Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Amazing Race - October 28 Blog Party

Who's ready for some Amazing Race? I am! It's actually starting on time here tonight although I'm worried about storm related news interrupting it. The storm here so far is just a bit windy, not bad yet. 

As the show airs here, I'll update this post with the major events. However, as always, the real fun is in the comments area. Come join us!

The Roadblock has them weighing wood with rocks as a counterbalance. They're still in Bangladesh. Onto the Detour with Abba and James in the lead. Straw Dogs or Bamboo Jungle. Most seem to be going for transporting bamboo on a rickshaw type vehicle. Straw dogs has them manufacturing jute bags.

1. James and Abba again! They won a trip to Malaysia's tropical rain forest.
2. Abbie and Ryan
3. Natalie and Nadiya
4. Rob and Kelly
5. Trey and Lexi
6. Jaymes and James
Last ... Josh and Brent, but it's a non-Philimination leg. They're still in it!

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - October 28, 2012

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

Have any of you folks heard that there's some kind of storm heading towards the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast? Apparently it's supposed to be a whopper, eh? I read that the weather people (as opposed to the Weathermen) want people to stop calling it silly names like "Frankenstorm" because it's just so darn dangerous.

Now, I'm not doubting it's going to be serious. But, sheesh. I think the media makes people panic about it. Someone even stole my Sunday newspaper this morning, possibly thinking it has the latest up to the minute storm details. 

Me? I'm not all that worried. I live in a very populated area. I have enough food to last a number of days if need be. I have candles, batteries, one of those stick on lights and a good flashlight. I have plenty of water, plus my water doesn't go out even if the power's out. Normally my landline stays working, too. Plus I have my cell phone and police, weather alert (etc.) scanner. 

If, for some reason, there's a really long power outage, it's not like there's no other people around. One of the shelters set up is a five minute walk away. Getting to work may be another issue. I doubt I'll be going in until after my next day off. They're already talking about shutting down the NJ Transit trains and buses. Heck, work might not even be open! I have plenty of paid time off in the bank, so I might have a little vacation!

Right now, it's not doing anything out there. But, yesterday, I returned home from work to find the notice below shoved under my door. I think I prefer Chinese menus, thank you very much! (And in the 12 years I've been here, I've only seen flooding once -- during Irene.) I don't doubt there will be street flooding because the city never bothered to pick up the huge piles of leaves at the curb!

Clicking on an image will open it in a new window, clicking on it again will result in a larger image. Just close that new window to return to the blog.

Oh my

Train station lamp
Plainfield Train Station lamp

On Monday, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Plainfield Train Station. I'll get into that later. But I was there after the sun started shining.

One squirrel

The squirrels have been extremely active lately. Beside gathering their goodies, they're chasing each other around and chattering at people for daring to come near them. This was on East Front Street in Plainfield.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Survivor: Philippines - October 24 Episode Blog Party

Survivor fans ready? The show is about to start here on the East Coast. Nope, no World Series watching for me! It's Survivor, then Criminal Minds. Perfect in my book. 

From the promos, it sounds like Penner and Skupin might be in a bit of trouble tonight. Hopefully that keeps any target off my new favorite player Denise. I'm not all that keen on Penner back for a third time. Mike Skupin, on the other hand, was so long ago in his one previous season and his injuries (the burns) were horrifying. He definitely deserves a shot this season.

As the show airs here, I'll update this entry with the major news. But, as always, the real action is in the comments area. Hopefully the ballgame won't steal many of our party people!

Almost right into the reward challenge -- pushing a large wicker ball through a goal while the other tribe tries to stop you. Reward is a visit to a dry hut with sandwiches, soup and more. Said wicker ball is huge and the field is mud. It's kind of like mud wrestling! This is done with teams of three. With the first group, they're stalemating. They have to score three and it's well over an hour stuck with the first group.

It's over. In a deal worked out, Kalabaw gives all their rice to Tandang and wins reward. Now, Skupin had eaten most of Tandang's rice and they do need it. But Artis (for one) doesn't seem pleased with the deal at all.

Aw, they got their letters from home at the hut. But they're soon hungry once again.

Immunity challenge time -- launching balls out to field, others catch. Each catch worth a point, five points is the winning tribe. Abi is sitting out AGAIN.

Tandang wins immunity with newbie on the tribe Malcolm being their hero.

Jeff wants to go for Penner. The other alternative is Katie. Thankfully, although Denise is new in the tribe, they're liking her.

Lots of blindside talk at the Tribal Council. The tally -- Katie, Penner, Katie, Katie. Bye-bye, Katie. Overall, a wiser decision than Jonathan. After all, he can do quasi-well in challenges. She's pretty much worthless. Then comes Carter in that tribe -- the kid seems stoned all the time and I know he can't be.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Amazing Race: October 21 Blog Party

I'm not thrilled, but they're learning. The show isn't scheduled until 8:30 tonight here in the NYC viewing area due to football coverage. That's certainly better than pretending it will air at 8pm, but it still can throw my live TV watching askew with the odd half-hour. Oh well.

Although I'm putting this post up for the 8pm ET start, I probably won't really be here until the show starts. Feel free to hang out and have a beverage or two. Once it starts here, I'll update this entry with the major happenings as they air. But, as always, the party is in the comments. Come join us!

Okay then ... we're now talking about almost 9pm ET. Grr.

8:56 and it's finally on.

They're heading to Bangladesh. All the teams make the same flight.

Roadblock -- Teams have to repair buses. There is a fast forward available, but no one on the first few teams has gone for it ... yet.

The Fast Forward has them collecting dead rats. Ew. It looks like James and Abba are going to go for it.

The next clue is at a marketplace where they have to find a TAR flag colored dried fish in barrels of stinky dried fish. Ew.

The twins continue to be super annoying. Ew.

Detour -- Pound metal, pound out a spike. Pound the cotton has them beating cotton for a mattress.

James and Abba finished the rat collecting Fast Forward and are heading to the Pit Stop. They're the first team there and won a trip to Antigua.

2. Abbie and Ryan
3. Natalie and Nadiya
4. Rob and Kelly ... didn't take the right boat, must complete the course and come back.
4. Josh and Brent
5. Rob and Kelly
6. James and Jaymes
7. Trey and Lexi
8. Gary and Will ... Philiminated.

There goes my blog pool team, but no great loss. I'm liking so many teams much better! Well, I wouldn't shed any tears if the annoying twins vanished. 

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - October 21, 2012

Good Sunday morning to you! Since it is Sunday morning, it's time for my weekly off television reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken.

Our weather this week has been a bit of a mixed bag. While we had some chilly days, it wasn't freezing cold at all. But we did have one entire day of heavy steady rain. Plus, we've had lots of wind. As the fall foliage season heads towards peak, I'm not seeing as vibrant an array of colors as seen in some years. But the colors did pick up a bit, seemingly overnight one day this week.

Where I live now is a good three weeks behind where I'm originally from. I'm talking autumn leaves, not in terms of reality and time travel! When I was a youngster, Halloween was a spooky time with all the dead leaves rustling and barren branches. Here, Halloween arrives just about even with peak fall foliage. So, we still have plenty of green out there. We also have trees which have given up, grown brown, and de-leaved practically overnight. It's a glorious time of year to be in the Northeast!

Perhaps I'm rambling on about the weather because I just don't have much else for you today. Nothing new and exciting on the home front. I'm putting my train friend Chris in touch with the landlord here as he's seeking new digs. As he is blind, he needs a safe place and I think this building would suit his needs. I'm kind of surprised he didn't cringe at the rent figures I quoted. You really don't see too many young single people living alone in apartments in this area. Most either have roommates or live at home with their parents until they're about to get married, it seems. Chris might be older than I think, though.

Other than that bit o' non-news, I seem to finally be out of my illness woes. I'm still a bit fatigued, but I tend to be that way anyway. I never sleep as much as I should even though I so love to sleep! Vincent is doing well. I'm sorry I ever introduced him to Temptations crunchy cat treats. If I even touch a similar bag of people food stuff, he comes running. I've created a monster!

Oh, I did have some good news this week! In a time when many companies, including the one I work for, are decreasing benefits, mine has decided that as of January 1, 2013, those employees with twenty years or more of service, get yet another week of paid vacation!. Woohoo! True, I tend to use my vacation time for staycations, but still ...! 

I'm thinking the company probably thinks there will be fewer people who stick around so long as the younger generation comes up through the ranks. Unlike the previous generation, more people really job hop these days. But then again, my company sunsetted the retirement pension for those hired after 2006. All they have is the 401K and most don't take advantage of it. Me? I've already filled the pension requirements in time and age, plus I have a 401K. I still don't see economically being able to retire anytime soon. I'll have to crunch the figures and see the health factors in about five years. Until then, I will bask in another week's paid vacation.

Now that I've bored y'all to death, it's onto the photos. Clicking on an image will open it on a new page, clicking again will make the image larger. Then just close out that new window to return to the blog. 

Plainfield Train Station
Plainfield Train Station at night

This was last night as I returned home from work. I've noticed that the homeless man, Omar, who "works" at the station has been amongst the missing for a couple of months now. I'm assuming jail, although he really does help people with the ticket machines and train information. But, kind of like Mr. Bojangles, he drinks a bit. I'm sure when I see him again, he'll tell me he's been "away" as if alluding to a vacation on the French Riviera.

Late season monarch butterfly

I saw this monarch butterfly yesterday in Bridgewater. It's really late in the season for them. The big migration through this area heading to Brazil (or wherever they go) took place last month. He seemed healthy and spry. And, after noticing bees that looked on the edge of death one day after an overnight frost, they were looking good again yesterday, too.

Red sky in the morning

Sailors take warning! And, yes ... the rain started by afternoon. I took this shot in Bridgewater.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Survivor: Philippines - October 17 Episode Blog Party

Okay, the Matsing tribe is down to two members -- Denise and Malcolm. However are they going to stay in the game? I'm really liking Denise and I'm liking Malcolm much more than I thought I would. Hopefully, whoever is in the medic call promos will go. I'm rather surprised it's a woman, but I'm not figuring which woman it is from the promos. We'll find out soon!

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this post with the major happenings. As always, the real fun is in the comments area. Come join us! We have snacks and beverages!

Malcolm has the idol. He and Denise were searching together for it.

"Malcolm, Denise ... you can drop your buffs." Yep, they're being separated -- Malcolm to Tandang, Denise to Kalabaw.

Reward has them balancing an idol in hand while trying to knock the idol from opponent's hand. First tribe to five points wins a huge breakfast platter. Tandang wins reward!

Both Denise and Malcolm seem to be welcomed on their new tribes. Pete told Malcolm he has the idol. Of course, Malcolm didn't volunteer the information regarding his own idol. On Kalabaw, the women want Denise in their women alliiance.

Uh-oh. Dana is really sick. Medical says it's not a life-threatening situation and leave the decision whether to stay in the game or not up to her. She decides ... to leave.

Immunity Challenge time! Race through obstacles, untie knots, chop ropes, puzzle pieces. You know ... the typical. Abi sits out AGAIN. She admits she's only participated in two challenges. Tandang wins by mere seconds. Jeff has been harping all challenge not only about Abi sitting out again and Katie blowing the first part of the challenge for Kalabaw.

Aha! Jeff talked Denise into joining with him, Penner and Carter. She seems to be safe. The guys want to target either Katie or Dawson. Dawson is dropping hints about Jeff being a pro baseball player.

The tally: Denise, Dawson, Dawson, Dawson, Dawson. 

No great loss, I say. Oh my. She practically molests Jeff on the way out. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Amazing Race: October 14 Episode Blog Party

Mind you, we shouldn't get used to this. We cannot expect it to happen every week. It would just set us up for disappointment. But ... the show is actually starting on time here on the East Coast.

As it airs, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. However, as always, the real excitement (and party) is in the comments. Come join us!

Caution: U-Turn ahead!

Roadblock: Who wants to serve a balanced meal? They must deliver twenty plates of food at once.

Detour -- Egg head, light their heads on fire to cook eggs. Or .. Lion's Head, join traditional procession, dress in costume, perform and parade.

It's a double U-Turn and teams who use it may remain anonymous. The first group on the first train had already agreed not to U-Turn anyone as they have a three hour lead. From there, it's on the way to the Pit Stop.

1. Abbie and Ryan - won a trip to Fiji
2. Trey and Lexi
3. James and Jaymes
4. Abba and James
5. Josh and Brent

The monster truckers U-Turned Gary and Will who are already in last place. Yeah, that makes sense.

6. Natalie and Nadiya
7. Monster truckers (Rob and Kelley)

Caitlin and Britany are lost while Gary and Will are frying eggs on their heads. They mistakenly thought the monster truckers were behind them and U-Turned them.

8. Gary and Will! (My blog pool pick team)
9. Caitlin and Britany -- Philiminated. Okay with me. They're annoying. They also expect foreign country natives to speak English. @@

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - October 14, 2012

Good Sunday morning to you! As it is Sunday, it's time for my off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. Lots of photos today, so I hope you have a cup of coffee with you! 

I'm feeling much better this week -- still a bit fatigued, but definitely more myself. After a real dip in the temperatures at week's end, today is supposed to be delightful. My last day off (Wednesday) started out rainy, chilly and grey. The weather turned around by noontime and I ended up having myself one fine day off with my camera at my side.

I had decided to go for a Trader Joe's run in Westfield. And, despite my disappointment over the summer with the algae and neglect in the nearby Mindowaskin Park, I walked over there to see what I could see. As I approached the park, some HUGE bird flew low directly overhead. Yipes! What the heck was that? 

Following my last sighting of where it seemed to go, I found a gorgeous great blue heron. I guess I'm into cheap entertainment, because I watched him for a good hour as he stalked about the low waters, watching and waiting, and then ZOOM ... fish in mouth!

Canada geese, various ducks and a rambunctious squirrel or two made for the most enjoyable, yet quiet, afternoon I've had in a long, long time. The kids were all in school. The park had its walkers -- one woman walked laps around the park for the entire time I was there. A few folks were out with their dogs walking. Some young mothers were there with toddlers. A few people just sat on the benches and read books. It was a perfect day for a walk in the park!

Here's some of the gazillion photos I took -- clicking on an image will open it in a new window, clicking again will make it larger. Just close out that last window to return right here to the blog.

Heron 3
Great blue heron in Westfield

After the rain
After the rain

This was the result of overnight rains as I walked in Westfield on Wednesday.

Early train
Catching the early train

Heading off to work early in the week. Plainfield Train Station.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Survivor: Philippines - October 10 Episode Blog Party

Survivor fans ready? I'm kind of wondering how the alpha male bonding between Jeff Kent and Penner is going to go. I can't really see them together in the long run like Richard Hatch and Rudy, can you?

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. However, as always, the real action is in the comments. Come join in, the pool is fine!

Espionage! Pete set up RC by putting the clue to the idol sticking out of her bag. Chaos ensues. Jeff, Penner and Carter formed an alliance on their tribe. The women know something's up.

Immunity challenge time! Carrying pots of rice on bamboo through an obstacle course, then smashing all six pots. First tribe finishing gets steak and spices. Second gets vegetables, salt and pepper and a pot. Both of the full tribes sit out their women. So it's all men against Malcolm, Denise and Russell.

Tandang won 1st place. Kalabaw won second. Sigh. Matsing loses once again despite a valiant effort. Kalabaw decided to trade their food for a tarp. 

Tribal Council time. No backstabbing this time. Jeff tried to pit them against each other but the worst they could say about Denise is that she's fantastic. 

The tally: Russell, Malcolm, Russell.

He was my pool pick, but that's fine with me. I think Denise is fantastic!

Huh. Russell thinks he was blindsided when he was the weakest link in almost all the challenges. @@

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Amazing Race: October 7 Episode Blog Party

Although I'm getting this post up by 8pm ET, the show isn't scheduled to start here until 8:30pm. Grr.

Once it does start, as it airs I'll be updating this post with the major happenings. However, the real fun is in the comments section. I hope to see you there!

The teams are off to Indonesia! The winner of this leg will receive an Express Pass which allows them to skip a challenge. Once there, they bunch up for 8am bull races. The monster trucker couple took a different flight to get to Indonesia and it backfired on them. All the other teams are awaiting a night before the bull races while they're still in flight.

The bull race actually has the teams on mopeds racing the bulls.

Roadblock: Who likes to party? Operating a bicycle with a party for four children aboard and making balloon animals.

Detour -- Ice by the pound, delivering ice or fish by the barrel, stock and set up a fish stall in the market.

Natalie and Nadiya won first place and the Express Pass.
2. Lexi and Trey
3. Jaymes and James
4. Abbie and Ryan
5. Josh and Trent
6. James and Abba
7. Kaitlin and Britany
8. Rob and Kelly
9. Gary and Will
10. Amy and Daniel -- PHILIMINATED. 


Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - October 7, 2012

To start things off this morning, how about some action?

The 007 of Plainfield, NJ? Cool. Apparently the John McClane character is from Plainfield, NJ. Bruce Willis is most certainly not. He's a Jersey boy after spending his first few years in Germany. But he's from the northeast corner of the state. McClane wouldn't have been from there! He's definitely more of a Plainfield kind of guy. Mind you, the movie is set in Russia ... not NJ or NYC.

Anyway, it's Sunday morning. Welcome to my weekly off television topic post. I usually reflect on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. I really don't have a heck of a lot to say this week. I've been ill. I'm feeling somewhat better. I worked. I slept. Vincent still thinks I'm his own personal sofa. I guess, without further ado, it's onto the photos I took.

Clicking on an image will open it on a new page, clicking again will make it larger. Then just close out that page to return here!

Waning moon
Waning moon

It's as dark as night when I leave for work most mornings. This is the (slightly) waning moon Monday morning as I walked out the door. I always think photographing the moon is a challenge. Challenge met this time; I got detail!

Carpenter bee 3
Carpenter at work

Carpenter BEE, that is! Although almost the size of small flying mice, these bees are quite docile and make for good photo fodder. Bridgewater, NJ


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Survivor: Philippines - October 3rd Episode Blog Party

Will Lisa, the former child TV star, finally gain her footing in her tribe? Will the "veterans" be targeted? Will Penner's tribe realize the idol indeed was the decorative doohickey on their rice bin?

Ah, burning questions indeed.

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this post with the major happenings. However, as always, the real fun is reacting to the show in the comments section. Come join in on the fun!

Well, Lisa is teaming up with Pete and Abi against Mike (or so it seems). Jeff figured out that the decorative doohickey on the rice bin was the idol and that Penner probably has it. Matsing has lost their raft.

Immunity Challenge time. Diving for puzzle wheels, solving the puzzle. Reward is a fishing kit and canoe. Second place, a smaller fishing kit. Kalabaw wins first, Tandang second. Matsing has to go to Tribal Council once again. It's mostly due to Russell being inept.

Penner figured out Jeff is leery of him, admitted he had the idol and wants to work with him. Jeff only gave him a four-finger handshake, not a manly one. @@

Abi, of all people, found the hidden idol in their camp. She told her buddy Pete.

TC - Angie voted Russell and vice versa. No surprises there! The tally -- Angie, Russell, Angie, Angie. Oh my. I figured Russell would be the goner.