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 --


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.


Bye-bye Ozzy!

In Los Angeles, here are the votes:

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.


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.


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.


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:

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!


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!


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!