Sunday, February 28, 2016

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - February 28, 2016

Good morning! Since it's Sunday morning, it's time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the past week in both words and photos I've taken along the way. Please come by during the week and join in on the Survivor and The Amazing Race blog parties! I live blog those shows as they air while folks party in the comments area. It's a fantastic group of show fans. Please stop in!

But this ain't that.

We had yet another odd/wild weather week here in New Jersey. Some days were bitter cold with wind, but sunny. On Wednesday we had all day flooding rains with severe thunderstorms and a tornado watch. No, we did not have a tornado. (Yay!) The late-night temperature was in the high sixties! It remains a very odd weather pattern (or lack thereof) for February in New Jersey.

In other random stuff:
  • NJ Transit train workers might go on strike mid-March. I've requested the Saturday of the "soft strike" off as a vacation day. If they don't strike, I have a weekend off. Win-win. If they do strike going into the week, I'll have to deal with buses and rearranging my work schedule to have a co-worker pick me up near the Shop-Rite not all that far from work. (But farther than I want to walk!) More co-workers go through there than anywhere near here.
  • The bright side of that is that there's a Burger King there and I haven't had a Croissanwich in years. It's my favorite fast food breakfast sandwich.
  • Things are going better at my workplace. I have new knowledgeable bosses I can actually work with and we share mutual respect. I forgot what that's like in the past few years.
  • I'd still rather be retired and perhaps just do something I like to do.
  • I've worked for the same company for about 34 years. I think I've paid my dues.
  • But there's this pesky thing called keeping a roof over my head. I don't see Vincent the Cat going out there working to help me!

Oh, well. That's about it. Onto this week's photos! Clicking on an image will bring up a larger version. I hope everybody has a fantastic Leap Day tomorrow!

Into the light

While I like how this photo turned out, it shows the deplorable conditions of the NJ Transit Plainfield Station pedestrian tunnel between the westbound/eastbound platforms. When it rains outside, it now rains in the tunnel. Some light panels are entirely missing, others often have the rain running through them. The floor is always wet, slippery and grimy. It desperately needs repairs and regularly scheduled cleaning. Hey, NJ Transit. What's up with this? 

Don't fence me in

A sparrow rests on a fence and makes for a cute shot.

Coming in for a landing

A pigeon making a landing on a ledge on the Chotola Apartment building on North Avenue in Plainfield.


Friday, February 26, 2016

The Amazing Race Blog Party - February 26, 2016

The show is starting! As it airs here on the East Coast, I'll post the major happenings live. Refresh the page to get the latest! However, as it always is ... the real party is in the comments area. Please join in on the fun! (And bring tasty beverages and snacks!) I'm still a bit iffy on the team names, so please bear with me!

The Magnificent Margo (and Mom) have made the random picks for the blog pool and here they are ...
Tyler & Korey-P- Paula Bell, Bruce & Ray, SueGee
Burnie & Ashley- Buzzmaam, Delee
Erin & Joslyn- Brian, Margo, Rbennie
Sheri & Cole- Donna in FL, Merrilee, Becky
Zach & Rachel- Sharon N, Nana in NW
Dana & Matt- Grandi, Nicklepeed
Jessica & Brittany- Donna in AL, Monty924
Scott & Blair- Meb, Jennasmom
Kurt & Brodie- David, Ed in OH
Cameron & Darius- chrob61, PDXGranny

Marty & Hagan- Jackie, Willie J

Amazing Race fans ready? Let's GO!

Teams are running all over from place to place picking up clues. They have to go to San Diego for one (not California) and to the catacombs.

Detour - Tickets -- collecting tickets on a bus. Tejo has them throw a disk rock thing on some sort of bang type fireworks dohickey. It's kind of like cornhole with a bang. (No, that's not how Phil explained it.)

Dana and Matt continue to be the only team arguing. Sigh. Oh geez ... the alpha male team, Kurt and Brodie, actually chest bump.

Gah. One of the women on one of the female teams (the one whose person was claustrophobic during the prior cave challenge) is about to go into a full-burst anxiety attack in the catacombs. It's Jessica and Brittany -- not sure which girl it is, though.

The alpha boys get to the Roadblock first. "Who's left holding the bag?" They have to find bags by the same designer as one given to them, searching a gazillion bags and several vendors.

Kurt and Brodie are headed to the Pit Stop.

Pit Stop:
1. Kurt and Brodie - won a trip to Greece
2. Tyler and Korey

Oh noes! Rachel counted the bus money wrong. She and Zach have to go back and finish that Detour.

3. Burnie and Ashley
4. Dana and Matt (He thinks they need to work together better. Y[think?)

Jessica is trying to help Cole on the Roadblock even though she's ready for the next clue. Finally she leaves him be. Rachel and Zach finally finished the Detour.

5. Jessica and Brittany
6. Sheri and Cole
7. Erin and Joslyn
8. Scott and Blair
9. Zach and Rachel
10. Darius and Cameron -- Philiminated.

Really nice guys, but The Amazing Race isn't their strength!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Survivor: Kaoh Rong Blog Party - February 24

Survivor fans ready? As the show airs, I'll update this entry with the major happenings -- refresh the page to get the latest news! As always, the real party is in the comments area. Please join us there. We like snacks.

Lifeguard Laurie was kind enough to offer to add the latecomers who posted last week to the blog pool, as well as reassign those who unfortunately were Darnell's pool peeps as he was the first boot.

Here are the revised match-ups:
Chan Loh - Brains
Elizabeth Markham - Donna in FL, Terry is a Texan
Peter Baggenstos - Jackie, Tammy
Neal Gottlieb - Merrilee, JoyzJenn
Debbie Wanner - meb, Rbennie
Aubry Braco - Jennasmom, Glenn
Joseph Del Campo - Grandi, Petals

Gondol - Beauty
Tai Trang - Margo, anonymouse
Nick Maiorano - Laurie, ML
Anna Khait - monty924 , SueGee from the Left Coast
Michele Fitzgerals - Brian TCC, Kelsey NY
Julia Sokolowski - Indiana Jane, Nickelpeed
Caleb Reynolds - Ed in Ohio, Stephanie in Baltimore

To Tang - Brawn
Kyle Jason - Nana in the NW, Sharon N.
Jennifer Lanzetti - David, Paula Bell
Alecia Holen - Becky, Donna NY
Scot Pollard - Delee, Pinky
Cydney Gillon - Leo Lionharted, PDX Granny

Torch has been snuffed:
Darnell Hamiltonn - free play!

Let's get this party started! If I vanish during the show, we're having some severe thunderstorms here and we've just been put under a tornado watch.

Recap, recap. 

Alecia, although saved last week, is very suspicious of her tribe mates. She's next on their list to go. Gah, Alecia calls an ember an "embryo." Oh, duh!

Over on Beauty, Tai is still determined to find a hidden idol without a clue. And he's found a clue saying the idol is buried at the base of the tree. He found that clue and it directs him to find a key to unlock the idol. He has to climb a tall tree to get at it and has to give up ... for now.

Debbie is sure the water they have to drink is safe without boiling. She's proving more and more of a nut. 

Heh. Caleb has taken a liking to Tai. Who woulda thunk it?

Brains weren't so brainy ... they wasted/spilled most of the kerosene thanks to Joe. At least he's the one they're blaming. Joe himself thinks he's at kindergarten camp because the "book" brains are all trying failed experiments rather than just working to achieve their goals.

On Brawn, while Scot and Kyle slept, Alecia worked for hours with the flint and got a fire going. Will that redeem her in their eyes? Now they can cook their chicken and boil their water. 

Immunity Challenge time! Race down river, retrieve log, carry it through obstacles, knock down targets. Reward for the first tribe is a huge fishing kit and boat. Second gets a smaller kit. Geez, Debbie is sitting up and cheerleading. I think I'm ill.

Beauty wins first place immunity and reward! Brains wins second place. Brawn once again will go to Tribal Council. 

Of course, Scot and Kyle are wanting Alecia out once again. She decided she needs to go out searching for an immunity idol. Meanwhile, Jennifer is getting tired of Kyle (Jason) and would rather keep Alecia. Jennifer and Alecia approach Cydney about an all girls alliance. If the girls stick together, it's Jason (who is actually Kyle Jason!). Now Jennifer is having second thoughts because she doesn't want to let Scot down.

Tribal Council has Jennifer spilling a few too many beans and making the guys suspicious. Uh-oh, Jennifer lies and claims the all girl alliance was Alecia's idea. Alecia denies it and claims Jennifer. Is Jennifer sinking her boat?

The tally:
Jenny, Alecia, Alecia, Jenny, Jenny.

Welp, she did it to herself! Alecia is safe and Jennifer is gone.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - February 21, 2016

Good morning! It's Sunday morning. You know what that means. It means it's time for my weekly off television topic reflection of the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken along the way. If you're a fan of the shows -- please stop by on Wednesday and Friday evenings for coverage of Survivor and The Amazing Race! I hope to see you at the blog parties!

Oh my gosh, this week's weather has run the gamut here in New Jersey. We had record low temperatures to start the week, snow, ice, torrential rain, heavy winds, thunderstorms and temperatures nearing record highs by Saturday. There was even a small earthquake but that wasn't felt in this area. That's okay. I've felt earthquakes before. I don't really need more experience at it.

I didn't really have an exciting week photo-wise. In the beginning of the week, the cold kept killing my camera's battery and/or it was too cold to really take photos. Some of the time, it was rainy or icy. I look forward to spring with bugs and flowers for me to shoot!

Life goes on here in the apartment building. One day I got home from work and the elevator wasn't working. It still wasn't working when I left early the next morning. But it was working when I got home from work that day. Since this landlord took over, the elevator has been rapidly repaired any time it has decided to stop. I recall going months at time without it before. And, since we have some elderly and disabled folks on upper floors living here because it's an elevator building, we can't really go without it for long even though we're far from a skyscraper!

Kids playing in the hallway managed to spill sparkly green glitter on the forest green carpet. I've been fighting sparkly green glitter for days now. My vacuum doesn't get it all off my red welcome mat outside my door! Nor did the maintenance staff get it all out of the hallway carpet with their equipment. I ask again ... why are there so many children and adults in that one-bedroom apartment in my corridor?

Onto this week's photos -- clicking on an image will bring it up in a larger version.

Did you see the moon last night?

It's almost full. The actual full moon will take place on Monday night. This full moon is called the Snow Moon. I'd rather some other name, please ... like the SPRING Moon!


Since they're not birds of a feather flocking together, their nefarious plan is obvious. They're plotting to overthrow humans and take over the world. Atop the Chotola Apartment Building on North Avenue in Plainfield.

One cool ride!

You'd think they'd at least cover the seat! I wouldn't want to ride that home in the ice and snow. Parked at the Bridgewater Train Station.


Friday, February 19, 2016

The Amazing Race Blog Party - February 19, 2016

Ready to race from your couch? As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll post the major happenings live. Refresh the page to get the latest! However, as it always is ... the real party is in the comments area. Please join in on the fun! (And bring tasty beverages and snacks!) I'm still a bit iffy on the team names, so please bear with me!

The Magnificent Margo (and Mom) have made the random picks for the blog pool and here they are ...
Tyler & Korey-P- Paula Bell, Bruce & Ray, SueGee
Burnie & Ashley- Buzzmaam, Delee
Erin & Joslyn- Brian, Margo, Rbennie
Sheri & Cole- Donna in FL, Merrilee, Becky
Zach & Rachel- Sharon N, Nana in NW
Dana & Matt- Grandi, Nicklepeed
Jessica & Brittany- Donna in AL, Monty924
Marty & Hagan- Jackie, Willie J
Scott & Blair- Meb, Jennasmom
Kurt & Brodie- David, Ed in OH
Cameron & Darius- chrob61, PDXGranny

Amazing Race fans ready? Let's GO!

Teams are flying to Columbia ... a first for the show. Uh-oh. My blog pool pick team is on the last flight.

Roadblock - Who is a hot mess?
Teams must submerge themselves in a mud pool at a volcano site and retrieve a satchel with an emerald. Some of the satchels have other rocks or gems in them. Korey dropped his coming down the volcano and had to go back. Still, the teams on the first flight are all finishing the Roadblock before the last teams get there.

After they finish the Roadblock ...
Detour - Pop-Up has them building a shelter which needs to be approved by locals. Parilla -- cooking and serving a barbecue type meal. Heh. Tyler and Korey beat out alpha male team Kurt and Brodie in building the shelter. They're on the way to the Pit Stop. My poor blog pool gals are getting frantic stuck in last at the Roadblock.

For their Speed Bump, Scott and Blair must help local fishermen pull in a fist net and retrieve the catch.

Okay, Matt and Dana are the first ones to bicker.

Pit Stop --
1. Tyler and Korey - won a trip to St. Thomas
2. Kurt and Brodie
3. Burnie and Ashley

Uh-oh. Cameron and Darius missed finding their clue. They better get it together!

4. Dana and Matt
5. Joslyn and
6. Jessica and Brittany
7. Zach and Rachel
8. Sheri and Cole
9. Scott and Blair

The brothers pass Hagan and Marty who were running because they let their cab go.

10. Cameron and Darius
11. Marty and Hagan, Philiminated in tears.

There goes my blog pool random pick. Now I'm on my own!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Survivor: Kaoh Rong Season Premiere Blog Party and Pool

Survivor fans ready? The new season makes its premiere tonight! As the show airs, I'll update this entry with the major happenings -- refresh the page to get the latest news! As always, the real party is in the comments area. Please join us there. We like snacks.

Before the show gets going, that Lovable Lifeguard Laurie has made the random picks for the pool. I realize a few people asked too late. Lifeguard Laurie has been kind enough to offer to put the three latecomers and first booters into the pool after tonight's boot.

Here's the match-ups:
Chan Loh - Brains
Elizabeth Markham - Donna in FL, Terry is a Texan
Peter Baggenstos - Jackie, Tammy
Neal Gottlieb - Merrilee
Debbie Wanner - meb, Rbennie
Aubry Braco - Jennasmom
Joseph Del Campo - Grandi, Petals

Gondol - Beauty
Tai Trang - Margo
Nick Maiorano - Laurie
Anna Khait - monty924 , SueGee from the Left Coast
Michele Fitzgerals - Brian TCC
Julia Sokolowski - Indiana Jane, Nickelpeed
Caleb Reynolds - Ed in Ohio, Stephanie in Baltimore

To Tang - Brawn
Kyle Jason - Nana in the NW, Sharon N.
Darnell Hamiltonn - JoyzJenn, Paula Bell
Jennifer Lanzetti - David
Alecia Holen - Becky
Scot Pollard - Delee, Pinky
Cydney Gillon - Leo Lionharted, PDX Granny

Let's all have a great season!

All three tribes scramble to snag supplies before abandoning ship. Jeff promises us the most grueling season ever. So far, as we're still going through the start-up welcome stuff, Debbie seems quite bizarre and annoying to me. Brawn all seem to fit in well together, Brains not as much. The Beauty tribe is trying to figure out Tai. He's defensive of trees, y'know.

Okay, Brawn is starting to split a bit. The guys aren't liking "Blondie" -- I think that's Alecia. I'm not good with the names yet. Darnell wants to work with Cydney. She isn't as committing, I don't think.

Over in Beauty, the chickens escape. They get two of them back while Tai impresses the girls with his gentle approach. The girls are also liking Caleb because they know he was solid to his alliance through BB.

In Brains, Debbie seems to have designs on Joe. Poor Joe. Liz and Neal don't care for her. And, unfortunately, they're deciding that Joe and Debbie are the "geriatrics." It's sad that they're already targeting due to age. If they target Debbie due to weird, that's fine by me.

In Beauty, Tai is searching for an idol and ripping up trees to do so. Yikes! The others realize what he's doing and now he's likely to get targeted. He did apologize to the trees.

Now Brains is in a segment on the heat there. Heck, are they going to even have a challenge? The show only has 20 minutes left to go! Aubry is dehydrated. Maybe we'll just have a med-evac. Maybe it's anxiety. We'll see.

Nighttime. Eek. Jennifer has a bug in her ear!

Okay, I've been informed tonight is 90 minutes. They'll have time.

Treemail. But Jennifer's ear is bleeding and the bug is still in it. Aha! The bug crawled out and she's herself once again!

And, it's time for the Immunity Challenge. Swim to a boat, one person dive down for paddles. Eventually they can solve a puzzle or test their dexterity. Reward is a massive fire-making kit. Second tribe to finish gets a flint.

Uh-oh. On the first dive for paddles, Darnell lost the dive mask and that's setting them behind from the start. Beauty is the first tribe with all the paddles. Beauty and Brains are now competing with Brawn as the first two tribes have trouble getting their boat in the cradle. They're putting on their wheels. Beauty is now in trouble.

Brains goes for the puzzle and is in the lead. Brawn chooses puzzle. Beauty is struggling to move their boat on the track. They also go for puzzle.

Brains Tribe wins Immunity and Reward! Beauty wins the second place! Brawn will go to Tribal Council tonight.

It looks like they're going to target Darnell. Now, Alecia might have blown it by hinting she might have an idol. Stupid girl. Cydney also wants to keep Darnell because she knows he's in her corner.

Tribal Council time. Darnell admits losing the goggles, but claims he will bring it. Alecia thinks she's a mental giant. Oh my. Darnell goes to tears. His heartbreak tale might save his butt.

The tally:
Alecia, Darnell, Alecia, Darnell, Alecia, Darnell.
It's a tie.

They have to revote -- Alecia and Darnell can't vote and the others can only vote for them.

Darnell, Darnell, Darnell. He's the one out tonight.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day! Let's celebrate that massacre! Heehee. It's also Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken along the way.

Random words and thoughts:
  • While the blog pool for The Amazing Race is closed, you have until tomorrow to sign up for the Survivor: Kaoh Rong blog pool at this post. I hope to see you there -- the season premiere is Wednesday night!
  • Yay! New episodes of The Walking Dead return tonight! Whoopie!
  • For not being about television, this blog entry is so far talking television.
  • I need to stop that.
  • We need to be proud of ourselves in this area -- we broke a 100-year record for cold temperatures. Yay, us!
  • Brrr.
  • I went out to grab my Sunday paper from outside the front door of my apartment building. That's it for me going out today.
  • Thankfully, my apartment heat is doing well (and included in my rent).
  • I don't think I've ever seen the downtown streets in Plainfield as deserted as they were last night when I arrived home from work. Even our city's hardcore homeless seem to have taken cover.
  • I was just glad I didn't get frostbitten waiting for train/bus and walking in the bitter brutal evil cold. I did wear layers. But I still have red patches on my upper cheeks under my eyes this morning. Maybe that is a touch of frostbite. I don't know. I'm pretty sure it's not the glow of good health.
  • I've had horrible lower back pain since I got up on Thursday morning. I don't know what I did to it. I imagine, since it came on overnight, I might have pulled something in my sleep or something. It needs to go away.
Onto this week's photos -- clicking on an image will bring up a larger version in a gallery window.

Still there

The burned-out two houses from last year's fire on East Second Street remain standing ... sort of. More of the roof has collapsed on this one. If I lived next door -- the home to the left is fine although it still has some melted siding, but people live there -- I'd be demanding it be torn down before it falls down. More parts of the roof have fallen. You can stand in the street and see through the building to East Third Street. I think a good kick could bring it down. The burned building on the right of this isn't AS bad, but also needs to be torn down. They're saved for eternity (or the life of Google maps and the internet) if you do a street view of 642 (or so) East Second Street, Plainfield, NJ. Well, it does make good photo fodder if I'm bored. I'll give it that. But I definitely would be complaining to the city about it if I lived next door to it!

The NJ Transit 59 bus

When the weather is bad and the bus schedule is doable with the train schedule, I take the bus to the train station rather than walk the half-mile or so. Yeah, I'm lazy like that. But this bus is a five minute walk for me -- probably less than that for younger people without knee replacements! And, it's free for me with my monthly train pass.

The projects come down

I took this shot from the train window. After sitting vacated for a long, long time now, Plainfield's Elmwood Gardens west end projects are being demolished. Watching the demolition daily from the train reminds me of when the projects in The Wire came down. While these buildings were a hotbed of drug and gang activity, they also were the homes of families for years. The good people who lived there are probably better off in their new residences away from the concentration of crime. And, unfortunately, the bad are spread all over town. 

Oh, there must be a bad fire somewhere

When I saw (and smelled) this, along with seeing news helicopters all over, I knew something big was burning. This was on Thursday afternoon, a few hours after a warehouse complex in Hillsborough went up in flames. I took this shot at the Bridgewater Train Station which is at least six or seven (or more) miles from the actual fire. It was very windy and bitter cold. (Not as bitter cold as it is right now, mind you.) The fire was basically out by Saturday with just a few hot spots remaining. A few firefighters had minor injuries and, at its height, it went to six alarms.


Friday, February 12, 2016

The Amazing Race Season Premiere Blog Party and Pool

Well, this season surely sneaked up on us! On ME, anyway. As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll post the major happenings live. Refresh the page to get the latest! However, as it always is ... the real party is in the comments area. Please join in on the fun! (And bring tasty beverages and snacks!)

The Magnificent Margo (and Mom) have made the random picks for the blog pool and here they are ...
Tyler & Korey-P- Paula Bell, Bruce & Ray, SueGee
Burnie & Ashley- Buzzmaam, Delee
Erin & Joslyn- Brian, Margo, Rbennie
Sheri & Cole- Donna in FL, Merrilee, Becky
Zach & Rachel- Sharon N, Nana in NW
Dana & Matt- Grandi, Nicklepeed
Jessica & Brittany- Donna in AL, Monty924
Marty & Hagan- Jackie, Willie J
Scott & Blair- Meb, Jennasmom
Kurt & Brodie- David, Ed in OH
Cameron & Darius- chrob61, PDXGranny

Amazing Race fans ready? Let's GO!

Teams get texts telling them to meet in Mexico City. I still have no clue who these social media influential people are! They're all leaving from their homes across the country to the nearest airports. That's different. It was a spur of the moment text. Obviously, they knew they were to be on the show, but had no idea how it will start.

Since they're all in the same fields such as YouTube and Vine, they're all recognizing each other.

I'm still dazed and confused.

They immediately run into a Detour -- Mariachi Madness, they have to find a musician faking it. Great Balls of Fire has them making a fireworks fake bull thingee. Heh. Most, if not all, teams are getting lost trying to get to the Detour sites. There are hundreds of mariachi players. It's one of those needles in a haystack challenges.

A few teams have made through the mariachis, so that might be easier than building the bull fireworks thingee.

The clue leads them to a place with staggered starting times ten minutes apart. It's a Roadblock - "Who's ready to pick up the pieces?" They have to search through an archaeologic dig site down in a cave, find 13 mask pieces and assemble a mask.

Dana and Matt are the first ones heading off to the Pit Stop. Tyler and Korey are on their tails. The doctor father guy is way lost. He came above ground and lost his pieces.

Pit Stop:
1. Dana and Matt
2. Tyler and Korey
3. Zach and Rachel
4. Cameron and Darius
5. Brodie and Kurt
6. Burnie and Ashley
7. Brittany and Jessica
8. Marty and Hagan
9. Sheri and Cole
10. Erin and Joslyn
11. Scott and Blair -- NON-PHILIMINATION LEG!

All teams are still in it!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Amazing Race: Meet the Cast

Due to my silly misconception of the season premiere's date (it's actually THIS FRIDAY and I thought it was NEXT Friday), I don't really have time to go in depth on the teams. I have looked through their videos on the CBS website. For such big social media influencers, the only one whose YouTube channel is vaguely familiar to me is the dancing tutorial one. And, it's vaguely, real vaguely familiar -- I looked up how to shuffle some time back. Don't ask me to shuffle.

While several of these teams look strong, they all look young. Only one person on the race looks over 40 and he doesn't seem to be involved in social media; his daughter is the "star." I'm not saying I won't like the teams. I often like young teams. I'm not saying I won't like the season. I probably will enjoy it. I just prefer to watch a bit more diversity in age and backgrounds.

Here's the cast introduction from Phil:

Don't forget the cut-off for the blog pool is tomorrow (Thursday)! Please don't sign up on this here post. Use the blog pool opening post linked here to join in on the fun!

Also, the Survivor blog pool is open and you can go to that sign up post to join there. The deadline for that one is Monday.

Survivor: Kaoh Rong Blog Pool OPENS!

Come one, come all! Survivor is coming! That Lovable Lifeguard Laurie has once again volunteered to watch the pool for us. If I've never mentioned it before, she rocks. Right?

If you want in on the blog pool for this season, please leave your name in the comments on this post only! If you comment elsewhere, it could very well be missed.

The season premiere is Wednesday, February 17 at 8pm ET/PT. The deadline for signing up for the pool will be Monday (February 15) at 6pm ET.

How it all works:
  • Lifeguard Laurie makes random picks for us.
  • We cheer on our random pick until their torch gets snuffed or they go on to be the sole Survivor.
  • There is no wagering nor passing of monies in this blog pool! 
  • The winner(s) reserve the bragging rights for eternity ... or, at least until the next season starts.
  • If you're posting anonymously, you do need to come up with a sign-off name for your comments. 
So ... who wants to jump in the pool? The water's fine -- no rats or snakes yet!

Monday, February 08, 2016

The Amazing Race Pool OPENS!

Oh my goodness -- for some bizarre reason deep within my own whacko mind, I was under the impression that The Amazing Race was making its season premiere next Friday, after Survivor's Wednesday premiere. Oh noes! It's THIS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12 sat 8pm ET/PT! My apologies for not getting the cast posts and pool posted before. Over the next few days I'll post on the cast. But, let's get this pool in motion!

For those interested, the Survivor: Kaoh Rong pool opening post will go up Wednesday, February 10 -- please come back to sign up for that pool on its own post.

The Magnificent Margo is once again in charge of the blog pool! We all know how much she rocks!

Here's how the blog pool works --
  • Blog readers are randomly matched with a team
  • They can cheer on that team until the team gets Philiminated or win the million!
  • There is no wagering! We're playing for the bigger stuff of life here -- bragging rights!
  • If you wish to be in on the pool, please sign up in comments in THIS POST ONLY. If you ask on another post, it could be inadvertently missed.
  • The cut-off for getting in on the pool will be Thursday, February 11 by 6pm ET.

Survivor: Kaoh Rong - Meet the Cast Part Four

I've already taken a look at the Brains and Beauty tribes we'll be seeing on the new season of Survivor -- premiering February 17 at 8pm ET/PT on CBS. On Wednesday I'll be posting the sign-up entry for the blog pool. Please stop back to sign up for the pool. Please sign up ONLY on that post because if you sign up elsewhere, your request might be missed!

Onto the Brawn ...

Scot Pollard is 40 years old and resides in Carmel, IN. He's an ex-NBA champion. I don't really follow basketball, so I'm not familiar with him. He does have some sort of championship ring. I guess he was good. But, what will he bring to Survivor? Let's see ... hmm ... in his bio, he's reminding me of Bruce Springsteen's 'Glory Days' -- he's very hung up on his NBA career, but doesn't speak of what he's all about lately other than his family. He claims he's in it for the money more than anything else. Oh my. I hope he invested well during his big money years. I predict we'll see tears from him if he's still in the game by the time it's the loved ones visit. He claims to be loud. I might not like that.

Cydney Gillon is 23, a bodybuilder hailing from Douglasville, GA. Although bodybuilding is her passion, it does seem like she has higher goals in mind. She mentions that she would like to win the money to pay off college and medical school loans. So, she's not just all about the brawn. She talks of wishing she could bring tweezers because her eyebrows go all crazy. We'll have to watch for that! She thinks she's most like previous winner Tony in that she will build some solid relationships and concentrate on playing the game all during the game. I kind of like her chances. I'm worried about the fact that she claims to be very opinionated yet tact will be a huge part of her win. Huh. It's hard to be tactfully opinionated. Does she realize that?

Kyle Jason is a 31 year-old bounty hunter currently residing in Detroit, MI. He's ex-Army. I wonder if we'll see some sort of Patriotic Pact if both he and Caleb Reynolds make it past the merge? Oooh ... he doesn't like "one-uppers"! I already posted that I didn't care for one new castaway claiming a hobby is "one upmanship." Fight! Fight! Ahem. Uh-oh. He thinks he'll be most like Russell Hantz in his gameplay. I hope his social game is better or he'll be securing a loss. He's right about Russell actually playing the game, though. He's in this for the money for his family which includes an autistic child and lots of medical bills. Since he "lies for a living," he thinks he'll do well. He's also watched the show since the first season. I'll have to see what he's like in action. I do kind of like him. I don't know why -- maybe because he just seems to be an Average Joe Working Dude.

Jennifer Lanzetti is 38, a contractor currently living in Salt Lake City, UT. She's gone through endometriosis, cancer and drug addiction. She also has an engineering degree and her own construction technology company. She might have more brains than some of the Brains! Heh. She enjoys riding motorcycles and eating good food. I doubt she'll see much of that on the show! She thinks she's "blunt, not fragile and a bad-ass chick." Hmm. It's good that she's not fragile, but the other two traits might cause her some issues in the game. She'd like the money so (at least in part) she can adopt children and start a family. Her chances for surviving might be good as long as she can harness her bluntness and "tough girl" attitude so that she doesn't alienate her fellow castaways.

Darnell Hamilton is 27, a postal worker from Chicago, IL. Coming from a rather impoverished background, he worked his way through college graduating with a respectable 3.47 grade average. Since he lists wishing he could bring a pack of cigarettes, we might see some withdrawal pangs. Uh-oh. He seems to feel he has a lot to prove and that winning the game and being the ultimate Survivor might be more important to him than the money. He's determined to overcome his past. I don't know. Does he not realize that his past has made him the man he is today and that winning Survivor, while very cool, won't change the man he is? I think he's going to try very hard for the win. But I'm not so sure of his overall chances. My personal thoughts on him from reading his bio is that he should be proud of who he is and that he doesn't need a steenkin' reality show to prove it.

Alecia Holden is 24, a real estate agent currently residing in Dallas, TX. Well, that's surely a brawny-related career, huh? I guess her brawn rating comes from her adventurous streak -- bungee jumping, swimming with sharks, hang-gliding, sky diving, hanging out with uncaged tigers and such. I'm not too sure risk-taking and adventurism spell out BRAWN. But I don't make these casting decisions. She's a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie. Now, that could be good on the show for the most part. Unfortunately, she likens herself to previous castaway Kass. Yikes. I certainly hope her social game is better! She seems to live by the motto "No Guts, No Glory" and definitely has the ambition to win it all. With her, I think all will hinge on her social game rather than her abilities to play the physical game. The latter should be no problem.

Survivor fans ready?

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Off Topic: That Was the Week It Was - February 7, 2016

Good morning! It's Sunday. You know what that means -- it's time for my weekly reflection of the week gone by in both words and photos I've taken along the way. This past week I was on a staycation and I really did that. I stayed inside my apartment most of the time, just taking some walks to the local bodega and around my neighborhood. I really needed the rest and cocoon time. Between the weather issues (winter) and a rather slim budget, I didn't really want to go anywhere anyhow. So, it was all for the best. I'm relaxed, rested and ready to face the work week tomorrow. Um, well. I'm relaxed and rested, anyway.

A few random notes:
  • I got my downstairs neighbor to oil his horrific screeching, squealing and moaning door hinges. I don't know. If my door was making noises like his was (for months), I would have fixed it long before someone complained to me about it. He doesn't work, yet comes and goes all day long into the night. Every time he opened and closed his door, I'd get the horrible sound and my floor near my door would actually vibrate. Heck, when my own deadbolt made noise due to humidity at one time, I took care of it figuring it would bother others. A little consideration is a good thing.
  • My across the hall neighbor Joe, taken away by ambulance in the middle of the blizzard, is back at home. I'm glad he's well enough to be at home once again. I'm sure he is, too. A hospital is no place for sick people! 
  • The weatherman says there is a chance of snow for four out of the five workdays ahead. Gah. I'm over it.
  • They demolished my favorite store, Trader Joe's in Westfield, due to its roof collapse in the blizzard a few weeks ago. They say they will rebuild in the same location. That can't come soon enough.
  • I didn't get all the things I hoped to get done this week. Hopefully, I'll live long enough to retire and really have time. I basically goofed off all week.
  • One thing I did do was start on posting for the upcoming season of Survivor. You can find those posts at this link. I'll be posting the sign up link for the blog pool later this week and should finish the casting posts tonight. That is, unless I goof off more. 
  • I'll also be posting the cast posts for the new season of The Amazing Race this week.
Onto the photos I took this week. There aren't a ton as I really goofed off! Clicking on an image will bring up a larger version.

After Friday's snow

The sun came out and made everything look like a Currier and Ives winter scene. I took this shot on East Front Street, looking through the side lot of a church to the homes over on East Second Street. That fenced area used to hold a playground for a school based in the church. That was very annoying when they let all the kids out to scream play in the playground daily. All of the playground equipment was removed and now it's much more peaceful in the 'hood. However, the church across the street has some sort of pre-school and playground. I don't hear them from here, though.

Snow fog in the rain?

On Wednesday we had rain and temperatures near sixty degrees. The combination of those and all the snow brought about a phenomenon called sublimation. I didn't know the term, but local blogger Bernice took photos of the same thing and researched it in her blog entry. She likened it to sea smoke, albeit snow smoke. I think I prefer the latter term myself. For a while I thought there was something awry with my vision as the haze covered the ground. This shot was taken on East Front Street in Plainfield.

Trees in the snow

I took this shot looking out the window more towards the back of the yard next door as snow fell. It's a freakin' winter wonderland woodsy scene.


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Michael Skupin - What is Wrong With People?

I feel let down. If I feel let down, the producers and those whose livelihoods depend on Survivor must feel horrified. The news that Michael Skupin, a two-time castaway on the show, has been arrested on ELEVEN felony charges. It's bad and crooked enough that it all started with him running a Ponzi pyramid scheme. Anyone in his right mind would know that those things come crashing down no matter how much money is made at the start.

But, allegedly I might add, when the police investigated his computers during the pyramid scam, they found child pornography. I don't know what to say. We've seen numerous reality television people arrested for drugs, DWI and other things over the years. But, to me, this is horrific.

Skupin claimed that he earns a living motivational speaking and even has a self-help book out on the market. He has seven children. I can't imagine what his family is going through. I don't know what's wrong with some people. Apparently, there's a lot going wrong with Skupin.

I'm incredibly disappointed.

A few links to news articles about the arrest:
From WDIV Detroit

If you do a search, there are several articles online about his arrest. Horrible press as the new season is set to start. However, I certainly don't blame the show or its staff. I blame Skupin. What a jerk.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Survivor: Kaoh Rong - Meeting the Cast Part Three


In my last post, I explored the Brains tribe. In this one, I check out all those shiny happy beautiful people.


We have a 19 year-old? Huh? Julia Sokolowski is a college student currently residing in Boston, MA. Interesting. I wonder how she got on as most of the castaways are 21 or older. Hmm. For her age, she seems to have had more adventures than many older folks have had in a lifetime. She has hiking skills, worked for Habitat for Humanity (which will come in handy a bit with making a shelter), has had worldwide travel experiences and believes she has excellent social skills. I liked her bio. I can see possibilities here. But, then again, I could be dead wrong.

Nick Maiorano is 30. a personal trainer and lives in Redondo Beach, CA. It seems to me that a lot of personal trainers end up on reality television. Apparently, like bartenders (er, mixologists), they can take time off from their work. Of course, folks claiming to be personal trainers are usually in good shape and Nick seems to fit that bill. His bio indicates he's tried out for the show before as he said, "I didn't have a hero the last time I applied and still don't." He likens himself to Courtney Yates or Jonathan Penner, though claiming to be more "socially intelligent" than either of them. I'm not sure how much I'll like this guy. It could very well go the other way with me. We'll see.

Michele Fitzgerald is 24, a bartender from Freehold, NJ. (What did I just say about bartenders?) So, she's a Jersey Girl living in a place famous for horse racing and Bruce Springsteen. Yep, that's Freehold for you. Her inspiration in life is um ... well, er ... Harry Potter. Okaaaay. Whatever floats her boat, I guess. Did she understand the question? On the plus side, she thinks she's most like Parvati Shallow and has watched every season of the show. She also enjoys rock-climbing which can be physically challenging. Has she a chance of being the sole Survivor? Nah, I don't think so.

Tai Trang is 51 years old, a gardener living in San Francisco, CA. Well, he's a bit different. He's so thin that I wonder if he stays the 39 days, will he be a walking skeleton? He has an interesting backstory -- hailing from Vietnam when the war was on, becoming a refugee, one of eleven children and it sounds like all the trials and tribulations have enriched his life rather than take away from it. In general, he seems to want to be a "nice guy" finishing last in the game. Now, the show isn't always geared to the nice guys. It's very rare that they win. But, if his stamina is as good as he thinks it is, it seems like he has lots of good traits which might secure, if not a win, a place after the merge ... especially if he comes across as no physical threat yet does okay on challenges.

Anna Khait is a 26 year-old professional poker player from Brooklyn, NY. Now, I can't think of any poker casinos in Brooklyn, NY. Hmm. (She better not be another Vanessa BB16 type.) She also plays handball. She claims that Princess Diana is her inspiration. Admirable, but how many years has it been since Diana has been gone? Nearly twenty years? I find her an odd inspiration for someone who was a small child when she died. Of course, it's more laudable than saying Harry Potter is her inspiration! She too thinks she's like Parvati. They can only wish, I say! She does seem to have some gumption and says she's "studied" the show. My jury is out with her.

Last, but certainly not least, we have dear Caleb Reynolds. All Big Brother fans know him, perhaps a bit too well. Let's just hope he doesn't fall in unrequited love during the season. I don't think I could take the stalking and pining again. Caleb is 28 and lives in Hopkinsville, KY. His bio lists his occupation as "Army veteran." Before he went on BB, he was working at Lowe's and, although he did serve in the Army for one hitch, there was a lot of controversy regarding his service, where and what he actually did. Of course, he's playing his service card full tilt. I know he originally applied for Survivor and ended up on Big Brother. It's possible he might do okay. It's also possible he'll go Beast Mode Cowboy and alienate the others. If nothing else, I'm sure he'll give us something to talk about!

Next up will be the Brawn. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 01, 2016

Survivor: Kaoh Rong - Meeting the Cast Part Two


That term might be made a bit loosely, mind you. With some, it's evident ... like the MIT grad. Others, like the ice cream dude, might just be industrious. Some look on the brawny side. I guess we'll just have to see how it all plays out.

I think I might end up having a love/hate relationship with Debbie Wanner. She's 49 years old, a chemist residing in Reading, PA. In her bio at the CBS website, I felt she came across as having a bit of a chip on her shoulder. The previous castaway she thinks she's most like is Coach. That might be frightening. She goes on about getting out of poverty. Hmm. She must not be an esteemed chemist. She does have a military background and seems quite fit for her age. My jury is out on what might be an annoying factor about her.

Peter Baggenstos is 34 years old and an emergency room physician from Minneapolis, MN. Now, I thought Debbie had a chip on her shoulder; Peter has a hunk on his. He thinks he's the "most capable." Um. Okay. I do like his dislikes listed in his bio: "Bombastic people, "bros" and know-it-alls." I can see how he might be a bit ruthless and willing to be friends, then go for the ultimate backstab. But he's coming off as arrogant to me. And, from my own experience, arrogant people will indeed turn on others ... but often people realize they're arrogant before they get the opportunity. Physically and mentally, he should be fine. Socially he might have a tougher time than he thinks.

Aubry Bracco is 29, a social media marketer (huh? wazzat?) from Cambrige, MA. I believe she wants to embrace her own quirkiness. Will Survivor be a good place to do that? We've seen it before. It sometimes backfires. That said, I do like some of the things I read in her bio. I like that she convinced her professors at Brown that she should write a childrens book about a manatee rather than a fifty-page thesis. I like that one of her pet peeves is using scents to cover bad smells. She must ride public transit! Heh. But, overall, I think she'll probably be a whirling dervish, just whirling her way towards the snuffing of her torch. She needs to prove me wrong.

Elisabeth Markham is 27 and currently residing in New York City, NY. She's a quantitative strategist, which I'm glad she explained -- it's writing computer programs which forecast stocks and buy them automatically. Well, that sounds like a thrill a minute, eh? Unlike the chemist I first listed, this woman seems to have an inside track to being able to make money. So, yeah ... maybe her occupation IS a thrill a minute! She's a gambler (for profit), likes the outdoors and is into strategic board games. I kind of like her. She seems to be adventurous enough, not a big physical threat but will probably be okay. I think she just might do okay. Will she win? I don't know.

Neal Gottlieb, age 36, is an ice cream entrepreneur currently living in Sausalito, CA. While his claim to genius, er ... fame is ice cream, I've never heard of his company despite the fact it's supposed to be a huge thing. Three Twins Ice Cream? Anyone know this company? He wrote way too much in his bio. I find that a bit off-putting. He lists "one-upmanship" as a hobby. Oh my. That sounds a tad obnoxious. He doesn't like whiny people and hypocritical bible-thumpers. Um. Dude. You're going on Survivor. You've seen the show, right? After reading his too-lengthy bio, I don't think I want him to win. I don't want him to have bragging rights. Make him stop.

Joseph Del Campo, age 72, is a former FBI agent currently residing in Vero Beach, FL. Yes, you heard me. He's 72. He just might be interesting. He seems in great shape for his age and he has the skills in dealing with people. One thing that caught my interest in his bio's "if I could bring" section was that he mentioned the book The Art of War. That was nagging at me a bit. I know I've heard that title with Survivor before. I must Google it! Aha! The show gave the tribes that book for Survivor: China. I hope his age doesn't alienate the other castaways. I'd like to see him play the game for a while. I hate it when the tribes become divided and plots thicken due to age differences.

So, there are your 'Brains.' I'd personally like to see them require a doctorate. But that might just be me.