Sunday, January 30, 2011

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

It's Sunday morning, time for my off television topic reflection on the week gone by in words and photos I've taken. Unfortunately, due to the knee, pain meds for the knee and resultant icky feeling, I haven't gotten up the last Survivor cast post yet. I hope to remedy that later today.

The knee kept me out of work until Thursday. Then we had another 19 or so inches of snow into Thursday morning. So I ended up just working Friday and Saturday this past week. That was plenty. They're talking another big storm midweek. If it happens, I'm not going to be in again. Thankfully, I have plenty of paid time off available at work. But that doesn't mean I want to waste it all hiding from bad sidewalks in snow and ice!

My week itself has been so boring that I'm heading onto the photos. Yes, I'm going to fuss and whine some. No, there aren't any real works of art this week. Clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window.

Bike Two Undergoing Assimilation

The snow is getting the other abandoned bike at the Bridgewater Train Station. A third bike has shown up. I'll keep watching. This is just a different angle on the shot, taken from the ramp.


This is the sidewalk heading to North Avenue from the Plainfield Train Station. Look at that itsy crevice I have to pass through! The foot-trodden "path" is single foot file through snow as high as my hips. My knee is not working well. Why isn't this shoveled? Shame on NJ Transit and the city of Plainfield! Yes, I put the arrow there. Um, it's not really in the snow, only the photo!

No longer a luge run

At least this is shoveled. Mind you, the sides come up to my thighs. I haven't seen snow like this in the seven or so years I've been taking the train. Plainfield Train Station.

As if!

This No Parking sign obviously doesn't mean you can't shove snow there, eh? North Avenue with the train station in the background.

Gathering of friends

Some friends of an attempted suicide victim gather nearby where he was extricated from under the train/platform. While my heart goes out to loved ones of the person, you don't jump in front of a stopping train. That's likely to just mess you up for the rest of your life. The man, last I heard, survived. I heard it happen on my scanner when medics were saying he was unresponsive, but breathing and stuck under the train.

It's sad that so many people have been taking their lives this way. Of course, most jump in front of a speeding train, not one stopping at the station. But this doesn't just affect the family of the suicidal person. It affects the engineer driving the train, the conductors, the passengers on the train, bystanders ... and on and on. As guilty as I felt once when I hit two raccoons with my car, I can't imagine what the engineers feel.

Oh no, Elmo!

Onto somewhat lighter subject matter -- this evil Toyota owner has Elmo suspended fron his rear bumper! Elmo! What is this world coming to? Spotted on North Avenue in Plainfield. By the way, I saw that truck almost hit the Toyota as he slid parking on the edge of a snowbank. We need snow removal!

All that's left

The lone bird feeder post is all that remains. I am glad the family moved out before the homicide there but the birds and I miss them. The homicide has been solved and two suspects are in custody -- a father and son. The father, a roommate of the victim, allegedly killed him, the son hindered capture of the father.

I believe I was very right -- the murder wasn't gang related. The newspaper has a picture of the suspect and he was indeed one of the men I greeted every morning as I headed off to the train station. He was one of the worker men who would wait for rides in front of the house. In the photo, he's sporting a fading black eye and split lip. I'm just armchair detectiving, but think there had to be some kind of physical altercation between the man and the victim. Not saying it's an excuse, but the man is definitely not a cold-blooded killer. While we had a language barrier, he seemed to be a working guy probably sending money home to his family.

Pitch In!

A trash can is caught up in a small mountain of snow on North Avenue.

Now this is just silly

I mean, those socks with sneakers? Sheesh! Oh. And the shorts in the middle of winter, too. Bridgewater, NJ.

The sky is a hazy shade of winter

The sun, all but obscured in cloud cover, near the Plainfield Train Station. Remember, I can't get there from here because NO ONE SHOVELS THE SIDEWALK ON THAT SIDE OF NORTH AVENUE. I still have almost a block to go to get to the crevice path.

Um ... Post Office ... SIDEWALK?

The Post Office has effectively blocked the sidewalk on Watchung Avenue. Why aren't crews taking this stuff away? We still have piles from the Christmas blizzard!

Grate Ice!

Goodness gracious. East Front Street, Plainfield.

A tree grows in Plainfield

Perhaps hope for spring? A plant from one of the planters peeks out the top of a snow pile. I think the planter itself must be askew as the snow mountain is as tall as I am and I know that plant should top out at about four feet. East Front Street, Plainfield.

A Moment of Silence

A bench cut down in its youth. Apparently there's so much snow this year that the plow drivers aren't being careful at all. East Front Street, Plainfield.

But Judge, I didn't see any parking meter!

East Front Street Plainfield. Can we all say "snow removal," please?

Bus Stop

The sign post on the right is for the bus stop Manhattan bound. A lot of folks who live in town use it to commute to jobs in the city. How do they get from the sidewalk to the bus? Because no one cleared the street of cars, East Front Street is only a sliver of what it should be. In past years, they towed the cars as it's posted NO PARKING WHEN ROAD IS SNOW COVERED and did a better job at plowing. I know this year has more snow than usual, but not once have they plowed any street in town right! Yes, Plainfield, I'm talking to YOU.

In addition, crossing at the crosswalks entails either climbing over plowed snow piles or stepping in 6 inches of slush. Grr.

'hood V

Looking at my neighborhood through a V in the trees.


Even the Hulk gets hung up on the snow. East Front Street, Plainfield.

Out the window

Looking out at my neighbors' snow-covered trees. I can't help but thinking of the three that have fallen towards my building and the fact that they're not shoveling their walks this year. But the trees are pretty. (Told you I'd whine and fuss a lot this week.)

Snowy Post Office

I went out to run some errands Wednesday evening. It had snowed about four inches that morning. After I got home, the freezing rain started. Then it snowed more than a foot overnight into Thursday morning. Watchung Avenue.

Green Light District

This is another view of my neighborhood -- one of the three churches and some apartment buildings. Why a green light, I haven't a clue. East Front Street, Plainfield.

Watchung from East Front

Wednesday evening.

The Gnarly Tree

Out my window Wednesday morning during the initial snow -- huge flakes coming down.

Go in the Snow

Looking down Watchung Avenue from East Second on Wednesday evening.

Romonds in the snow

Wednesday evening. Quite a contrast from when I caught it reflecting the sunset. Now it looks dark and scary. East Second Street.

More Wednesday, more Watchung Avenue

Hey! I have pretty green eyes!

Then don't sit in bad light Vincent!

Oh, I do have a comment snow-removal related which isn't a complaint. My own apartment building, without its evil Ponzi scheme landlord in charge, has been totally cleared, both the parking lot and all of the walks, down to the pavement all season so far. Kudos to the receivership!

I also want to thank Dan and the Plainfielders who stopped by with well wishes after he posted about my knee.

How was your week?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - January 23, 2011

It's Sunday morning, once again time for my reflection on the week gone by both in words and photographs I've taken. Normally my weeks consist of going to work, coming home, eating and sleeping. I lead a fairly quiet life. However, this past week was a bit eventful. Sunday and Monday were quiet, nothing really exciting to report.

Then came Tuesday.

All of my regular blog readers should remember the bird feeder saga, right? Well, I noticed that there were discarded belongings on the curb and the bird feeder missing right before Christmas. Apparently the couple and their young daughter moved out. That's a good thing.

Why a good thing? Because that house was the site of the third homicide in Plainfield so far this year. While not really in my neighborhood per se, this one hit closer to home than the shootings on the West Side of town. I see the people who live in the house almost daily. We say hello. We don't say much more than that as the couple who moved out were the only ones who seemed fluent in English and my own Spanish is lacking.

Although the article emphasizes a Latino gang-related aspect to the killing, I'm just not seeing the men as gang member types. I suppose they could be. But what I see are men waiting for rides to work every morning, some dressed in clothes covered with paint, others dressed for outdoor labor. They carry their coffees and bagged breakfasts often along with gallon jugs of water. In the evenings they're usually walking from one of the many local ethnic restaurants carrying styrofoam food containers. They just seem like working guys to me, not gang members. I just don't know.

Oh. And we had a storm Monday evening into Tuesday morning. It started out as snow, then changed to ice and eventually to plain old rain. I went ahead to work on Tuesday morning thinking it wouldn't be so bad.

I was wrong. My own neighborhood where the sidewalks hadn't been touched was easy. The ice made about a quarter-inch covering atop the snow. Since only a handful of people had walked the sidewalks before me, traction was easy crunching through where no man had walked before in my sturdy non-slippery winter boots.

By the time I hit the homicide crime scene, it was pure ice as so many people had walked through it. Well, not through the crime scene itself, but the sidewalk in front. I held onto the chain fence as I passed, eavesdropping on the cop talk. Since it took me FOREVER to make my usual 15 minute, 20 with a breakfast (or something) pick up stop ... I missed my train which was ten minutes late itself.

So I had a leisurely breakfast at the Plainfield Donut Shop and went onto the train station ... which was pure slick ice or snowbanks dependent on where you walked. I made it alive to the platform. I made it alive on the ice at the Bridgewater Train Station. I almost made it alive on the ice to work.

After walking slowly and gingerly on a stretch of about 150 yards on ice, I only had about ten feet more to go to get to the merely wet salted street. Then it happened. I slipped and fell. And I couldn't get up. My right knee buckled under me. I also hit the left knee (the knee replacement one) and messed up my wrist a bit. No matter how I tried to to get up, I just kept sliding. Plus I was in agony with the knee. At one point, I think I looked like a turtle on my back with my legs and arms flailing in the air.

After the TD Ball Park people at the ticket windows ignored me and the drivers going by ignored me, I finally called work. They came for me and wanted to call an ambulance. NO! While I have decent health insurance, ambulance transport is ridiculously expensive unless you're admitted to the hospital.

I did the work I needed to get done at work, then someone drove me to catch a train home. From there I hobbled to a cab hoping the knee would miraculously heal itself on my day off Wednesday. It didn't happen. The knee replacement knee had no pain but sports a bruise. The wrist did clear up. The right knee blew up. I ended up calling out from work Thursday and Friday, going to my orthopedic surgeon on Friday since that was the first appointment I could get.

No broken bones, but I do have a pulled muscle/sprain. So I'm out of work until next Thursday, in an immobilizer (most of the time) and have pain meds. The x-rays showed that the knee is still bone-on-bone. But I knew that. I declined a cortisone shot to mask the pain (instead going for the narcotics) as that will put off the knee replacement. I was very worried that the damage done in the fall would delay things if it needed surgery now. We discussed having it done in about two months. As for this injury now, as the doc says ... "Look on the bright side. You won't need that ACL anyway as I take it out during surgery!"

But my week's excitement didn't end there. And, I apologize for the length of this.

Thursday evening, there I was all snug in bed. There it was, the middle of the night. All of a sudden Vincent leaped off the bed, running for the bathroom where he kept jumping at the ceiling.


I heard a noise and thought "mouse." Although it's kind of mean of me, I decided to move a ceiling tile with my broom and let Vincent take care of it. EEK! Something WAY BIGGER than a mouse fell out! I first thought "rat" then I thought "bat" as it was practically flying across my small bathroom. For a while it was fast and furious flashes of white fur (Vincent) and black-grey fur (the intruder). Since it was so big, I took Vincent and his litter box out. After a few minutes, I peeked in.

It was a small squirrel. I cannot have a squirrel in my bathroom! Nor could I let Vincent tangle with it. Here I was, getting around on crutches with a doctor's appointment for the next afternoon. I can't be taking Vincent to the vet because he got beat up by a squirrel, too! Even though the squirrel didn't seem fully grown, he was still big enough to do damage to Vincent. I closed the door again. I waited about an hour, hoping the squirrel would find his way out the same way he came in.

No go. In the end, it took me almost two hours to catch the squirrel mid-flight in a box. Then I set him free outside. So much for any sleep on Thursday night!

Not only have I a lot of words, this is a heavy photo week, too. Next week should be a lot lighter as I'll be home-bound most of the week. Well ... not if I do a Jimmy Stewart and spy on my neighbors with binoculars! Here are this week's photos -- clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window:

Romonds Garage

The vacant Jeep dealership is caught in the waning afternoon sun on Friday. East Second Street, Plainfield. Amongst other things, that 1928 fire engine is still inside. The awnings are suffering, though.

Pink sky at night

As the sun set over Plainfield Friday evening, the entire sky was a mix of grays and pinks. This is the view from Watchung Avenue looking towards East Front Street as I hobbled after my doctor's visit. I was going to Caribe Cab on Watchung.

Thomas Furniture/Plainfield Courier News sunsetted

In more ways than one, I guess. The sun sets right through the vacant Park Avenue building which once housed both businesses. I edited the shot to only leave that building in color. I took the photo on North Avenue.

Who wants to swing?

This tree limb swing obviously isn't getting any use lately. I took this shot from in front of my orthopedic surgeon's office in Bound Brook, NJ.

One Jersey 'hood looks like another these days

This is Church Street in Bound Brook, but it could be anywhere in the state. We're having a way snowy winter.

Old, new, and new old

The new solar panel and its light, the old "Canoe" style streetlamp, the old art deco style Brook theater sign and the new "vintage" street lamp make for a clutter of old/new. I'm not sure if a new marquee will be going up or not there. The theater keeps getting flooded out whenever major floods hit Bound Brook.

The Voorhees Building

Why couldn't Plainfield take care of its historical buildings across from the train station like Bound Brook did? This building has also been flooded out numerous times. I noticed the new little pharmacy in there when I got off the train for my doctor appointment.

Coming back through, prescription in hand, I decided to see if they take my insurance and what kind of money we'd be talking. I was impressed. Friendly pharmacist/owner and yes, they had my drugs and take my prescription insurance. And, even better than that, it's the same drug I was paying a $4 co-pay at Target for when I had my knee replacement. Bound Brook Pharmacy had me pay a $3.72 co-pay. Convenient as I wouldn't have to make a stop at a drug store in Plainfield once I got off the train and extremely reasonable.

Not as nice as the Plainfield Train Station

While the historic building is well-kept, the train station not so much. But it does make good photo fodder. I messed a bit with the editing on this one going for more of an illustration kind of look about it.


The tunnel under the railroad tracks in Bound Brook is scary and old. I don't want to think how many times it's been flooded by the Raritan River in the last 98 years! Tons of stairs, no elevator, no ticket station, nowhere to get out of the elements (except the tunnel), no raised platform. The Plainfield Train Station wins hands down.

Main Street

Actually, that's not Main Street going up the hill. High Street, maybe? I don't know. I'm not as familiar with Bound Brook as I am with Plainfield. Edited to leave only the sign in green.

Hey! Wazzat?

You see it ... on the railing of the upper left side fire escape? Is it a cat? Usually pigeons are huddled together for warmth on the front of the Chotola building on North Avenue in Plainfield. I don't see any pigeons anywhere around. Weird.

That ain't no CAT!

Nope, it's a HUGE red-tailed hawk! Kewl. No wonder all the pigeons are in hiding!

Eep. It's looking at me.

Ice Ice Baby

Tuesday morning bushes.

The Plainfield Luge Run

This is the sidewalk leading to the handicapped accessible ramp at the Plainfield Train Station on Tuesday morning. Yes, it's a sheet of ice. No, I didn't go up to the platform that way. I kept thinking it would be so much fun to slide down it on a saucer sled!

Chipping the ice

Finally, NJ Transit workers are chipping away the ice at the train station.

Not a good day for bike commuting

The tire isn't stolen, I don't think. My guess would be that the owner took it with him so no one would steal the bike. I don't think bike thefts during ice storms are all that common, but it is what it is.

Speaking of stolen ...

The other bike at the Bridgewater Train Station has either assimilated or been stolen. Let's see if this one vanishes. And yes, I'm on ice. I have no choice.

Slip-sliding away

"The nearer I am to my destination, the more I'm slip-sliding away" - Paul Simon

This is back at the Plainfield Train Station. That NJ Transit truck of workers sat there almost a half-hour watching people fall before they finally got out, fell themselves, and started chipping the ice away. I did the same approach as the guy for this one -- shuffling slowly, not lifting my feet. The over the snow approach is more dangerous as there are choppy unexpected large ice chunks.

Help, I've fallen under the train and can't get up!

The last step is a doozy. The Bridgewater Train Station with no raised platform. Yes, that's ice. By now, you might be realizing that I didn't fall merely because I'm clumsy. The odds were against me with so much ice I had to get over.

Icy train lamp

One of the Plainfield Train Station's nifty keen lamps covered with ice.

Sometimes life surrounds you with pigeons

After he chipped away the ice in front of The Corner Store at Watchung and East Second, Dave fed his birds. They're lucky the red-tailed hawk wasn't around!

Icy early morn on Watchung Avenue

Plainfield Donut Shop

A warm and friendly refuge on an icy cold morning. Watchung Avenue, Plainfield.

The Sandman

Well, I suppose he could be the Saltman. Notice the rude lights aren't glaring in the morning.

Selective coloring

The corner of Roosevelt and East Front. Getting treacherous.

My 'hood that morning

THIS is why I thought going to work would be okay. I walked on the right side of the prints at a normal pace, not slippery at all. A bit crunchy, maybe.

Corn Flakes window decor

Now, why didn't I ever think of using flattened cereal boxes and black garbage bags to cover my windows? East Front Street, Plainfield.

The Donald

Trump may think he's the one, but this is The Donald. He's a very good train friend who's back on the trains after an absence of two years. He gets on in Newark, so I sneaked up on him with this shot as I boarded. It's great sitting together again mocking NJ Devils fans and chatting. I might add that he once broke his leg coming down the hill across from the Bridgewater Train Station in snow. When I first fell all I could think of was that I broke my leg like Donald did! Thankfully, I didn't.

These boots are made for walking

Or not. Definitely wouldn't be good on ice. Some of the Latino immigrants here wear interesting cowboy boots, belt buckles and cowboy hats. While this guy was happy to let me photograph his boots, I would have felt weird asking him if I could take a shot of his belt buckle. Plainfield Train Station (before the ice).

Is a squirrel going to fall out of the ceiling?

How was your week?