Monday, November 28, 2011

The Rafa-Less 2011 ATP World Tour Championships, The Finals!

(To the victor goes the spoils, and several tons of confetti!)

Woohoo! Roger Federer beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-3 for a record sixth title in the ATP World Tour Finals.This marks Roger's 70th title in his career. Simply amazing. Well done, Fed!

It looked for a moment like Tsonga might repeat his come-from-behind Wimbledon victory over Fed after taking the second set tie break, but Fed reclaimed dominance in the third. Federer really was a cut above everyone else this week. He never lost a match, looked fresher than the three higher and (much younger) seeds and was just his usually elegant and awesome self. It's really been an amazing end of the year for, Roger. You're making 30 look like the new 20, FedEx! Thanks for that!

Now Fed can go relax with his lovely wife and kids, Murray and Djokovic can recover from their physical problems, and Rafa can go play some MORE tennis this weekend in the Davis Cup Final for Spain against Argentina and hopefully regain some mental edge with some victories there. Vamos!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Rafa-Less 2011 ATP World Tour Championships, Semifinals

(Fed can beat you with his eyes closed.)

Semifinal Results!
Federer def. Ferrer 7-5, 6-3
Tsonga def. Berdych 6-3, 7-5

This year's ATP Finals bring more career milestones for Fed! He has now reached his 100th career final by beating Ferrer. If he wins tomorrow he'll claim his 70th title for his career and a record sixth season-ending tournament title.

Tsonga is into the final for the first time, in only his second appearance here. Good for him!

With this win, Federer climbs past Andy Murray to No. 3 in the year-end rankings, with Djokovic and Nadal keeping their No.1 and No. 2 positions respectively. That feels more right to me. I didn't like seeing Federer ranked below Murray. Fed's got 16 Grand Slam titles and Murray has zero. I'm just saying.

Federer becomes the fifth player to reach 100 finals in the open era, joining Jimmy Connors (163), Lendl (146), John McEnroe (108) and Guillermo Vilas (104). 

Federer has really been on fire through the end of the season. It would be wonderful to see him finish off the ATP Finals on top again and I hope he makes it! He's already beaten Tsonga once here, but Tsonga is tricky! He's bested Federer before. He knows what he needs to do. We'll just have to see how it goes! I'm rooting for you, Fed!

Rafa & The 2011 ATP World Tour Championships, Round 3

(Tough times for Rafa. I will have to rename the blogpost for the semis...)

Oh, boy. Here's how the groups were ranked at the end of the 3nd Round of Round Robin:

Group A:
2-1 David Ferrer - ESP - Semifinalist!
2-1  Jurgen Melzer - GER - Semifinalist!
1-2 Novak Djokovic - SRB
1-2 Andy Murray -GBR / Janko Tipsarevic SRB

Group B:
3-0 Roger Federer - SUI - Semifinalist!
2-1 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - FRA - Semifinalist!
1-2 Our Hero, Rafael Nadal ESP
0-3  Mardy Fish - USA

So in a surprising twist, the top 3-ranked players in the field will not make it out of round Robin play. Djokovic, Nadal and Murray all were upset by lower-seeded players. Murray got injured and replaced, Djokovic admittedly ran out of gas after having such a successful season, and Rafa has seemingly misplaced his explosive on-court nature. I feel for him. I hope he has a good showing at the David Cup Finals and that it inspires him to find that mental match toughness in 2012. I still love you, Rafa!

Looking ahead, Ferrer will face Federer in Saturday’s first semifinal, and then Berdych will take on Tsonga in the late match. This will be interesting! It's a really great opportunity for all these guys. Federer has to be the favorite to take the title at this point, but Ferrer should provide a great challenge before he gets there. And for the other three guys, they have a chance to take the year end title for the first time! I'm hoping the tourney winner is whoever wins the Federer-Ferrer match. Should be fun! Vamos (Ferrer)! 

A Year Without Cookies - Week 47

(Thanksgiving Cookies! Gobble, Gobble them up!)

Turkey Time! A time to give thanks!  I am thankful that there are only 5 weeks left in the year for me to be living without cookies and soda. I had a delicious feast with family out on Long Island. Very few veggies to be seen on this T-Gives. Lots of turkey and stuffing and potatoes and cranberry sauce and yams with marshmallows - all so good! There were many desserts. I brought special thanksgiving themed cupcakes for my nieces from the local bakery by my house like I do every year. It's nice to supply the dessert that my nieces prefer over the other 5 or 6 cakes and pies that are on hand. There were, of course, homemade cookies that looked SO GOOD, but I had to pass on them. Soon, home made cookies, soon you will be mine again.

5 weeks to go! The finish line is just around the corner!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rafa & the 2011 ATP World Championships, Round 2

(Rafa's just not feeling it in his fight against Federer.)

So I'm already a little behind, but here's how the groups were ranked at the end of the 2nd Round of Round Robin:

Group A:
2-0 David Ferrer - ESP
1-1 Novak Djokovic - SRB
1-1  Jurgen Melzer - GER
0-2 Andy Murray -GBR / Janko Tipsarevic SRB

Group B:
2-0 Roger Federer - SUI
1-1 Our Hero, Rafael Nadal ESP
1-1 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - FRA
0-2  Mardy Fish - USA

You will note that Murray did in fact leave the competition due to injury and Tispsarevic took his place. Tip than lost to Melzer. So he inherited a losing record and did nothing to improve it. Group A is still a bit of a toss up though. I think if Novak beats Tip and then Melzer beats Ferrer. that would put them all at 2-1 and then I'm not sure how they rank them by points to figure out who makes it through.

Nadal needs to beat Tsonga to move to the semis. I think this is a tall order. Rafa got so totally handled by Fed in their match up. Rafa says it's not injury or illness that contributed to the lopsided loss. I just don't think it's in the cards this year. But we'll see soon enough! Vamos!

Food! Glorious FOOD!

(Lots of people out there could use some more.)

Ahh, Thanksgiving. How long I have waited for a plateful of home cooked turkey and stuffing!! Maybe there will be a stray vegetable on the dish as well. Sometimes they have a way of sneaking in there and taking up space that should be occupied by delicious baked-in-the-bird stuffing. Hmph. Vegetables.

I'm thankful for a lot of things this year, not the least of which is for the food I'm about to receive. The idea of being hungry without food troubles me greatly. Considering my usual hobbit's daily diet of 1st Breakfast, 2nd Breakfast, Elevensies, Lunch, Snack, Supper, Dinner, and Dessert, food should always be at the ready. Yet so many people, young and old go without. It makes me sad. Times are very tough and local food pantries struggle to keep up with the demand. I urge everyone who is traveling home to enjoy a delicious meal today to consider making a monetary or dry goods contribution sometime between now and Christmas to an organization that helps the less fortunate. I'll provide links to two charities I like - Citymeals-on-Wheels and City Harvest below. If you have time to volunteer at a soup kitchen or toy drive or something of the like this season, you're aces in my book as well. Aces, I tell you!

Gobble it down and enjoy, my lovelies. And give thanks!

For more information and to make a donation to Citymeals-on-Wheels you can go here.

For more information and to make a donation to City Harvest go here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Amazing Race 19 - Leg 9 Recap!

(Phil is ready to Hulk out if the judges give him a low score on his posing. PHIL SMASH!)

Episode Nine Fake Title: Flex Your Muscles in Brussels

Starting City: Copenhagen, Denmark
Pit Stop City: Brussels, Belgium

1st Place: Footballers Lives   Reward: Trip for two to Panama
3rd: ???
4th: ???
Last Place: ??? - presumably not eliminated

The episode ended on a "too be continued" with us only knowing who came in first, and that despite the check in, all teams were to immediately keep racing. D'oh!

Roadblock: One team member had to memorize a poem on the base of a statue of Hans Christian Andersen and then take a bike and navigate themselves to the Teatermuseet i Hofteatret, where they would have to recite the poem exactly (with dramatic flair! don't forget!) in order to receive their next clue. A map to the theater was located on the front wheel of a bicycle they were to ride to get there. If there were any mistakes with the words, or they did not perform it dramatically, a judge would make them ride back to the statue and start over. Most teams lost some time on this task having to do it more than once, but Cindy actually got it done on the first try, even though a group of tourists decided to sit and take pictures on the statue while she was trying to learn the poem!

Also of Note This Week: This was an interesting leg in that the teams jumped through three countries: Denmark to Germany to Belgium and they still don't get to enjoy a pit stop after all that. They are gonna e tired and cranky next week, that's for sure!

Despite all the country-hopping, there was no official detour this week According to the interwebs, the Bodybuilding Pose task in Brussels that concluded the episode was actually part of a Detour during the Race, but no one chose the other task, so it was made to look like just a required additional task in post-production. I wonder what the other task was that nobody wanted to do? Was it the eating-related task I keep waiting to see this season? For the Bodybuilding task, teams arrived at the Concert Noble and competed in a posing competition in honor of Jean-Claude Van Damme, aka "The Muscles from Brussels". Racers put on speedos and bikinis, covered themselves in posing oil, and had to learn a series of poses for judging. If the 3 judges gave them a combined score of 12 or better, teams would receive their next clue.The judges were so tough on this task I thought people were doing fairly well, but the judges kept scoring them with ones and twos! Damn. I thought all the teams looked pretty good in their very skimpy outfits, and of course Out-To-Pasture seemed to be in great physical shape even though they are the "old people."

Mid-leg the teams all had to go to Legoland Billund. There they had to find the Pirate Carousel which is sort of like Mad Hatter's Tea Party at Disney. Spinning Tea Cups galore! Teams were given a box containing Lego puzzle pieces. While the ride was spinning, they had to assemble the puzzle to reveal their next destination. Teams could only work on the puzzle while the ride was spinning and then they had to raise their hands when the ride stopped like they were at the end of a Top Chef Quickfire challenge. Several teams experienced motion sickness in this challenge and I would have been right there with them. I do not like to be spun. One go around would've been okay. But multiple successive rides while trying to focus on assembling a puzzle? That's too much for my sensitive tummy. Luckily, everyone got through with just nausea. That Other Dating Couple had to try the puzzle twice after pieces got flung out of the tea cup on their first try.

Team Bert & Ernie were doing a great job at maintaining their lead until all the teams got bunched again on the train from Germany to Belgium. Then they lost their connecting tickets for a mid-trip transfer! Luckily the conductor didn't come through on the second half to check their tickets and they were in the clear. Also, after several legs of strong racing, Team Out-To-Pasture once again couldn't figure out the right way to get anywhere, getting lost multiple times in multiple modes of transportation. It will be interesting to see who is the last to complete the bodybuilding challenge and if the last team to arrive gets hit with a speed bump.

Next Week: To be concluded! The Pit Stop order is revealed and then they hit the ground running for more fun in Belgium! Make-shift raft building! A crazy trip to a speedway! Onward Racers!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rafa & the 2011 ATP World Championships, Round 1

 (Rafa is ready for the Year-End Championship!)

So while those of us here in The New World will be celebrating the Thanksgiving Holidays this week, across the Atlantic, nobody really cares about that too much. Instead, they are focused on TENNIS! The 2011 ATP World Tour Finals are happening in London right now! The top 8 players of the season face off - first in two round robin groups, followed by single elimination semis for the two in each group with the best records, and the winners of those face off in the finals! Woohoo!

Here's how the two groups are comprised, by current rank:

Group A:
1. Novak Djokovic - SRB
3. Andy Murray -GBR
5. David Ferrer - ESP
7. Jurgen Melzer - GER

Group B:
2. Our Hero, Rafael Nadal ESP
4. Roger Federer - SUI
6. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - FRA
8. Mardy Fish - USA

The Finals are played on an indoor hardcourt, which with its quickness and ball bounce is least suited to Rafa's game. This is one major tournament he has never won. It will be tough for him to take the title in best of 3 set play. But this is an interesting field this year of contenders this year and he might have an opening. Djokovic has been dealing with some nagging injuries at the end of his stellar season, so he might not be in the best condition to take this title. Federer hasn't won a Major in awhile, but he comes in here having won his last two tournaments and looking great. Murray is a giant question mark. Ferrer can be a real threat if he's mentally and physically peaking at the right time. Fish and Tsonga I don't really think have a shot, but Tsonga has some impressive wins over Federer, so we'll see how it all shakes down. Rafa should definitely make it to the semis, but from there forward it's anyone's guess who actually makes it through to the Final match. He hasn't played at all since mid-October, opting instead to mentally and physically recharge from his string of losses in Finals this year. It should be really exciting how these guys all match up right now

After one round played in both groups, the current standings are:

Group A:
Djokovic 1-0
Ferrer 1-0
Melzer 0-1
Murray 0-1

Group B:
Federer 1-0
Nadal 1-0
Fish 0-1
Tsonga 0-1

It was a good first round. The only real upset was Ferrer over Murray (who seems to be injured) but all the
other matches went to a decisive third set. Nadal and Federer face off in the next round. Should be an exciting match and it should tell us if Nadal taking off so much of the fall season was the right choice for his match readiness. I'm sure hoping Rafa can do it. Vamos!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Year Without Cookies - Week 46

(You were always on my mind...)

So this week, while meeting some new people for the first time, I told them about my year without cookies and they were amused. I told them about the dreams I had about how I would think I was drinking soda, and how they were like addiction dreams and they were intrigued. I told them I no longer had those dreams and they were slightly disappointed. But then of course after having that conversation, what did I dream about that very same night? What else but finding myself with a glass of coke on the rocks in my hand, sipping away at it eagerly and then feeling horribly guilty! Oh, talking about the dream summoned the anxiety and imagery right back to the forefront of my subconscious (if such a thing can even exist.)

Up next, holiday season truly begins. All sorts of new and festive cookies enter the marketplace and into kitchen cookie jars across America. Here comes the last brutal test. I am ready for it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Amazing Race 19 - Leg 8 Recap!

 (Speckles will get you through your Detour- quick as a bunny!)

Episode Eight Fake Title: In Speckles We Trust

Starting City: Samali District, Malawi
Pit Stop City: Copenhagen, Denmark
1st Place: Team Bert & Ernie   Reward: Trip for two to Fiji
2nd: Team Out-To-Pasture
3rd: Team Tricky
4th: Team Footballers Lives
5th: That Other Dating Couple
Last Place: Team Nemo -Eliminated!

U-Turned Teams:
Team Out-To-Pasture, Courtesy of Team Bert & Ernie
Team Nemo, Courtesy of Team Out-To Pasture

Roadblock: One team member had to dress in period costume and learn a three-part dance from a similarly costumed instructor. Once the Countess okay their dance, they would receive their next clue. These were some of the best costumes ever on TAR! So expensive-looking! I thought Cathi and Amani looked the best, but the boys and Sandy also looked good. The dance didn't look THAT hard. Zac sure lost A LOT of time trying to figure it out.

Detour: A choice between All Hopped Up and All Churned Out. In AHU, teams had to properly construct a Kaninhop course (a steeplechase run for the cutest bunnies EVER), then both team members have to a run a rabbit of their choice through the course without any mistakes. Once complete, the bunny handler would give them their next clue. In ACO, teams had to make six sticks of butter by using a butter churn and then stamping out the sticks using a special mold. Once complete, the dairymaid would give them their next clue. I cannot believe almost all the teams initially passed on racing the bunnies! Sure animals can be tricky, but BUNNIES?? Thank goodness it was a double U-turn so two more teams had to work with the bunnies and we got to hear that much more of the delightful bunny theme music and see the cuties jumping over the little fences. SO GOOD. Snaps to Speckles the Rabbit who successfully completed the course for both Out-To-Pasture and Team Nemo.

Also of Note This Week: Where do we start? There were so many changes of the team order tonight. It was very exciting and I was almost afraid that it would be non-elimination and render all the repositioning irrelevant. Luckily that was not the case.

I'm not sure how much time they had at the last pit-stop but there's no way it was twelve hours. The first teams left in the afternoon and there's no way they finished the last leg at 2am. I wonder what the deal was there. 

Teams were given a flight from Malawi to Copenhagen but were allowed to hunt for better flights if they wanted to. All the teams did this at various travel hubs along the way, except for Footballers Lives. In my opinion, this was WAY too passive a move. It didn't get them eliminated, but it certainly could have. The fact that the other teams had to wait for the morning to search for their next clue erased most (but not all) of their lead on Footballers Lives. Oddly the team who got the best flight actually wound up getting eliminated. Granted Team Nemo did lots of other things wrong this leg.

Once in Copenhagen, teams had to climb to the top of the Vor Frelsers Kirke, locating two clues on the top of the tower. The first was a flag at the very top that said "Borg Slot" and the second was a banner on a nearby building that said "Frederiks". Once combined, it named their next location: Frederiksborg Slot. The banner was not always visible. That Other Dating Couple did not get the clues right and lost all the time advantage they had over Footballers Lives who were on the later flight. Footballers Lives then got completely lost on the way to the castle, putting them squarely back into last place.

So we get another double U-turn this week and neither team who took the opportunity to use it, used it on Team Tricky! I couldn't believe it! Neither could they! Bert & Ernie used it on Bill and Cathi because they just wanted to win the leg and to give them some breathing room to do it. Honestly, it looked like Ernie was gonna pass on using it again, but Cindy was not having it. After losing first by inches last time, I understand that she wanted to increase their lead and get the win. It actually didn't effect where Out-To-Pasture finished, but Bill and Cathi's u-turn of Laurence and Zac contributed to them getting eliminated.

Lots of navigation issues this week. Footballers Lives got lost on the way to the Roadblock. TODC got lost on the way to the Detour and Team Nemo, most detrimentally, got very lost on the way to the Pit Stop.

I don't buy that Team Tricky couldn't have beaten Out-To-Pasture to the mat. They must have believed that Cindy & Ernie had already won the leg and that second or third wasn't gonna make that much of a difference. It seems like a crazy thing to assume, (Bert & Ernie could've also gotten lost en route to the Pit Stop) but I can't believe that Bill and Cathi can beat those two in a foot race and they arrived in the parking lot at basically the same time.

We learned over the course of the roadblock that Bill and Cathi met in middle school and married the day they graduated college. Cindy and Ernie met over shots in a bar. I like both these couples very much. I still  can't imagine Bill and Cathi winning, but they are posting consistent front-of-the-pack finishes now. They could make it to the final.

Team Nemo seemed finished while they were still racing. I don't think they had Killer Fatigue per se, but they were just not mentally in the game. Too many mistakes for far too long.  No real expressed passion to hang around. No emotional reaction to being eliminated. No real emotional arc to their relationship for the season. For such accomplished sailors, the wind was definitely taken out of their sails weeks ago.They seemed content to stop where they were. The rigors of the Race were not for them. They weren't unpleasant, but I won't miss them in the field.

Next week: Acting Lessons! Tea Cup Rides! SPEEDOS. Body building poses. I'll tell you right now Bill even at his advanced age has a better body than you or me. Basically, he could be in the Immortals. Or Captain America. Jeez. Only 5 teams remain! Onward, Racers!

A Year Without Cookies - Week 45

(The Higher Learning of Bad Eating Habits)

Another week marked down in the books. We are almost there! I can feel it more and more as a reality. I can remember a time long ago in college when I would consistently eat Chips Deluxe chocolate chip cookies and a can of Mug root beer for BREAKFAST (yet still to this day, no cavities!) and look at me now! Being 45 weeks in, it feels like the time has flown by, but those early months certainly didn't feel that way. The constant cravings. The addiction dreams. I just have to get through the next two food-based holidays and then life can get back to a new normal. What will that new normal be? I was talking about it with a friend earlier today, and I will certainly reincorporate cookies and soda into my diet, but in a more measured way. They won't be the foundation of my diet as they were in the past.

That's all for now. Week 46 is coming up fast. I forget how quickly these last few holiday season weeks all rush together. I need to start thinking about gifts and ornaments and non-cookie desserts to bring for Thanksgiving Dinner. Mmmm... it's almost Turkey Time!! Gobble gobble gobble all those non-cookie foods!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Amazing Race 19 - Leg 7 Recap!

(Awkward Photo Finish - Andy and Tommy edge out Cindy and Ernie for 1st Place at the mat. But will this short-term gain come back to haunt them in the long run?)

Episode Seven Fake Title: All The Fight Has Gone Out of Them

Starting City: Kumbali Village, Malawi
Pit Stop City: Salima District, Malawi
1st Place: Team Tricky   Reward: 15K Gift Card
2nd: Team Bert & Ernie
3rd: Team Out-To-Pasture
4th: Team Footballers Lives
5th: Team Nemo
6th: That Other Dating Couple
Last Place: The Squabblings -Eliminated!

Roadblock: One team member drives a bicycle taxi, taking a customer carrying fish to one of three different destinations written on tags on the fish. After they dropped off their customer, they take the fare and bring it back to the bus station to trade in their earnings to the dispatcher for their next clue. How far they actually have to travel is unclear, but it looks like some racers go off in the wrong direction for quite some time. Jennifer from the Squabblings lost the leg on this task. After she found her fish location and got the money she realized she left her clue with her brother and didn't know what to do next. Instead of going back to the dispatcher to get the clue (which was what she was supposed to do anyway) she just stood still, hoping another team would come by.. They didn't. And after what seemed like a VERY long time, she finally went back, but by then it was too late to catch up. Amazingly, the siblings didn't fight about it all. As soon as they start getting along, they get cut! Sadness.

Detour: A choice between Dugout and Lugout. In Dugout, teams participated in a canoe race on Lake Malawi using traditional canoes (read: heavy, difficult to paddle) to go out far into the lake and circle around a buoy and then paddle back to shore to receive their clue. In Lugout, teams had to wade out to a ferryboat on the lake and unload cargo and passengers (!!) from the ferry by carrying them to shore. The list went: two boxes of cabbage, two bundles of sugar cane, two bundles of brooms, one chair, one fan, and eight passengers, before they received their clue from the boat's porter. The Lugout task was insane. As hard as it was to operate the canoes it was SOOO much harder to carry eight adults back to shore without anyone getting wet. I have no idea why Amani and Marcus chose to do this one over the simpler canoeing. Marcus looked WRECKED afterwards, and that's a strong dude right there.

Speed Bump: Before the Roadblock, Footballers Lives had to solve a slide puzzle that, when completed properly, looked like the Malawian flag. It seemed to take them awhile. Those things can be tricky, especially if you feel crunched for time. I wanted to push them out of the way and do it myself. I love slide puzzles.

Also of Note This Week: It seemed like there was a drastic temperature change throughout the day in Malawi. People were wearing layers and you could see their breath in the morning, but by the afternoon they were kayaking on the beach and it looked HOT. It made me wonder what time of year it was during filming. or if that's just how it normally goes in Malawi.

The episode interviews told us that Justin is gay and that his sister is supportive of him and loves him. I immediately became nervous that having them become mutli-dimensional characters who got over their initial racing problems meant they were not long for the race. Sadly, I was right. But I'm glad that Justin is out and proud and supported by his family and I'm glad he did not blame his sister for their elimination when she obviously felt terrible about how she slowed them down.

Tonight featured a Double U-Turn - where you can force a team that's behind you to complete both U-Turn options instead of just one before they can advance. Three things of note here. 1) Lots of teams seem hesitant to U-Turn people, citing that it's a not nice tactic and you make unnecessary enemies, but I would TOTALLY stick to a competitive team if I got to the U-turn before them and definitely if I was in the back of the pack and needed to create some space with the team behind me. Take out your competition! Team Bert & Ernie had a chance to take Team Tricky down a peg and make them do the second Detour. They opted not to do it. Team Tricky paid them back by running as hard as they could to beat Bert & Ernie to the mat for their 5th (FIFTH! in seven legs!!) leg win. Bert & Ernie were NOT pleased. It wasn't a very chivalrous move on Tricky's part. I get their competitive spirit, but they've won a lot, and it was just one leg. Careful boys, there's more than one way to make unnecessary enemies on this Race.

2) Team Nemo was toward the back of the pack and U-Turn'ed Footballers Lives. Unfortunately in terms of strategy, Footballers Lives was already ahead of them and the U-Turn was wasted. What is with Team Nemo?? They just can't get it together. I don't understand their decision making process at all. It's almost like they never watched the show before racing. I just don't get it.

3) The U-Turn Station is now all high tech like you are ordering a Blockbuster Express movie from a vending machine instead of just sticking a cardboard picture of the team to a U-Turn sign. I don't know if this technological upgrade was really necessary. It sure looked weird in the middle of such an undeveloped area as the lakeside beach of Malawi.

Team Bert & Ernie used the Express Pass they won in the first leg to skip the canoeing. Unfortunately, they could not find the "Jamaica Shop" to get their next clue to the pit stop and, as mentioned before, got overtaken by Team Tricky only a few feet away from the Pit Stop mat. So the Express Pass is now out of play. Let's hope that eating challenge never shows up!

Team Out-To-Pasture keeps showing themselves a much stronger team than That Other Dating Couple despite the decades between them in age. Out-To-Pasture might be older but they are definitely wiser, with much better communication skills. Over on TODC, Sandy keeps telling Jeremy not to yell at her every time they have a disagreement. All I want to do is yell at her, "HE'S NOT EVEN YELLING AT YOU!" Seriously, he's not. She just seems really uncomfortable with any frustration or annoyance or exhaustion that creeps into his otherwise level speaking voice. I have seen people yell at their boyfriends/girlfriends on this show before. Jeremy is not even in the Top 10 of worst offenders. Not yet, at least. There's always next week!

Next week: Off to Denmark! There are bunny races! Bunnies are actually jumping miniature fences! Yes, Show! YES! Footballers Lives seem to experience airport woes. Bert & Ernie seem to rethink their U-Turn Strategy against Team Tricky when the opportunity once again presents itself. Ooh, DRAMA! Onward, Racers!

Monday, November 7, 2011

If I Win The Lottery You'll Never See Me Again...

I posted this to my facebook wall, but I wanted to leave a link to it here too. Last week, Global BC (as in British Columbia) sports anchor Barry Deley won a lottery for B.C. Children's Hospital for 2 million dollars or a new luxury home, (Take the money, Barry!) which is awesome if not exactly newsworthy, but the REALLY awesome part is that the drawing was being broadcast live by the station he worked for. He won live on the air!

He was not at the studio when it was announced, but the response of his coworkers who were behind the news desk is delightful. At first they weren't totally sure it was him, because the guy drawing the winning ticket actually read the name wrong, but as the reality of the situation settles in for them, their excitement in trying to get in touch with Barry is so sweet. Watch for yourselves!

I especially like how the female anchor has her smart phone just out of the shot presumably so she can text and check her email as soon as she's not on camera. :) I also like the way she tries to get the intercom phone away from her co-anchor who does not trust to operate it. She actually snaps her fingers at him! And the male anchor just can't believe it it happened. And the BC accents make the whole thing that much more adorable. They miss the whole sports segment talking about it! We'll never know what happened with local BC football!

It's also very sweet that Barry has a personal connection to the hospital running the lottery. as his daughter had a successful battle against leukemia seven years ago and the Deley family has been very supportive of the hospital ever since.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Year Without Cookies - Week 44

These are my friends.
See how they glisten.
See this one shine...
How he smiles in the light.
My friend.
My faithful friend...

Speak to me friend.
I'll listen.
I know, I know you've been locked
out of sight
all these years, like me
My friend...
well I've come home to find you waiting.
Home, and we're together!
And we'll do wonders.
Won't we?

This was a tough week for wanting cookies. Someone decided to truly test me by stocking the cookie jars with Nilla Wafers. Man, how I wanted a tall glass of whole milk and a dozen or so Nilla wafers for dunking.

One assumes that my cookie fast will be broken with chocolate chip cookies, but Nilla Wafers and Mallomars are also going to have their day in the sun. First Soda could go so many different ways. Root Beer? Cream Soda? Cherry Coke? Sprite? I just don't know. But I have 8 weeks left to dream about it!


(Taking it to the bridge! Onward Racers!)

Congrats to everyone who ran the ING NYC Marathon today! It's such a great event and whether it was your first time or your 20th time I applaud you taking to the streets of the five boroughs to complete your 26.2 mile journey. I'm so thankful (as I'm sure all of you are as well) that our freak snowstorm hit last weekend and not this weekend and that instead of a windy slushy nightmare, you were treated to an absolutely beautiful fall day for running!

Knowing how important it is to have cheering faces all along the race, I took the N in to Queensboro Plaza and got out to watch the masses of runners take that important turn around mile 15 up onto the 59th street bridge. Running on that bridge is tough because you are running on an incline, there are no spectators, minimal sun, maximum wind and it's just TOUGH. I was happy to take an hour and stand on the corner and wave and shout last words of encouragement as people made their way onto the bridge. The crowd was great, the cover band that was helping everybody run to some rockin' tunes was awesome and it was just a really inspiring experience.

 (Birdseye view from the elevated platform at Queensboro Plaza!)

I stood with these two women on the corner who were looking for separate people and charting their progress along the route on the iphone apps set up for the race. Those things are great. The NYC Marathon really is a the forefront in making the race a really interactive experience for spectators. I didn't see the people my new friends were there to support but I did spot Top Chef Winner Richard Blais running by as well as Survivor Winner/Amazing Race contestant Ethan Zohn amongst the runners (for the record, Blais was running ahead of Zohn, but Zohn seemed to be holding up better physically at that point in the race.) It's fun just to see people with their names on their shirts and you can scream for them and most of the time they don't actually see you, but you can see it register on their faces and sometimes it gives them a little boost of energy. That's a great feeling.

(the runners just keep coming!)

I love Race Day in New York. It's so inspiring. And it makes me realize I have been too lax in my prep up until now for the Disney Marathon in January. November now has to be all about running and writing. those are the two main focuses for the end of the year. It was great to watch the Race today and remember how gruelling it is but also how personally rewarding. I can't wait to be ready for it again!