up around 5 AM for work every day except Wednesday and Sunday (my days off) or Saturday morning as I go in to work later. I don't really love crowds (although they can't be avoided even in the middle of the night this time of the year in Manhattan). So I don't want to go on a Friday night even though I can sleep a few hours later. I don't want to go on a Saturday night because I get out of work too late and I'm tired. Weekend nights in the city at Christmas are twice as busy as weeknights. My day I wanted was a TUESDAY evening -- evening is better than the day to capture the holiday lights and stuff.

But it has rained every Tuesday night since the Rockefeller Center tree was lighted. Grr. That is, until this week! Yay! 

So I went into town and overdid my walking about so that I could barely walk on Wednesday, my day off. I took the train directly from work, ending up at Penn Station. From there I walked to Macy's, the NYPL (New York Public Library), Bryant Park, up Fifth Avenue, then part of Sixth Avenue, over to Rockefeller Center, down to Times Square, then ended up at the Port Authority Building to catch the 113 bus home. Mind you, that stops right across the street from my apartment, a good thing indeed because I was zonked!

I only have a few Plainfield photos this week, both of the same thing. Sigh. A fire has destroyed an historical (1885) building nearby the Plainfield Train Station on North Avenue. It's a building I've photographed many times in the past because it has (had) one of the best ghost signs in town. As a photography fiend in city areas, ghost signs always attract my interest. They're the old signage painted directly on the buildings. I called the now burned and slated to be demolished building "The Bull Durham Tobacco" building. 

The Bull Durham Tobacco building

As I had conked out early last night, I woke up around 4 AM and heard on my scanner that there was a fire on North Avenue. This is what it looked like when I arrived to the train station around 9 AM. Some smoke was still coming from within and firefighters seemed to be surveying the roof from the cherry picker. Part of the roof has collapsed.

A total loss

Sigh. When I heard about the fire, I automatically thought it was the abandoned building across the street. The Bull Durham building was abandoned with the exception of a restaurant on the first floor. The evening before, the Portuguese BBQ Restaurant on the other side of the train station burned down. Well, it's still kind of up, but will end up coming down. 

Onto photo stomping Manhattan in the holiday season! I warn you ... there are a LOT of photos here and video coming next week of the Lord and Taylor windows and more! You might want to grab a cup of coffee.

Believe

Macy's holiday theme this year is "Believe." I noticed that one of their Believe lighted signs over a marque lined up very neatly with the Empire State Building if you caught the right angle.

A holiday wonderland

While Manhattan itself is breathtaking during the holidays, everyone should go at least once to Rockefeller Center around Christmas. I was lucky -- the crowds were nowhere near as bad as the last time I photo stomped during the holidays in the city.

Macy's

I edited this shot of one of the Macy's entrances. I like how it turned out. Do you know that the Manhattan Macy's holds the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest department store in the world? I didn't go inside on Tuesday, but I have been. It's really old school different.

FOR A GAZILLION MORE NYC HOLIDAY PHOTOS, CLICK THE READ MORE LINK IF YOU'RE AT THE MAIN BLOG PAGE.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Survivor South Pacific 12/14 Episode Blog Party

Survivor South Pacific


Survivors ready? It's almost time for the show to start here on the East Coast. As it airs, I'll be updating this post with major events. But the real fun and active discussion can be found in the blog party comments. Stop on in and share your thoughts on the show!

Tonight's penultimate episode will pit Edna against Ozzy in the Redemption Island duel -- it would be a hoot if she beat him, wouldn't it? Plus, we'll know who's going into the battle to name the sole survivor (on Sunday night).

Survivors ready?

Redemption duel time -- slide puzzle, hatchet to release a rope, more puzzle. Shocker -- Ozzy wins again. Bye-bye, Edna.

Albert wants Sophie out to better his own chances with the jury. Coach is leaning towards Brandon. Heck, they should shock him and vote COACH off this time! Or not. I am actually liking him which wasn't possible in his two prior seasons.

Immunity challenge time -- climbing, puzzles, releasing bags, raising flag, Nothing new. The winner also gets pizza. Oh geez. Brandon won immunity. He chose Rick to join him saying he's playing wuth his heart as per is father's advice and it's strategy.

At tribal, Brandon gives his immunity necklace to Albert. @@

Time to tally the votes:
Brandon
Sophie
Brandon
Sophie
BRANDON!!

Woohoo, the zealot is voted out! He'll go to Redemption to face Ozzy. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Amazing Race 19 Blog Party - Season Finale


I'm ready to give up watching any CBS show airing on Sunday evenings. I've had it. CBS seriously needs to work out a dependable schedule for its Sunday night primetime block. Once again football has delayed the show. And we're talking a season finale. I don't like football, not at all, not anyhow or anyway. However, if CBS wants to continue to air games, they need to start the primetime shows later and possibly lose a show. 


60 Minutes started at 7:42 ET. I expect TAR to start at 8:42 PM ET. That screws up my plans to watch the two-hour part one of Bag of Bones starting at 9 PM (on dependable A&E). That, in turn, screws up my Monday night TV viewing tomorrow as part two starts at 9 PM ET. I'll have to cram in four hours of Bag of Bones after working all day or watch that at another time. All because of CBS airing football well into the Sunday evening primetime block. Thanks a lot, CBS! 

Once it finally starts, as the action happens, I'll be updating this post with the major happenings. But the real fun is in the comments; please pipe in with your thoughts! See you there!

The teams are flying to Atlanta, Georgia. OHHH! I've been in that airport! They head to Flight Safety International where they must take part in a flight simulator exercise. Ack! My team, Marcus and Amani, are doing horribly at it!

Teams are then off to the "former residence known as the dump." Jeremy and Sandy are in the wrong place. Ernie and Cindy are heading right. Marcus and Amani are still at the simulator.
 
Roadblock up next. Who gives a damn? Margaret Mitchell's home, they must type up their next clue. (Gone With the Wind related task)

Ernie and Cindy are in the lead, having finished the typing clue. That hints at an historical ball game. Jeremy and Sandy are now in the right place. Amani and Marcus STILL haven't landed.

Finally Marcus and Amani finished the flight simulator ... after the 12th try! They're way behind, but do know the city. Maybe ... maybe ...

The last task has them on an enormous map -- one on the map, the other shouting out clues -- and they need to map out their race. Ernie and Cindy are there first.

Ernie and Cindy are quasi-lost trying to get to the pit stop. Jeremy and Sandy might be able to catch up. It just looks sad for Marcus and Amani.

Ernie and Cindy win The Amazing Race.

Jeremy and Sandy came in second. 

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - December 11, 2011

It's Sunday morning, once again time for my off television topic reflecting on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. It's hard to believe that Christmas is only two weeks away! When I was a child, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed to be an eternity. Nowadays, I blink my eyes and another year has gone by.

I didn't really take a lot of great photos this week as all I did was go back and forth between work and home. My morning walk to the train (except on Saturday) is dark and some of my return trips are dark, too. My best photo fodder was Monday morning when it was extremely foggy. I enjoy playing with the camera in the fog!

Next week should be different for photo fodder. It looks like the weather is going to cooperate with my preferred weeknight evening to head into the city (Manhattan). I want to go on a Tuesday night as I don't have to get up at 5AM on Wednesdays. But it's rained every Tuesday since the holiday season kicked in. 

My second choice night is Friday and I was tempted this week. That is, until I got on the train to go home (or the city) and noticed that they had an extra car open and the train was jam-packed with folks heading into the city. No matter what night of the week I go, the city is going to be crazy busy. But Fridays are busier than Tuesdays!

So, my plan is to just stay on the train going home Tuesday. I should hit the city about 4:30 PM or so. I can wander from Penn Station over to Fifth Avenue, wander leisurely in an uptown direction taking photos, grab a bite to eat somewhere along the way, end up at Rockefeller Center to snag some tree and skating shots, then wander back down to the Port Authority to take the bus home. Or, I might cheat and take the subway back down to Port Authority. I'll see how my knee feels. The bus home is better than the train as it stops right in front of my apartment building. I like Plainfield but I don't want to roam the streets late at night.

My knee continues to improve, although stairs (lots of them) are still a challenge. One of my co-workers told me I walk like a soldier now. I march? No. She said she means a strong stride with better posture. Ah, good! However, the first thing I do when I get home from work (after carrying Vincent around on my shoulder) is put my feet up. It can get a bit swollen and achy by the end of the day.


Oh, well. Onto the photos for the week ...

In a holiday fog

Watchung Avenue in the pre-dawn fog on Monday morning. I edited it to leave the closest wreath in color.

Angel on the rough

Hopefully the angel is helping to keep the loose bricks in place! By the entrance to an auto repair garage on East Fourth Street in Plainfield.

The man in yellow

He's not actually really dressed in all yellow -- it's khaki pants and a light-colored army type jacket. It's just the lights at the train station make it look yellow. Of course, I made the rest of the photo black and white ... or there would be a lot more yellow!

CLICK ON THE "READ MORE" LINK TO SEE THE REST OF THE PHOTOS!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Survivor South Pacific 12/07 Episode Blog Party

Survivor South Pacific


Survivors ready? It's almost time for the show to start here on the East Coast. As it airs, I'll be updating this post with major events. But the real fun and active discussion can be found in the blog party comments. Stop on in and share your thoughts on the show!

Tonight is the family reunion show. However, what interests me the most is whether Cochran will survive!

Yep, product placement video mails from family.

Duel time -- there is a twist to the duel, to be told later. Uh-oh -- grappling hooks, bags, balls on a table maze. Sigh. Ozzy won. The twist is that the family members come out to greet each castaway, then Ozzy has to choose who will get to spend time with the loved one. Albert gets to spend time with his mother. One more person -- Ozzy chooses Coach with his brother, the last person chosen is Brandon to spend time with his father. They'll spend that time on Redemption Island.

Immunity challenge -- keep moving across a giant puzzle board. They flip a piece over, stand on it, cannot stand on it again, out of moves out of the challenge, last person standing wins. Coach wins. The Brandon/Edna antagonism carries on.

Tribal time. I really wish they'd keep Edna and get rid of Brandon.

Tally time!

Edna
Brandon
Edna
Edna
Edna

Sigh. That Brandon twerp gets on my nerves.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Amazing Race 19 Blog Party - 12/04/2011


Oh my goodness, I don't know what to do with myself. Why do I say that? Well, The Amazing Race is actually starting on time here in the NYC viewing area! I might just have to faint.

As the action happens, I'll be updating this post with the major happenings. But the real fun is in the comments; please pipe in with your thoughts! See you there!

Coming out of the Pit Stop, they have to dress up in costume as two "famous comic strip characters." Then they have to find out WHO they are! That's different! They're detectives Johnson and Johnson from TinTin. 

Then it's off to Panama City! After receiving tattoos which lead them to San Francisco Bay Tower, a Roadblock has them walking a tightrope over the city.

Next up is a Detour with a choice of Filet or Sole. The first is delivering fish, the second is making sandals.

No team is having luck with finding the clue to the Pit Stop on the dancers. However, Tommy and Andy took off thinking it's something to do with Balboa. That just might cost them the race. The other three teams are still at the dancers trying to find the clue. Uh-oh. Amani and Marcus seem to be going to the same place as Andy and Tommy. Ack!

Tommy and Andy went back and found the Panama Viejo clue.

Pit Stop --

1. Jeremy and Sandy - won a trip
2. Ernie and Cindy
3. Marcus and Amani!!! (My blog pool team!)

Andy and Tommy won six legs and now they're gone. 

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - December 4, 2011

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic jaunt through the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. We've really been lucky temperature-wise here. For early December, we're definitely warmer than average. In the beginning of the week it was almost warm. Now we're back to temperatures in the low 50s going down into the high 20s in the overnight hours. I could certainly deal with that all winter! Unfortunately, it's not likely to happen.

This is the fifth nice weekend in a row here, too. But it has rained just about every Tuesday night into Wednesday. Guess when my day off is? Wednesday! Well, Wednesday and Sunday.

Unless the forecast changes, it's to be that way this week, too. It's a shame because (until I saw the forecast) I was thinking I'd just ride the train all the way into the city (Manhattan) after work on Tuesday to go photo stomping. As I'm off on Wednesday, I could lurk late without worrying about getting up at five in the morning. But they're saying rain for Tuesday night and Wednesday, so that's probably not going to happen. Maybe a week from Tuesday! I could go today, but weekends are more crowded than weeknights and I'd have to be home for The Amazing Race because you never know when it's going to start.

I feel the need to post a correction about stating last week that bikes are allowed on the NJ Transit trains during off peak hours. Well, they kind of are. But, while I was on my medical leave, they changed the rules. No more bikes boarding or getting off at low platforms. My hesitancy about getting my own bike going was due to the low platform at my workplace station. If I took a bike aboard, I'd have to go all the way to Somerville, then bike it three or four miles back to work. 

The new rule is putting a cramp on my new shift train buddies -- a group of tree workers. One has taken to leaving his bike locked at Bridgewater and carrying his seat back and forth on the train. Another is riding his bike from Fanwood to the Plainfield Station, passing two stations with low platforms, then getting out at Somerville and biking five miles to work. 

I feel obligated (personally) to add that the latter dude doing that huge bike hike (and is a tree worker climbing trees, etc.) has an NJ Transit disability card and rides for half-fare. I've looked over the paperwork that you need to bring to a doctor to fill out and submit and I'm not seeing how he gets away with it! I probably would have qualified before my knee replacement(s) or definitely during recovery when I wasn't riding the train. He claims to have a metal plate in his foot. Um, I have metal and plastic knees! Yet I don't think I'd qualify. But then, I did have the operations so I wouldn't be disabled!

Enough grousing, I guess. He's a nice enough guy and also a photo-taker albeit with his smart phone. I just don't like it when people take advantage of the system. Onto the photos for the week ...

The sky is a hazy shade of winter

My apologies to Paul Simon, but it's fitting for the early morning skies this week. This is looking to the west as the sun rises in the east. Bridgewater, NJ.

Sunset with train

The skies were gorgeous when I got home from work early Friday evening. Plainfield Train Station.

Sunset without train

After the train pulled away. I have no clue why only one side of the station has its lamps on. It happens in the morning when they go off, too. It's always the westbound side which is dark first in the morning, last lighted in the evening. 

It's my own theory that they cater to NYC bound passengers just like the full stations are always on that side, ticket machines on that side, etc. Even the buses favor NYC-bound with shelters and benches on that side while folks going westbound stand in the rain. Perhaps they're working under the misconception that most folks just get off trains and buses going westbound and don't have to wait to board them. Huh!

MORE PHOTOS -- HIT THE "READ MORE" LINK IF YOU'RE ON THE MAIN BLOG PAGE!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Survivor South Pacific 11/30 Episode Blog Party

Survivor South Pacific


Survivors ready? It's almost time for the show to start here on the East Coast. As it airs, I'll be updating this post with major events. But the real fun and active discussion can be found in the blog party comments. Stop on in and share your thoughts on the show!

Time for the Ozzy, Dawn and Whitney duel! It's a balancing plates challenge. Dawn is out. Whitney is out. Both go to the jury. Ozzy remains in the game and on Redemption Island

Immunity challenge has one round bag tossing -- Sophie, Rick and Albert move on. Now the three are trying to break targets. Albert wins immunity and a massage! He decides to take Coach, and then wants to give up his reward to someone else as he can't take a third. He gives it to Cochran! Cochran's birthday is coming.

Ha! Cochran is lying about his birthday! It was six months previous! He has Coach wrapped around his finger.

Tribal. Oh, geez. Brandon is crying again. HE is the one who needs to go! If the Albert, Edna, Cochran and Coach vote doesn't get Rick out, they should switch to Brandon.

The tally:
Cochran
Rick
Rick
Cochran
Cochran
Cochran

Sigh. He's off to Redemption Island to duel Ozzy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Amazing Race 19 Blog Party - 11/27/2011


Due to football, 60 Minutes didn't start until 7:55 PM ET here in the NYC viewing area. So I'm assuming that The Amazing Race should start about 55 minutes late. Once it starts, I'll update this post with the major happenings. But the real fun is in the comments; please pipe in with your thoughts! See you there!

Finally we're starting ..

Last week we only knew Amani and Marcus had arrived first at the Pit Stop and were immediately onto the next leg. They're off to the Ford Proving Ground also in Belgium.

Ernie and Cindy were team two. Jeremy and Sandy third. Four, Andy and Tommy. Bill and Cathi are last, but still in the race!

Roadblock - Who wants to play with the ponies? It's a Mustang testing course.

Off to Gent, Belgium next.

Detour - Water or Waffle.

Next they're off to race homing pigeons! They have to go to the destination of their birds where they're getting a clue to the location of the next Pit Stop.

Pit Stop
1. Andy and Tommy - Each wins a customized Ford Mustang
2. Jeremy and Sandy
3. Ernie and Cindy
4. Amani and Marcus
5. Bill and Cathi -- Philiminated.

Sigh. I really really liked them!

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - November 27, 2011

It's Sunday, time for my weekly off television topic jaunt through the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. This past week was a shortened work week for me due to the Thanksgiving holiday. However, unlike many office workers, government and factory workers -- I worked Black Friday and Saturday, too. My days off were Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday. Thankfully, unlike some unlucky folks in retail, my workplace is closed on Thanksgiving. (Yay!)

I continued my pledge to not shop on either Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday. On Thanksgiving, I think it's horrible for the stores to open and the employees don't get to spend the holiday at home when they're already in a busy busy season. Sure, I realize that police, fire, health care workers, etc. have to work the holidays. However, they're not under the major business crush of retail workers. 

I don't shop on Black Friday because I don't like large crowds of crazy people. I don't care how good the bargains are. I know folks who buy so many things they don't need just because "they're on sale!" -- my budget really doesn't allow for that kind of craziness. 

That said, I do have intentions of going into the city for some of the holiday sights photo stomping this year. My knees are feeling well enough and I haven't done it in a long time due to knee pain. I'll probably go in on a Wednesday as it isn't AS crazy there mid-week. But not this coming Wednesday as Justin Bieber and President Obama are both in town and the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting is going on. That's crazy.

After a rainy start this week, the weather turned glorious for the holiday and through today. It's even been in the 60s! I'm loving it! My windows have been open and a light jacket or sweater is all that's needed to make my work commute.

Vincent and I had a nice quiet holiday at home. He got his Fancy Feast Turkey with Gravy, licked the gravy off and begged for more. I made a mini-feast for myself and have lived on leftovers ever since. I hope you all had a fine Thanksgiving holiday!

Enough rambling ... time for some photos! Clicking on an image will open it larger in a gallery doohickey thingee.

Patch of dawn

I realize I posted this one on my Facebook wall this week, but I was pleased with how it turned out. I edited it to leave only the patch of dawn in color. Plainfield train Station.

Like early autumn deja vu

With the warmer temperatures and sunshine the latter part of this week, the mums have returned. Alas, I fear they won't last too long now. I guess we can't stave off winter forever. East Front Street, Plainfield.

Boots on a porch

No, they're not MY boots! I don't have a porch either. Edited to leave only the boots in color. Berckman Street, Plainfield.

USE THE READ MORE LINK TO SEE THE REMAINDER OF THE PHOTOS! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jackie's TV Blog, holidays


I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family, friends, food and love! Although the times aren't easy these days, friends and family are something that we're all thankful for everyday.

While in no way a compete list, I'm thankful for many things this past year:
  • Having friends and family I care about and who care about me.
  • Knowing so many GOOD people who keep my life interesting.
  • Working for a company where I have a fairly secure job despite hard economic times.
  • Having health insurance and short term disability insurance, both at a very reasonable cost.
  • My successful knee replacement.
  • My cat Vincent, as nutty as his person.
  • New Jersey for being as weird as it can be.
  • Trader Joe's and Peapod grocery delivery for feeding me well (at a cost, of course).
  • Coke Zero
  • Adventures in the Outer Banks with good friends.
  • Chocolate.
  • My photography addiction which keeps both mind and body active.
  • Technology such as Facebook which reunited me with family and friends from my youth.
  • You -- the friends who have been a part of this blog community for years!
Of course, my list isn't necessarily in that order! May everyone have a fantastic day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Survivor South Pacific 11/23 Episode Blog Party

Survivor South Pacific


Survivors ready? It's almost time for the show to start here on the East Coast. Tonight's show, if I'm not mistaken, is the "unseen clips" show, so I won't have any real updates on things like Immunity and such. The real fun and active discussion can be found in the blog party comments. Stop on in and share your thoughts on the show!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tragic News

I just found out that longtime blog community friend Jeannemarie Ahrens passed away last month. She has been an active commenter on the blog for several years. In one of my last contacts with her, she was offering to give me a ride to my surgeon's office as she's from the area.

I'm not too sure what happened, but I do recall that she was being admitted to the hospital yet again. For those who might not remember, she had been having horrible infections from a cat bite (her own cat) since last summer. On her Facebook page, I noticed that someone has taken in her cat.


What a shame. She was really a nice person, the kind of people I've met through my online experiences over the years and had gotten to know. I was missing her presence, which is why I looked into her absence. Rest in peace, Jeannemarie. 

Her obituary ran in the Star Ledger.

The Amazing Race 19 Blog Party - 11/20/2011


Due to football, 60 Minutes didn't start until 7:23 PM ET here in the NYC viewing area. So I'm assuming that The Amazing Race should start about 23 minutes late. Once it starts, I'll update this post with the major happenings. But the real fun is in the comments; please pipe in with your thoughts! See you there!

It's almost immediately into a Roadblock -- memorizing a Hans Christian Andersen poem, going on a trip, then repeating the poem from memory. After Roadblock success, they're off to Legoland! Yikes! They have to put together a Lego puzzle while spinning on a ride.

The teams are then off to Hamburg, Germany.

Eek, my emotional favorite team, Bill and Cathi, are lost trying to find LegoLand.

From Hamburg, teams are off to Brussels, Belgium -- the third country in the day. Uh-oh, Cindy and Ernie lost their train tickets and can't afford to buy more. They lucked out, no conductors checked for tickets.

Body-building routine is next. Heehee.

Pit Stop --

1. Amani and Marcus - won a trip to Panama
And it's immediately to the next leg without the rest of the finish order. I'm assuming it might be non-elim.

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - November 20, 2011

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken.

Let's see ... what happened this week? I worked, came home, slept and ate.

There. That's all.

Well, I guess not quite all. But it's just been one of those weeks. My knee is running a bit tired, but I'm not in the constant pain I was in pre-surgery. I'm definitely walking faster as the days go on. That's a good thing. Pre-surgery it was taking me a half-hour to walk to the train station in the mornings. Now it's taking me fifteen minutes.

Once again the weather here has had its warm days and its more chilly ones. Tuesday night and all day Wednesday it rained. That brought down tons of the autumn leaves and made my power go wonky Wednesday evening. It went off a few minutes before 8 PM, then came back on after a less than a minute. I listened to my scanner to find that the police were dispatched for an arcing wire in my neighborhood, but couldn't find it.

Then, about midnight, as I was heading to bed, the outdoors lighted up. Huh? I looked out the window knowing it wasn't a thunderstorm. The power dimmed, came back, dimmed, came back. I turned the scanner on again. This time the police were dispatched for a blown transformer, but the power ended up staying on. Well, at least until I went to sleep, that is. Apparently there was an outage overnight, but I awakened on time to go off to work before the dawn. Thankfully my alarm clock is one of the atomic ones which automatically reset when the power returns.

That was my excitement for the week.

Of course, this upcoming week is Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a fine holiday! 

Onto this week's photos -- clicking on an image will open it larger in a gallery doohickey. To see this entire entry and all of the photographs, you must hit the "read more" link!

Screaming squirrel

What he was screaming about, I don't know. But I could hear him a half-block away. Cleveland Street, Plainfield.

Where's the sidewalk?

My 'hood on Thursday morning after Wednesday's rain.

Traffic light is not

The power was back on in the neighborhood, but the traffic light was still out at Richmond and East Front. And, as per Murphy's Law, there was more traffic than I've EVER seen at that hour at that intersection. I scurried across when I had the chance. And I'm really not a scurrier with this new knee yet!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Survivor South Pacific 11/16 Episode Blog Party

Survivor South Pacific


Survivors ready? It's almost time for the show to start here on the East Coast. As it airs, I'll be updating this post with major events. But the real fun and active discussion can be found in the blog party comments. Stop on in and share your thoughts on the show!

Just in case I disappear -- some fool hit a power pole at the end of my block. The power went out briefly, then returned. But who knows?

Redemption Island duel time! Ozzy, Keith and Jim balancing two vertical poles with a horizontal pole across the top. No one is rooting for Ozzy (except Petals). Jim is out, first member of the jury. Keith is out and in the jury. Ozzy wins and is stays in the game! Well, stays on Redemption Island, that is.

Immunity Challenge! They're balancing bowls of rice on their heads, crossing over teeter-totters and dumping the rice in bigger bowls. Um. Okay.

Sophie, my blog pool person, wins Immunity! Jeff promises them there will be a twist at Tribal Council tonight.

Whitney, Dawn, Albert, Cochran and maybe Sophie are thinking an Edna ouster.

The tally --

Dawn
Edna
Dawn
Edna
Dawn
Dawn
Dawn

The plan didn't fly, Dawn heads to Redemption. The twist is another immediate Immunity Challenge and vote. The challenge is one with questions. My gal Sophie wins AGAIN! The vote is on.

The tally --

Cochran
Whitney
Whitney
Whitney
Whitney
Whitney

That's it, Savaii sans Cochran is gone -- Whitney heads to Redemption.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Amazing Race 19 Blog Party - 11/13/2011


The show is starting on time here on the East Coast in a few minutes. Once it starts, I'll update this post with the major happenings. But the real fun is in the comments; please pipe in with your thoughts! See you there!

The teams are heading to Copenhagen! Double U-Turn ahead. Uh-oh ... Marcus and Amani are still at the airport while the other teams are already in Copenhagen!

The Roadblock has a team member dancing an historical dance in traditional costume.

Marcus and Amani have caught up to Jeremy and Sandy.


Detour - All hopped up has them racing rabbits in a course. All churned out has them making butter.


Ack! Ernie and Cindi team U-Turned Bill and Cathi! Bill and Cathi U-Turned Laurence and Zac.


Pit Stop --
1. Ernie and Cindy, won a trip to Fiji.
2. Bill and Cathi
3. Andy and Tommy
4. Amani and Marcus
5. Jeremy and Sandy
6. Laurence and Zac - Philiminated

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - November 13, 2011

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. This was my first quasi-full week back to work. I actually only worked four days, taking Tuesday as a personal day due to yet another follow-up visit to the orthopedic surgeon.

No, there are no issues with the knee. Well, nothing unexpected or needing a doctor visit anyway! I'm definitely in better knee shape than I've been in for the last ten years. People keep commenting about how much happier I seem. (And, no ... I'm not thrilled to death to be back to work!) It's just that this is the first time in a decade I'm not in constant and sometimes crippling pain. Chronic pain can really take its toll on a friendly shining disposition! But, no. I'm not "perky." I refuse to be perky.

That said, some folks would probably think the pain I have now at the end of the work day is bad. But it's nowhere near like I had before. The quad muscle is still way too weak making stairs rough. My knee and ankle tend to be swollen by the end of the day, so I still ice and elevate in the evenings once I get home. If this were to be as good as it gets, I'd still be happy. I know what bad really is. Plus, I also know healing and muscle strength will just continue to improve for more than a year. My next follow-up visit with the orthopedic surgeon is on December 21. 

Our weather here this week was basically very mild with above average temperatures except for one day. On Friday we had a blast of colder air and wind which reminded me winter is going to eventually come. I just hope that we don't have a lot of snow and ice this winter. On the whole, I like winter better than hot and humid summers. But last year's storms were a bit too much!

On the home front things have been quiet. Crazy Joe across the hall rather surprisingly told me anytime I wanted to use his car, just ask. Huh. He's lived across the hall from me for nine years and we're friendly enough coming and going, but that offer is totally unexpected. He does have two cars and knows I walk. But I know that all the years I had cars, no one drove them but me! It was very nice of him to offer. However, I doubt I'll ever take him up on it. I'll just depend on him to scream at kids running and playing in the hallway. They don't call him "Crazy Joe" for nothing.

Other than that, I've got nothing for you. We might as well get to the photos for the week. Remember to hit the "read more" link to see all of them. Clicking on an image will open it larger in a new gallery doohickey. Or, perhaps it's a gallery thingamajig. I really don't know.

Plainfield Train Station at Night

Last night at the Plainfield Train Station. It was quieter than it usually is at night. That's good and bad. It means the annoying street people aren't around. But, in a way, I prefer SOME folks around. There have been a lot of robberies in the city lately and, while I'm really not a good victim as I can be surly if the need arises, it's better to even have the crowd of street people around at night. Alas, even my local bodega was robbed at gunpoint the other night. The gang stuff doesn't bother me as much as all of the recent robberies. 

But I'm a two minute walk from the police station at the train station. When I come home later on Saturday evenings I walk over there and take the bus so I'm not walking across town. I get off a block from home on the bus and know all the folks in that Berckman Street block. I could always run to someone's house and they'd help if I had a problem. But still, I wish they'd nail these robber dudes. If I'm coming home really late, I'll snag a cab.

Westfield Train Station

I stayed on the train going home Friday night until Westfield. I was spoiled at work with direct deposit, but my short term disability checks were actual checks. My physical therapy was near a branch of my bank. So, for most of my time off, it was a non-issue. But once physical therapy stopped, I'm not really near my bank. I had gathered my last three checks and it was time. 

Oh. And my bank happens to be across the street from Trader Joe's. Two birds, one stone. Did you know that Trader Joe's now has shrimp corn dogs and their own brand bags of onion rings (which are scrumptious!)? Some things Peapod grocery delivery just doesn't have, so a Trader Joe's stop is always nice.

Fall Colors in the Fog

The foliage is pretty no matter whether it's sunny, foggy, raining or even snowing. I took this shot in Bridgewater, NJ.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Survivor South Pacific 11/09 Episode Blog Party

Survivor South Pacific


Survivors ready? It's almost time for the show to start here on the East Coast. As it airs, I'll be updating this post with major events. But the real fun and active discussion can be found in the blog party comments. Stop on in and share your thoughts on the show!

Savaii folks lit into Cochran as expected.

Immunity is down to one winner this week. It's in rounds, first round is a coconut target shoot, second is cracking a coconut and filling mouth with juice, through an obstacle course and filling a tube with it.

Uh-oh for Cochran ... JIM won immunity!

Huh? Jim is saying he's going to give Ozzy his necklace and convince people to vote for Cochran? That would be silly!

8:22 PM and Tribal is starting? Hmmm ... 

Lots of big macho talk, but Jim kept his immunity necklace.

The tally:
Ozzy
Cochran
Ozzy
Cochran
Ozzy
Ozzy
Ozzy
Ozzy

Ozzy us out again to Redemption.

Whoa! Another immunity challenge! It's one where Jeff offers them food to skip the challenge. ALL of the old Upolu sits out to eat with only the three ex-Savaii compete. Jim was out first and snapped at Jeff. Heh. He annoys me. Whitney wins immunity.

Albert thinks Dawn is sneaky and more of a threat than Jim. Jim is the blatant target. Coach says Jim is a rhinoceros who can charge at you while Dawn is a snake -- both can kill you.

The tally:
Edna
Edna
Edna
Jim
Jim
Jim
Jim
Jim
Jim

Jim gets to meet up with Ozzy and Keith at Redemption. 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Amazing Race 19 Blog Party - 11/06/2011


The show is actually starting on time here on the East Coast! It's a miracle! Once it starts, I'll update this post with the major happenings. But the real fun is in the comments; please pipe in with your thoughts! See you there!

Uh-oh! Double U-Turn ahead! They're all on the same bus to the next destination town. So they're starting off even again although Amani and Marcus will face a Speed Bump.

The Roadblock has one team member riding a bike taxi doohickey delivering a person and fish. As their Speed Bump, Amani and Marcus have to assemble a slide puzzle of the local flag. Jennifer made what seems like it might be a fatal mistake -- she left her clue with Justin and doesn't know she has to bike back to the starting point to turn in the money from the trip. Marcus passed her and now Jennifer is just standing there waiting to ask another team not knowing they're all gone. Finally she headed back to the starting point.

Detour -- Dug Out or Lug Out -- Canoe race or unloading cargo from a ferry boat.

Ernie and Cindy decided to use their Express Pass.

Ernie and Cindy don't U-Turn anyone and are on their way to the Pit Stop. Andy and Tommy don't U-Turn anyone either. Amani and Marcus don't use the U-Turn. Laurence thinks they HAVE to U-Turn someone -- U-Turns Amani and Marcus who already went through, so it's no use! Sandy and Jeremy don't use it.

Pit Stop:
1. Tommy and Andy in a foot race  - won a $15,000 total on a Discover card
2. Ernie and Cindy
3. Bill and Cathi!!!
4. Amani and Marcus
5. Laurence and Zac
6. Jeremy and Sandy
7. Justin and Jennifer -- Philiminated

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - November 6, 2011

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. Unlike last Sunday when I was powerless due to the freak nor'easter which passed through, this week I have power and heat. Thankfully I was out only about a day; others didn't fare that well. Even so, I'm spoiled. It's incredibly annoying to be without power for more than twenty minutes.

This week was active for me. We had the snow aftermath, Halloween, a walk I took just to walk around (and run a few errands) on Halloween day, my return to work after being out for over four months recovering from the knee replacement and kneecap dislocation, and attending this year's Plainfield Library Photo Competition opening and exhibit.

I'm including some photos of the snow aftermath, but I posted others on my Facebook earlier in the week. I hope that link works. Most of my Facebook is Friends Only, but I did make that album public. As I was out and about in town yesterday, I noticed there are still some traces of snow here and there. While the sun has been out every day, it's been chilly and the nights have been below freezing. But, honestly? I don't mind it at all. Autumn and its crisp nip in the air is far preferable than 90 degree high humidity summer days.

My walk about town getting my train pass and stopping by the post office actually was my Halloween. As it's been for ten years in this apartment, I had no children trick or treating even though there are children in the building. Unlike many local schools, Plainfield schools didn't close with power outages or particularly dangerous streets with wires down. I was out early in the day and it was very pleasant. I made the mistake of exploring the various dollar stores ostensibly to find lantern oil (ran out Saturday night) and ended up carrying bunches of cheap stuff that I can use back home with me. No lantern oil though.

On Thursday I returned to work. I set three alarm clocks to make sure I didn't oversleep as I've become quite the night owl in my time off. As I had to walk to catch a train at 6:37, it was dark. My pace is definitely better than pre-surgery, however I really had to watch my footing on uneven spots or where branches were still strewn about. I don't dare fall.

Work itself, both days I worked this week -- Thursday and Friday -- went fine. We had just switched to new computer software before I left. So I ended up slightly lost as I had only worked a few days on the new system. It was good to see folks and find out that people actually missed me. Ah, warm fuzzies. I have a new boss whom I had met briefly after my surgery. I like him. This is all going to be fine. My knee held up well, my energy level not so much. It takes a good six months to a year (or more) to really feel recovered with both the knee and regaining stamina. I ended out conking out on the couch at 8 PM Friday night.

Yesterday I headed to the library for the annual Photo Competition. Since the library had some of my works on exhibit all summer, I was invited to submit photos out of competition. That means I wouldn't be eligible for any awards. Since I really enjoy the competition, the idea behind it (to build a photographic history of the town) and the folks involved in it, I entered four photos. And, oh my ... I ended up winning an "Out of Competition" certificate and ribbon for one of them! I wasn't expecting that at all. Cool!

The photo which won first prize this year was by a newcomer to the competition and taken about five blocks from me. While it wasn't anything artsy, it was an amazing shot of the flooding aftermath of Irene -- men wading waist high in the flood waters to rescue a stranded motorist whose car was all but underwater. Great dramatic shot and it shows that the people in this town will help out others in need!

Welp, enough blathering. I'll be getting a Peapod grocery delivery a little bit later today and need to rest up for catching that 6:37 AM train tomorrow! Remember to hit the "read more" link to see all of the photos. Clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window ... more of a gallery with the new Blogger set-up.
  
Library Park Lamp

After I left the library yesterday, I found myself all alone in Library Park. The leaves are probably slightly past peak right now, but it was still colorful with the bright blue cloudless sky as a backdrop. It's fun to walk with leaves crunching under my feet. Have I mentioned how much I really love autumn?

Another Bird on a Wire

The European Starling is considered a nuisance bird here in the United States. It was introduced by someone determined to bring every bird mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare into our country. Well, that worked. They're here to stay -- all 200 million (or more) of them. (Gosh, I love the Internet. I can learn ANYTHING here!) Although a "nuisance bird," they sure do make the neatest sounds and quite an array of them!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Survivor South Pacific 11/02 Episode Blog Party

Survivor South Pacific


Survivors ready? It's almost time for the show to start here on the East Coast. As it airs, I'll be updating this post with major events. But the real fun and active discussion can be found in the blog party comments. Stop on in and share your thoughts on the show!

Are you ready for the merge?

Both tribes are at the duel. The winner of the duel will come back into the game. We're talking a tie-sticks to make pole, get three keys, open three locks challenge. OMG! Ozzy's stupid move worked and he won the duel! Goodbye, Christine.

The merge is on -- Ozzy bad-talked Cochran pre-duel and now hopes Cochran can "infiltrate" the other tribe. 

Coach called out Cochran on exactly why Ozzy went to Redemption. Cochran ended up admitting it all. He gave the idol back to Ozzy. Dawn, all of a sudden, decides to really team up with Cochran. This could be interesting.


Immunity challenge on. One man and one woman will win.

Dawn won for the women! And Ozzy was the male winner!

Now Dawn doesn't want to back up Cochran in a flip.

Tribal ...

Tally:

Ozzy plays the idol for Whitney (they think she's the target)

Keith
Keith
Keith
Keith
Keith
Rick
Rick
Rick
Rick
Rick
Rick


It's a tie.


Tally:
Keith
Keith
Keith
Keith
Keith
Rick
Rick
Rick
Rick
Keith


Cochran flipped! Keith is gone ... to Redemption Island.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Amazing Race 19 Blog Party - 10/30/2011


The show is delayed AGAIN here in the NYC area. 60 Minutes is starting at 7:29 PM ET, so we're talking a half-hour. Grr. Once it starts here, I'll update this post with the major happenings. But the real fun is in the comments; please pipe in with your thoughts! See you there!

The teams are flying off to Africa! They're all on the same flight, so it will be an even playing field once again. Roadblock -- they have to deliver tobacco bales to a warehouse.

Detour - Building toy trucks or sewing. Uh-oh! My blog pool pick team has fallen into last place (Amani and Marcus). Eep. They're still in the warehouse with Bill and Cathi ahead of them. I expected Marcus to do much better with the bales than he did. The last task they have is taking two beds to the Pit Stop.

Pit Stop order:
1. Justin and Jennifer - did not pay their truck driver. Oops. Penalty -- must go back.
2. 1. Andy and Tommy - won a trip to the Virgin Islands
2. Justin and Jennifer
3. Bill and Cathi (didn't pay, must go back) - Sandy and  Jeremy
4. Laurence and Zac
5. Ernie and Cindy
6. Bill and Cathi
7. Amani and Marcus - NON-PHILIMINATION LEG! YAY! They're still in it! 

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - October 30, 2011

Yes, yes ... it's late for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. I have a valid excuse, though. Due to a freak (yet not major) snowstorm, my power was out from about 1:30 PM yesterday until almost 10 AM today. I didn't go out for photos yesterday, nor yet today as the power outage messed with various plans I had and I'm playing catch up now. However, just before the power died, I made this video and posted it on Facebook:


This past week was my last full week off from work and boy did I test that knee on a few days. On Tuesday I went to a work-related awards luncheon in northern New Jersey. It always surprises me to see windy little mountain roads and a country atmosphere in the state. I'm so used to densely populated and flat here. The leaves up there went from peak to nearly bare as we headed further north. As a side note: the storm whopped them with 18 inches of light fluffy snow. Since they had fewer leaves on the trees and it was a lighter snow, we suffered more here with our wet slushy four inches (or so).

On Wednesday, my brother and his wife came down from Albany and we met up in the city (NYC) for lunch at Katz's Delicatessen and roaming at large. I roamed at large a wee bit too much and could barely walk the next day. Ow! It didn't help that NJ Transit thought it wise to TURN OFF THE ESCALATOR and make folks climb the equivalent of almost four flights of stairs on a narrow single-file turned off escalator with steep steps to get to my bus gate. That after a day walking almost did me in. But after a day of rest on Thursday, my knee was workable on Friday.

Then came the snow and power outage. What a week! Make sure you click the "read more" link at the end of this post to see all the photos this week!

Color in da 'hood
This tree is always beautiful but one of the first to go naked in the 'hood.

Plainfield Train Station
From a very different angle. I actually took the stairs on the east bound platform on Tuesday. I would not have done that on Thursday!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Survivor South Pacific 10/26 Episode Blog Party

Survivor South Pacific


Survivors ready? It's almost time for the show to start here on the East Coast. As it airs, I'll be updating this post with major events.

But the real fun and active discussion can be found in the blog party comments. Stop on in and share your thoughts on the show!

Christine wins another duel! Mikayla is history now.

Hmm ... Ozzy told Cochran that (worse case scenario) someone needs to beat Christine and he might hand off the idol to someone, beat Christine so he'd come back. Hmm ...

Meanwhile, Coach is getting Coachy praying and leading others on a wild goose chase for the idol he has. Oh my gosh, the praying worked! They miraculously found the hidden idol! @@

Immunity challenge's reward is a screening of Jack and Jill w/Adam Sandler.

Upolu wins! More thankful praying.

Since Cochran screwed Savaii's chances for immunity, all of a sudden Ozzy doesn't want to go to Redemption Island.

YIKES! Ozzy retrieved his idol and is once again saying he'll go.  Despite his tribe's disapproval, they do his bidding. He gives the idol to Cochran who does NOT play it.

Tally:
Ozzy
Ozzy
Ozzy
Ozzy

Ozzy goes to Redemption Island. Go figure.