Sunday, January 29, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - January 29, 2012

Yes, yes ... it's already Sunday once again. Time flies when you're on a staycation! I meant to post about television this week. I realize I've been woefully negligent in that regard. Obviously, I will kick it in gear once shows make their return for the "winter season." Huh. I remember when there wasn't a winter season!

I'm already enjoying the return of Southland on TNT. It's a gritty urban police drama set in Los Angeles, but created by the same folks who brought us the NYC-based Third Watch some years back. It may not be everyone's cuppa tea, but I like it! I've also been watching the American Idol auditions. So far, I'm not overly impressed with anything other than the fact that Steven Tyler still has young girls all ga-ga for him. He's probably old enough to be some of the contestants' grandfather!

On the home front, the painting/new kitchen floor has been postponed a few weeks. I'll just have to inform work that I need a few days off mid-February. That won't be an issue as I have PTO (paid time off) I can take and the payroll budget will get another reprieve without my pay for those days. PTO doesn't come out of the budget. I want to be here when workmen are in and out, both for Vincent's sake and my own distrust of strangers.

As a result of the postponement, I didn't really do a heck of a lot this week. I cleaned my closets. I napped. I read. I watched TV. All of those activities were accompanied by a cat. You know that!

My big event of the week is actually occurring today. By the time most of you read this, I'll be in Chinatown photographing and probably taking some videos of the huge Lunar New Year Parade. It's the Year of the Dragon, so I'm expecting quite the photo op! Of course, I do mean Chinatown in NYC, not Philly or San Francisco or wherever other Chinatowns might be. 

I'll probably pick up a Chinese food lunch from whichever restaurant catches my fancy followed by something sinfully chocolate and a coffee in Little Italy before catching the subway back up to Port Authority. It will be a fairly short jaunt into the city as the parade ends around 4PM. So, I'll be home in plenty of time to get a good night's rest before Monday morning hits.

Due to my lackadaisical ways this past week, I don't have a ton of photos. Next week, I will. Clicking on an image will open it larger in a nifty-keen gallery doohickey thingee.

It's forever 11:36

"I used to live in Plainfield City
Everything there was dark and dirty
Outside my window there was a street park
With a clock that always said eleven-thirty-six."

My apologies to The Mamas and the Papas and 'Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon).' Oh. And my windows don't look down on this scene at the corner of Park Avenue and the East/West Front Street split in Plainfield. But I do find Plainfield, in my pedestrian ways, is usually a town where people say "Good morning" and really mean it.

You can't see me in the dense brush

Hiding in plain sight, that's the way to do it! The squirrels really seem to be enjoying the lack of snow this year as much as I am. I can only hope it continues.

Fun with photo editing

I severely messed with this one. It's actually a shot of tree branches in the rain lit up by a streetlamp. 


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - January 22, 2012

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly reflection on the week gone by in both words and photos I've taken. On the whole, this past week has been uneventful for me. I received the part I ordered for my best point and shoot camera and fixed it. And, once again the weather was a bit disagreeable for taking the newer fancy-schmancy DSLR around with me.

I took it along to work one day only to have the battery die in the cold as I was coming home. It's a good thing I bought a few spare batteries for it. It would be a better thing if I carried a spare that day! 

We had our first snowstorm of the season yesterday. Well, we had that weird Halloween snowstorm, but that doesn't really count as the winter season! It really wasn't bad at all for a snowstorm. If they were all like this one, I wouldn't mind at all. I wore my warm winter boots with great tread for walking in snow. I will admit I didn't bring the DSLR because I was scared I might fall. But the few inches of snow was actually good for traction on the sidewalks -- SO much better than the ice we had one day earlier in the week.

It was just about this time last year that I had a bad fall on ice (and into snow), spraining my right knee and sealing its fate. That was the day I told the orthopedic surgeon, "Okay, let's get the date set for the knee replacement." This year, it's a world of difference in both the amount of snow we're dealing with here in NJ (or lack thereof) and how my knees feel. I'm still leery of falling as I don't want to damage the knees, but they're probably much tougher than the rest of me.

I have a staycation looming ahead of me this week. I'm hoping that the weather and time will permit me to take a photo jaunt into Chinatown (NYC) to catch some of the festivities as they welcome in the Year of the Dragon. Now, THAT is something I'll bring the DSLR for! However, I also have to allot time for working and lurking around my apartment as I expect workmen in to paint and put in a new kitchen floor. I have to get everything off the walls, move my furniture, etc. in prep for the painting. I'll let them deal with the refrigerator in the kitchen. I might not want to know what's under it. Probably monsters.

Onto this week's photos --

Cawing all crows

Yes, I played with editing a bit on this one. This crow would just NOT STOP cawing! Bridgewater, NJ.

The sun also sets

The days are getting slightly longer and I got out of work a bit earlier one day in time to catch the sun hanging low in a sky filled with contrails from passing jets. The harsh angle of the winter sun often attracts my photo eye, but this time it was the sun itself. Plainfield Train Station.

Yes, it's snow

Looking in disbelief at it won't change the fact, buddy. It's snow. We've been lucky so far this year. I edited this to leave only the man in color, but there wasn't a heck of a lot of color otherwise anyway. Plainfield Train Station.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Survivor Cast Announced

The new season of Survivor premieres on Wednesday, February 15, at 8pm ET/PT. The cast was announced today on the CBS show website with an intro video hosted by Jeff Probst and individual cast videos. For me, the best news is that there will be NO Redemption Island! Sure, it was interesting for its first season, but I didn't think we needed a second go of it last season. 

As for this season's twists, my personal jury is still out. It's men versus women, the two tribes living together sans any real rules ... it could be chaos! I suspect we'll see lots of folks "secretly" working with others not on their tribe. Hidden idols are still in play, but with the twist that each tribe has one to find and the person finding it cannot keep it. They must give it to someone from the other tribe. What? Color me confused!

Here's the intro video ...

Your thoughts? It seems to me that this is mostly an eye-candy cast for both men and women as opposed to the casting of the past few years. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I predict a lot of censorship blurring.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - January 15, 2012

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. This hasn't been one of the best weeks for me. I managed to cut my foot which has made walking literally a pain. (Ow.) Yet I have so much I need to get done at work, I didn't want to take time off. So, ow.

The weather hasn't really been cooperating much this past week either. I had to deal with severe winds and rain or, at other times, brutally cold temperatures. As a result, I didn't bring my fancy-schmancy new DSLR camera with me but a day or two. I now have the case for it, but earlier in the week I didn't want to expose it to the rain. And, as I'm still waiting for a part, my pocket camera is my older one. Thus ... not a great selection of photos this week.

In the good news department, both knees are fine and Vincent is well. Without further ado, onto the photos --

Golden Rays

This was taken with the DSLR. I'm still learning more about settings and such. However, the golden rays were an actuality. The only editing I did with this one was cropping and making it smaller to post. Plainfield Train Station.

Stormy Lamps

The same day, but facing away from the sunset.

Keep back 300  ... um .. eft?

Not the DSLR. I took this one walking to the local bodega. I edited it to leave only the fire engine in color. Berckman Street, Plainfield.


The older camera, as well. This restaurant is on Watchung Avenue in Plainfield. There are several South and Central American restaurants in town serving the changing population. I'm not really keen on Mexican and various other countries foods, so I can't tell you if the food is good or not. However, it seems like this particular fairly new restaurant always has a patron or two inside eating while others come for carry out.

Rainy neon glow

Winter in New Jersey. Well, at least this winter and so far. The wind was blowing the rain sideways (and I had a cut on my foot!) when I took this shot. I was soaked clear through. Wah. Watchung Avenue, Plainfield.

Monsoon morning

Yep, that's rain on the train. It doesn't fall mainly on the plane. Plainfield Train Station and my ride to work is here.

The sun also rises

I went in later one morning and caught the reflection of the sunrise in one window. So I left that one window in color. North Avenue across from the train station. Yes, I know I've done this sort of thing with these same windows before. But I don't believe I've caught the rising sun before.

Darned paparazzi, shoo!

I stalked Vincent so much with the DLSR camera that I think I annoyed him. Poor cat. He's so abused, eh?

Am I boring you, Vincent?

This was the same photo session. I guess he was sleepy!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - January 8, 2012

It's Sunday morning, time for my off television topic reflection of the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. Of course, since we've been in television doldrums, I haven't had any real television posts lately. I did set up a discussion post for The Bachelor, but can't comment much because I don't watch the show. I have a few posts planned this week for SouthLAnd and The Celebrity Apprentice. We're slowly coming out of repeat season!

The big happening this week is that I received my new (used) DSLR! It's not top of the line or anything, but I don't really have a thousand or two laying around to pay for a camera. I'm still in the process of learning how to use it. And, thanks to an Amazon gift card from my brother and his wife, I've ordered a camera case, spare batteries, cheap macro extension tubes (gotta have 'em for my summer bug pics!), an inexpensive wide angle lens, etc. This is going to be fun! One drawback ... it's definitely not like sticking my old point and shoot in my pocket.

With both my knee and the weather faring well, I walked around town for a couple of hours on Friday. I had the day off as my New Year's holiday although I actually had New Year's Day as my paid holiday. Since that was a Sunday and it was a four day work week, Friday ended up being my other day off.

Well, I ended up off Saturday, too. But that wasn't scheduled. I don't know if it's some chicken I ate while I was out photo stomping on Friday or a stomach bug. Whatever it is/was, it hit me hard on Saturday. I'm feeling a bit better now. That said, I'm still in awe that I walked all over downtown and back and my knee didn't hurt, not even the next day!

The weather here continues to be bizarre, to say the least. We had a frigid cold (normal) period for a few days. Then on Friday and Saturday, the temperatures were over 60 again. While I don't want the snows of last year, I think we need some kind of winter. It makes for boring photos when everything is just dead! At least snow gives me fresh fodder. I suppose we're not going to escape the elements for the whole winter.

Enough blather, onto the photos! 


This was the first photo I took with my DSLR. I took it at lunch during my workday on Thursday. I had the camera shipped to my workplace as I hate playing package delivery tag at home. I also worry that the post office might actually LEAVE a package when I'm not home. That would be an EEK! 

Anyway, a whole group of seagulls were hovering in the wind as if I was going to give them food. I had nothing to give them. He's looking at me! Eek!

Lost holiday cheer

Yes, I heavily edited this photo for effect. This is the scene of the "Bull Durham Building" fire, the almost untouched restaurant on the first floor ... the only occupied part of the building. I suppose the interior of the restaurant must have extensive damage as the building is so gone. However, the windows still speak of holiday cheer before tragedy.

Fix those lamps!

The lamps I love to photograph at the Plainfield Train Station are in sad shape as of late. Specifically, the eastbound track has several lamps out and they've been out for a matter of weeks. While it's not really a safety issue as there is plenty of light, it's an aesthetic issue for me. Get on the ball, NJ Transit!


Monday, January 02, 2012

The Bachelor 2012 Blog Discussion

Yep, it's that time of the year again -- time for The Bachelor! While I don't watch the show and won't be able to post about it weekly, here's a place to discuss the happenings. The show's official website is right here. This discussion post is linked on the sidebar or just search on the blog for The Bachelor to get back here each week!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was and Happy New Year 2012!

Happy New Year!

I'm posting this a bit earlier than usual -- at midnight, for some odd reason! My best wishes for a happy and healthy 2012 (or, I believe, 5722) to all. Over the years, the community on this blog has become a part of my life ... and definitely a welcome part! I can only hope each and every one of you have a wondrous and amazing year ahead.

Thinking back on this past year, 2011 actually was a good year for me. Finally I have two knees which are, for the most part, painless. I've had chronic knee pain for more than twelve years and I can finally walk once again without pain. Sure, it was a bit rough getting there with the knee replacements. However, except for the dislocation kerfuffle with the new right knee, the recovery was so much easier than the first knee!

Also in 2011, I had a fantastic vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with fabulous friends I originally "met" through this very blog! Laurie, Margo, Ruth, Marge, Elaine, Delee, Ann and a tremendously cool waterfront house made me forget my knee was still healing! Wild horses, the ocean, great food and fun. You can't beat that with a stick!

Also in 2011, I had my first invitational photography exhibit. True, it was the local city library and not some fancy-schmancy gallery in SoHo. But it was an honor to have my photographic works on exhibit all summer at the Plainfield Public Library. Perhaps 2012 will brng about a fancy-schmancy artsy exhibit in NYC and worldwide photography recognition! Well, I can dream, can't I?

There have been some down moments during 2011. However, I've definitely had worse years throughout my life. Thanks to my new knee, I feel better than I have in years. Vincent (the cat) is still a treasure and remains in excellent health. I can't complain. Well, I could but that would be whiny and ungrateful of me. So I won't.

I do have one brief whine. I sort of kind of broke my best camera. It technically works, I guess. But I dropped it on Christmas Eve. Since then, each time I take a photo, it wants me to input the date and time. I can skip the step, but then the photo file has no date or time and each photo becomes its own folder. Ack! It's a nightmare when I take lots of photos and put them on my computer.

For a few days I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Then I realized there's an opening on one side there never was before. Huh? I researched online and found out there had been a door there with an internal battery (not to be confused with the regular batteries). That battery controls at least the date and time. GRR! I found the battery size -- a watch type battery -- and will order it from Amazon. I also found the missing battery holder/door doohickey on Ebay. So it looks like I can fix it myself. 

With the camera the way it is, it's put a damper on my photo taking this past week. I ended up taking my next best camera out just so I'm not as annoyed. The zoom on that one isn't as good. But least it doesn't want me to program in the date and time with each photo! Soon I'll have my first DSLR camera as I'm buying a used one from a friend ... that I met on the blog! I can't justify a new one, but it will be a treat for me nonetheless. I've never had anything other than a point and shoot. Maybe that fancy-schmancy gallery exhibit might just happen!

Onto the photos ... these are from the past couple of weeks ... 

Times Square

NO ... not tonight (or last night)! I'm not crazy! I stayed home! Do you know that you have to go through a metal detector to get in Times Square on New Year's Eve these days? I fail that at airports and courthouses. No way would I even think of going into that mass of people going through that! I took this shot a couple of weeks ago when I went into town. With the latest lighting, Times Square has an almost pinkish brighter than daylight color about it.

Just an illusion

Playing with the "Illusion" filter on the GIMP photo editor, this is a street lamp in Bridgewater, NJ.

Holiday police

Huh. The Plainfield Police Station has two less trees than last year and only white lights. Last year they had blue and white lights. The city tree in front of City Hall is done up in red lights. Alas, it's never lighted when I'm near it!