Sunday, March 23, 2014

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - March 23, 2014

Good morning, peeps! It's SPRING! Can you feel it? Well, yesterday we had a taste of it with weather temperatures flirting with the 60 degree mark. Tomorrow morning, they're talking windchills around zero and a possible nor'easter snowstorm Tuesday into Wednesday. Will the winter EVER end?

Since it's Sunday morning, this is my off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken along the way. Later tonight, at 8pm EDT, I'll post The Amazing Race blog party post. If you watch the show, please come by for fun discussion (and partying)!

I really don't have a heck of a lot other than work going on in my life lately. I'm so tired of cold temperatures that, even though most of our snow has melted in the sun, I don't want to be outside. I have retired my "big" winter coat for my merely "normal" winter coat. But I'd rather discard them both for just a hoodie! If the temps are that low tomorrow, I'll have to bring the big coat out of its retirement. Wah.

Conking out early most of the week, I even missed most of my TV shows and will spend some time catching up today. On the few nights I stayed up late, I watched Jimmy Fallon on his Tonight Show. I like Jimmy. I think he's perhaps one of the most talented -- song, dance, impressions -- talk show hosts since the likes of Steve Allen. I'm still loyal to my David Letterman. But, when Dave retires, I can see me watching Jimmy for years and years to come.

Onto this week's photos ... while I don't have a ton of artsy, I definitely found two new and different photo subjects this week --

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Just before the dawn

Although the skies are definitely black as I leave my apartment for work on my weekday commutes, before the train arrives it's getting light(ish). Now if it would just go for warm(ish). Plainfield Train Station.

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Huh? Whazzat?

What the heck is that in the air over North Avenue in Plainfield?


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As the kettle arrives ...

... a pigeon flees.

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Yep, we're talking black vultures

New Jersey has both turkey and black vultures. As I couldn't see any of the red coloration on the face, I'm assuming the ones over North Avenue on Saturday were black vultures. There were four traveling together -- a group of vultures is a "kettle." Now, had they been kind enough to perch together for a photo for me, their perching together is called a "wake." It actually does look a bit like a wake when they do that! Kind of creepy, kind of disgusting ... but way cool birds! Despite their size, did you know they only weigh up to about four pounds?

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Another creepy but crawly!

Y'see, I grew up in non-urban areas, woodsy more than suburbs even. When I was a child, I often caught these and carried them around a bit before I returned them to the place I found them. Unharmed, of course. It's a garter snake, basically harmless although they do have a very mild venom. This one was at the Bridgewater Train Station. I don't think he was waiting on a train.

When I was a child, my grandfather had built a real rock fence along his property lines up in miles-from-nowhere in upstate New York. I found a garter snake in the wall and was playing gently with it as I had done several times before. It bit me on the thumb and raised a single small dot of blood. Amazed as I didn't realize they could bite, I ran to show my grandfather. I wasn't mad, nor really hurt. My grandfather found the snake and shot it. Sigh. Then I was sad.

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Run, snake, run!

Er ... slither, that is. It's fascinating to see how fast they can move with no legs! This one either heard the train coming or I frightened it, so he took flight. He wasn't really big, perhaps fifteen inches long. His head wasn't really much wider than a Magic Marker.

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Eastbound Plainfield Train Station

Ah, a sunny afternoon with no bums and panhandlers hanging out. I actually felt free to sit a few moments and take some shots. For some time the Plainfield Police were there all the time and the vagrants left. Now they're all back as the cops don't come unless called. Mind you, they don't bother me, per se. I'm not scared they'll mug me or anything like that. However, their presence kind of puts a damper on my photo taking.

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Caution! Caution!

The winter has taken its toll on both the Plainfield and Bridgewater train stations. In Bridgewater, stairs and the actual bridges over the road are crumbling. In Plainfield, the stairs to the tunnel, the railing on the accessible ramp eastbound and the tunnel itself is in bad shape. You do NOT want to be in that tunnel when it's raining!

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The sun also rises ...

... in Bridgewater. I'm still in work by the actual sunrise, but that will change soon.

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Buh-bye Big Apple

It takes them about two weeks to set up, they play two weeks and it's down in two days. The Big Top at the Big Apple Circus in Bridgewater was being dismantled Monday when I got out of work. I fear they didn't do so well this year due to the extreme cold we had most of their run here. I assume they have some sort of heat in the tents, but no way was the cold kept out. And, with it as cold as it has been, who wants to go sit in a drafty tent watching an overpriced dog and pony show?

In other circus news -- Ringling and Bailey Barnum Brothers (the REAL circus) once again is skipping Madison Square Garden and playing in Brooklyn instead. There will be no march of the elephants, horses and clowns from the Queens Midtown Tunnel up 34th Street.

Some years back in Manhattan

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Eek! He's BACK!

Nah, he's still gone. My train was coming as I first spotted him that day and I snap-snapped away at him. I was hoping to catch his little red tongue which he kept flickering. I hope he's careful out there -- the hawks would have a nice meal out of him!

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Who cares about vultures and snakes?

Vincent thinks that cats are much better than vultures and snakes. Well, yeah, I do think they make better company!


Bernice said...

I really like seeing the Black Vultures. They have a teetering walk and their legs are white, making them look like they are wearing tube socks. And that 5-foot wing span is pretty impressive. A nice change from pigeons and sparrows.

Jackie said...

I was thrilled to see them, too! They were circling overhead and I mistook them for hawks until they got closer. Way cool birds! And, they do serve a valuable function in nature.

Laurie said...

The black vultures are really interesting. I never knew the group was called a kettle. Thanks!

Here's hoping spring really springs for you this week. All my friends who have a real winter are really, really, really over it!!