Sunday, December 29, 2013

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - December 29, 2013

Good morning! I hope everyone who celebrates the day had a fine Christmas this past week.

Unfortunately, I had a few issues over the week that are totally abbreviating my usual off television topic rambling. One of my brothers is quite ill and his situation looked dire at the start of the week. However, as I write this, he's out of the ICU and his prognosis is better.

Then, while not life-threatening at all, my sciatica has been horrible. I missed Friday and Saturday during an already shortened by the holiday work week. It's hard to stand or sit for any period of time without being in excruciating pain. I'm hoping another day mainly in bed will ease the pain. Man, it makes my old knee pain feel like it was child's play!

That's what's happening with me. Of course, it didn't stop Vincent from having a fine Christmas Day ---

Christmas catnip

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays! photo HapHolidaysLgJackie09.gif


My best wishes go out to all the blog readers here, hoping you're having a wonderful holiday full of love, fun and food. (And catnip, according to Vincent.)

Although some pesky health issues have kept me from my Christmastime photo stomp in the city (NYC) this year, I put together a slideshow of photos I've taken the past few years ...



 photo IMG_0038a_zps7c9061a5.jpg


Thank you all for being in my life!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - December 22, 2013

Good morning! It's Sunday, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photos I've taken along the way. As we approach the holidays, I'll admit I haven't really been posting about (or watching) much television anyway. I've been working. And working. And working. Sigh.

Overall, it hasn't been a great week here for me. I'm still a bit banged up from being in that cab accident last week and now I've had a problem with sciatica the last week or so, too. Ow! Ow! It's like have a constant leg cramp running from my butt down through my calf! Ow. Yet, work is in such a state that I haven't taken any time off other than my regular days off (like today). It's not that I haven't been asked to work extra; I just can't. I'm barely making it through my scheduled days. Gah. It needs to go away!

We had more snow early this week, but today promises to break records as far as warmth. It could very well go about 70 degrees. That should melt most of the snow we have on the ground, definitely de-ice the sidewalks. Good. While I like snow for Christmas for the children, I can do without it myself. Sure, it's pretty. But after dealing with icy sidewalks for a few weeks already, I don't mind a reprieve at all.

Nothing much else is happening here. I didn't and probably won't go into the city (NYC) to take photos of the holiday happenings. I'm really not feeling up to it. I've pretty much been coming home from work and collapsing.

I'm a bit worried about the Target store security breach. I was only there once during the period that the card information was stolen, but once is all it takes. I've been monitoring my account used and haven't seen anything suspicious. However, I think I might just contact my bank anyway. I went into Target yesterday on my way to work and took advantage of their 10% off this weekend for my normal Saturday (mostly grocery) purchases. It was kind of sad. The rest of the shopping center parking lot was crammed (Old Navy, Costco, Marshalls, PetSmart, Michaels, Home Depot, Bed, Bath and Beyond and others) ... Target's lot was only about a third full. I've never seen that on the Saturday before Christmas. It has had a huge negative impact on their business.

I do plan on making some actual television posts this week. I really do. But, for now ... onto the photos --

 photo IMG_1401a_zps174386dc.jpg
Snowy station

On Tuesday, we had our fourth pre-winter snowstorm within nine days. True, they weren't huge storms. But many sidewalks were icy messes until Friday when the temperatures got warm enough to melt them. I took this one as I headed home from work on Tuesday. Plainfield Train Station.

 photo IMG_1413a_zps98ee2c25.jpg
Sunset in da 'hood

Thursday's skies were pretty as I headed home.

**CLICK THE 'READ MORE' LINK TO SEE THE REST OF THE PHOTOS**

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs. Water Season Finale and Reunion Show Blog Party


Well, this is IT! Keeping with the standard CBS silliness called a Sunday night schedule, the show will be starting a few minutes late here tonight. Grr. With three hours of Survivor ahead of us tonight, any lateness is not appreciated. They need to get their act together!

Tonight is going to have to be pretty action-packed to get the playing field narrowed down to three. One person will need to return from Redemption Island. I hope it's Hayden for personal likability reasons, but wouldn't be upset if it's Laura who has done spectacularly on challenges.

Here are Lifeguard Laurie's latest blog pool standings --

Still on the Island
CIERA -- Andrea J, Karen in CA, Rochelle
GERVASE -- Jackie, Pam in NJ
MONICA -- Becky, KayBeeRN, Russ
TYSON -- Delee, meb

Redemption Island
TINA -- Cheryl in NC, Lynn1, Terry in TX
LAURA M -- AlbGlinka, JOKATS, rbennie
HAYDEN -- Joanie, Quixotic Elf

Jury
ARAS -- Donna in FL, MikesGirl
VYTAS -- Donna NY, ML
CALEB -- Glenn, ORKMommy
KATIE -- David, Margo, Zoetawny

As the show airs here, I'll update this entry with the major happenings on East Coast time. Refresh the page to get the latest! But, as always, the real party is in the comments area. Come join in on the fun as we watch the show together!

Survivor fans ready?

8:06pm ET and it's starting ... recapping the season.

Tyson, in a play to keep his ally in Monica, offers her the hidden idol. She's reluctant. She claims not to be his lapdog.

Time for the final Redemption Island duel. One will reenter the game, the other two will join the jury. They have to stand at a teeter-totter type thing balancing a vase with one foot. Wah - Hayden is out first and is now a part of the jury. Laura's out! Tina returns to the game! Tina keeps the clue to the hidden idol for herself. Too bad Tyson already has the idol.

Immunity Challenge time! Pull on a rope, leveling out an uneven table, back out and balance ten blocks on said table. If blocks fall, they have to upright them, all the time balancing the tables evenly with the rope.

Tyson wins immunity! Gah. I'm so not liking him this season. Hey, wait ... I didn't like him before, either! At least he's consistent.

Gervase would like Ciera to go as he thinks she can beat him at the end with the jury. Monica wants Tina to go because everyone on the jury likes her. Tyson is undecided. Meanwhile, Gervase has now alienated Monica and she seems will to work with Tina and Ciera to vote him out.

Tribal -- Jeff really draws too much out f them! Tyson doesn't give Gervase his idol even though he has no use for it as he has immunity and this is the last time it can be played. DANG! He did give it to Gervase! One of the women will go home. Grr. Tyson had said he wanted to keep the idol as a souvenir to give his girlfriend.

The tally --  Gervase, Gervase, Ciera, Ciera. Ciera would have gone anyway as Monica voted with the boys once again.

Final Immunity Challenge time! Race through obstacles, collecting bags of puzzle pieces, slide down water slide to gather more, unlock lock with puzzle solution.

Tyson wins final immunity. The plan is that the three will vote Tina out. Tina would like Monica to join in with her and make it a tie. The boys are wondering if they have a chance against Monica. Tina thinks that she could beat Gervase in a tie fire comp.

Final tribal council - the tally -- Tina, Tina, Gervase, Tina. Monica is sticking with the boys once again.

Speech time!
Gervase - Used old and new school, thirteen years, did big blindsides like Aras, warrants the win.
Monica - Address the elephant in the room, NOT dragged along by Tyson and Gervase, less blood on her hands, less broken promises, would be on jury otherwise.
Tyson - Target Numero Uno from beginning, have fun, no regrets (tears up talking about his girlfriend), made huge moves, found idols, won idols, all strategic ... all thanks to Rachel.

The jury --

Vytas -- Tyson, you get before you got got. Problem is I promised not to give you my vote and will stick to that. Gervase, you didn't adapt. Monica, we had a friendship, you turned on me.

Katie -- Congrats. One question for Tyson ... nothing out of malice, what he said to her after rock about her jury seat was malice. He apologizes.

Caleb -- Gervase, what was your big game-changing move? Voting out Aras. He thinks it's genius that Tyson took the heat for that. Monica -- be vulnerable. Whole life about Brad, really wants this and to be about me for once.

Ciera -- Tyson, do you see yourself as villain or hero? Not villain, all strategy. Gervase, ever vote out Tyson? He would have voted in the F4 if he could. He thinks he can beat Tyson.

Laura -- Monica, I don't know who you are. Monica points out how out of place she feels in the game, she's grown. Monica is shedding a lot of tears.

Tina -- One word that best describes your core. Monica, missed. Jazz? Gervase, honorable. Tyson, fun-loving.

Hayden -- Where was the idol you found? Monica, I love you and Brad. "I made him." A little fake, need to see inside Monica. More tears. Y'all keep punching me.

Aras -- Gervase, assume I can only vote for Monica or Tyson. Who and why? Gervase says Tyson, the hidden idol finding, can't knock game. Monica, vote for Tyson out of Tyson and Gervase. Charging horse for 30 days. Tyson says vote for Monica. Her big move was getting information for us.

Caleb votes Tyson, Vytas Monica.

Onto Los Angeles,

The Votes -- Monica, Tyson, Tyson, Tyson, Tyson, Tyson.

I don't like him, but he did outwit, outplay and outlast. He was the best choice for the win of the three.

Short hint for next season ... B B B. Hmm.

A bit of oddness this year with no ritual walk honoring the fallen castaways and no fan favorite vote. Hmm.

Next season is Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty.

Thanks for hanging out on the blog all season, folks!

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - December 15, 2013

Yes, it's Sunday once again. While tonight will be the huge LONG Survivor finale blog party starting at 8pm ET, this here post is my weekly off television topic photo post. In it, I reflect on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken along the way.

Gah.

It hasn't been a great week for me. First off, I ended up working six days due to circumstance. I had to go in for about three hours last Sunday on what was one of my two days off. Thankfully, I don't have to go in today. I think I'd refuse -- it's a mess out there today!

More often than not, this area has little to no snow in December. Usually there is no white Christmas. This week, we had three storms in the space of less than a week. Eek!

Sunday evening into Monday morning, we had an inch or two of snow followed by ice. Since the WCBS 2 (Manhattan) weather lab was set up in the Plainfield Train Station parking lot that morning, I made the decision to call a taxi instead of walking on the icy sidewalks.

Then there was a daytime snowstorm on Tuesday. It started after I arrived to work and ended before I went home. It was about three to four inches. It was a pretty sticky snow, good for snowballs and sticking to trees.

Then, on Saturday (yesterday), we went from a winter storm watch to a winter storm warning before I left for work. As I left my apartment, it was snowing heavy in Plainfield and sticking. I should have turned around and headed home. But, by the time I got to work, it was only heavy flurries there.

Alas, it changed to heavy snow. Although I left a couple of hours early, I still had problems getting home. While walking down hill on the untreated walk near the Bridgewater Train Station, I slipped and fell on my butt. Grr. While I wasn't hurt, it was a struggle to get up. Once I hit Plainfield, I took a taxi home. First off, they (illegally?) overcharged for the ride. Second, a car slid through an intersection and hit the cab. My shoulder banged into the door and is bruised and sore this morning. Then, the cabbie headed to East Seventh Street instead of my street; he had forgotten where he was going! Sheesh! Since there had been a lot of talking on his radio in Spanish, I thought he might be picking up another passenger. But, no. We were taking the scenic route and he had forgotten where I was going. Grr. (Although, I must say, all the Christmas lights on the homes were very pretty in the snow.)

Then the snow turned to ice in the late evening hours. Then it turned to rain. Now, as I write this up, it's below freezing out there. So, everything is frozen again. The landlord's crew hasn't been by to do the lot or walks yet. I don't care. I'm not going out until work tomorrow morning. My Sunday hardcopy newspaper, the only day I get so I can have full access to the online versions (that's the way to go, Doc, if you're reading this), was very late. I've been going down every half-hour since 6am looking for it. Finally it was there at 8am. I refuse to get really dressed. I've been going down in my leopard print pajama pants and a hoodie. On my last trip down, someone was heading down to a car outside to clear it off, but he didn't see me. I could also smell breakfast cooking smells in the hallway on that trip. Mmm.

Onto this week's photos ...

 photo IMG_1295a_zps32ac27dd.jpg
Tuesday approaching sunset

Tuesday's storm left three or four inches on the ground, all coming down during my workday hours. Then the sun came out. I liked how it played out on the lines, angles and lamps at the Plainfield Train Station.

 photo IMG_1328a_zps4a5ad577.jpg
Saturday morning train

The snow was coming down steady by the time I made it to the Plainfield Train Station for my morning commute on Saturday. Thankfully they had salted the platform. Later on, that won't make a difference.

 photo IMG_1288a_zps0d40a24e.jpg
Tuesday afternoon train home

After the snow stopped, the sun came out. This is my train approaching the Bridgewater Train Station. You can see that, in this direction, the engineer (driver) is working with the diesel locomotive engine pushing the train, much in the fashion of the engineer in that horrid train crash at Spuyten Duyvil a few weeks back. In the previous photo, the locomotive engine is pulling the train.

**CLICK THE 'READ MORE' LINK TO SEE THE REST OF THE PHOTOS**

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs. Water - December 11 Episode Blog Party


Oh my gosh ... this is the penultimate episode of the season! They're going to have to do some number crunching before the finale this Sunday. Did you notice that this is the first season in a long time (maybe since early on) that there was no "unseen before" clips show?

As the show airs tonight here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest. But, as always, the real party is in the comments area ... come join us there!

The Lovely Lifeguard Laurie has updated the blog pool --
Pool People
CIERA -- Andrea J, Karen in CA, Rochelle
GERVASE -- Jackie, Pam in NJ
HAYDEN -- Joanie, Quixotic Elf
MONICA -- Becky, KayBeeRN, Russ
TYSON -- Delee, meb

Redemption Island
TINA -- Cheryl in NC, Lynn1, Terry in TX
LAURA M -- AlbGlinka, JOKATS, rbennie
KATIE -- David, Margo, Zoetawny

Jury
ARAS -- Donna in FL, MikesGirl
VYTAS -- Donna NY, ML
CALEB -- Glenn, ORKMommy

Although my random pool pick is Gervase, I'm sort of shocked that he's still in it. I personally would like to see Hayden win. Although I don't care much for either of them, Monica and Laura M. have played incredibly strong in challenges. Tyson has been disappointing in challenges for the most part, but very astute at finding idols. It all may just crash down around him.

Survivor fans ready?

Hmm ... Tyson, thinking it will make Monica his loyal ally, tells her and Gervase that he found the other idol. It actually makes her distrust him a bit more as he held out about it.

Time for the Redemption Island duel -- Using sticks and rope to fashion a pole, retrieve keys. Probst is telling them that two will live to remain in the game, one will go home. I don't see any number crunching there, do you? Laura wins it again! Tina gets second and Katie will be heading to jury. Laura gives Ciera the clue to the hidden idol.

Ciera and Hayden both work on finding the idol. After all, it's them versus the other three. Of course, they don't know Tyson already has it.

The immunity challenge has them diving, pushing a buoy, retrieve letter tiles, solve a classic Survivor phrase puzzle. Reward has a custom dinner delivered to the winner. Ciera WINS Immunity and Reward! She can choose one person to join her for reward, goes for Hayden.

Ciera and Hayden know their only chance is to get Monica on their side. It just might work. They want to target Gervase.

Tribal Council time. The whole Monica-gate thing is discussed. Hmm.

The tally -- Hayden, Gervase, Hayden, Gervase, Hayden.

Ack. She didn't take the bait. Hayden goes to Redemption Island.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Amazing Race: Season Finale Blog Party - December 8, 2013


Okay, it's actually going to start on time here! Woot! Tonight's two-hour season finale will have four teams whittled down to three into the final dash of the world whirlwind race. I know many don't like Leo and Jamal. But I don't mind them so much at all. It's Tim and Marie (my fellow NJ peeps) who irk me. Please don't let them win!

For those who want to know and didn't catch it, I posted the casting spoilers on next season's race. Beware, these are SPOILERS. Don't click on the link if you don't want to know. Please keep casting comments on that post -- I don't want folks complaining here about revealed spoilers.

That's because we're here to PARTY tonight! As the show airs here, I'll post major happenings in real time on this post. Refresh the page to get the latest news! But, as always, the party is in the comments area. Come join in on the fun!

Here's the latest blog pool standings from the Magnificent Margo --

Jason And Amy - Nicklepeed, PDXGranny, Brian, DLA
Leo And Jamal - MEB, Margo, Brenda, Caela
Tim And Marie - SueGee, DKNYNC, Rbennie
Travis And Nicole - Delee, Laurie, Lynn1, Merrilee

Sorry you have been PHILIMINATED
Hoskote And Naina
Rowan And Shane - ML, Becky, Cheryl in NC, KayBeeRN
Chester And Ephraim - Buzzmaam, Donna in AL, Sharon S
Brandon And Adam - Donna in FL, Monty924, Sharon
Tim And Danny - JOKATS, Dusty, Zoetawny
Nicky And Kim - Nana in NW, Jennasmom, David
Ally And Ashley - LafayetteLisanne, Jackie,Tammy

Got your snacks? Got your beverages? Let's race! Er, let's watch them race while we imbibe, that is.

Teams are flying to Tokyo and have to find their next clue amidst cat statues reminiscent of Hello Kitty a bit. Leo and Jamal got an earlier flight than the other teams.

Detour - Knock it Down or Call it Up -- they have to be a human bowling ball or call from roughly inside a fish tank. The first is one of those rather wacky Japanese game shows. The phone call bit is in a defunct phone booth turned goldfish tank.

Leo and Jamal are in the lead after the Detour, but hit their speed bump. They have to catch a fake rhino.

Roadblock - has them building robots. Gah! Marie finished first with the robots! Nicole once again is working with Amy because she can't do a task! Tim and Marie are at the clue for the Pit Stop.

Pit Stop order:
1. Tim and Marie (grr). Won a trip to Aruba.
2. Jason and Amy
3. Nicole and Travis
4. Leo and Jamal - Philiminated

At this point, I really would like a Jason/Amy win. The other two teams irk me, Tim/Marie more irksome than Nicole/Travis, but ...!

Teams are flying to Alaska, their final destination. All three teams are on the same flight.

The Roadblock is a flight task in which they have to drop flour bags onto a target from a small plane.

They have an ice expedition coming up, then have to chip a clue out of ice.Right now, Jason/Amy are in the lead, Tim/Marie quite a bit behind, Nicole/Travis struggling to get through the Roadblock. Nicole has been doing horrible at the tasks, but Travis's attitude about her doing so poorly is getting on my nerves, too.

From there, they have to paddle a kayak to an island to get the next clue. Amy/Jason still in the lead. Nicole/Travis finally made it to the ice expedition bit, but are still struggling.

The final task has them making totem poles representing the currencies of the countries in order. Amy and Jason still in the lead.

THE WINNERS ARE AMY AND JASON! Woot!

Travis is being obnoxious, Nicole is being inept.

2. Tim and Marie
3. Nicole and Travis

The outcome was as it should be given the final three teams.

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - December 8, 2013

Good Sunday morning to all y'all! Y'see, I've been working with someone originally from Alabama. You're lucky I'm not calling y'all "darling." As it is Sunday, this is my off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken along the way. If you're looking for TV talk, tonight is the season finale of The Amazing Race and I'll have a blog party post up by 8pm ET for that. Plus, yesterday, I revealed the cast of next season's TAR in this post.

After I posted last week's photo post, the news came in about the train derailment at Spuyten Duyvil. As some of my Facebook friends were worried, I thought I should mention it here -- although I commute by train to work, I take NJ Transit, not Metro North. And, other than the cool name of Spuyten Duyvil (which means Spouting Devil), little in the Bronx holds reason for me to visit that area.

My own regular train line, NJT Raritan Valley Line, isn't as lengthy a trip end to end as is that Hudson River Metro North line. I have ridden that train once, but it was about thirty years ago heading into the city from the Poughkeepsie area. My regular commute train doesn't have any huge curves in it, either. We do have some gentle bends and there have been times that new engineers miss or almost miss the shorter train platforms due to going too fast, but nothing of crash or derailment level that I've ever experienced in the past ten years.

While I can tell if the train is going either faster or slower than usual, I really couldn't tell you the speed. Even going slow, we tend to go faster than cars on the nearby parallel roads. Those roads tend to be 30mph speed limits, so that doesn't say much. I don't believe that NJ Transit has had any passenger or crew deaths this year although I think I read that there have been 27 suicides with people jumping in front of trains, etc. That isn't enough to derail a train. Heck, once my train hit a car and that didn't derail it. Passengers do stand a chance of falling over during rough stops, but that's about it. I always hang onto something as the train is stopping.

I don't think my train line has that technology they've been talking about which automatically slows the train down per conditions although it's supposedly being tested on NJT. We do go over a detector doohickey outside of Dunellen which broadcasts over the walkies the conductors have. Hmm -- there's actually a very short YouTube bit on it. That detector checks the journal boxes for heat and dragging equipment to make sure a wheel isn't going to fall off or anything. I asked one of the conductors if it has ever sensed a defect. He told me every time he's had a defect, it's been a defect in the detector itself, not the train! It would creep me out if my own job had something called a "dead man's switch" -- but that's standard equipment on trains. That detects that the engineer's hands or feet (?) have dropped off the controls and stops the train.

On the whole, even though NJ Transit was SO foolish when Sandy hit (storing all the rail equipment in the flood zone), I feel safe on the trains and have faith in the quality of the equipment and the crews. I know older train cars are in use on the NJT rails, but my line is all the fairly new (some even newer as they're Sandy replacements) double-deckers. Every now and then heading into the city, I'll get the old Comet cars with the brown seats on the Northeast Corridor line. But I mainly stick to my own train line and I have no worries -- it's far safer than being in a car!

After all this train talk, it's evident that not much happened in the Life of Jackie this week, huh? True dat! Work, eat, sleep, had a stomach bug for a couple of days, icky weather going back and forth to work ... not any great photo opportunities to speak of. Today we're supposed to get a bit of snow and the cold has set in once again. At least snow will be pretty, but it's not guaranteed to be a white Christmas at all. It rarely is around here.

Anyway ... onto the photos I took this week --

 photo IMG_1183s_zps486bda6e.jpg
Gobble Gobble!

I don't recall this being there Thanksgiving week. But it did indeed show up this past week on a porch on Berckman Street in Plainfield.

 photo IMG_1198a_zpscf66a11e.jpg
Griswolds?

While I do enjoy it, the house at the corner of Richmond and East Front is looking a bit like Clark Griswold (National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation/Chevy Chase) had a hand in it. If it seeps to the upper floors, we'll know for sure. Plainfield.

**CLICK THE 'READ MORE' LINK TO SEE THE REST OF THE PHOTOS**

Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Amazing Race: Season 24 (Winter) Casting SPOILERS


Get yer spoilers here! Yep, I got your spoilers! It's safe to assume you might be a bit familiar with some of these team members as I'm making a post about it. But, if you don't want to know the cast ... do NOT click the 'read more' link.

But ... if you DO want to know who we'll be watching next season on the show, click that good old 'read more' link. You might be happy; you might not be happy. I'm not here to promise happiness, goodness and light. I'm just here to give you the skinny --

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs. Water - December 4 Episode Blog Party


Ohhh! From the promos, it looks like tonight's Tribal Council vote will result in a stubborn tie! That means all of the castaways will pick a rock, the one with a rock of a certain color will go home. Now, that hasn't been done but once before in all the seasons the show's been on the air.

In Survivor: Marquesas, Paschal English selected the Purple Rock and got the boot even though he had NEVER even had a vote in any Tribal Council at that time. I'm calling it "certain color" rather than Purple Rock (which we've referred to over the years) as it seems to me the promo is saying white. We'll see.

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest! As always, the real party will be in the comments area. Come join in with us cool kids!

Before we get started ... Lifeguard Laurie's latest pool standings are as follows:

Pool People
CIERA -- Andrea J, Karen in CA, Rochelle
GERVASE -- Jackie, Pam in NJ
HAYDEN -- Joanie, Quixotic Elf
KATIE -- David, Margo, Zoetawny
MONICA -- Becky, KayBeeRN, Russ
TYSON -- Delee, meb

Redemption Island
TINA -- Cheryl in NC, Lynn1, Terry in TX
LAURA M -- AlbGlinka, JOKATS, rbennie
CALEB -- Glenn, ORKMommy

Jury
ARAS -- Donna in FL, MikesGirl
VYTAS -- Donna NY, ML

Survivor fans ready?

Heh. Hayden mentioned that Tyson will win it all. Then, prior to the duel, Caleb called out Tyson and Gervase as liars. The duel is building a house of cards. Laura wins. Dang, she is good at challenges! Argh! Caleb was just about there when his whole stack went down. Grr. I liked him. Tina and Laura remain at Redemption. Laura decides to give the Immunity Idol clue to Ciera. Ciera keeps it this time.

Ciera reads the clue with her buddies Gervase, Tyson, and Monica. Hayden and Katie are on the outs.

Aw, Tyson cried. Too bad, so sad. ARGH! And, he found the idol!

Immunity Challenge -- Race through obstacles balancing a ball on a pole, poles get longer, then throw sandbags at target. Reward is an ice cream party.

OMG! Gervase won immunity! Is that a first or what? He chooses Monica (his closest competitor and she gave up burgers) and Tyson.

Hayden tries to convince Ciera and Gervase that they need to blindside Tyson tonight. His chances don't look good.

If Ciera was a wishbone, she would have been torn in half in Tribal, Hayden tried to convince her that she would be number four in the Tyson alliance; Tyson tried to keep her.

The tally: No idol played -- Hayden, Hayden, Monica, Monica, Hayden, Monica. It's a tie. The revote -- only for Hayden or Monica.

Re-vote: Monica, Hayden, Monica, Hayden.

Another tie, Purple Rock time! Monica and Hayden are SAFE! Ciera, Katie and Tyson draw rocks, this time it's the white rock. Katie goes to Redemption.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Amazing Race: December 1, 2013 Episode Blog Party


After two weeks of the show actually airing on time (8pm ET), tonight it's scheduled to start at 8:30pm ET after football and 60 Minutes. Now, we know that's no guarantee that it will even really air at that time! But, I'll be putting this post up at its standard time -- by 8pm ET. I will take off the word verification once it starts here.

As the show airs, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest! Need I remind you, the party is in the comments area? Nah, didn't think you needed that reminder at all. Come join us there!

The Magnificent Margo's latest blog pool standings --

Jason And Amy - Nicklepeed, PDXGranny, Brian, DLA
Leo And Jamal - MEB, Margo, Brenda, Caela
Tim And Marie - SueGee, DKNYNC, Rbennie
Travis And Nicole - Delee, Laurie, Lynn1, Merrilee

Sorry you have been PHILIMINATED
Hoskote And Naina
Rowan And Shane - ML, Becky, Cheryl in NC, KayBeeRN
Chester And Ephraim - Buzzmaam, Donna in AL, Sharon S
Brandon And Adam - Donna in FL, Monty924, Sharon
Tim And Danny - JOKATS, Dusty, Zoetawny
Nicky And Kim - Nana in NW, Jennasmom, David
Ally And Ashley - LafayetteLisanne, Jackie,Tammy

Ready to eat funky stuff? Let's race party!

UPDATE: The show will start approximately 8:51pm ET. Grr. See you then!

Finally ... four teams remain. Who will be eliminated NEXT?

The teams have to eat grilled cobra in order to get their next clue. Although I'm horrible with weird foods, I bet I could do that! Ah, two entrances, north and south, and Tim and Marie went to the wrong one. Plus, Marie is a finicky eater. I hope this knocks out my fellow New Jersey team. I don't like them.

Roadblock has a team member boiling eggs in volcano steam.

Detour -- Paint your partner or turn over a new leaf. The first has them painting partner as a Japanese bride. The latter has them delivering tea leaves.

Heh. Kim doesn't know how to boil eggs. She doesn't even have them in the water!

Pit Stop -
1. Jason and Amy have their first win! They also won a trip to Cancun.
2. Tim and Marie (grr)
3. Nicole and Travis
4. Leo and Jamal

It's non-Philimination leading into next week's season finale. All four teams are still in it.

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - December 1, 2013

Good morning! It's Sunday morning. You know that that means, right? 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. Later on tonight I will get back on the topic of television with The Amazing Race blog party post. If you watch the show, c'mon back for the party as it airs!

Let's see ... what happened this week? Oh, right. Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a good holiday with family, friends, food, whatever brings contentment to your soul. I'm thankful for a lot of things, too many to name. I'm thankful for the friends I've met through the blog. You all rock!

I had a quiet holiday at home. As I have no family nearby and don't really have enough time off to travel any distance, I usually fix a small feast for myself and spend the day with the cat. Often, when people hear I'll be alone for the holiday, I'll get invites. But I'd feel out of place trying to fit in with a family I don't really know. I'm a bit of a strange duck ... I really enjoy my holiday in the comforts of my own home, eating what I want, enjoying the company of a certain cat and just doing my own thing.

This year, instead of my usual turkey breast, I made prime rib with mashed potatoes and broccoli. For dessert, I had Trader Joe's Ultra Chocolate ice cream topped with Kahlua (also bought at Trader Joe's). It's odd they have hard liquor there now. When I was in there, I swear I heard the Kahlua calling my name. I haven't had any in years and the price seemed quite reasonable. That was my little feast and I was very pleased with how it all turned out!

I made my Trader Joe's run to nearby Westfield on Monday after work, just staying on the train a few more stops and then taking the bus home. I figured I'd avoid the bad weather expected Tuesday and Wednesday and the crowds on Wednesday. Well, I avoided the bad weather. The crowds were so bad that they had someone in their parking lot directing traffic. Yipes! But, in the newly expanded store with many more registers, the wait in line wasn't bad at all. It was much shorter than the wait people had trying to get through the parking lot. Just walking across the street to the bus was so much easier, too!

The cold rain and winds started here on Tuesday. Although I had to fight through the weather on my way home from work Tuesday, I had Wednesday and Thursday off from work -- regular day off and paid holiday. I made sure there was no need for me to go out in it on Wednesday. And, no sales will ever drag me out on Thanksgiving Day even though I'm usually alone on the holiday. I know that if I need something grocery-wise in an emergency, the bodega around the corner is open every single day of the year. Since the owners also man the store, that's their decision and holidays are lucrative for the small business. But I made sure I needed nothing!

How was your holiday?

As a result of the shortened work week out and about and the bad weather for part of the week, I don't have a lot of great photos this week. Most of them, I took the day I hit Westfield after work. But, here goes ...

 photo IMG_1137a_zpsa75d4658.jpg
Happy Hanukkah!

This is the Menorah at the Westfield Train Station. None of the lights are lit as I took the photo on Monday. 

 photo IMG_1141a_zps4b82456c.jpg
Mums

I'm surprised some of the mums in planters in Westfield are still hanging in there. Most around here have been taken by the cold nights (and some days!). I was going to take a shot of a dead rose on East Front Street in Plainfield, but it was all too darn sad.

 photo IMG_1153a_zps96ae2a82.jpg
With a red bow

Watchung Avenue in Plainfield on Tuesday afternoon as I headed home from work. Despite the fact they said the rain would start in the evening, it started by noon. Grr. I edited this shot leaving only the bow in color. After the jump, I have a similar photo in actual color.

**CLICK THE 'READ MORE' LINK TO SEE THE REST OF THE PHOTOS**

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!



I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday with fine food, family, friends! I'm thankful for all the friends I've met through blogging over the years!

2009 Thanksgiving photo TGBlessingsJackie09MA29926714-0001.gif

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs. Water - November 27 Episode Blog Party


Happy first night of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving Eve to all! I realize many folks might be on the road tonight or getting ready for the holiday, but the party is still on here at the blog! It seems that, unlike other years, this is actually a new action-packed episode tonight instead of the clips show. Woot!

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh this page to get the latest! But, as always, the real party is in the comments area. Come join in on the fun!

The latest blog pool standings from the Esteemed Lifeguard Laurie:

End of Week 11/20
CALEB -- Glenn, ORKMommy
CIERA -- Andrea J, Karen in CA, Rochelle
GERVASE -- Jackie, Pam in NJ
HAYDEN -- Joanie, Quixotic Elf
KATIE -- David, Margo, Zoetawny
MONICA -- Becky, KayBeeRN, Russ
TYSON -- Delee, meb

Redemption Island
VYTAS -- Donna NY, ML
TINA -- Cheryl in NC, Lynn1, Terry in TX
LAURA M -- AlbGlinka, JOKATS, rbennie

Jury
ARAS -- Donna in FL, MikesGirl

Survivor fans ready?

While Vytas wonders why no one votes out Tyson, the duel is about to happen. Much ado about Ciera voting her mom out of the game.

The Redemption duel -- retrieve and stack four color cubes so that no one color is repeated on any side. Laura wins! Thanks to Laura's help, Tina came in second. Sigh. Vytas will go to jury with his brother. Laura gives the idol clue to Ciera. Ciera burns it.

Tyson tries to work all against Katie. Hayden want to blindside Tyson. I knew the kid could think! Gah! Ciera rats them out to Tyson! Tyson thinks Caleb should be the target.

Immunity -- Holding onto a rope with a bucket containing 25% of their body weight. Twist -- if someone feels secure, they can feast instead of trying. Tyson, Gervase and Ciera decide to eat. Hmm. Katie is out first. Caleb is out. It's down to Hayden and Monica now. Hayden's out. Monica wins her third individual immunity!

Aha! Hayden and Caleb convince Tyson that Ciera's trying to turn them on each other. He's not sure he trusts them that much, but is definitely suspicious of Ciera.Now Ciera seems to the the latest target.

Tribal Council time. The tally -- Whoa! Tyson plays the idol! Now, the tally -- Ciera, Caleb, Ciera, Ciera, Caleb, Caleb, Caleb.

Caleb is off to Redemption. It's a shame it wasn't Ciera! But Tyson's idol was totally wasted. Heehee!

Happy Hanukkah!

It's rare indeed that Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving! I wish all those who celebrate, the best Hanukkah ever!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Amazing Race: November 24, 2013 Episode Blog Party


Oh my. Yet another week on time here on the East Coast? Sure, spoil us. Then crush our dreams of a show which actually airs at its scheduled time!

As the show airs, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest! But, as always, the real party is in the comments area. Please come in and join in on the fun!

The Magnificent Margo's latest blog pool standings:

Ally And Ashley - LafayetteLisanne, Jackie,Tammy
Jason And Amy - Nicklepeed, PDXGranny, Brian, DLA
Leo And Jamal - MEB, Margo, Brenda, Caela
Tim And Marie - SueGee, DKNYNC, Rbennie
Travis And Nicole - Delee, Laurie, Lynn1, Merrilee

Sorry you have been PHILIMINATED
Hoskote And Naina
Rowan And Shane - ML, Becky, Cheryl in NC, KayBeeRN
Chester And Ephraim - Buzzmaam, Donna in AL, Sharon S
Brandon And Adam - Donna in FL, Monty924, Sharon
Tim And Danny - JOKATS, Dusty, Zoetawny
Nicky And Kim - Nana in NW, Jennasmom, David

Are you ready? ...

The teams are flying off to Indonesia. Once there, they need to transport two rams to an event in which the rams butt heads, then transport them back. I'm not talking Dodge Rams, either.

They're off to a train station for the next clue.

Detour -- For the elephants -- feeding elephants or For the Birds -- deliver love birds and encourage the birds to sing.

Tim/Marie and Jason/Amy are an hour behind the other teams. But Ally and Ashley are lost.

The Roadblock has them building a local wood instrument and then playing it to a student's satisfaction.

Pit Stop --
1. Leo and Jamal - won $7,500 each
2. Tim and Marie (boo)

Nicole is falling apart at the Roadblock. They were the first team there and everyone is passing them. Amy is helping her. Now the stragglers, Ashley and Ally have arrived.

3. Jason and Amy
4. Travis and Nicole
5. Ally and Ashley - Philiminated

There goes my blog pool pick. I'm a free agent now!

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - November 24, 2013

It's Sunday morning and, guess what? 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. Later on tonight, I'll post the blog party for The Amazing Race. If you watch the show, c'mon by!

It turned cold this past week. I fear that's here to stay for a while. This year I'll face it in a new winter coat with the best hood ever. While I'm a firm believer in layering and usually tend to layer with a hoodie ... forget that hoodie hood! This one is down, fluffy and warm. It was more than I usually spend on a winter coat which I mainly use to go back and forth to work. But I had the last coat for the past three seasons or so. So, if this one lasts as well as that one did, it will be worth it! (No, I'm not talking thousands of dollars. But I do tend to jackets and coats under $100. This was more than that.)

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is upon us this week. I know they're going on about it being the latest possible day for that holiday, but it still seems like I blinked my eyes and it's here. Perhaps our bouts of warm weather confused my mind; I don't know. It just all of a sudden is looming at me. It will be a four-day work week for me, something that's always welcome. I hope everyone has a nice holiday and a safe one if you're out on the roads.

Hmm ... I don't really have much to say about this past week. I guess I'll get on to the photos --

 photo IMG_1052a_zpse9b2108a.jpg
Hawk in flight

The late day sun was at a perfect angle to photograph this hawk. I only wish I had a closer shot. Over the Plainfield Police Station.

 photo IMG_1042a_zps82063210.jpg
Dawn's reflection


After a dismal walk to the train station, the sunrise was trying to do its stuff on Monday morning. Bridgewater, NJ.

 photo IMG_1059a_zpsd5b4fc7a.jpg
What's this?

I went in late to work on Tuesday and came across a huge amount of fire apparatus for what apparently was a rather small fire in the Chotola apartment building on North Avenue in Plainfield. The fire was on the first floor rear of the building isolated to one apartment. One resident of the fourth floor was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation.

Responding companies: Plainfield Police and Fire Departments, Scotch Plains, North Plainfield, South Plainfield, Westfield, Union County OEM, Haz-Mat and EMS. Oh my. By the next day, I saw the taxi place on the first floor open for business and the residents were back in. Well, except perhaps for the one apartment where the fire was contained. More photos to follow ...

***CLICK THE 'READ MORE' LINK TO SEE THE REST OF THE PHOTOS***

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs. Water - November 20 Episode Blog Party


Okay, we have Aras, Vytas and Tina on Redemption Island. Does Tina have any chance in heck to win a duel with those two? Unless it's some sort of endurance in which less heavy and smaller feet come into play, I think she's going to be a goner. Your thoughts?

The latest pool update from that Loverly Lifeguard Laurie is:

End of Week 11/13
CALEB -- Glenn, ORKMommy
CIERA -- Andrea J, Karen in CA, Rochelle
GERVASE -- Jackie, Pam in NJ
HAYDEN -- Joanie, Quixotic Elf
KATIE -- David, Margo, Zoetawny
LAURA M -- AlbGlinka, JOKATS, rbennie
MONICA -- Becky, KayBeeRN, Russ
TYSON -- Delee, meb

Redemption Island
ARAS -- Donna in FL, MikesGirl
VYTAS -- Donna NY, ML
TINA -- Cheryl in NC, Lynn1, Terry in TX

Who will win the duel tonight? And, who will join the remaining two on Redemption Island? As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest! But, as always, the real party is in the comments area ... come join us!

Ah, the duel is a suspended table maze. Maybe Tina has a chance! They have to hook three bags of balls. Tina is indeed in the lead early. Uh-oh! She drops the ball through the wrong hole! Vytas wins! Tina gets in right and it's Aras going to be the first jury member. He leaves with class. Vytas picks the clue to Katie who keeps it.

Tyson wants to target Laura. Hayden and Caleb (and, of course, Gervase) plan to vote for her. At least that's the pre-Immunity Challenge plan.

Immunity Challenge - Standing on small platform over the water leaning back, the angle changes. Reward is a feast of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, French fries and soda. Hayden is the first out! Sheesh. Then Caleb. Down a notch. Gervase, then Ciera out. Katie out. Laura out. It's between Tyson and Monica. Tyson out. Monica wins Immunity! She can invite one person for reward. She says she will give it all to the others. So they eat and she doesn't.

Ciera lied to Katie and convinced her she has the idol. So now Ciera knows Katie doesn't have the idol. None of them think Tyson actually has it.

Tribal time. The tally: Laura, Katie, Laura, Laura, Laura, Laura. Laura is headed to Redemption.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Amazing Race: November 17, 2013 Episode Blog Party


Oh my. It's actually starting at its scheduled time of 8pm here on the East Coast. Be still, my heart! As the show airs here, I'll update this post with the major happenings -- refresh the page to get the latest updates! But, as always, the real party is in the comments section. Come join us!

As last week was a non-Philimination leg, the Magnificent Margo's latest blog pool update remains the same:

Ally And Ashley - LafayetteLisanne, Jackie,Tammy
Jason And Amy - Nicklepeed, PDXGranny, Brian, DLA
Leo And Jamal - MEB, Margo, Brenda, Caela
Nicky And Kim - Nana in NW, Jennasmom, David
Tim And Marie - SueGee, DKNYNC, Rbennie
Travis And Nicole - Delee, Laurie, Lynn1, Merrilee

Sorry you have been PHILIMINATED
Hoskote And Naina
Rowan And Shane - ML, Becky, Cheryl in NC, KayBeeRN
Chester And Ephraim - Buzzmaam, Donna in AL, Sharon S
Brandon And Adam - Donna in FL, Monty924, Sharon
Tim And Danny - JOKATS, Dusty, Zoetawny

Let's RACE!

The teams have to use their satchel of coins from Norway to unlock SUVs and they're heading into the dunes. U-Turn ahead.

They have to drive dune buggies across the desert to find their next clue. Nicky and Kim burned out the clutch (and almost buried) their dune buggy and had to get a replacement. So, not only are they last, but they're LAST.

Detour - Wedding guest, fix and prepare wedding dish. Beauty Contest has them primping camels.

Travis and Nicole use their Express Pass to bypass the Detour. They hit the double U-Turn and snag Leo and Jamal.

Due to the Express Pass, Nicole and Travis are at the Roadblock -- raft through rapids and grabbing three flags.

Tim and Marie are running around literally clueless. Heh. It sucks to be them right now, huh? (They're my least favorite team this season.)

Pit Stop -
1. Nicole and Travis - each won their choice of any "eco-boost" Ford

Jason and Amy U-Turn the bunnies (Nicky and Kim)

2. Jason and Amy
3. Tim and Marie (boo)

For Nicky and Kim's speed bump they have to make their way through a wave generating pool.

4. Leo and Jamal
5. Ally and Ashley
6. Nicky and Kim -- Philiminated

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - November 17, 2013

Good morning! It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photos I've taken along the way. Later tonight I'll be posting The Amazing Race blog party as the show airs here on the East Coast. Stop on back for the party!

This wasn't a great week for me. Oh, nowhere near the worst times in my life, but definitely irking. On Tuesday I tripped on a branch under about six inches of leaves as I walked to the train station. Yes, this was on a sidewalk. Had I been shuffling my feet through the leaves, I wouldn't have fallen. In trying to keep from falling on my knees, I twisted my left ankle. Yeah, then I landed on my right knee and elbow. Gah. The knee is fine, bruised but good. The ankle is still swollen and painful. I took Tuesday off from work, but have worked every day since. I'll live.

As a result of limping about, I don't have a ton of photos for you this week. While I do like some (like the first one here), no real works of art. Well, Vincent thinks he's ALWAYS art, but ...!

Hmm. I don't have all that much to say. Maybe some random musings and observations:
  • My upstairs neighbor sings loudly in the shower. I hear the shower. I hear him. Still the quietest one up there in all the years I've lived here.
  • Whenever I talk on the phone at home, Vincent thinks I'm talking to him and comes running to droop over my shoulder. Living alone and not being a huge phone talk person, most of the time I'm talking in here, I AM talking to him.
  • Either that or I'm insane and just talking to myself.
  • The big green stickers on automatic doors mean you go through that door. The red stickers mean you don't go through that door. Is it that hard to understand?
  • When you get off a train or enter/leave a store, keep moving. Don't just stop and act confused, text or whatever. Keep it moving and get off the traffic path!
  • For the pickers of Peapod grocery delivery -- four six-packs of Coke Zero at $2.50 each are NOT to be confused with one six-pack with two bottles removed at the same ten bucks. 
  • Yes, that happened. Yes, they credited me for the four six-packs and I ended up with four free bottles. Yes, they gave me a rain check for the sale price. But, sheesh. Common sense, Peapod pickers!
  • I've seen some houses with the outdoor Christmas lights on already. Oh my.
  • I'm not scared of clowns.
  • Well, except for Pennywise the Dancing Clown. He's creepy!
  • Crumbled leaf debris has infiltrated the first floor of my building. Until they're all down, it will be a battle. Thankfully, it's limited to the first floor and the entrances to the building.
  • Why are all the younger women at WCBS 2 (NYC) going through pregnancies one by one?
  • If you're riding a train, get up and ready to go BEFORE the train stops. When those doors open, it's train etiquette to let others get out before you board. If you straggle when getting off, you mess with the cosmos.
  • That's just bad mojo, y'know.
  • I can't believe it's been 50 years since JFK was assassinated. I shouldn't be able to vividly remember that far back.
  • But I do.
  • I can't be that old. I refuse to be that old.
  • Those projects on the west side of town are just about completely boarded up now, including the entrances. That must put a crimp in the drug dealers and gang-bangers daily doings. 
  • Maybe they'll go get jobs.
  • BWAHAHA! I crack myself up. They'll just relocate and terrorize other parts of town. Hopefully not my neighborhood.
That's just about it ... onto the photos for the week --

 photo IMG_1013a_zpsa14d8516.jpg
Dramatic skies

Soon the sun will be even lower in the sky as I leave my workplace. Sure, it's not as bad as Alaskan winter nights. But, still ...! Despite the "dramatic" skies of this shot, there was no storm. Taken at the Bridgewater Train Station.

 photo IMG_0992a_zps95e5bad0.jpg
Mmm ... acorns!

Pickings are good for the squirrels right now. Then again, they tend to stay hardy all winter long due to these good pickings days now. Plainfield Train Station.

**CLICK THE 'READ MORE' LINK TO SEE THE REST OF THE PHOTOS**

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs. Water - November 13 Episode Blog Party


Well, last week we saw Vytas win the first individual immunity of the season while brother Aras got the boot. Tyson, playing perhaps the sneakiest game this season, has the idol but was in no danger all along. Actually, unless you're Aras or Vytas, it made sense to get rid of Aras as he has a real chance to win it all. And, after all, he just might still have a chance as Redemption Island started up all over again.

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this post with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest! But, as always, the real party is in the comments area ... come join us!

Here are the latest blog pool standings from that elegant Lifeguard Laurie:

End of Week 11/6
CALEB -- Glenn, ORKMommy
CIERA -- Andrea J, Karen in CA, Rochelle
GERVASE -- Jackie, Pam in NJ
HAYDEN -- Joanie, Quixotic Elf
KATIE -- David, Margo, Zoetawny
LAURA M -- AlbGlinka, JOKATS, rbennie
MONICA -- Becky, KayBeeRN, Russ
TINA -- Cheryl in NC, Lynn1, Terry in TX
TYSON -- Delee, meb
VYTAS -- Donna NY, ML

Redemption Island
ARAS -- Donna in FL, MikesGirl

Survivor fans ready?

Oh my, Immunity Challenge is coming only seven minutes into the episode! It's the icky food comp ... fun to watch, but I couldn't do it.

40 mealworms (live, of course)
3 ounces pig intestines
It's between Monica and Gervase for the win.
2 live grubs

Monica wins immunity!

The plan seems to be to split the votes between Vytas and Katie. Tribal is coming early in the episode, too -- 8:22pm. Hmm. Something must be up or VERY entertaining ahead!

The tally -- Vytas, Katie, Tyson, Vytas, Vytas, Vytas, Vytas.

Rats. He'll have duel with his brother to return.

Second Immunity Challenge -- Balance a sword on a shield, with other hand balance coins on the sword's handle.

Katie wins Immunity!

Due to Monica's wild vote for Vytas last tribal, she's a target this time ... perhaps more so than Tina. Still no one knows that Tyson has the hidden idol.

At Tribal Council, Tina hints she might have the idol.

The tally -- Monica, Tina, Tyson, Tina, Tina, Tina, Tina.

Her ploy didn't work. I personally would have preferred it if Monica went.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Amazing Race: November 10, 2013 Episode Blog Party


Once again, the show isn't even scheduled until 8:30pm and football's running even later. Sigh. Once it finally starts here, I'll remove the word verification from comments and update this entry with the major events. Refresh the page to get the latest! As always, the real party is in the comments. Be there or be square.

I'll say it now before it even starts ... aren't we due for a non-Philimination leg? With my luck it will be Marie and Tim saved, my least favorite team. Actually, I think they're the only team I outright dislike this season. So, surely they'll be saved!

The Magnificent Margo has the latest pool standings as of the end of last week's show:

Ally And Ashley - LafayetteLisanne, Jackie,Tammy
Jason And Amy - Nicklepeed, PDXGranny, Brian, DLA
Leo And Jamal - MEB, Margo, Brenda, Caela
Nicky And Kim - Nana in NW, Jennasmom, David
Tim And Marie - SueGee, DKNYNC, Rbennie
Travis And Nicole - Delee, Laurie, Lynn1, Merrilee

Sorry you have been PHILIMINATED
Hoskote And Naina
Rowan And Shane - ML, Becky, Cheryl in NC, KayBeeRN
Chester And Ephraim - Buzzmaam, Donna in AL, Sharon S
Brandon And Adam - Donna in FL, Monty924, Sharon
Tim And Danny - JOKATS, Dusty, Zoetawny

Let's get this show on the road!

8:47pm ET and the show is finally starting here. Grr.

Teams will fly to Abu Dhabi. Leo and Jamal are on a flight that lands ten minutes earlier than the rest of the teams.

Detour - Sort it Out or Sew it Up -- the first is to duplicate a food platter, the latter is making a fishing net. Both tasks are quite difficult.

The Roadblock has them dropping 200 feet (?) on a zip line into a race track, taking a lap with a professional race car driver and noting the name of the winner of a race on a sign in order to receive their next clue.

Pit Stop:
1. Leo and Jamal - won a trip to Paris.
2. Jason and Amy (fourth time in second place)
3. Nicole and Travis
4. Tim and Marie (grr)
5. Ally and Ashley
6. Nicky and Kim ... but it's a non-Philimination leg and they're still in it!

Another double U-Turn ahead next week. Will someone PLEASE U-Turn Marie and Tim? Please? Thank you in advance!

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - November 10, 2013

Good morning, peeps! You've arrived at my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photos I've taken along the way. Yes, this is Sunday morning and this is the view from here in New Jersey. No, not the real industrial New Jersey you see from the turnpike immediately outside the city. Nor is it the almost New England type farmlands and woods like Northwest New Jersey. Nope, this is northern Central New Jersey -- one of the most densely populated areas of the most densely populated state; a whole bunch of towns close together in what they call the Greater New York City Metropolitan Area.

As a result of locale, many folks commute from around here into Manhattan daily. I don't. Yet I have a love for the city. I'm awaking to news that some idiot shot two people at the skating rink in Bryant Park. Geez. Isn't anything sacred? When I go into the city with my camera around the holidays, Bryant Park is almost always on my agenda as it has a wonderful holiday atmosphere and I can actually get close enough to photograph the skaters (unlike Rockerfeller Center). Apparently not a random shooting, there had been a verbal confrontation between one of the shot skaters and the gunman. At this point, both victims (both skaters) are alive. But ... sheesh. What is WRONG with people?

In other local news, I want to grouse about change. Yes, I know change is always going to happen. But there has been a wooded area next to a brook just as my train approaches the town of Bound Brook. I've often seen deer there from the train. Plus, a man in a maroon truck drops off tons of breadcrumbs daily for at least the past ten years for the geese. This man has been at it daily, dumping about a big wastebasket size amount of bread. Daily ... rain, shine, snow, no matter the season. In the last week, they tore down all the trees and bulldozed it flat. Wah. I don't know what's going to go up there, but I'll surely miss what was.

Let's see ... I must have some good news. Hmm. Well, Vincent the Cat is doing well. But he does kind of have the life of leisure. So, he's bound to do well. There haven't been any more mice incidents.

On a positive local change in Plainfield note, now that the leaves are thinning on the trees, I can see one of the more notorious crime-laden public housing projects in Plainfield from the train. They've been talking about razing it for years. Well, it looks like that's imminent now. People are moving out and, as they do, each apartment is getting boarded up. Sure, the thugs who took it over years back will just find new places to do their "business." But, hopefully, it will be a new start and a much safer life for the innocent children who lived there and the elderly residents. No one should be afraid to walk out their doors in the daytime.

On the other hand, here at my apartment building, it's not cheap to live. Yes, some of the apartments are subsidized for elderly and a few families. But, for the most part, people in my building need to work for a living. As a result, it's safe to take trash out to the Dumpster at 2 in the morning if you feel so inclined. You're more likely to get frightened by a raccoon rather than Riff-Raff. Our latest landlord has really been doing well with upgrades and repairs. The elevator hasn't been out of order for more than a few hours at a time for months now. The new windows look spiffy. I'm pleased with the place and I haven't always been.

This week was rather mundane, so are my photos ... but I do have two Vincent photos for his fans! Later tonight I'll post the blog party for The Amazing Race. If you watch the show, come watch with us! We have cyberdrinks and snacks!

 photo IMG_0949a_zps9da1356b.jpg
No, no ... not already!

Plainfield has its holiday decorations up on the street corners downtown. Sigh. Taken from the corner of East Front and Church Streets looking towards Watchung Avenue.

 photo IMG_0924a_zps0441ab93.jpg
But, but ...

It can't be the holiday season already! Roses are still growing on East Front Street just two blocks away!

**CLICK THE 'READ MORE' BUTTON TO SEE THE REST OF THE PHOTOS**

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs. Water - November 6 Episode Blog Party


It sounds like tonight should be action-packed -- someone returning from Redemption Island and the merge is on! I do think that all those people who worried about Aras and Vytas getting together and thinking they should do something about it may have wished they had done so!

Lifeguard Laurie has returned to the real world after a splendid well-deserved time away from home. Here are the latest pool standings:

End of Week Three 10/30
Galang
KATIE -- David, Margo, Zoetawny
MONICA -- Becky, KayBeeRN, Russ
TINA -- Cheryl in NC, Lynn1, Terry in TX
VYTAS -- Donna NY, ML

Tadhana
ARAS -- Donna in FL, MikesGirl
CALEB -- Glenn, ORKMommy
CIERA -- Andrea J, Karen in CA, Rochelle
GERVASE -- Jackie, Pam in NJ
HAYDEN -- Joanie, Quixotic Elf
TYSON -- Delee, meb

Redemption Island
JOHN -- Ed in Ohio, Nana in the NW
LAURA M -- AlbGlinka, JOKATS, rbennie
LAURA B -- Buzzmaan, Laurie, SueGee


As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh the page to get the latest! As always, the real party is in the comments area. Come join us!

Survivor fans ready?

Duel time - this time it's do or die. The winner returns to the game; the two losers go home. It's an endurance duel -- hanging onto a pole as long as they can. Not surprisingly, due to size and weight, John is out first. Laura M. seems the most secure although Ciera would rather play her own game. Laura M. returns to the game -- Laura B. and John both out for good.

Drop your buffs. The merge is indeed on.

Even though she could have kept it for herself, Laura threw the Hidden Idol clue in the fire.

Tyson found the idol and says that he isn't going to tell anyone. We'll see about that! They always seem to tell.

First individual immunity up for grabs! They will be shown a series of pictures and each must show them back in order on a cube. Monica out first. Caleb and Katie out. Tyson and Tina out. Hayden out. First round done.

Second round. Laura out. Ciera out. Gervase out. It's down to Aras and Vytas. Vytas wins immunity! (It's a shame Aras is a big target for others.) Gervase and Tyson still go for an Aras exit.

The tally: Laura, Laura, Ciera, Ciera, Aras, Aras, Aras, Aras, Aras ... rats. I liked him! The Tyson/Gervase plan worked. But, Aras is going to Redemption. He's not booted yet!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Amazing Race: November 3, 2013 Blog Party!


Once again, tonight's show isn't even scheduled until 8:30pm ET here in the NYC viewing area. That's due to football, of course. Now, I'm not really optimistic that it will even start at that time. Nonetheless, I'm posting this entry at 8pm ET. I'll take off the word verification for comments at 8:30pm-ish and joining in at that time.

Here are the latest blog pool results from Super Margo:

Ally And Ashley - LafayetteLisanne, Jackie,Tammy
Jason And Amy - Nicklepeed, PDXGranny, Brian, DLA
Leo And Jamal - MEB, Margo, Brenda, Caela
Nicky And Kim - Nana in NW, Jennasmom, David
Tim And Danny - JOKATS, Dusty, Zoetawny
Tim And Marie - SueGee, DKNYNC, Rbennie
Travis And Nicole - Delee, Laurie, Lynn1, Merrilee

Sorry you have been PHILIMINATED

Hoskote And Naina
Rowan And Shane - ML, Becky, Cheryl in NC, KayBeeRN
Chester And Ephraim - Buzzmaam, Donna in AL, Sharon S
Brandon And Adam - Donna in FL, Monty924, Sharon

Once the show (finally) starts in this area, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. As always, the real party is in the comments area. Come join us!

Okay, the show will be starting at 9PM ET here. Grr. I'll be here then.

Finally, it's starting. Seven teams remain. Who will be eliminated NEXT?

My least favorite team, Tim and Marie, are leaving first. They're heading to Austria by train. At least their Express Pass is now gone. My blog pool team is the last to depart. All the teams meet up at a layover in Poland. So, all are once again starting out even. Jason and Amy were there first, but can't jump due to the wind.

They're at the Vienna Opera House -Detour -- Light Brigade has them making a chandelier or Masquerade has them attending a Vienna Waltz in costume while matching their masks to a dancing couple. There is a Fast Forward. All that clue says is that it's weather-dependent. The FF is a 500-foot bungee jump. Child's play! Uh-oh. It's too windy. Jason and Amy decide to head back to the Detour.

Heh. Tim and Marie can't get a cab!

Roadblock - Teams must join the choir at the Vienna Boys Choir and sing a song to the satisfaction of the choir director.

Travis was the first to make it through the singing.

Nicky and Kim almost took Jason and Amy's waiting cab once the taxi driver himself took their bags out. He was tired of waiting. Then Tim and Marie took someone else's. They plan on blaming Leo and Jamal.

Next, they're searching for a clue in a maze. Then it's off to the Pit Stop!

Pit Stop order:
1. Nicole and Travis - win a trip to Anguilla. Travis is hoarse from singing.
2. Nicky and Kim
3. Leo and Jamal
4. Tim and Marie
5. Jason and Amy

Cool. Almost fisticuffs at the Pit Stop due to the cab theft.

6. Ally and Ashley
7. Tim and Danny ... Philiminated.

Aw. Sigh.

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - November 3, 2013

Hello, welcome to Sunday! This is my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken along the way. Later tonight I'll be posting the Amazing Race blog party post. If you watch the show, please come join in on the fun as the show airs!

Did you set your clocks back an hour? This is the time change I enjoy rather than that annoying "spring forward" change. I recall last year that wasn't the case, though. Last year I was still deep into a power outage from Hurricane Sandy -- daylight was precious and not to be wasted. As I wasn't working the clock change day, I actually slept in. When I awoke and realized (thanks to my cell phone) that it would be dark an hour earlier in the evening, I almost cried. My candles and batteries were both running low at that time into the ordeal. No open stores for miles seemed have any. Thankfully I had plenty of batteries for my MP3 player which is also a radio. That was my big link with the outside world.

Last year at this time I was living in a weird post-Sandy surreal kind of existence. This year was much different. Our weather this week was mostly sunny with above seasonal temperatures. Overnight last night, the colder air crept in. Oh well, it is that time of year. Last year around this time we had snow on top of the Sandy woes. I can't complain.

On Wednesday it was overcast, but I made my way over to Westfield for a Mindowaskin Park and Trader Joe's visit. As a result, lots of fall foliage and (of course) duck shots in today's entry. I've always loved Trader Joe's, but thought it was small and cramped. Oh my gosh, I love it even more now because it's more than doubled in size! I noticed during my latest visit that, in addition to the wine and beer they carry, they now have a small section of actual hard liquor. Most are name brands, but I did pick up a bottle of Trader Joe's brand "Rum of the Gods." It was very reasonably priced and I think I'll make cookies with it and have an occasional rum and Coke. I'm not a big drinker, but I occasionally will imbibe.

The kids actually had Halloween in the city this year after two years of it being canceled. Last year was Sandy, the year before a six inch snowstorm. Both resulted in downed wires and downed trees for Halloween. Even though the holiday was on, I kept up with having no trick-or-treaters here at my apartment. I haven't had any for the dozen years I've lived here. As I arrived back in town after work, I did see the downtown streets full of children in costume. Good for them!

On Saturday, I had the day off from work to attend the Plainfield Library Photo Contest Exhibition opening and awards presentation. Going into the contest this year, I had trouble with the theme of "Plainfield Celebrates." I usually work on Saturdays when they hold the fun city events.  I also had trouble getting the Saturday off to attend the event as a new boss didn't like the short notice although I've said I needed a Saturday off in November for nearly two months. I just didn't know which one!

Much to my surprise, I won first prize for a photo I really love, but thought too somber for a win. I won a third place prize for a photo I took the 4th of July parade the last knee replacement recovery summer (which is why I had the parade Saturday off). And I won a Special Time Capsule Award for a photo I took during Sandy recovery, the only Sandy-related photo entered. The photos in the competition become a part of the local history archives in the library. Just as we look back on photos of days gone by, someday in the future folks will be checking these photos out for a clue about what our lives are like.

On the home front, the workers showed up yesterday to do Crazy Joe's (across the hall) windows and the common area/stairway windows. It's amazing how much better the building looks with all the new windows! I think the only windows which remain to be done are the ones in the stairway by the elevator. They'll probably show up this morning to do them. If my "huge" five dollar rent increase hadn't gone down in the beginning of September, I'd be very worried about a rent hike with all the building improvements.

Eep, this is way long-winded and there are tons of photos, as well. Let's get to it! If you click on an image, it will take you to the Photobucket page with a larger image. Close that page to return directly back to the blog!

 photo IMG_0440_zpsd2aba908.jpg
Eagle! Bald eagle in flight!

Unfortunately I didn't get any great photos of it. I spotted it flying over my workplace near the Bridgewater Train Station. At first I thought it was a large hawk, but then I noticed the white head and tail. EAGLE! Woot! Woot! I watched it for nearly a half-hour. Alas, it decided to either fly too high or to soar too fast when flying low and this was the best shot I got of it. But, man ... an eagle here in Central Jersey! While I've seen some in the far north part of the state and also in Connecticut, it's a first for here.

 photo IMG_0755a_zps5efba8c4.jpg
True dat

In front of the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield on Park Avenue. I also can't help but notice the Amazing Taste lunch truck in the background. Mmm.

 photo IMG_0491a_zps2cbf85e3.jpg
What? Mums again? Yes!

These were growing in a planter on Elm Street in Westfield.

**CLICK THE 'READ MORE' LINK TO SEE THE REST OF THE PHOTOS**

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs. Water - October 30 Blog Party


Good evening! Happy Mischief Night to all! Hopefully we'll see some sort of mischief on the show tonight. Now, that could be fun. The tribes switched up last week leaving Vytas alone with the women on on tribe, Ciera alone with the men on the other. Vytas managed to last through one tribal council. But I'm not sure he can make it through another if the women decide to stick together!

Here's the latest on the blog pool from Travelin' Lifeguard Laurie:

Galang 
KATIE -- David, Margo, Zoetawny
LAURA B -- Buzzmaan, Laurie, SueGee
MONICA -- Becky, KayBeeRN, Russ
TINA -- Cheryl in NC, Lynn1, Terry in TX
VYTAS -- Donna NY, ML

Tadhana
ARAS -- Donna in FL, MikesGirl
CALEB -- Glenn, ORKMommy
CIERA -- Andrea J, Karen in CA, Rochelle
GERVASE -- Jackie, Pam in NJ HAYDEN -- Joanie, Quixotic Elf
TYSON -- Delee, meb

Redemption Island 
JOHN -- Ed in Ohio, Nana in the NW
LAURA M -- AlbGlinka, JOKATS, rbennie
KAT -- Jig, Petals

Off the Island 
RUPERT -- Brian, Kelsey NY, Sharon S.
RACHEL -- Donna in AL, Merrilee MARISSA -- Jennas Mom, PDX Granny CANDICE -- Dusty, Monty924
BRAD -- Brent McKee, Kelly D. Sharon N.

Quit 
COLTON -- Gaylos, Nickelpeed

As the show airs here on the east coast, I'll update this entry with the major happenings. Refresh this page to get the latest. But, as you all know, the real party is in the comments area. Come join us!

It's Duel Time! Let's see if Kat has a complete meltdown. She sobbed and hung onto Hayden before they got started. Oops. Hayden said his relationship with her is stronger than the game. Will he take Jeff's bait and swap places with her? 

When Hayden asks what's their best longterm shot for the win, Kat said he stands more of a chance to win it all. She duels. Untie knots, release machete, hack rope, release puzzle pieces and then, of course, a puzzle. John finishes first! Laura is second, Kat is gone. John once again gives the clue to Monica. She burns it again. 

Uh-oh. Aras seriously thinks that Gervase and Tyson can be trusted. Oops.

The Immunity Challenge has the tribes chained together at the ankle, navigating obstacles, collecting bags, making bolos and throwing them. The reward is a fried chicken picnic. 

It was fairly close, but Tadhana wins. 

Gah. Laura B. tells Vytas they've decided to vote him out. I wonder if that might do her in instead.

Tribal Council time -- Laura once again says that Vytas will be leaving. @@

The tally: Vytas, Laura B, Laura B, Laura B.

She blew it for herself. She's off to Redemption Island.

Next week a person returns from Redemption Island and the merge is ON!