Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Survivor: Philippines - November 28 Episode Blog Party


Yep, yep, yep. It's time for this week's Survivor blog party! Tonight's episode includes the auction which is always entertaining. But, of course, I'm more interested in seeing Little Miss Abi do herself in. I so hope she implodes tonight! How about you?

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

Lifeguard Laurie advises me that the latest blog pool standings are:

Abi-Maria : Chrob61, meb, SueGee
Denise : Buzzmaam, Karen in CA
Jonathan : Brian, JonMD1267, Tammy G
Lisa : Gaylos, Nana in the NW, Terry in TX
Michael : Donna in FL, Lars
Malcolm : Dewan, Margo

RC (Roberta) : ChicMc, PDX Granny, Sharon S
Jeff : DKNYNC, Jennasmom
Artis : Delee, MLCarter : Deb, Pam M in NJ, Syd
Pete : Becky, Rbennie

For the auction, each castaway got $500. Denise spent all of her money right away on pancakes and bacon. They can't share food, same rules as always. Abi claims she's going home soon, so she'll keep her money. Carter traded his baked potato for rice and beans for the tribe. Abi spent all 300 on "an advantage in the game."

Her advantage is that she can go directly to the final round of the upcoming Immunity Challenge and have a one in three shot at winning it. But, after all, it's Abi. Can she win a challenge even with that head start? She's decided to pretend that she has an idol. She wants to latch onto Malcolm.

The Immunity Challenge has them tied to ropes going through a course. A twist is that Jeff will ask a question. If they get it wrong, 5% of their body weight is added to them. Abi lied and said her note was two parts, hinting that the second unread part has to do with the hidden idol. It's Carter, Penner and Abi in the final round.

Abi won Immunity. I guess pigs can fly after all.

The general consensus is that they will vote for Penner. Lisa is in personal turmoil over the decision. Penner tries to turn the vote to Denise.

The tally: Denise, Denise, Penner, Penner, Denise, Penner, Penner.

Penner is gonzo. He makes a rather elaborate unusual exit, whistling with a curtain call.

Good. I'd rather Denise stay. I really wanted Abi to go!   

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Amazing Race: November 25 Episode Blog Party

Sure, the show is starting on time here on the East Coast. Of course, with so many folks on the road returning home from a long Thanksgiving weekend, the viewership is bound to be down a bit. But will that stop us from our blog party? No way!

As the show airs here, I'll update this entry with the major events. However, as always, the real fun will be in the comments area. Come join the party!

Getting only a flag as the next clue, they need to figure out that it's the Netherlands where they need to go. James and Jaymes looked up the flag on the Internet. Trey and Lexi thought it was France. Thankfully, they're in with the Chippendales who steered them right.

Grr. The twinnies found the Fast Forward clue first. The Chippendales aren't that far behind them, but Abbie and Ryan got hung up in Frankfurt missing their connecting flight.

The twins have to eat raw fish on a bus which will go underwater. They finished the task and are heading to the Pit Stop just as the Chippendales arrive at the FF. Of course, the twins win the leg. They also won $5,000 cash each.

The Detour - Back in Time - recreate a Rembrant masterpiece. Organ to Grind - operate huge organ and collect 30 Euro in tips. U-Turn ahead.

James and Jaymes don't want to do anything at the Double U-Turn. But, in the end, they U-Turned Ryan and Abbie. Sigh.

The Roadblock has them pole vaulting over a water-filled ditch. Ho-hum.
James and Jaymes made it second.

As per their previous plan, Trey and Lexi U-Turned the Chippendales, knowing they already were through. That keeps Abbie and Ryan from U-Turning the goat farmers. Those last two teams are traveling together. I sense a break up ahead.

Trey and Lexi are third to the Pit Stop.

Uh-oh. The last two teams just hit the U-Turn. Eep.

Josh and Brent are in 4th place.

Abbie and Ryan came in last, Philiminated. There goes the big two million. They're quite bitter about the Chippendales.

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - November 25, 2012

It's Sunday morning. You know what that means! It means that it's time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. 

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Mine was quiet. Since relatives live too far away and I always have to work the Friday after the holiday, I generally stay home and have a peaceful kind of day. Oh yes, I definitely make up a little feast each year! This year, instead of turkey, I had Trader Joe's rosemary marinated chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli/cauliflower along with Trader Joe's coffee ice cream for dessert. I was thankful I finally seem to have steady electricity and food in my refrigerator!

That said, Sandy seems like the storm which just wouldn't die ... there's always something there to remind me. From tree limbs and debris, to a new FEMA location on my way to the train station, to the still not right schedule for the trains, to Philly's SEPTA buses by the Plainfield Train Station, to power outages at home which finally seemed to stop earlier this week, to dubious wires still on the ground, to the foliage show we missed out on and to another Halloween which wasn't ...

At least I no longer feel like a hunter/gatherer foraging for daily food. I remembered a few things I had forgotten to mention in my earlier Hurricane Sandy coverage.
  • After the power went out on the night of the storm, it was scary creepy. I could hear the winds, stronger than I've ever heard in my life, yet it was total darkness. I couldn't see a thing.
  • That is, until transformers started blowing. Then the skies became punctuated with a green glow. The bending trees gave the appearance of being caught in a surreal green strobe light.
  • More than one person with kids told me that when they told their children the explosions were just transformers, the kids panicked. They thought they meant Transformers!
  • The night after Sandy blew through, all was blackness. Well, until someone a block or so away hit up their illegal supply of fireworks. These were pretty ones, not just ones which go BOOM. Vincent and I sat by the window for over an hour watching them. After all, there was literally nothing good on TV.
At least now I feel I've done my trial run for the Zombie Apocalypse. Are YOU prepared?

Onto this week's photos. Clicking on an image will open it on a Photobucket page, clicking again will make it larger. To return here to the blog, just close out that Photobucket page.

Early morning
Early morning skies

With the train schedule still a bit off, it's not quite dark still as I head off to the train station. Many mornings have been cloudy and grey. But there was this early morning treasure. Looking over towards East Second Street from East Front Street in Plainfield.

Frost etching
Outlined in frost

It's better to see frost outlining leaves than to wake up with an ice cube nose!

It's a Studebaker!

This old car at the intersection of Berckman and East Front in Plainfield caught my attention. A Studebaker. Cool. It would be cooler if it was fixed up a bit more, but cool nonetheless.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

2009 Thanksgiving, Created by Zoetawny for

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and relatives, near and far! I have a lot to be thankful for this year, especially in view of the recent hurricane. Friends, family and a cat named Vincent helped me get through the storm (which was very unnerving in and of itself) and the days afterward as the road to normality was strewn with several roadblocks. I'm more thankful for heat, hot water, electricity and food in the refrigerator than I have ever been before, too. Odd, that.

I hope you all have a fine holiday filled with great food and love. Oh. And football, if you're into that kind of thing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Survivor: Philippines - November 21 Episode Blog Party


Come one, come all! It's the Thanksgiving Eve Survivor show blog party! As the show airs here, I'll update this entry with any major happenings. But, as always, the real fun is in the comments area. Come join the party!

Reward Challenge -- Divided into teams, getting drums face up while the other team is turning them over. The reward is a spa visit followed by a feast. Red - Abi, Carter, Malcolm and Pete. Yellow - Penner, Lisa, Skupin and Denise. Eep. Skupin flipped the wrong drum. Red wins.

Abi gloats and alienates. She also says she will cook no more, but they can cook for her. Malcolm, Skupin, Denise and Lisa make a final four pact.

Immunity Challenge time -- In rounds -- obstacle course getting a buoy to their post. Five make it through. Malcolm, Penner, Denise, Skupin and Carter moving on. Three moving on to the next round. Skupin, Carter and Denise are in the final round. Carter wins immunity!

Tribal goes against dear Abi. Too bad, so sad. She plays her idol. Malcolm doesn't play his.

Abi, Abi, Abi, Pete, Malcolm, Pete, Malcolm, Pete.

Buh-bye, Pete. You should have stayed away from Abi! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Amazing Race: November 18 Episode Blog Party

The show isn't scheduled to start until 8:30 PM here in the NYC viewing area. I wasn't keeping track, so I don't know if it will start any past that. However, once it does start, I'll update this entry with the major events.

But ... as always, the real fun is in the comments area. Come join us as we watch the show!

8:50 PM ET, and we have a start! We still have last week's unfinished business at hand. James and Abba need to find their passports, two teams are still the synchronized swimming. Josh and Brent ended up getting a four-hour penalty -- they couldn't finish the swimming as the pool closed for the night. The last two teams are still working together.

Abbie and Ryan, Josh and Brent hit the Pit Stop at teams number four and five. Josh and Brent get their four hour penalty. James and Abba don't have their passports yet, but it's a non-Philimination. They're still in it, but still need to get their passports.

They're remaining in Russia for now.

Roadblock -- Who's in the zone? Figuring time in different cities. It's nowhere easy as it sounds.

Detour - Movers or Shakers. Learning a Russian soldier dance or identifying historic Russian leaders at a costume party.

The twins used their Express Pass to get by the map/time zone roadblock.

Pit Stop -
1. James and Jaymes! They won a trip to Costa Rica.
2. Trey and Lexi
3. Natalie and Nadiya
4. Abbie and Ryan
5. Josh and Brent
6. James and Abba ... still don't have their passports ... Philiminated. 

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - November 18, 2012

G'morning! Welcome to my weekly off television topic post in which I reflect on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. This week I have a bit of an overlap with the past three weeks ... or, to be more precise, since Sandy landed.  Warning -- this is REALLY long and I apologize for the delay in posting. I just wanted to get the Sandy stuff finished and onto this past week in photos.

I've never been through anything like Sandy in my life. In a way, it's like I lost two weeks of my life and the week following was still a bit askew of "normal life." While I was aware of happenings in the world for the almost two weeks my power was out thanks to my MP3 player's FM radio, it wasn't like being a part of the world. It was more like living in some sort of parallel universe in a quasi-post apocalyptic world. 

I was through extended power outages of three and four days with last year's freak early snowstorm and Hurricane Irene respectively. But they were nothing compared to this. This time, the entire area for hundreds of miles around was affected. This time we were on our own. (And, if the elevator tries to take you down, go crazy -- Prince) Not only that, but it was COLD.

In this area, about ten or so miles inland from Staten Island as the crow flies, we didn't have flood damage (which the area suffered from with Irene). We had wind damage. Horrible wind damage. I was told by a PS&G worker, "Our poles do NOT fall down. YOUR trees knock down our wires and poles. The city of Plainfield does NOT trim the trees. They should." 

I believe he had a point. I live on a county road that runs through the city. I didn't see any wires or poles down on my block or a few blocks either way. They regularly trim and remove iffy trees along my street. Of course, in the long run, that didn't help me as the entire power grid in my area went down and the switching station suffered horrific flooding damage. All I had to do was go around the corner off of my street to see extreme tree fallen on wires damage, too.

Not in Philly!
SEPTA buses in Plainfield

Let's try for a litter free PLAINFIELD, not Philadelphia! Buses on loan from Philly have been running shuttle service for NJ Transit each morning at the corner of Gavett Place and North Avenue by the Plainfield Train Station.

Speaking of litter free, I notice the PMUA trash cans on that block of North Avenue across from the train station have gone missing. The folks who live in apartments there or run small businesses and don't pay for their trash are now just setting trash out on the street.

Neighbors ex-tree
Still can't park

Next door to next door, they're still parking on their front lawn. That was one huge tree which came down. It apparently hit their roof as well as blocking their paved parking lot in back of the home cut into apartments. There is blue tarp on a section of their roof.

Plainfield OEM
Now I see them

I don't know where they were when the power was out for so long, though.

Like spaghetti

Dunellen water and ice giveaway as seen from the train window

I heard these kind of things happened in Plainfield. But no one informed us they were happening ...


Running Late

Just a note -- I'm running a bit late today. My weekly off television topic photo post will be up a bit later today.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Survivor: Philippines - November 14 Episode Blog Party


Okay, not only did I catch up watching the last two weeks of the show online, but I have the Zoetawny graphic for this season! Again, my thanks to all for the kind words, good wishes and even donations! It's all very appreciated.

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

The reward challenge has them, divided into two teams, going through a sloppy course looking for balls, then shooting hoops. Heh. Abi wasn't picked and has no chance of reward. The winning team will bring school supplies and toys to a village while the villagers give them a feast. Penner exposed bags of balls for his team and put them in the lead. Penner, Denise, Malcolm and Carter win reward!

Immunity challenge time! Balancing a large paddle, rolling balls down it and trying to get six balls to stick in the six indented spots. Mike Skupin wins immunity!

The tally at tribal council -- Artis, Penner, Artis, Penner, Penner, Penner, Artis, Artis, Artis.

Artis is gone, Penner remains! They got Skupin and Lisa to flip!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Amazing Race - November 11 Episode Blog Party

Thank you, everyone, for your concern about me in the wake of Hurricane Sandy! I'm back!

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major events. But the real fun is in the comments area. Join us there!

Teams are off to Moscow.

The Detour has to alphabetize (collecting books) or synchronized swimming. The Roadblock is with keys and locks. Two teams -- the goat farmers and Abbie/Ryan are way behind due to flight issues.

1. Trey and Lexi - Won a trip to Maui.
2. James and Jaymes
9. Natalie and Nadiya

James and Abba lost their bags in a taxi. They weren't allowed to check into the Pit Stop at number four. And, then it ends. This leg is a two-parter.

Off Topic: That Was the Two Weeks It Was - Nov. 11, 2012

Plainfield Train Station after the storm

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. Of course, this week it's actually about the past two weeks, thanks to Hurricane Sandy. I'm still feeling quite discombobulated here, so please bear with me. My power was out from Monday, October 29, until Thursday, November 8. That doesn't sound that long, does it? Well, when it's cold, dark and a bit on the scary side, it can turn your life upside down.

I realize that many folks had/have it much worse than we did here where I live in New Jersey, but it was still an ordeal I wouldn't wish on a soul. Folks are still walking around shell-shocked. I've lost a bit of the shell-shocked and am merely discombobulated, dazed and confused at this time. 

Eventually I might write more about the whole experience, but for now here are some random (yet chronological) thoughts and reflections on the experience:
  • The wind was the worst I've ever experienced that wasn't a tornado. I've been through tails of hurricanes, nearby tornadoes and such before. At times it seemed to have the train sound of a tornado.
  • Prior to the storm, I expected the power might be out for a few days. I had plenty of water as I don't like the taste of the tap water here. I order it regularly from Peapod grocery delivery.
  • I had a good stock of canned foods -- vegetables, mostly. I could easily last a few days. We were out three days with last year's October snow and four days with Irene.
  • When my power went out, I noticed the floodlight on the lawn next door was on. Then I noticed our building lights (halls and parking lot) were on. Well, that wasn't fair! Just as I was contemplating getting a long extension cord to the hallway plug, all went dark.
  • I looked out the window into a world of blackness as far as the eye can see.

Where I voted on Tuesday evening

I vote at the Richmond Towers, an apartment community for the elderly and disabled. As such, they run on back-up power during power outages. They're about a two minute walk from where I live. They were not a shelter although it seemed a bit that way on voting day!

After I took the above shot, I turned my camera towards my apartment ...

Into the darkness

Except for the lights of cars coming and going ... totally black.


Friday, November 09, 2012

Must Catch Up!

A stroll through my NJ 'hood

After my big announcement that my power came back on Wednesday night in the middle of the nor'easter, it went out again. It returned yesterday morning. It was almost strange to come home to a warm apartment with a working refrigerator after work. An empty working refrigerator, but ...!

However, I'm woefully behind on my TV shows. I'm hoping to catch up online with some over the weekend. Tonight is my night to watch CSI: NY and Blue Bloods, but I don't really post on them. 

Once again, I'd like to thank everyone for their well wishes. Everyone around here is still walking around a bit shell-shocked and life isn't going to be back to normal for some time to come. But, at least it appears my power may be on to stay. Yay.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I'm BACK!!!

Thankfully not mine

However, the brick building in the background is my apartment building.

After 10 nights and 9 days without power, I seem to be back. Hopefully my power will stay on. Right now outside it's snowing pretty good with more than a few inches on the ground and the wind is whipping.

I appreciate the good wishes from all!