Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year Without Cookies - Week 52. COMPLETED!!

(mmm... pass the plate!)

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In thin mints? Somoas? In trefoils?
In cups of cola?
In root beer, in Tab, in Fanta, in Sprite?

In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

How about looooove? How about loooooove?
How about love?
Or Chips Deluuuuuuuuxe?
Try Chips Deluuuuuuuuxe?


Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand snack times to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand ix hundred minutes
How do you measure the health of a woman or a man?

In truths that he learned
Or in times that he cried
In dreams which he yearned
For the sodas deniiiiiiiiied?

It's time now to chow down
For the struggle finally ends
Let's celebrate
Remember the year
then have cookies with friends!

Remember the love
(Oh you got to, you got to remember the love)
Remember the love
(And soda's a gift from up above)
Remember the love
(Share love. Give love).
Measure in love....
(Measure, measure in Chips Deluuuuuuxe!)
Seasons of love...
And Chips Deluxe....

It's been a year! I did it! It's nice to know that self-restraint is possible. Now it's over. Oh thank heaven, it's no longer 2011! Give me that plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies over there! Nom, nom, nom, so good!

The 700 Club!

(is this the little blog I carried, is this the little blog at play...?)

As 2011 comes to a close, the blog has come to a fun milestone. 700 posts! I cannot believe I have written so consistently here for 4 years. Thanks to everyone out there on the interwebs who has stopped by in the past several years to see what I had to say about whatever. Be it a theater review, or Olympics coverage, or a TV recap, or a love letter to Rafa, or my Year Without Cookies, my little google stats thing lets me know that people continue to come by. :) I always think I have the best readership because almost nobody ever leaves comments. I don't say that sarcastically. The occasional, "good post, O!" is always a treat, but I don't think I could really deal with a bunch of really intense ALL CAPS misspelled comments every time I posted about an episode of SYTYCD in which anonymous people tell me how I'm a dumbass who doesn't know anything. It's nice enough that people stop by now and then, read and go on with their day. :)

As I reach 700 today, I went back and read my original post about why I was starting to blog. It was called "Plans" and you can read it in full here. But my basic idea was this:

"I believe the Lennon quote goes: Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans. But what if you are not busy making other plans? What if there are no plans and no momentum towards making them? I am not by nature a self-planner. I mean, it's my day job to organize other people's schedules and make plans for them, but that's different. It's like with chefs who don't cook for themselves at home. Right now I have peanut butter and jelly prospects for the future.... I have lofty ideas about what I should be able to accomplish in my life and it ain't gonna happen unless I get out of my comfort zone and try new things. When I get inspired, I will follow through. Now that's my plan."

So that's where the whole title for blog came from. Reading that first post back, I am satisfied that I have continued to follow last marching order. When I get inspired now, I will follow through. And the past four years have been filled with inspiration. And love. And boredom. And anger. And comfort. And self-discovery. And objective achieved. And facing new challenges. And setting new bigger goals. In essence, making plans.

I'm glad I've developed a place where I can come write about it all. :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year Without Cookies - Supplemental: Other Dessert Sitchies

(WARNING: Objects in picture are larger than they appear!)

As the Year Without Cookies clocks down its final hours, I feel like it must be noted that while there were no cookies consumed and no sodas imbibed, it certainly wasn't a year without sweets. DEFINITELY not a year without chocolate. I probably relied more heavily on things like mini chocolate bars or mini-peanut butter cups or low-cal pudding packs to get my chocolate fix. Desserts in general are delicious, and I cannot go without them. But even so, I must have put a bit of a dent in my sugar intake by eliminating the two greatest offenders.

That being said, they serve a dessert at the Museum of Natural History that I consider simply over the top. Just looking at it gives me a sugar rush and has me reaching and inspires a Pavlovian need to reach for a glass of milk and guzzle it down. It's a brownie served on top of a cupcake. Really? I mean, REALLY? This thing is crazy. It's just too much. Of course Migu always asks me to get him one for a snack, but even if we shared it, that would be overkill. Could you imagine me trying to get him to sit down and do his homework after eating even half of one of those things? He'd be spinning around like the Tasmanian Devil.

So not all desserts are created equal - especially in terms of sugar and calorie intake. If I was going to eat this thing, I might as well just down a whole carton of Chips Ahoy's and call it a day.

Less than 48 hours to go! Woohoo!!!


Monday, December 26, 2011

A Year Without Cookies - Week 51

(Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow. Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow...) 

The Panettieri house, after Christmas dinner...

Dad: HEY, DON'T YOU WANT SOME CHRISTMAS COOKIES? EAT SOME CHRISTMAS COOKIES!
Owen: I have not eaten cookies all year.
Dad: WHAAT??
Owen: I HAVEN'T EATEN COOKIES ALL YEAR!
Dad: OH...

Neither of us is hard of hearing. We just talk LOUD.

Merry Christmas, Folks. The last largest hurdle has been jumped. Less than a week to go now.. It's almost done. There were many wonderful Christmas cookies on display this week, but I avoided them all. It was a tough one. Home-made cookies. Store-bought cookies. Somehow they always taste sweeter at the holidays.

I bought myself a post-New Year's box of Mallomars this week. Somehow they always seem to disappear from store shelves during Christmas week. So I've got those delicious treats chilling in my fridge. Less than a week to go. It finally ends!!!



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Other Christmas Gifts

 
(Soon to be found on the Island of Murderous Misfit Toys)

I was xmas shopping for my nieces last week at Barnes & Noblez and came across lots of great gift ideas for the girls. Fun and crafty toys and games were in abundance, and there were no lines! Weekday shopping is the best. Among the cool toys I found, there were even these monster Barbie doll things that seemed popular among the few shoppers there that I wound up buying, even though I thought their insanely thin arms and legs promoted poor body image (I at least bought the versions of the dolls that were wearing the most clothing so they're not totally slutty on top of starving.) Among the cute and cuddly toys section of the store, I came across a display of dolls that creeped me the eff out.

 (She is not your friend. Neither is Bunnicula sitting there next to her.)

What is up with the eyes? Maybe you can't tell from the glare on the packaging, but they have dark button eyes that make them look like Other Mother from Coraline.

(See the resemblance? Gah!)

Other Mother was a scary frightening monster! Why would you want plush dolls that looked like her? At least the slutty monster Barbies I bought don't look like they're out to murder you and eat your soul. They go to high school! Learning is fun!

Clearly I don't understand the Lalaloopsy design aesthetic. Regardless, you won't be finding these Other Xmas Gifts on this Santa's sleigh this year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice from Xena, The (Possibly) German Warrior Princess!

Everybody Loves a Good Winter Solstice - including Xena, Warrior Princess. Since Holiday-Themed episodes on TV are a must, and the events of Xena pre-dated Jesus and Christianity (mostly. Eventually the One God and Archangels and Heaven and Hell were thrown into the mix), Xena and Gabrielle instead celebrated Solstice. Since all Holiday Episodes on TV must be shout outs to older Holiday Movies, the second season of Xena featured a riff on A Christmas Carol. I tried to find a decent clip of it online to share on this special holiday occasion and youtube did not fail me. It's the whole episode dubbed in German! (At least I think it's German? Yeah, I'm gonna go with German.) How did Santa know all I wanted this year was a German Xena? Youtube is the gift that keeps on giving. Gods bless us, everyone.


Good Solstice to all, and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Amazing Race 19: Leg 12 Recap! The FINALE!

(These are the champions, my friends.)

Episode Twelve Fake Title: If We Had One Million Dollars, We Could Get Ourselves Out Of This Dump!

Starting City: Panama Viejo, Panama
Pit Stop City: Hotlanta, Georgia USA! USA!

1st Place: Team Bert & Ernie  Reward: $1 Million
2nd: That Other Dating Couple
3rd: Footballers Lives

Roadblock: One team member had to type out the team's next clue by using an old-school typewriter. It had to be free of mistakes and the paper had to have been loaded correctly so the message was straight on the page. The typewriters did not have a 1 key, so the person typing had to figure out that the lower-case l was the same shape. This task was lame. I mean, it was sorta funny to see all the teams momentarily flummoxed by a non-computer typing apparatus. And they did have to figure out that an l looks like a 1, but it's the LAST LEG. Is this a task that's really worth anyone's time? It was kind of a bust. 

Also of Note This Week: No actual Detour this week, but plenty of side tasks along the way to the finish line:

That Other Dating Couple and Bert & Ernie, lamented the final US city destination because it happened to be Atlanta, the city Footballers Lives calls home. Marcus and Amani were obviously excited to have it work out as home-field advantage, until they actually got there and almost immediately fell behind.

Once in Atlanta, teams traveled to FlightSafety International, picked a  flight instructor and then  hopped into a Learjet flight simulator. They had to successfully complete a simulated landing from an altitude of 2,500 feet to get their next clue. One team member was pilot and the other co-pilot. It seemed like this task actually took some time to complete. TODC got things done right on the very first try. It took Bert & Ernie two attempts and Footballers lives got absolutely sunk when it took them TWELVE attempts to get it right. Marcus kept veering off the runway during the landing. Amani remained patient and supportive throughout because she's amazing. Once they got stuck at the flight simulation, Footballers Lives was out of contention for the win for good.

The clue from FlightSafety, told teams to go to "the residence formerly known as 'The Dump'" That's a reference to the house of Margaret Mitchell, which the teams had to figure out on their own, and was the site of the typewriter Roadblock. Somewhat hilariously, That Other Dating Couple actually wound up at a giant used furniture store in Atlanta called The Dump. They spent so much time there that they too fell out of contention for the win. The last few seasons ended in very close finishes, so it was kind of bizarre that it became obvious so early in the hour that Ernie and Cindy were clearly going to win.

After the Roadblock, teams had to figure out the numbers in the typed-out clue had to do with Hank Aaron:and had to go to Turner Field, and the parking lot where Aaron's 715th home run is commemorated. Once there they had to deal with a large vertical map and climb along it, tracing the Race course by looping a rope through a series of carabiners on the map. The countries were not labeled. One team member worked on the map while their partner could shout directions from the ground. Teams were not allowed to use notes while working on the task. Cindy took the task for her team and sailed through it. The other teams were still so far behind that there was little suspense. Man, final legs in previous seasons were MUCH tougher than this.

The Amazing Race editors tried to make the ending look closer than it was by making it seem like Cindy and Ernie were getting screwed up by the taxi driver's constantly recalculating GPS, but TODC were too far behind after their trip to The Dump. So Team Bert & Ernie wins! They plan to use the money to build a company that will save the world. Hooray! The world is saved!

I am actually content with a Bert & Ernie win. I looked back at my early predictions and thought they'd be Top Half, so it's good enough for me!

But... I do think overall this Race was easier than those in the past. I can't recall any needle-in-a-hay-stack challenges (after the very first task), giant puzzles, eating challenges, physical endurance challenges or extreme sport challenges. It was a lot of go from A to B, do something pretty pedestrian, keep on moving. The speed bumps were super easy. The Hazard came and went with little fanfare. It seemed like the Unfinished Business season last Spring was a lot tougher. I mean, I appreciate the Race going to new locations this season, I just wish the actual challenges within the Race were more... challenging. This might be the first season where Killer Fatigue never set in for any team out there. I think that's a sign that the Race needs to take it up a notch for Season 20. I still love the show, and generally enjoyed the season. I think they cast it with very agreeable teams this year. So that's a plus. I have faith the show can recapture the magic of previous seasons. Just remember this formula, Show. Likable teams + varied foreign locations + difficult challenges = a successful season. I will still be watching in the Spring. Onward Racers!

A Year Without Cookies - Week 50

(The Last Delicious Temptation of O)

FIFTY WEEKS! Very nice, O. Very nice. It's just the final two hurdles of Christmas Week and New Years Week and we're done.We can build this dream together. Standing strong forever. Nothing's gonna stop us now.

Yet temptations abound. I was in my boss's house this past week and there were homemade cookies and I was told I could "eat as many as I want." I honestly don't know if my boss is even remotely aware that I've been on my Year Without Cookies and how close I am to finishing. It must have come up at the office at some point, but I don't think he's that conscious of it. He was probably just trying to be a good host. Unless he's trying to undermine me right at the end. Neither option would surprise me. He sometimes likes his psychological games!

I did take a good hard look at what I was missing. . oh, home made cookies look so good! They are much harder to turn down than store-bought cookies. Still, none were consumed. I'm sure they will come to haunt me in my dreams.

Soon we will be down to single digit days! AAAAHHH!!!!!!






Tuesday, December 13, 2011

They Called It Puppy Love

(Someone is not taking the loss of this cute-ums pup seriously.)

So I'm ashamed that when I saw this flyer hanging on the wall of the elevated subway platform last week, my initial reaction was something along the lines of, "They want their dog back, even if it's dead? They would give money to the person who returned it dead? Would they give more money if it was still alive? There must be an incentive to not killing the dog before getting the money, right? Unless they are following some kind of Pee Wee's Big Adventure philosophy where the person who returns the dog is obviously the person who stole him originally, so he/she doesn't deserve any reward!"

And then of course I thought about it for two more seconds and realized some asshole must've scrawled "Dead of Alive" on the poster just to be funny/cruel. So I am ashamed I was momentarily confused by this defacing of a Lost Dog flyer. The little guy is super cute and I hope the family that lost him gets him back - alive, please - this Holiday season.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Year Without Cookies - Week 49

(yum! yum! gimme some!)



This week, I was walking through CVS and came across the display shown above in the cookie aisle. Soon all of this will be mine again!


Week 49! I can't believe it. On-Maternity-Leave Co-Worker Suki came by the office this week and while we mooned over her totally cute-ums baby girl we both marveled over the fact that the year was almost over and I was actually going to make it. It's very exciting to be right at the end, my friends. Very exciting indeed.

My time in the cookie aisle reminded me that I have so many tasty options to sort through on my eventual Cookie Reunion Tour. I assume I will first go for chocolate chip cookies, because that only makes sense. And I have to buy myself a box of Mallomars this week to keep in my fridge for the beginning of 2012. It's too hard to find them after the holidays.But after those kinds are gobbled up, there are so many more varieties at the ready. Woohoo!

Next Week: We're at 50. FIFTY!! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I LOVE it! At this point, I might become a licensed joyologist.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Amazing Race 19: Leg 11 Recap!

(Not pictured: Front Runners & Obvious Finalists, Team Tricky. Oh... wait...)


Episode Eleven Fake Title: Someone Called and Now He Knows Something and We're Going Somewhere.*

*-actual quote from Cindy as three teams race blindly toward what they hope is the Pit Stop. Welcome to the Semi finals!

Starting City: Brussels, Belgium (Again)
Pit Stop City: Panama Viejo Panama

1st Place: That Other Dating Couple   Reward: Trip to Turks & Caicos
2nd: Team Bert & Ernie
3rd: Footballers Lives
Last Place: Team Tricky - Eliminated!

Roadblock: One team member had to cross a tightrope between the San Francisco Bay Towers in Panama. The  rope was 35 stories high and 65 feet cross. Giant safety harnesses were used. Nobody seemed to fall of the wire. Boo! Not that I wanted them die! Remember I mentioned the safety harnesses!

Detour: A choice between Fillet and Sole. In Sole, the more popular task, teams traveled to the Salsipuedes Market where they had use a piece of leather to make the sole and strapping for a pair of sandals for a customer. Once a cobbler cleared their work, teams would receive their next clue. In Fillet, teams traveled to Panama's largest fish market, El Mercado de Mariscos, where they had to deliver fish (using their hands) to different marked stalls each only only accepting a certain kind of fish, and a certain weight. Once they were done with their deliveries, the fishmonger would give them their next clue. Footballers Lives were the only team to do Fillet even though their cabby brought them first to Sole. This was the first example of how the cabbies were trying to work together to get the teams to the same places without really listening to the teams. Personally, when dealing with a bunch of crazy American tourists who don't know where they're going and have cameras following them, it seems like a sensible approach on their part.

Also of Note This Week: I kinda thought the Detour and the Roadblock were kinda lame this week. Making sandals? Carrying fish? Walking on a rope? Meh. We're trying to get to the finals here!

Before getting out of Brussels, teams had to dress up as the two bumbling detective characters from the Tintin comics and figure out their names. There were three options, and teams covered all of them.  Thomson and Thompson,  Dupond and Dupont, and Johnson and Johnston. I guess as detectives they have aliases. Then, they had to find a man dressed as Tintin standing in front of the Tintin mural at the metro station (Belgium loves Tintin!) and tell him who they were dressed as in order to receive their next clue.Team Tricky thought they were Charley Chaplin. Oof. No. They even knew that had nothing to do with Tintin and still went with it. This was the first of a few bad decisions on their part this leg.

Once they got to Parara Puru in Panama, teams signed up for times to receive a temporary tattoo the next morning. The tattoo would give them their next location: the San Francisco Bay Towers in Panama City. This was also kind of random and inconsequential. Go for REAL tattoos! Now that I'd be interested in watching!

At Cathedral Square, teams had to find the name or image of the Pit Stop (Panamá Viejo) in the dresses and jewelry of dancers in the plaza: This was kinda tough because the racers didn't know exactly what they were looking for. It seemed like only one of the dancers had the actual words written on her dress and most of the time she seemed to be holding her skirt in a way that obscured the actual words. Team Tricky, who got their first with a sizable lead, misinterpreted the words on the jewelry and think it has something to do with Balboa. That leads them on a wild goose chase to the Panama Canal and then to a statue of Balboa at Avenida Balboa, both of which are wrong. The other three teams arrive at the Square pretty much together and though TODC gets the best information about the Pit Stop, once all the teams go back to the cabs, the three cabbies talk over the phone and decide where they are supposed to go and how best to get the teams there. Again, I think this has less to do with the cabbies caring about it being a race and the teams competing against each other and much more to do with them coming to a consensus as to where they, as drivers, ought to go since their passengers are so clueless. Eventually, the three teams DO get to the Pit Stop ahead of Team Tricky, so the Snowboarders fall from first to worst and get eliminated.

I'm actually okay with Team Tricky exiting. They certainly have enough fabulous parting gifts from winning so many previous legs. They would've been heavy favorites to win had they made it to the final leg, but now we have three pretty evenly-matched teams heading into the finals. TODC have not been particularly strong on any leg, but I believed they would completely collapse under Killer Fatigue awhile ago and they did not. Bert & Ernie are solid competitors but almost always mess up right at the end of a leg and lose first place so we'll see if they can beat the odds in that regard when it matters most. Then there's Footballers Lives who work great together, are solid competitors in tasks but can't seem to navigate themselves anywhere when driving is involved. If they have to drive themselves anywhere toward the end of the last leg, I would not count on them pulling through. Luckily the last leg usually involves a lot of taxis. I guess that's so contestants don't cause accidents as they drive recklessly toward a million dollar paycheck.

Next Week: This one's for all the money! Panama to the U.S of A. Dating Couple. Engaged Couple. Married Couple. Someone's bringing home that check! None of the teams have been heinous to each other throughout the race, so I'm okay with however it plays out.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spain wins 2011 Davis Cup!

 (The Reign in Spain falls mainly on every plain.)

Congrats to Our Hero, Rafa Nadal and his Spanish teammates for winning the Davis Cup trophy this weekend over Argentina. This marks their 5th Davis Cup Trophy in the past 12 years and 3rd on the last 4 years. Clearly, the depth of the Spanish roster has been quite impressive over the past decade to produce such consistent results. It's also a very nice way to end the season for Nadal, who had a rough go of it at the ATP World Finals last week and suffered a string of tough defeats in Finals throughout 2011.

 (Rafa grabs Monaco's ass, before handing it back to him in the first match of the tie.)

This weekend he absolutely thrashed Juan Monaco in the first rubber 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 and then held off a strongly contested Juan Martin Del Potro in the 4th match  1-6. 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (0). In between, David Ferrer came back against DelPo in the second rubber 6-2, 6-7 (2), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to give Spain a 2-0 lead and then David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank won a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory Saturday over  Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez keeping Argentina's hopes alive, but still on the brink of elimination.

Spain hasn’t lost on clay in Davis Cup for 23 ties, and holds the record at 21straight on home soil.

Argentina was trying for its first Davis Cup trophy in its fourth final.
Always the Bridesmaid in Argentina! :( I'm very glad Rafa got to win 2 points for his team and his country. I hope these wins inspire him to come back in 2012 with renewed aggression and determination to win. 4 Grans Slams await, plus the Olympics in London! Time for Rafa to be #1 in the world again!! Vamos!!


A Year Without Cookies - Week 48

(Happy Minty Holidays!)

Wow. Week 48? Is there really so little time left in 2011? It has all just been flying by. It still doesn't feel quite like Christmas. Maybe it's the climate changey high temps in the 50's and 60's in NYC. Maybe when I get my tree next weekend it will start to hit home that I have to buy gifts for people. This week marked the arrival of some Christmas candies - not cookies! - that I ordered from a couple of co-workers' kids in their annual school drive months and months ago. Delicious mint chocolates! yum yum yum! I am planning to rely on Andes Candies to get me through the holidays. Andes Candies always make me think of my Grandparents. They knew quality chocolate treats!

The long runs have finally started kicking in (and kicking my ass) with Marathon training. I'm so glad i'll have empty cookie calories to enjoy the week prior to the race. And I really miss having a nice tall glass of Sprite with my carbo-loading pasta dinners. Soon. SOOOOON!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Amazing Race 19 - Leg 10 Recap!

(Mmm... Delicious Detour! Cindy and Ernie make the most out of a truly tasty challenge.)

Episode Ten Fake Title: The Untrue Pigeon

Starting City: Brussels, Belgium
Pit Stop City:  ...Brussels, Belgium? We didn't go very far, did we?

1st Place: Team Tricky   Reward: Customized Ford Mustangs!
2nd: That Other Dating Couple
3rd: Team Bert & Ernie
4th: Footballers Lives
Last Place: Team Out-To-Pasture - Eliminated!

Roadblock: One team member had to test drive a Ford Mustang. Teams first had to accelerate to 100 mph and then brake at a designated spot. They then had to go through a slalom course within 16 seconds and without hitting a giant airbag, and then finally two victory doughnuts before they received their next clue. I would not have liked the slalom. That's not really my speed. Pardon the pun. Andy seemed very jealous that Tommy got to do the Roadblock for his team, but then he prayed that the Lord would take away his negativity and it lifted right off of him. I think maybe he could've gotten over it without Divine intervention. But that's just me.

Detour: A choice between Water and Waffle. In Water, teams used provided materials (pontoons, rope, and wood) to build a raft and paddle down the Lieve canal for two halves to their next clue. In Waffle, teams had to build a waffle stand and then bake and decorate 18 Belgian waffles to the chef's satisfaction before receiving their next clue.I definitely would've chosen the waffles. At this point in the race, I would not have had the patience to try to build a giant raft that could conceivably fall apart in the river. On the other hand, making lots of waffles (and conceivably snacking on a few that weren't up to presentational standard) sounds much more up my alley. That Other Dating Couple had two waffles arranged in the wrong order

Also of Note This Week:  After being spared elimination (again) at the the end of the last leg, Bill and Cathi did not even have to complete a speed bump this week. It didn't really help though as they couldn't get out of last place for the rest of the leg. They got close, but navigation issues kept holding them back.

At Muur van Geraardsbergen, teams released 100 homing pigeons and then were given an address to chase the pigeons to. Once there, teams would be able to retrieve their next clue from one of the pigeons. The address was not as far as some teams seemed to think it would be. Signage in the town might have been bad as well as Team Bert & Ernie got very lost and went from 1st to 3rd. That Other Dating Couple actually had one of their best legs to the huge surprise of yours truly. By the time Bill and Cathi got there it was too late at night to release the pigeons, so they just got the address of the other destination and drove themselves there to get the next clue.

Bill and Cathi got a nice Greatest Moments edit at their elimination. There was falling. There was flirting. There was a lot of love and support as they got lost driving. There was hard-body weightlifting posing. These two came across as lovely people who were definitely life partners in every sense of the words. I'm glad they lasted so long so we got to know them better. Nice Race, Bill and Cathi. Nice Race, indeed.

Next Week: We leave Belgium! We head to Panama! There is walking outside way up high between buildings. The fight is on to reach the Final 3! Onward, Racers!