Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Survivor: One World - February 29 Episode Blog Party

Survivor: One World, By Zoetawny for

Welcome one, welcome all! Survivor: One World is starting here on the East Coast. I can only hope that the women might get their act together. What a dismal start for the tribe ... probably enough to make Colton Cumbie to beat feet back to his own tribe thankful that he avoided disaster. Not only are the women performing poorly in challenges, they're making horrible decisions. Sending Nina packing last week? Oy!

I'll be updating this post with major events. However, the real action (and fun) is in the comments section. Everyone is free to jump in with thoughts on the show, the cast, Jeff's Probst-ing ways, etc. See you there!

The Rewards Challenge is a memory test -- memorizing items and recreating. The reward is a complete fishing gear set and canoe. Oh my gosh, Sabrina took the first round! I think it's the first time a woman has won. Now Monica is also right. The women are leading! Alicia continues the streak. Then Kat. OMG! The women win reward!

Immunity Challenge time -- caller and blindfolded pairs going through an obstacle course, then puzzle. I'm in shock. The women started out doing horribly, then caught up and passed the men on the puzzle. The women have won Immunity!

Tribal Council time. Will Colton's alliance stick together on the vote? Will he use the hidden idol? Nope, he doesn't use it.

The tally: Colton, Bill, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt. Bye-bye, Matt! Colton's alliance stayed true. Interesting.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Amazing Race 20 Blog Party - 02/26/12

The show is starting on time for a change. Woohoo! Alas, I'm expecting a quiet evening here due to the Oscar competition. I didn't see any of the films up for awards and have no plans to watch said gala event. I do plan to switch to the new Celebrity Apprentice premiere after TAR, though. Since getting to "know" George Takei (Mr. Sulu from Star Trek: The Original Series) via Facebook, I simply must catch him in action. He's very intelligent, has a fantastic insight into a tremendous array of things and sense of humor!

But, of course, this party is all about The Amazing Race! I'll be updating this post only with the really major events. I'm still in the process of figuring out the teams, so it's best that you all join me in the comments area where we don't really have to have the teams memorized! Teams ready?

1. Rachel and Dave AGAIN! Won a trip to Grenada
2. Border Patrol dudes
3. Popper and Mark (Kentucky)
4. Brendon and Rachel (sigh, want them GONE)
5. Kerry and Stacy (country gals)
6. Nary and Jamie (fed agents)
7. Vanessa and Ralph (my blog pool team)
8. Joey Fitness and Danny
9. Elliot and Andrew

The clowns, Dave and Cherie, were Philiminated. They didn't perform well, but I found them pleasant as a couple and possessing humor. I'd rather another team go.

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - February 26, 2012

Yes, it is indeed Sunday morning and I'm back! My apologies for skipping last week's off television topic photo post, but I was really hurting and discombobulated. My apartment is still a bit discombobulated as I get this written. However, I no longer ache and I should get things back in place later today.

For those who didn't catch last week's post -- my apartment underwent some renovation work. Painting throughout, new kitchen floor, new bathroom ceiling, new bathroom sink with vanity, and new bathroom medicine cabinet. While I didn't have to do all this work, I did move everything to the center of my rooms, climbed up and down removing things from the walls (and the knee doesn't really climb well), helped the contractor move my refrigerator (which really wanted to remain in place), etc.

I was exhausted and ached all over. It takes a good year to eighteen months to recover completely from a knee replacement. Not only is the knee a bit iffy still, but my stamina and strength aren't 100% yet. Plus I started all this work ill with a fever and stomach bug. GAH! 

I've been working on getting things back in place ... or in new places as it gives me an excuse to rearrange things ... bit by bit after work. I'm not quite under the deadline I was for throwing and shoving everything in the middle of the rooms! I also have decided to purge some of my belongings. I will probably never be a size 10 again, those clothes can go. I have a pair of practically brand new Chicago inline roller skates. While I might venture out on quad (old school) skates again, I hated the inline and used them a few times years ago. Size 9 -- anyone wanna buy?

Work has been a nightmare for most of this week with computer issues. Supposedly the DSL at work isn't working and we're only communicating via satellite. That was fixed, but amidst the problems, my software I use for my work somehow got corrupted (they think). I've had to use a chisel and a slab of granite in lieu of modern technology. Er, okay ... adding machine tapes and notes. Once things come up, I have to enter each day's work into the computer. Sigh. 

On this Sunday, my thoughts go out to local Plainfield bloggers Dan Damon and Bernice Paglia. Dan was hospitalized with some serious issues earlier this week and Bernice, a fellow car-free pedestrian, has been having horrible knee issues. I know what knee issues are like, especially as a pedestrian! May both of my friends feel better soon!

Onto the photos for this week -- clicking on an image will open a larger view.

Call me Mr. Chubbs

This squirrel was hanging out at the Plainfield Train Station yesterday morning as I waited for my train. He was a bit of a ham (even though he's obviously a squirrel!). I have a mini-series of shots of him later on in this entry.

Winter budding

We've had some cooler temperatures the past few days. But the winter is still so warm and mild that the trees are confused. Bridgewater Train Station.

Pinks of dawn

The days are getting longer. It's no longer pitch black when I leave my apartment heading to the train station. The sunrise actually occurs while I'm aboard the train on my way to work. Soon it should be rising while I'm at the Plainfield Train Station.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Survivor: One World - February 22 Episode Blog Party

Survivor: One World, By Zoetawny for

The show is about to start here on the East Coast. I have a feeling that tonight we'll find out exactly how annoying Colton Cumbie can be. Hopefully the gals will get their act together. I was quite disappointed in them last week.

I'll be posting major updates here in this entry. However, the real fun will be in the comments section -- feel free to join the party and let the rest of us know what you think of the episode! Survivor fans ready?

The men won the reward challenge and gained themselves a tarp. The women didn't really screw up; they did well. But the men were quicker.

Colton told Troyzan and Jonas that he has the idol. He wants to team up with them to get Michael (my pool dude) out. He only went to the guys because he annoyed the women so much they made him go away.

The immunity challenge has the tribes lined up on balance beams. One by one, they have to pass each other until all are on a platform. Now, the women sucked. The men won the challenge with ease.

Tally: Nina, Kat, Christina, Nina, Nina, Naina ... they kept the very pretty but totally inept Kat! Argh!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Amazing Race 21 Season Premiere Blog Party

Yep, tonight's the night! Unfortunately utterly clueless CBS has NOT addressed the problem of airing sports which chronically cause delays in airing primetime shows on Sunday evenings. This time it was golf delaying a season premiere.

They desperately need to change to only TWO primetime shows -- airing 60 Minutes at 8 P ET, TAR at 9 PM, etc. That way we could depend on a standard time even if it is (technically) an hour later. 60 Minutes started at 7:21 ET, so although I'm putting this post up on time, expect TAR east coast approximately 8:20 PM .

Here's Phil Keoghan's take on this season's cast:

Margo has graciously offered to host the pool once again -- three cheers to her! Here's the random match-ups:

Art & J.J.- Auntie Leigh, Caela, Sydney
Brendon & Rachel - Donna in FL, Jennasmom, Lynn 1
Dave & Cherie - JOEY, MEB, SueGee
Dave & Rachel - Pam in NJ, Rbennie
Elliot & Andrew - Becky, DKNYNC, Donna in AL
Joey "Fitness" & Danny - Brent McKee, Karen in CA, Indiana Jane
Kerri & Stacey - Ed in OH, Margo
Mark & Bopper - Delee, Nana in NW, Petals
Misa & Maiya - Laurie, Terry in PA, Zoetawny
Nary & Jamie - Merrilee, PDXGranny
Vanessa & Ralph - Jackie, ML, Monty924

Although I'm hoping for an early exit for Brendon and Rachel, I do understand that some folks might like them. So far I don't have a favorite yet and I know it will take a few weeks to figure out the names on the teams.

I will update this with the (possible, probable) elimination, but I'm not going to post a blow-by-blow account. Everyone is invited to join in with comments! Who's got the booze?

Rachel and Dave (no, not Rachel and Brendon) came in first and got the Express Pass. Brenchel was second. Art and JJ, three. Mary and Jenny, Vanessa and Ralph ... oops lost track!

Misa and Maiya totally blew it. They were next to last and got screwed up finding Phil. They're Philiminated.

Life Interrupted

I will be hosting (and participating) in the big blog party for the season premiere of The Amazing Race tonight starting at 8 PM ET. Be there or be square!

However, I will not be putting up my weekly photo post this morning. My apartment has been undergoing painting and kitchen renovations for the last few days. I took it upon myself to move all my furniture away from the walls as well as get everything off the walls. He finished the painting yesterday and I just collapsed. I still have to move everything back (or rearrange!)

He has to come back tomorrow although I'll have to be at work -- new bathroom sink and medicine cabinet, possibly new tiling around the tub. If they're going to do all that, they might as well give me a new toilet and tub, too!

The bathroom sink replacement is my own doing. The night before he first showed up, I leaned on it and it fell off the wall! I scrambled to catch it before it ripped the water lines out of the wall and then strained about 15 minutes to get it up on its brackets. When I finally got it up there, I noticed the big S pipe underneath disconnected. I asked him to fix the pipe and he told me he'd get me a new sink in a vanity. Yay! But, in a way, boo as under the sink was Vincent's litter box. The bathroom is tiny. I have to come up with a new place for it.

Between moving my whole darn life of stuff, straining with a deceptively heavy bathroom sink and helping the 4'10" Ecuadorean contractor dude move the refrigerator ... I'm hurting all over. And I have so much yet to do moving things all back. Sigh.

But do come back tonight for the show! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Survivor: One World - Season Premiere Blog Party

Survivor: One World, By Zoetawny for

Welcome one, welcome all! Yep, it's a new season of Survivor at hand! Zoetawny was kind enough to create a new blog logo for the show and, knowing what she's been going through, she rocks indeed!

Lifeguard Laurie is running the pool -- the random draw has these picks:

Troy Robertson -- Lynn1, Margo
Sabrina Thompson -- Leigh, meb
Nina Acosta -- Laurie, ML
Monica Culpepper -- Jenna's mom, Monty 924
Michael Jefferson -- Jackie, Nana in the NW
Matt Quinlan -- Glenn, Pam
Leif Manson -- Estelle, PDX Granny
Kourtney Moon -- Ed in Ohio, Petals
Kimberly Spradlin -- Dusty, rbennie
Kat Edorsson -- Donna, Rochelle
Jonas Otsuji -- dla, Sue Gee
Jay Byars -- DKNYNC, Tammy
Greg Smith -- Delee, Terry
Colton Cumbie -- Caela, Zoetawny
Christina Cha -- Buzzman
Chelsea Meissner -- Brent McKee
Bill Posley -- Becky
Alicia Rosa --Ann

If you didn't make the pool cut-off, feel free to cheer on your favorite team for the win anyway! I was in shock that my pool pick actually won last season. I guess I can't depend on that two seasons in a row, eh? Well ... maybe I can! We'll see.

Margo will be running the TAR pool -- if you want in on that one, please reply to the cast post I made earlier today!

Survivor fans ready?

Jeff divided them into two tribes -- men and women. But we knew that would happen. They have 60 seconds to strip any goods they can off the truck they arrived in, but they don't know they'll be sharing a camp ... yet. Uh-oh. My pool pick stole from the women!

Jeff gave each tribe a map to the camp, yet still hasn't told them it's the same camp. He told them hidden idols will be in play, but no Redemption Island. (YAY!) The girls are already forming a "final five" as they hike to the camp. They arrive to the camp first and see both flags, so the cat is out of the bag.

They're all chasing chickens. One girl catches TWO -- Chelsea. Now the guys are hitting them up to share. Colton is already alienating his tribe by hanging around the girls. Will he spy for the guys or just hang with the women on his own?

The guys got a fire going first. Sabrina offered a chicken for fire. Hmmm. One gal wants the axe back that they stole. Heh, the girls went to go steal back the axe while the men slept and stole fire instead.

The women now are weaving twenty fronds for the guys in exchange for fire because their stolen fire pooped out.

One of the women (still not good on names yet, black woman) found the Manano (mens tribe) idol and must give it up before Tribal Council. She chooses Colton who has already groveled around for it with the women.

Immunity Challenge time! It's physical -- jumping into a net, balance beam. Uh-oh -- it looks like Kourtney might have broken her wrist. She needs x-rays. Due to her dropping out, the men win by forfeit. They have the choice to take the win and run or continue the challenge. The guys take the win.

Tribal Council time ... Kourtney still not back. She's their major pick to go. But one of the girls (Alicia) wants to get Christina out as she thinks she's in too much with the men. Whoa! Christina/Alicia cat fight ... MEOW.

Kourtney's wrist is broken in a few places, she'll need surgery. She's out of the game. No one is getting voted out.

My verdict? This could definitely be an interesting season, for sure! I just hope the women get together a bit more. The cohesiveness of the men (so far, except Colton) is going to hurt them.

The Amazing Race 20 - Meet the Cast

The Amazing Race begins this Sunday! Who's gonna be here? While I have no favorite team just going over the bio videos, I do have a least favorite team for the win. Can you guess who it is?

Is there any interest in a pool this season? If so, respond to this post. And, of course ... stop back tonight for the Survivor blog party!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - February 12, 2012

Yes, it's another Sunday. That means it's time for another off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. Never fear, TV fans --- Survivor returns this Wednesday! As usual, I'll have the blog party going on as the show airs here on the east coast. Everyone is welcome to join in!

The esteemed Lifeguard Laurie will be running the blog pool. If you want to get in on the action (no real wagering, but bragging rights if your random pool pick is the sole survivor!), please respond here in comments or email her at This is the list Laurie has so far:

Brent McKee
Ed in Ohio
Jenna's mom
Monty 924
Nana in the NW
PDX Granny
Sue Gee
In other business, we had snow not once, but TWICE this past week! Wow. I'd say the total of both storms combined was less than an inch. Wow. During my skiing heyday, I'd be miserable about the lack of snow this year. But I'm not missing it at all. We've paid our snow dues the last few years, last year in particular.  I just wonder what effect it will have on the other seasons. I've never seen a winter in the northeast this warm.

On Friday morning, there was a big fire in Plainfield. There I was, making my lunch to take to work with the TV news on in the other room -- WCBS out of Manhattan. I heard, "We're over Plainfield ..." Huh? It must have been a slow news day in NYC as all the network affiliates had their helicopters hovering over Plainfield.  As I waited for my train, there were four helicopters just hovering there like dragonflies watching for prey.

Usually if they give that much coverage to a fire in NJ, it's huge. This one wasn't really huge like a city block or a forty unit apartment building -- it was a single home with an attached vacant body shop. But it was a relentless fire fueled by a gas main. And, the smoke as I headed to the train station was unbelievable.

No one was injured which, of course, is a good thing. However, I was very saddened to hear that the family there had three emaciated pit bulls in the yard, one which had to be put down on the scene as he was in such bad shape ... and not anything to do with the fire. Didn't the neighbors see the poor dogs suffering? Please, folks, if you see neglect like that, report it!

Not much else has been going on. As promised, I'm first bringing you photos of the Tropicana Train -- the Times Square shuttle. I'm really not sure how orange juice will make you feel better when the day goes awry, but it does make for a different NYC subway experience. I took them on January 29th. 


Sunday, February 05, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - February 5, 2012

It's Sunday morning once again. Odd thing, that. It seems like it comes around once a week or so! But, because it's here again, it's time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken.

First, let's talk a little about television. I'm tired of the American Idol auditions. I'm glad they're over and it's onto Hollywood next week. Perhaps I've just wearied of the show concept, but no one I've seen has rocked my socks. Eventually, in just a few weeks, Idol will be up against Survivor on Wednesday night. When that time comes, I go Survivor

Since we've entered the February sweeps, at least Letterman was new this week. I can't believe he's been hosting late nights for 30 years. The scary thing is that I think I've seen most of the shows! Although I got a new Southland, I want a new Castle!

Okay, onto my week ...

As I mentioned last week, on Sunday I went into the city to the big Lunar (Chinese) New Year parade in Chinatown. Oy. I really didn't think of how crowded it would be. I'm not a fan of crowds, especially ones which totally squish me. Had I realized it, I would have headed in earlier. Instead, I decided to watch CBS Sunday Morning and, at 10:30 when it ended, I packed up my DSLR and my best Canon point and shoot, then moseyed to the bus stop on the corner to catch the 10:41 bus which ended up being late. The parade was supposed to wind through the streets of Chinatown from 11 to 4.

But I didn't know 400,000 people would show up! The crowd situation was worse than the two years I've ventured into Times Square (and never will again) for New Year's Eve. The bus I took ends up at Port Authority which is way uptown from Chinatown. By the time I took three separate subway lines to end up down there, it was going for 1PM and the crowds were unbelievable.

Although there were tons of police, NYPD really did a horrible job with crowd control. I got really SQUISHED, to the point of being scary squished -- the pressure of the bodies was probably capable of breaking brittle bones. On one block on Mott Street (that's almost the Main Street of Chinatown), the police kept letting people in one end while the police at the other end blocked them in. The crush was horrid and only relieved when a bunch of folks started screaming that someone was hurt, someone fainted and one yelled that someone was dead. But no one either fainted or was dead that I saw. I think they just wanted to get the cops to let us out of the crush. 

So the cops opened a barricade and let us go right into Hester Street where another segment of the parade was coming through. Now, they wanted us to go back onto the sidewalk on Hester. But I found a safe crowd-free place between two parked cars on the street and stayed right there for the rest of the parade. So, while this was a great photo op in thought, the reality was not as exciting. If I go again, I'll go early in the morning and stake out a spot right along the street, not stuck in the masses in the middle of the sidewalk.

Yet I'm glad I went. I did get some nice shots, not necessarily of the parade. Because I have so many photos, you can expect the Tropicana subway shots next week. Since I took the 6 train back uptown and planned to take the 7 over towards Port Authority only to find out that the 7 is shut down on the weekends right now for maintenance, I ended up on this bizarre Times Square shuttle which hyped Tropicana orange juice. It was kind of cool, but I didn't want to add that series to this already photo-laden entry.

Oh yes, I always seem to end up in Times Square. But, never again on New Year's Eve. The reason I always end up there is because I take the bus home (it stops right across the street from my apartment) and the Port Authority Bus Terminal is in the edge of Times Square. If I take a train home, I don't go that far uptown.

That was my big excitement for the week. Other than that, it was work, eat, sleep, rinse and repeat. Onto the photos ... clicking on an image will open it larger in a gallery thingee.

Call me a cab!

Yes, that's a NYC cab. But take a closer look. That's the Plainfield Police Department in the background. Apparently some folks have money to throw away. The train or bus would cost $10 or less. I believe the going rate for the cab is $135 these days. That's not including the tip! Since his number light was lit, he was available. I should have hailed him to bring me home and found out the difference for the crosstown trip from him versus the local cabs. This was taken Monday afternoon on Watchung Avenue, Plainfield.

Cover me -- I'm going in!

I guess the parade is in there somewhere!

Not sure what to make of it all

I took this one stuck in the mob on Mott Street. Some parents were foolish enough to bring strollers. The best place for small children was atop the shoulders of their parents. It kind of spoiled the view for people like me, but it was the safest for the kids. This one wasn't quite that high. One idiot during my squished state actually had rolling luggage! I couldn't figure out why my upper body was moving around a bit in the crowd but my legs seemed to be stuck against a rock or something! I thought the knee replacements got bent!