The Daily Bongo

April 2005

Saturday, April 30, 2005 -- Evening

For the first time since 1955, Chelsea won the England Premiership. The team has a 14 point lead over Arsenal that gives them the win. Last summer Chelsea came to Pittsburgh for a exhibition soccer match against AS Roma that was really enjoyable, and I started cheering them on at that point. Winning the England Premiership basically means that Chelsea has won the title of best soccer team in England this year, and will go on to compete for the overall and European championship.

It didn't take long for Chevy Troutman was told to give it up by the Washington Redskins. It seems that the try out did not go well. In the past, Chevy has said that he really wasn't interested in playing football, and he obviously doesn't really understand the game. As Chevy said, when he was having the ball thrown at him, it was "like looked like Spanish or something". I think that the only reason he went to try out for the Redskins was to have a job. I wonder why he doesn't try for the European league in basketball. Well, now that I say that, I have to admit that I have heard that the European leagues really want quality players. As we have seen with the showings in the Olympics last year, the European teams don't suck. I suppose that Chevy's options at this point are to learn football, try for the European league, or get a high school coaching job.

Saturday, April 30, 2005 -- Morning

The big news this morning is the story about the runaway bride. I think that what this woman did was awful. A few days before she is to be married, she leaves the house with only an mp3 player to say she is going jogging. Well, what would you think? That she was killed. Nope, she plotted and planned to runaway, and let her family and friends think that she was murdered or something. Police say at this point they have no plans to charge her, but there should be some sort of punishment for what she put her family through, and for the efforts that the police and others put into finding her. Also, she initially claimed that she was abducted. Granted, she does have some psychological problems, but that doesn't lessen what she did. Her fiance made some remarks earlier on Fox and Friends the morning show on FoxNews where he said that he was fine with either of the two outcomes of this situation. Either she was in heaven or she was coming back. When I heard that, and based on pictures of him not looking too upset during the search, I was sure that he was a murderer. I have to admit that his comments that he was okay with either outcome--dead or alive--disturbed me. If I were engaged to this guy, I'd be openly leaving. What a comment! Your fiance goes missing, and you say "I'm okay with her being dead and in heaven." I would rather hear "I'm not okay with her being dead, and will hunt down her murderer." But then everything is okay because she was just a psycho running away.

Scientists are now saying that a photograph of a red dot by star in the constellation of Hydra, which is 230 light years from Earth is indeed a planet. There has been some question about whether the image is indeed that of a planet, but spectroscopic readings on the object shows water in the atmosphere which implies that it is a cold object and not a hot object, So that means that it must be a planet. The size of this new planet is five times the size of Jupiter.

The Mars Rover, Opportunity, is stuck in a patch of sand on Mars. The operators of Opportunity think that they can get it unstuck, but it may take a bit of time. It seems that this sort of thing has happened with the rovers in the past, so that's why the scientists are hopeful. This happened right after Opportunity had found two, small intact craters.

Friday, April 29, 2005 -- Afternoon

The space shuttle will not be launching July. It seems that there are still issues with the fuel tank, and the shuttle managers don't feel comfortable with a launch date in the next two months. It seems that there is still an accummulation of ice on the outside of the external tank, and NASA is afraid that this might break away during the launch and cause problems as it did last time with Columbia.

Thursday, April 28, 2005 -- Evening

Some folks think that Constantine Maroulis may have the last laugh. It seems that advance sells on the CD that his band Pray for the Soul of Betty took off after Constantine was voted off the show, and Amazon now has the CD listed at number 2 on the most wanted list. It seems that there are also websites that encourage people to go out and vote for the worst performer/singer of the bunch. This may be how Scott Savol is getting votes.

Thursday, April 28, 2005 -- Afternoon

The latest news on the American Idol is that Bo Bice was busted for felony cocaine possession in 2001. He had a second arrest for marijuana possession and public intoxication in 2003. The charges were dropped, however, after the arresting officer did not appear at the hearing. Before the charges on the felony charge were brought back, Bo offered to go into a drug diversion program.

Amos Oz, Israeli writer, has won the 2005 Goethe cultural award for his life's work. Amos Oz was born in Jerusalem in 1939, and has written 18 books and 450 articles and essays over the years. He is also known for his work with the peace movement in Israel. Here is a list of books by Amos Oz.

Thursday, April 28, 2005 -- Morning

All over America, folks are in disbelief that Constantine Maroulis was voted off last night. Personally, I think that something is fishy in all of this. You don't go from getting 34 million votes over the voting cycle, and never being in the bottom three to ousted so quickly. As I commented yesterday, I kept on getting a busy signal as I called. What would really suck for the show would be if somehow Scott Savol winds up being the American Idol. Constantine will be a-okay though. He had enough of a chance to show his talent, and will probably be picked up for something. I would imagine that he would probably get some sort of acting gig to take advantage of his performance skills.

Deep Impact has gotten its first glimpse of Comet Tempel 1 that it will be landing on July 4. The craft send back a photo of the comet on April 25. The picture is on the Deep Impact homepage. So it seems as if things are on target for that project.

Chevy Troutman, graduating senior from the Pitt Basketball team, is going to try out for the Washington Redskins football team. It seems that this is an option sometimes for basketball players who may not be able to make it to the NBA. Antonio Gates has made a success for himself this way, and Chevy is hoping to do the same.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 -- Evening

Here's the listing of the songs that were sung last night on American Idol. So tonight was vote off night on the show. Now I wonder how they are going to drag this one out. Pamela Anderson was in the audience. They had the usual group sing of Cry Me a River. It sucks when they sing off key, or don't sing together well. Boyz II Men they ain't. Of course, they had the Ford commercial. This one was cute with Anthony Federov controlling a remote car while in various types of camouflage while the others chase after the car. They are split the groups again. Vonzell Solomon is on one side of the stage, and Carrie Underwood on the other. Carrie is joined by Bo Bice, and Anthony Fedorov joins Vonzell. Then we have a commercial break. Where do Scott Savol and Constantine Maroulis go? Both went to stand by Carrie and Bo. Anthony and Vonzell were in the bottom group. Constantine was also in the bottom group! I was really shocked because I kept on calling last night, and the line was always busy for Constantine. Vonzell was sent to sit down, and the bottom two were Anthony and Constantine. There is another commercial break, and the only information that we have is that 34 million votes have been made over time for the person who is leaving tonight. I'm beginning to think it might be Constantine, and I am feeling quite abit of shock. I just can not believe that Scott is not in the bottom three. He must have a large fan base, or family with good redial fingers. Finally we have the results. The lowest person was Constantine. Paula Abdul looked really upset. I am in total shock because I have to admit that in the two hours after the show, the line was constantly busy! Paula started to get teary eyed when Ryan Seacrest asked if she was in shock. I am really shocked, and admit that I just sent an email off to Fox about it because I was putting in my vote yesterday, and constantly kept on getting a busy signal.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 -- Afternoon

Paula Abdul has released a statement about the special that ABC is releasing. Basically Paula said that she won't dignify the comments by Corey Clark that they have had an affair. Her lawyer also supposedly has threatened to sue ABC if they go ahead with the show. Simon Colwell, in the meantime, has been defending Paula saying that she does spend alot of time encouraging the contestants, and trying to give them as much help as possible. It will be interesting to see where this all goes.

The Bond producers are keeping mum, but word is leaking that Pierce Brosnan will be back as Bond in the next movie. Dame Judi Dench has already signed up for the next movie, and has let it slip that Pierce will be back too. Dame Judi says the announcement will be made in the summer, but the production company still has a wait and see attitude.

The folks who were in the final 10 on American Idol will be touring the US this summer. The dates are from July 12 to September 10, and tickets will start going on sale on May 20. The tour will be in Pittsburgh on Sept. 3 at the Mellon Arena.

Today was the funeral for Sir John Mills. His children were in attendance along with a number of others such as Roger Moore, Judi Dench, and Richard Attenborough.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 -- Morning

I wasn't the only one who wasn't too impressed with the performances on American Idol last night. In fact, it seems that some felt that Constantine did worse than I thought. I'm glad that I put in a few votes for him last night. I think at this point, it's not a matter of one night's singing. You get a better feel for what the person can do after seeing them in multiple performances, so an off night doesn't matter. It's a matter of fan base at this point. Who has managed to generate the largest number of fans?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 -- Evening

It's competition night on American Idol. There are only six performers left now. The theme this week was songs from 2000 to the present day. First we went to Carrie Underwood home, and saw what she does on the farm with the cows and fishing. She's the youngest in the family, and we got to see her with all of her animals. Carrie sang a country song that I didn't recognize. Her hair was very straight this time. As for the song, I suppose that she did a good job with it. The problem that I had was that I didn't recognize the song, so it was hard for me to get into it. However, I think that she did okay. My boyfriend, however, thought it sucked! As for the judges, Randy thought that the good part was the return to her country roots. Randy thought though that her pitch was not with the band, and that it was too low. Paula said that Carrie should pick songs that show her personality like the country stuff, but that didn't showcase her vocals. Simon said that he doesn't think that it matters because the folks who like country will absolutely love her--even though he doesn't understand it. It seems the song was a Martina McBride song.
Clay Aiken was in the audience, and it was surprising because I thought he wasn't liked by the American Idol folks. Next up was Bo Bice. We saw his home town of Helena Alabama. He also has pets, and a girlfriend named Caroline. It seems that Bo has 12 guitars and collects them. His mom is surprisingly young looking. We also saw pictures of him with the band and with shorter hair. Bo was looking very hippish today with sunglasses, and an African style shirt. I didn't recognize his song either. I guess that he did a nice job with it. It was one of those things where you don't recognize it, so it's really hard to get into the song and performance. The audience really got carried away. Randy said that what he loves about Bo is that he is honest and true, and he's a true rock star. The song was "I don't want to be anyone other than me". Paula thought he was incredible. Simon said he was strong, but there was a down side, and said that he shouldn't wear the Lenny Kravitz sunglasses.
Third was Vonzell Solomon. She comes from Fort Myers, Florida. She used to be a mail carrier. We saw Vonzelle in her dad's martial arts class, and we saw her cracking boards with her fist. We also got to meet her voice teacher and her brothers. She sang another song that I didn't recognize. It was a slow, ballad. Her voice was cracking on the lower parts. When it picked up in tempo, she did a much better job. I don't think ballads are her thing. She didn't do a bad job, but she didn't do a good job either. Randy said that for the second week in a row, Vonzelle choose the most difficult song, and did a nice job. Randy said he was proud of her performance. Paula said that she was nervous when she heard the song, but that Vonzelle nailed it and has a bonechilling way of connecting with the audience. Simon said that he had a horrible feeling it wasn't as good as they thought, and thought it was flat at the beginning. As he said, it was noisy in the audience, but that he thought it was flat.
Fourth was Anthony Fedorov, and we got a preview that he was going to be doing a Celine Dion song. Heather Locklear was in the audience, and one of her daughters said that she liked Anthony. He came from Trevose, PA. which is outside of Philadelphia. He came from the Ukraine. He couldn't sing as a young boy, and he sure as heck can't sing now! He said that his one dream was to become a singer. He wore a suit today, and the song was a ballad that, again, I didn't recognize. He didn't do as bad as I thought that he would though. I'm not saying that his voice was the best, but it wasn't very bad. Randy said that he has trouble with the low notes, but that he does good with the high notes. Paula thought that Anthony's vocals grew with the song, and that it was his best performance. Simon said that he hated it, and he said that Anthony nailed the song for folks who would like the type of music that they feel that Anthony sings well.
Next came Constantine Maroulis. We saw his family in New York. He is Greek Orthodox, and said that when he was a kid, he would be picked on because of his name--Constantine. Gosh, he sang a song that I knew, but the name just eluded me. "This is how you remind me of what I really am". Geeze, what is it? It was a rock song, and he rocked with it. I think that he has such stage presence, that it doesn't matter how he sounds. Randy said that he was happy for him that he has female fans and that it was like being in a bar and hearing an interchangeable singer who is just going out for the performance and not the singing. Paula said that Constantine is the only one who can do all genres, and that Constantine is an amazing performer. Simon said that it was a difficult week this week. Simon thought that it was a very bad imitation of the original. It wasn't his best performance, but I am like those teen girls who love Constantine.
Last up was Scott Savol. I was interested in seeing his hometown because he projects this image of being black rapper. Scott comes from Shaker Heights, Ohio. It looks like his girlfriend may be black, so maybe he gets that way of talking from his girlfriend. Scott sang this song that I didn't recognize, and his voice was really out of tune. It was the worst performance of the bunch. If he makes it past on this song... Anyway, Randy said that it was Scott's weakest performance, and that he was very pitchy. Even Paula didn't have anything positive to say, but she blamed the song choice. Simon said "I'd pack a suitcase tonight." We can only hope.
I say that Scott should go this week because he really did a poor job this week. I hate to say it because I like him, but I think that Constantine and Carrie might also be in the bottom three. Although you can never tell with Anthony.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 -- Morning

What would you do in the following situation? You have committed a crime, and you have to pay a fine or go to jail. The judge gives you an option: give your season tickets to your favorite sports team to charity or go to jail for 90 days. Which would you choose? Well, a woman in Green Bay has that option. The woman worked for a labor union, and before she quit, she stole $3,000 from the membership to pay household bills she said. She was caught, and the judge sentenced her to pay back the money. Well, the woman said that it was a financial hardship, so the judge said 90 days in jail, or give up the next season's tickets to charity. The woman says that the tickets are her husband's. So it appears there is no decision yet. I know that I might take the jail time. It's only 90 days, and if you love your sports team, you might prefer the jail time to giving up the tickets. It's ironic that it's for the Green Bay Packers. Their fans are truly fanatic, and are the infamous Cheeseheads.

Monday, April 25, 2005 -- Evening

I just finished watching the second and last episode of Murder at the Vicarage. I enjoyed the show, and thought that the characters were very believable. The ending was abit more abrupt than I would have liked. All of a sudden Miss Marple appears, and goes through a lengthy dialogue where the solution is presented to the Detective Sargent. All I will say is that the murderer was not the one that I suspected. Alot of people had problems with the fact that so much time and effort was spent on showing Miss Marple's former love affair with a married man, but I think that the reasons for that were wrapped up very nicely at the end of the show. The only problem that I did have is that Miss Marple is presented as a young woman in the scenes with her married lover. The thing is that the time difference between the end of WWI (1918) and WWII (1045) is 27 years. If we add three years onto that total to give us some room to play, that is 30 years. A young girl of 20 would then only be in her 50s at the most, and not as old as Miss Marple. So the time frame did not work well with the Marple love affair. The book Murder at the Vicarage was published in 1930 which is yet another difference. However, those differences didn't detract from me enjoying the story. Sometimes you just have to suspend belief and enjoy the story. Next up is A Murder is Announced. The preview for the show looks interesting, and it includes Zoe Wanamaker. All in all, I have to say that I like this Miss Marple. She has a touch of the comic and light demeanor about her--a throwback to the Margaret Rutherford movies. In fact, the theme music of the show reminds me of the comic Rutherford Marples. I like the fact that Geraldine McEwan is a more active and spritely Marple. Humor shines in her eyes, and you just know that she has lived life which gives her perspective and assistance in solving murders and mysteries.

I finished reading The Serpent on the Crown last night.

ABC will be showing the American Idol expose on May 4 at 10 pm.

Monday, April 25, 2005 -- Afternoon

Statistics have been released by Zone-H that 2500 web servers are attacked or defaced each day, and that there were a total of 400,000 hacking incidents reported in 2004. That is a large number. They have found that incidences increase over the Christmas holidays, probably because of school holidays since I think the biggest perpetrators are teenage boys.

Tickets for an all day screening of all six Star Wars movies sold out in five minutes. There were 1000 tickets, called "Galactic Passports" to the screening at London's Empire Cinema on May 16.

Sunday, April 24, 2005 -- Evening

The new Dr. Who series has been doing well on the BBC. The news now is that the most evil villian in the whole series will be making a return soon. Yep, it's the return of the Daleks. They will be returning on the episode that is going to air on April 30th. The Daleks first showed up in the third episode of the first series, and have made periodic appearances over the years. If you have a fast Ethernet connection, and don't mind the quality (it looks poor to me), you can watch the episodes from the current series online.

Sunday, April 24, 2005 -- Afternoon

There is still no word yet on who will be playing Bond in the next Bond movie, but there are plenty of guys who are being considered for the role. At least, they are being considered by the popular press. So who would I consider a good Bond? My favorite Bond was Roger Moore. In fact, I started watching the Bond movies because of Sir Roger. I happened about some episodes of the Saint on television with Roger, and really liked the way Roger portrayed the character. I like the humor that he put into his version of Bond. At the same time, I think that Sean Connery probably fits into the character from the books. I hated Timothy Dalton because the Bond he played was just too sensitive. Now I always thought that Pierce Brosnan would have been a good replacement for Roger Moore in the Saint because of the character he played in Remington Steele, and he has been okay as Bond. I'm not sure who I would want to see as Bond now. Pierce is getting up there in age, and I think that we need a Bond in his thirties. Of the actors listed in the Foxnews article, I think Clive Owen looks the most promising. I can't see Bond as a black actor though because the picture (and the character itself) that I have from the books is of a white actor.

Saturday, April 23, 2005 -- Evening

Constantine Maroulis's band, Pray for the Soul of Betty has signed a deal to have an album released on May 10. The album was made with Constantine, but he signed over the rights to the band before he started participating in the American Idol competition.

The Steelers picked Heath Miller, a tight end from Virginia in the NFL Draft today.

Saturday, April 23, 2005 -- Afternoon

Today is the start of Pesach or Passover. This evening people who are of the Jewish faith will have a Passover seder and will spend the next eight days not eating items that are made of certain foods. So there will be no chametz leavened products such as bread, cakes and cookies, and no corn products. The types of foods that are allowed are different depending on whether you are of Eastern European or Middle Eastern heritage. You have to make certain that an item is kasrut for Passover, and check the lists each year to make sure there are additional entries. I am having my own little Passover seder this evening and will be going through my Haggadah which is the text that is read during the seder that tells the origin of Passover with Moses, the ten plagues, and the journey out of Egypt.

Sir John Mills, actor and father of Hayley Mills, died today at his home in England. He was 97 years old, and had been suffering from a chest infection over the past several weeks. He performed in 125 movies over the years, and was still making movies as recently as 2004. Sir John was recently listed as number 8 on the Sky Television poll of the Best British Actors.

Friday, April 22, 2005 -- Evening

I just saw this story on the local news, and couldn't believe it. There's a chimp in a South African zoo who has picked up a smoking habit. It seems that he picked up the habit by watching the people who come to the zoo. Someone must have thrown in a lit cigarette, and Charlie the chimp picked up the cigarette and starting puffing. The zoo is trying to get Charlie to stop, but it seems that he hides the cigarettes that he gets and gets agitated when the cigarettes are taken away. My question is how does he continue to get the cigarettes? I can understand the first one--a vistor threw a lit cigarette into the enclosure. How does Charlie continue to get lit cigarettes to develop a nicotine habit? It was amazing to watch video of Charlie. He inhales on the cigarette and blows out smoke. Here's a link to a video clip of Charlie.

Researchers have found that interrupting your work to read email causes a drop in IQ. Something about this study just seems sort of bogus to me. I think that the problem here is not a drop in IQ, but the fact that breaking your concentration on a task to pay attention to the ding of a email is disruptive to getting your work done. What I find incredible to believe is that someone needed to waste research dollars on a study that should be obvious to anyone who has any sort of intellectual thought process. So guess what the researchers recommend? That people not check email all the time when working on a project, and that when someone is at work, they should be concentrating on what they are doing instead of stopping every few minutes to check email from friends and other co-workers. I need to find one of these research jobs because I could tell them what the results would be, and there were be no need to waste time and money on stupid things like this. HP funded the research.

Friday, April 22, 2005 -- Afternoon

The DaVinci Code won the best book award at the British Book Awards.

The parents of a Marine who died in Iraq have been trying to get their son's Yahoo! email over the past few months. The parents did not know their son's password, and it is Yahoo's policy to terminate email accounts on the death of the holder. Well, the family wanted access to the email because they wanted to know what their son was thinking before his death, and because the son said that he received encouraging messages from others that made life in Iraq bearable. It took a court order, but the parents finally did get access to his email. The thing that I don't understand is why the family had to go through such a trial to get this access. It seems that other provides, like Microsoft and AOL hand over access to email accounts with proof of death. An email account is just like anything else you own when you are alive. Family and executors of wills can get access to bank accounts, medical records, and any other physical property that a person has, why not email accounts? There might be something in the email that the family needs to address. Perhaps with this case, the service providers and the legal system might take a different look at technology and rights of the survivors after death.

Friday, April 22, 2005 -- Morning

I just finished watching the first episode of the new Miss Marple movie that was just shown on PBS. Four movies were filmed last year and have already been shown in Britain and have caused a great uproar because of the actress who portrays Miss Marple. The show that I watched was The Murder at the Vicarage. It is being split in two parts with the next episode shown this coming Sunday. The other movies are A Murder is Announced, What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw, and The Body in the Library. As I mentioned, there are alot of people who have issues with the new movies because of the actress and the themes that come up in the movies. Instead of the BBC filming the shows, ITV did, and they gave the show a more modern feel. We find that Miss Marple had a romance in her younger years with a married man who died in the first World War, and Geraldine McEwan plays her as a spritely woman who loves to read mysteries and gossips with the neighbors. Folks have problems with this because they feel that the interpretation of the character is contradictory to the one that Agatha Christie created in the novels. Personally, I'm not as offended by it. Some things may have been implied in the books that ITV just enhanced. After all, Miss Marple seemed to get around alot, and she always seemed to be in the thick of things. How else could she have been so much in the know without abit of the gossip in her. What always surprises me is that folks also want to attribute an elderly person's views on a young person. It is not unbelievable to me that someone when they are young might engage in a romance that might be unseemly when you meet the person in his/her seventies. It does seem that in the books, Agatha Christie did have Miss Marple mention a romance in her younger years of which her parents didn't approve. So ITV just took it one step further. Past viewers of Miss Marple also believe that Joan Hickson is the perfect representation of Miss Marple. A few of them see it as sacrilege that anyone else should play Miss Marple. Well, since Joan Hickson is no longer with us, she's not available to make more movies. In fact, I think rather liked Geraldine McEwan. As I was saying, in order for Miss Marple to be in on everything, she probably would have to have the more spritely, gossipy, energetic nature that we see with Ms. McEwan.
As for the actual show itself, I found it entertaining: nice acting and beautiful filming. I don't remember the book that well because I read it when I was in my teens, but the mystery is engaging, with numerous suspects and the underlying romantic currents between the murder victim's wife and an artist. I think that the actors all do a fine job as the supporting cast, and I'm looking forward to the second episode. I think that I already have it figured it, and think that the solution lies not in the obvious. I know what you are thinking, of course it wouldn't be obvious. Well, there are certain plots that are given more time on the screen than the one that I think is behind the murder--I think that it has something to do with the missing funds from the church collection. (There was some mention of funds missing from a collection because one person put a pound into the collection plate, and the total collection wound up being less than a pound. So where did the money go?) My guess for the murderer is the assistant to the rector. We'll see where it goes.

ABC is planning an expose on American Idol that is to be shown at the same time as the final episode. It seems that there is going to be some sort of exposure of the relationship between the judges and the contestants. I think that the implication is supposed to be that the judges make the comments that they do based on deals that they have with the contestants or with the possibility that the judges might be able to make money from future deals with the contestants. I think that the thing is that the judges are being paid by the show, and the winner is signed to a recording deal. So I'm sure that the hopes of everyone is to get a winner who will actually sell records. For some reason, folks really have issues with the thought that anyone would do something for financial reasons--at least anyone other than them. I don't know many folks who would say that given the option of making money or not would choose to not make money.

The other big Idol news is about Paula Abdul. It seems that a former contestant on the show is claiming to have had an affair with Paula. Supposedly, Paula paid some of his expenses and promised him more money. The former contestant, Corey Clark, is shopping the story around in the hopes that he can get a book deal. Paula has been having alot of issues lately. First there was the whole deal with the hit and run incident that Paula was fined for a few weeks ago. Then there was Paula's recent comment to People that she does not have a drug problem. She says that her odd behavior is due to the fact that she was suffering from chronic pain for most of her life due to an accident that she had as a cheerleader that injuried vertebrae in her neck. The pain grew worse due to other accidents that she had in her life, and she had surgeries and took drugs for the pain. Nothing worked until she took a rheumatoid arthritis drug. So she says that her extremely happy behavior (ie nutty) is due to the fact that she is so happy at finally being pain free. Interesting, eh?

Thursday, April 21, 2005 -- Evening

Today was Queen Elizabeth's 79th birthday. She did not have a big celebration for it. The Queen's birthday is officially celebrated with the Trooping the Colour. The premise behind Trooping the Colour is to celebrate the King or Queen's birthday in the summer when it is more likely to be nicer weather wise. This year, Trooping the Colour will be on Saturday, June 11.

Scientists often work on problems that have important impact on our lifes. This leads to many earth shattering discovers. The most recent one is why popcorn doesn't pop. It's common knowledge to scientists that popcorn pops because of the moisture level within the hull. There's a particular level that causes the kernel to pop. Well, it seems that it's more than that. The important component is the structure of the hull. It seems that if the hull is leaky, it prevents the moisture pressure to build up that causes popcorn to pop. In case you didn't already know it, expensive popcorn is more likely to pop than inexpensive popcorn (4% of premium does not pop compared to 47% for the cheaper ones).

Thursday, April 21, 2005 -- Afternoon

It seems that lots of folks are surprised that Scott Savol is still around on American Idol. I wouldn't imagine that he will be around for very many more weeks, and I wonder if it will be next week. I agree with the writer of the MSNBC article who says that Scott doesn't have a very endearing personality. I think that Scott is very dour, and he's not very appealing, even to the every man. It seems that most agree that Scott and Anthony Fedorov will be the next to go. After that, it will become harder to decide who should go, and will just be based on the size and diligence of the fan base for that performer.

The Space Shuttle launch has been delayed until May 22 while the orbitter is prepared. There may be additional delays as it gets closer to flight date as NASA tries to make the flight as safe as possible.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 -- Evening

American Idol is on now, and it is decision time. The first thing that we got to see was Ryan Seacrest receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I don't know about others, but I find Ryan Seacrest to be an annoying person. I suppose that is one of the things that they play up on this show. I was also was surprised to hear that the producers of American Idol are British. Fortunately the show is only a half an hour long, so I'm hoping for alot less fluff than last week. The group sang a song by John Farrar. The song might have been good, but the contestants were off key and not singing together well. I think the song was called Shine. They showed an animated Ford commercial with the contestants singing Rock this town. It was really a cute commercial, and I wouldn't mind seeing more of it. Ryan had all the contestants come down on the stage and just split them up into top and bottom groups. Before the first break, we have Vonzell Solomon and Constantine Maroulis on one side and Anthony Fedorov and Anwar Robinson on the other side. Geeze, I wonder which is the top side and which is the bottom side. Carrie Underwood joined Vonzell and Constantine, and Scott Savol joined Anwar and Anthony. Finally Bo Bice was just announced as safe. Ryan Seacrest then asked Bo to join the group he thought was the top, and Bo stood between the two groups. Like you have to be a rocket scientist to know that Anthony, Scott and Anwar are in the bottom, just as I thought they would be yesterday. Finally, we find Anwar, Scott and Anthony are in the bottom. Then we found out very quickly that Anwar had the lowest number of votes. I am just shocked that Scott and Anthony just keep on managing to hang on, but I can't imagine that they will be there after the next two weeks.

Scientists are still wondering about the findings of methane on Mars. The interest in the methane is that it could be evidence of biological life. The thing is that it could also be the result of volcanic activity under the surface of the planet. Time will tell.

The Rolling Stones will be performing in Israel sometime in 2006. It seems that the Rolling Stones will be having their last tour starting this August, and they wanted to include locations that they have never been to, and Israel is one of them. Since violence has lessened in the area, insurance rates have gone down which made it possible for the Rolling Stones to go to Israel.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 -- Afternoon

It seems that the general consensus about last night's American Idol was that it was a forgettable show. I have to agree because there really wasn't alot that stood out on the show. I think that Vonzell's performance was the only standout one. I know that I put my vote in for Constantine. Although he didn't do as well last night, I think that he has what it takes to sell alot of cds. He has the teen idol thing going on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 -- Evening

The seven contestants were performing tonight on American Idol. The theme for this evening's show was seventies dance music. I have to say that is one of my favorite genres. It will be interesting to see what Bo Bice does. First up was Constantine Maroulis and he sang Nights on Broadway from the Bee Gees. I wasn't too happy with the song choice. I think that the dance music portion is going to be more difficult for the men, and I think this wasn't one of Constantine's best performances, and the eye makeup was getting to me. The one thing that he does have is the whole connection with the audience and the camera. He got a big round of applause. Randy thought it was a good choice. Randy even said it was a great Las Vegas performance--that it was only all right. Paula, of course, said that everything about Constantine in the past few weeks is "oh my god". Simon said it was akin to a waiter in a Spanish restaurant. Paula commented on the fact though that Constantine had alot of fans, and that's the difference. Next up was Carrie Underwood. She sang MacArthur Park. I don't think that dance music goes well with her voice, and I think that this particular song was just abit too overwhelming for her voice. Or maybe I was just thinking of Donna Summer. I was just not very impressed. Randy thought it was an unbelieveable vocal, beautiful and excellent. Paula said her usual bravos, and commented on the length the vocal was held. Simon said she sang it well, but the styling was like "Barbie meets the Stepford Wives", and that it is an old look that she should lose and leave it to Paula. After her came Scott Savol. He sang Everlasting Love. He tries too hard to look, act and talk like a black rapper. The song was a perfect song for him and his voice, and although I hate to admit it (because he is not a favorite of mine), he did sing it well. Randy said he was impressed by the fact that the song fit his voice well. Paula said that Scott does have the knack of picking the right song. Simon said that he thinks Scott has lasted because he is an ordinary guy who can sing, like someone in a karaoke bar. Anthony Fedorov came up next. He sang Don't Take Away the Music. Although his voice seemed good, there just seemed to be something missing, and I'm not sure what it was. I'm not sure if it was the song, or just looking at him. I closed my eyes, and it didn't seem to make it any better. Listening to Anthony is like eating peanut butter on Wonder Bread. Randy said he didn't think Anthony fell down this week. Paula said it was his best week, and that it was the song for him, and his voice wasn't pitchy. Simon said it wasn't Anthony's worst performance, and it wasn't his best--it was pleasant, safe, and a little insipid. Vonzell Solomon sang I'm Every Woman. Vonzell picked the best song, and she gave the best performance of the evening. It was just hard to pick her voice out at times from the backup singers, but she did a really great job. Definitely the best of the show! Now to the judges. Randy said that she chose the song with the highest degree of difficulty, and she worked it out tonight. Paula said that it was the best performance of the night, and she rocked the house. Simon said that he agreed with Randy, and that the song was a difficult one, and she sang it at the edge, but her personality pulled it through. It was hard to see how someone could follow up on that act, and the next person was Anwar Robinson. His song was September. Parts of the song were okay, but I don't think he did such a good job. And that bouncing up and down that he does has to stop because it is so annoying and ungainly. Randy said that it was another good Anwar performance--started pitchy, but he pulled it out at the end. Paula thought that it was awesome, and he was in the moment, and dancing around and enjoying himself. Simon did not think Anwar was as good as Paula thinks. Simon said it was good at the ending, and it was like a seventies song review, and that he just didn't pull it off. Last up was Bo Bice. His song was Vehicle. I think that the song suited his voice, but for some reason, his vocals sounded washed out. He had the real angry rocker thing going on. It just wasn't a 70s dance type song, but it wa a rocking type song. Randy said Bo Bice is back. Also Randy said that being a record producer, he could hear Bo recording the song. Paula said that the competition is back on. Simon said that of all the performances tonight, he thought that Bo's was the most authentic.
It's going to be difficult to pick the bottom three this time. I think that I would have to go with the old stand-bys of Anwar, Anthony and Scott. I'm not sure who I would want to go, but I would imagine that it would be one of those three. Why those three? Because of their over-all performances over the weeks. I think it's more than the singing too, it's the overall performance, and they lack in the physical presentation.

Prince Ernst August was released from the hospital today. He had spent two weeks in hospital because of a case of acute pancreatis. It seems that word has it that Ernst will need permanent medical care because of his condition.

Today was the grand opening of the Squirrel Hill branch of the Carnegie. It looks like a huge warehouse, and has alot of open space. That space was crowded with a huge crowd of folks who have been anxiously waiting for the library to reopen. I'll have to go back on Saturday to see what it looks like with a normal crowd level. Here are some pictures of the event.

Monday, April 18, 2005 -- Evening

Albert Einstein died on this date 50 years ago today. Einstein was 76 years of age. This year is also the 100th anniversary of the year in which Einstein published the three papers that defined modern physics.

The Squirrel Hill branch of the Carnegie Library is going to have a grand opening celebration tomorrow from 3:30 pm until 7:00 pm. It looks nice from the outside, and I am very curious as to how it looks from the inside. I hope that I am not held up at work, and manage to make it to the library for the opening.

Monday Night Football is going to move from ABC to ESPN starting with the 2006 season. The cost for broadcasting for eight years should total $1.1 billion.

Monday, April 18, 2005 -- Afternoon

It seems that the problem with DART may have been that it ran out of fuel. Supposedly, there were an "unexpectedly high number of navigational errors". NASA isn't speculating on whether these things were the cause of the problem with the fuel, but I would imagine that if you are making corrections and changing course alot, you eat up more fuel then if you got the trip right.

I missed the Pittsburgh Mayoral debate yesterday on television, but here are some highlights of the meeting. It seems that all candidates are saying that they are going to cut taxes while also bringing back services. Most didn't seem to be clear on how they were going to do it. I can only assume that they are going to cut areas where there is fat, and that will leave money for the other items. One of the ways to cut the spending will be the merger of government offices between the city and the county. There are three Democrats running in the primary and only one Republican. The candidates are Bob O'Connor, Michael Lamb, and William Peduto for the Democrats and Joe Weinroth as a Republican. So far, I like what I hear from Bill Peduto. Both Bob O'Connor and Joe Weinroth are from the Squirrel Hill area, the place that I now call home.

Sunday, April 17, 2005 -- Afternoon

On April 13, it was the 35th anniversary of the Apollo 13 flight. This was the moon flight that wasn't to be because of an explosion in one of the oxygen tanks, and it was made into that great Ron Howard movie. It seems that the decisions that were made at the time weren't as rushed as folks might think from watching the movie. It seems that various simulations in the past helped the engineers and others on the ground come up with solutions for the crew in space. sometimes you wonder if the same amount of work and effort goes into the process now especially with all of NASA's failures of the past few years.

Sunday, April, 17, 2005 -- Late Morning

The math equation for today is yet another simple one. This time we will look at how you can calculate the average velocity of an object. Velocity is basically the speed of an object. If you think about it, common sense will tell you how to figure this one out. For example, if it took you an hour to travel 60 miles, you would know that your speed was 60 miles per hour. That means you take the total distance you have traveled and divide it by the total elapsed time. Now if you went 55 miles in a half an hour, that would be 55 miles/.5 hour (30 minutes is 1/2 of an hour. That would mean that you were traveling at 110 miles per hour. The equation is Vavg = distancetotal/timetotal.

Saturday, April 16, 2005 -- Late Evening

The Pitt football team's spring game was played today, and a slew of fans showed up for it. The game was not held at Heinz Field this year because they are in the process of growing new grass on the field. Instead Pitt played at Gateway High School. Around 8000 fans showed up which it appears is more than have shown up for the game in the past. The team had a good scrimmage.

NASA's DART mission, the robotic spacecraft that was supposed to repair satelites, was launched yesterday. It was within 300 feet of a Pentagon satelite that it was to repair when it ended its approach and went into orbit. NASA is trying to put a positive spin on the whole incident, and is now in the process of finding out what the problem may have been.

Prince Harry did not do well on the computer skills test that he took before entry to Sandhurst, the military academy that he plans to attend. It seems that he doesn't have some of the basic computing skills that young people his age have. Although some are saying that he failed the test, the folks at Sandhurst are saying that it isn't a matter of passing or failing, just finding out which areas cadets need to brush up on before entering the academy.

Saturday, April 16, 2005 -- Evening

It's always interesting to hear other folks opinions. Since I have been watching American Idol, I've asked friends for their opinions, and have been surprised at some. For example, my boyfriend's sister likes Scott Savol. MSNBC has comments from readers on the contestants. It seems that the consensus even there is that most are shocked that Scott and Anthony Fedorov are still around. My favorite comment in the article is the person who said that Paula Abdul isn't objective and should be gone.

One of my favorite actresses when I was a kid was Hayley Mills. I used to love watching her in Disney movies, and one of my favorite movies of hers was The Trouble with Angels. So I was quite surprised to find out that Hayley is in Pittsburgh, and will be appearing in Bird Sanctuary. The play started at the Pittsburgh Playhouse on April 14 and will continue through to May 15.

I haven't been keeping up with my math equations. Part of the reason has been because it is not always easy to come up with an equation for the day. Another is that I have been feeling abit stressed out at work. So while I am there, I haven't had time to work on ideas for the blog or to edit the blog. Unfortunately, when I have come home, I have been obsessing about work, and letting that stress me to the point of not being able to concentrate on other things. I am trying to work on the stress bit, and hope to devote more time to the blog in the coming weeks. So back to the math equation for the day!

The math equation for today is a very simple one. We all what π is. Nope, you don't eat it, and it's not made with apples. Now if someone asked you what π was, you would probably reply 3.1415 and continue on with however many digits you knew for π. However, π is actually defined as the ratio of the circumference (c) of any circle divided by its diameter (d). So π = c/d.

Saturday, April 16, 2005 -- Late Morning

Now here's a reality show that we could all enjoy and use as a learning experience. The BBC's Channel 4 is having a competition to find the person who can popularize science. The point is to find someone who can explain science so the ordinary person without an advance physics degree can see how entertaining science is, and how science principles can be used in everyday life.

Do you believe in curses? Obviously some folks do, and they believe that the Grimaldi family is cursed. The Grimaldis are Monaco's ruling family, Prince Rainier and family, and the curse started around 700 years ago. The ruler then, also a Prince Rainier (the first--the current one is the third), supposedly raped a girl who then turned to witchcraft to curse the family. All I have to say is that she must not have been that good a witch if the family is still ruling Monaco 700 years later. Every person has good and bad times, and guess what? Everyone dies, so you have deaths in your family too. The family hasn't just had bad things happen, they have also had good things happen. After all, Rainier left 1.8 billion dollars to both Caroline and Albert, so obviously the family has had alot of good fortune.

Friday, April 15, 2005 -- Evening

Today was the last day to pay taxes. What I think is interesting about this day is the number of folks who are rushing to mail their taxes. I can imagine waiting if you owe money, but if you are expecting a refund why not take the time to do your forms and get your money back?

Today was Prince Rainier's funeral. Only bits and pieces of the ceremony were broadcast here in the US. The BBC website does have a two minute clip of the funeral. Many comments were made on the rift between the two sisters, Caroline and Stephanie. Tabloid rumor has it that the two do not get along because Stephanie has been such a wild child. It's not that caroline has always made the best choices in life, and her last two marriages happened while she was already pregnant. Caroline just hasn't cavorted with circus folks. Instead Caroline has the alcoholic, tempermental husband (Prince Ernst August). By the way, Ernst Ausust should be released from the hospital soon.

My boyfriend and I had dinner this evening at Mediterranean Grill. The place was as busy as usual, and the food was good as always. This evening, we had humus and pita, and shared the filet mignon dinner with rice. I love the dressing on the salad. It really has a good flavor.

The Carnegie Mellon Spring Carnival started today. Carnival is an annual event and includes music performances, a collection of carnival rides, and buggy races that start at 8 am and end around 11 am in Schenley Park. The annoying thing about the buggy races is that it interferred with rush hour traffic in the morning today, and added an extra fifteen minutes to my commute.

Thursday, April 14, 2005 -- Evening

Prince Rainier's funeral is tomorrow morning. Prince Rainier is at the Chapel at the Palace, and his body will be carried to the cathedral in Monaco around 5:30. The church services starts at 6 am, and continues through to 7:30 am.

As a break from astronomy, and to get back on track with the math equation for the day, today we will look at Ohm's Law. Ohm's Law gives us the relationship between voltage, current and resistance. Basically you have a energy source and an object that connects to the source in an unbroken circuit. Current is then generated in the circuit. The equation that is used is V=I*R where V=voltage, I=current and R=resistance. If you want to increase the current, you have to decrease the resistance or increase the voltage. Obviously then, if you want to decrease the current, you have to increase the resistance or decrease the resistance. The applet here can visually show you Ohm's Law at work.

Thursday, April 14, 2005 -- Afternoon

A relic star has been discovered, and is posing some questions for scientists. Basically a relic star is a star that is a relic of the period immediately after the Big Bang, and scientists are theorizing that this star, HE0107-5240, was around only 15 minutes after the Big Bang. Now, personally, I would say that's a pretty bold guess. I know that the scientists are supposed to know what they are talking about, but I think that sometimes they are just really good at making up stories that others believe. HE0107-5240 and another star, HE1327-2326, are supposed to be composed of the lowest amount of heavier elements. Basically the way a star gets heavier elements is that it is born from the death of another star. The temperatures and pressures that are seen in an old and dying star will produce these elements, and then a star born in that vicinity will have those elements in its composition. The two new stars have the lowest composition of heavy elements that scientists have found so far. The elemental makeup of the new found stars is not quite what scientists expect in a primitive star, but what the heck. They are invesigating the matter. What we need not lose sight of is that we are looking at something in the past. This star may not be, and probably isn't, currently in existence. It's that whole time that light takes to travel from there to here deal.

MSNBC has an analysis of the American Idol show last night. The author does a nice comparison between Nadia's attitude and Bo's, and how that could be a bad thing for Bo. It seems both have this urge to stay true to themselves and the types and styles of music that they love. The issue is that this is a competition that requires fans to vote for you. It will be interesting to see what the next week will bring. The one thing that I never seem to notice with the contestants is the clothes. However, others do keep an eye on the fashion scene. Nadia was the one who always seemed to have a style and flair of her own. I'm not sure that there is anyone left who has her style.

The Pittsburgh Panthers released their new logo late this morning. It's back to just having the name of the school as "Pitt". A few years ago, it was decided by the powers that be at the University that using Pitt on the logo wasn't appropriate. But everyone always referred to the school that way, and now it's back. So although the Athletic Department will still be referencing to itself as Pittburgh, it will use Pitt just as much. I think it is so funny because the administration had to go back to the word they hated so much. I think that "Pitt is It" is a much catcher phrase that "Pittsburgh is It".

Other news in the sports world is that the NFL is going to have tougher steroid tests in the future. The plan is to have testing at levels that will along the lines of the testing done by the Olympics. This is a good move, and is probably in reaction to the public reaction to baseball's meager response to steroids.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005 -- Evening

The decision night is up for American Idol. Over 34 million votes were cast for the contestants. What I don't know is how they are going to drag this show out for an hour. They showed a segment on the making of the song that is being released for the American Red Cross. The CD will be released on April 19. They then showed them singing the Red Cross song. After that, there was footage of what the contestants do between the Wednesday night show and the Tuesday competition: picking the song, practicing, and picking out clothes. It seems they do everything as a group and there is a schedule for everything. It seems every Sunday they record a commercial for the Wednesday show. Ryan Seacrest keeps on saying that we won't believe who's in the bottom three. If Nadia Turner and Scott Savol aren't I will really be shocked. Ryan Seacrest talked to the contestants about their feelings about their performances from the previous evening. It seems that Carrie Underwood was sick yesterday, but it really wasn't noticeable. The bottom three are being picked, and they get to sing their favorite song from the season so far. Scott Savol was picked first for the bottom three, and he is singing Against All Odds. You have to feel bad for him because he started to cry when he finished. The second person in the bottom three was Bo Bice. That was abit of shock, but Freebird was a very poor choice of songs for him I thought. Bo sang Remedy. That's the type of song he does well, but he just hasn't been doing songs like that in the past few weeks. The final person in the bottom three was Nadia Turner. She sang You Don't Have to Say You Love Me. It's really cruel how they drag out the whole bottom three process and then have the person sing. Scott Savol was third from the bottom. Nadia and Bo were in the bottom two. Nadia was voted off. I could not believe that they dragged it out as long as they did. Nadia was crying during the film clip they showed of her, and Ryan Seacrest gave her his tie to wipe her eyes. That was a nice gesture. And then there were seven.

For those who like him, Ryan Seacrest will be getting a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame on April 20.

The Steelers have released their schedule for the coming season. There are four prime time games: one on a Sunday and three Monday night games. The Monday night games are: Oct 10 at San Diego, Oct 31 in Pittsburgh against Baltimore, and Nov 28 at Indianapolis. The Sunday game is Nov 13 in Pittsburgh against Cleveland.

So the big news today is that Britney Spears admits that she is pregnant. This, of course, is not news because the tabloid press has been announcing it for the past month or so. Although Britney hasn't said much, rumor has it that she is three to four months pregnant. It really makes you wonder about Britney because she was just saying less than two weeks ago that the tabloids were lying. She also used to say that she was the role model for virginity which again was far from the truth. What we should learn from all this is never to trust Ms. Spears.

On the health front, it appears that everyone over 50 years of age should take a daily aspirin. All that is needed is the low dose of aspirin which is around 75 to 81 mg, and it lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease. There is also some research which is also starting to point to the fact that aspirin may also help with reducing the risk of cancer. The problem is though that aspirin can cause stomach irritation and bleeding.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 -- Afternoon

It seems that I am not alone in thinking that Nadia Turner and Scott Savol will be in the bottom two of American Idol tonight. In fact in looking at the polls on MSNBC it seems that is the consensus with more people really disliking Scott.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 -- Evening

Alot has been going on lately. Either the weather has been too nice to stay inside and do computing, or it has been too stressful. I think that the stress is now minimized alot, and although the weather is nice, I can get back to blogging more regularly.

It was another competition night on American Idol. The theme tonight was Songs from the Year You Were Born. First up was Nadia Turner with When I Dream. It was a very sultry song, and Nadia really turned on the soul for it. The thing is that I thought the song was on the boring side, and drawn out. Over all though, the song wasn't memorable though. That could be a problem for her. With the judges, Randy was perplexed by the song. He didn't recognize it, and neither did I. As Randy said, he didn't love it. Paula said that Nadia looked good, but she wasn't crazy about the song choice. Even Paula didn't have anything good to say. Simon called it "musical wallpaper". Simon thinks this is the song that will send her home. Second was Bo Bice. He sang Freebird which I thought was not a good choice, but I think that he was trying to return to his rock roots. The thing is that I don't think that he did a very good job with the song. Lynyrd Skynyrd he ain't. Randy loved the song, and thought Bo did a good job, and he could have a hit with the song. Paula said "see you at the finals". Simon thought he didn't agree. He said that he thought Bo should use his rock influence on more well-known songs. Third was Anwar Robinson. He sang I'll Never Love this Way Again. He should not be singing women's songs, and he didn't do that good of a job. This has been a disappointing evening so far. Randy thought that technical Anwar is the best singer in the group. Paula said he is so pleasing to the ear and the tone of his voice is mesmerizing. Simon said it was one of his better perofrmances in awhile. Simon said that Anwar was like a blanket, comforting and safe. Anthony Fedorov sang Everytime You Go Away. It was funny because Darryl Hall and John Oates were in the audience, and John Oates wrote the song. I think that this is one of the few times when I think that Anthony actually didn't hurt my ears singing. I think that he actually made a good choice with this song, and really managed to stay in tune. Randy said that he was surprising and Anthony did his thing. Paula thought it was much better than last week, and she was proud of him. Simon said that last week he thought Anthony was hideous and at a low point, but thought Anthony was very good this week. And he was! Next up was Vonzell Solomon. She sang Let's Hear it for the Boy. What is surprising to me is that if you look at my earlier comments, I wasn't a big fan of Vonzell, but now I have to say that I think she is one of the best of the women. She did a great job with the song. She did a nice singing job, and she played the audience so well. I think it was the best performance of the evening. Now for the judges! Randy said that it was another great performance, and excellent. Paula said that vonzell is adorable, and has such energy, and her voice was great. Simon said she did a very good job and chose a good song. He said a few weeks ago, he would have taken Nadia over Vonzell, but now he would reverse that. Then up came Scott Savol. He sang She's Gone. What annoys me about Scott is that he always seems to try to talk like a ghetto guy. He didn't do that great of a job. There were parts that sounded really bad, especially when he was doing the slower, talking like song parts. He did okay when he got to the loud parts. I was under impressed. Paula as usual was bouncing around during the song and clapping. She is annoying. Randy said that the low notes were pitchy and rolling, but the chorus was better. As Randy said, he would get the low notes more in tune, but he thought he brought it home. Paula thought that Scott did awesome. Now to Simon, the voice of truth. He said that Scott is a nice guy, but had more bum notes than good notes. On a whole, he thought that Scott was not very good. Hall and Oates said it was good, but people just hate to put folks down. Carrie Underwood was up singing Love is a Battlefield. She did a nice job with the song. It wasn't her usual country music, and I thought that it might not be a good song for her, but she really pulled it off. She had a nice rasp going on that just went so well with the song. Randy said that Carrie rocked out. He said it was all right for him, but he liked the country girl. He thought some notes were pitchy and that she screwed up some words (she admitted to it too, but said she covered it.) Paula said that she rocked. Simon said it was like watching a kitten who wants to be a tiger. Last, but not least was Constantine Maroulis. He sang Bohemian Rhapsody. Constantine is my favorite, and I think he did a good job with this song. He is does have that whole rockstar, singing idol thing about him. It was a strange, choice of song, but I think that he did his usual good job, and superb acting job. Randy said showmanship I'd give you a 10, singing a 7. Paula thinks that Constantine is awesome and the one to beat. Paula thinks he's grown so much. Simon just said it was astonishing, and he was smiling alot. How could you not like Constantine? I rewinded the DVR so I could rewatch the performance. Constantine is getting my vote. Constantine just plays the audience so well with the winking and sexy looks.
I would have to say that my bottom three in descending order are Scott Savol, Anwar Robinson, and Nadia Turner. It could easily be a toss up on which of them goes.

The specials that were just made for As Time Goes By should be released here on PBS this fall. I can't wait to see the shows.

Ehud Manor, an Israeli songwriter, died today. He had suffered from lung cancer, but according to his wife, had a full recovery. The cause of death at this point is being listed as a heart attack. Manor wrote the 1978 Eurovision song winner, A-Ba-Ni-Bi.

The math equation for today is a very simple one. The volume of a sphere is one that can be applied to physics in that stars and planets are spherical objects. The equation is also based on the sphere surface area that I had on Saturday's entry. Spherical volume = 4/3 πr3.

Monday, April 11, 2005 -- Evening

It appears that Prince Ernst of Hanover is improved. He is still being kept in intensive care because his problem is a serious one and requires attention even though he is approving. In the meantime, the provisions of Prince Rainier's will were made public. Both Prince Albert and Princess Caroline will be receiving $1.8 billion dollars. Poor Princess Stephanie, however, will only get $32 million dollars. Stephanie was always a person who made very poor decisions in her life, so I think that her father didn't want to leave her with anything that she would squander or which someone else that she might marry would take.

Scientists believe that a cosmic ray burst caused a mass extinction on Earth 450 million years ago. It seems that the gamma ray burst depleted the Earth's ozone layer which caused the Sun's ultraviolet radiation to kill off 60% of life on the planet. At that time, life was mostly found in the oceans, so it was marine life that was hit by the extinction.

One of my favorite hockey players, Jaromir Jagr, will be staying to play in Russia if the hockey season doesn't start in October. It seems that he is doing much better in Europe than he was doing here in the states for the past few years. It seems that playing in Europe was a good thing for Jagr.

For today, the math equation will be the Stefan-Boltzmann law. The Stefan-Boltzmann law gives us a relationship between an object's temperature and it's energy flux per square meter per second. Since flux is rate of flow, the energy flux basically lets us know how much energy is flowing out a object. The mathematical representation of the law is F=σT4, where σ is known as the Stefan-Boltzmann constant, and has the value of 5.67 x 10-8 W m-2 K-4.

Sunday, April 10, 2005 -- Evening

Jacques Pepin is being honored with a lifetime achievement award from the James Beard Foundation. Jacques Pepin is my favorite chef because he has plenty of personality, and I think that the recipes he comes up with are elegant, but easy to make. If you have watched any of his shows, he often comes up with little tips about how to do things, so you always learn something. I also like his sense of humor. I have been watching his Fast Food My Way show. The show this weekend was on gratins. I am going to try the mozzarella gratin. Basically, you get a gratin dish, put in some olive oil, cut up some dried bread--like a long baquette, turn over the bread so both sides are oiled. Then put a slice of mozzarella on each piece of bread, topped with pepper, salt to taste, and a thin slice of garlic on top. Then bake.

The math equation for today is Wien's Law, λmax = 0.0029/T. This law is named after Wilhelm Wien who was the scientist who discovered a correlation between the temperature of a blackbody and its dominant wavelength. A blackbody is an object that is a perfect emitter and absorber of raditation. So with Wien's Law, you can determine the temperature of an object based on the maximum intensity of its light. For example, we can determine the surface temperature of the Sun because we know that the maximum intensity of sunlight has an wavelength of 500 nm or 5 x 107 m. So we have T = 0.0029/5x107 = 5800 K.

Saturday, April 9, 2005 -- Late Evening

Prince Charles and Camilla are on their way to their honeymoon in Scotland. For all the comments about how the Queen did not take advantage of a photo opportunity with her son and new daughter-in-law, she did have some nice comments to make about the couple at the reception. According to the Daily Telegraph, a guest said that the Queen said the following: "They have overcome Becher's Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other terrible obstacles, They have come through and I'm very proud and wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves."

The Pope's funeral has generated alot of controversy, but not in the way that one would think. It had nothing to do with the ceremony or the man himself. Instead the problems lay in the tradition that Roman Catholics have of greeting during the ceremony to celebrate peace. First there was a problem with Prince Charles shaking hands with Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe. The problem with Mugabe is that he is not looked on highly in the European Union, and is viewed as a corrupt dictator and bad rolemodel for emerging African nations. The other controversy was due to the handshakes between Israel's president, Moshe Katsav, and both the Iranian president, Mohammed Khatami, and Syria's president, Bashar Assad. Both Khatami and Assad have denied the handshakes, but the Syrian government finally admitted that it did happen, but denied that there was a diplomatic meaning. Of course there wasn't. It was all just a polite formality, and tradition for Catholic ceremonies.

Jerome Bettis is expected to show up to the Steeler training camp this coming Monday.

Since it is late, and I have had a busy day, I will have another simple math equation for the day. Today's equation is how to find the area of a circle and a sphere. These equations would be of use in astronomy because they can be used to find the size of any spherical object, such as a planet or star. The area for a circle can be defined as a = πr2. This can then be applied to a three dimensional object by multiplying by 4. This is then a = 4πr2.

Saturday, April 9, 2005 -- Morning

I am watching Charles and Camilla's wedding blessing on television right now. I saw Charles and Camilla leaving the civil ceremony, and she has on a white knee length dress with a huge white hat. At least the color looked white to me. I have issues with distinguishing between white and beige. They look like the same color to me--white! Both were smiling. The main blessing part of the church service is over, and they are having the musical and poetic entertainment. Now they have returned to another blessing by the Archbishop of Canterbury who is conducting the service. Camilla changed her outfit for the wedding to something with a light, greenish tinge. It's longer with a small train, and looks like a long jacket over a shift. She had some feather type of headdress too. The service is over now but I'm sure the analysis will continue for another hour. It was a very nice ceremony. Best wishes to the couple. They are in love and desire to be happy. As they left the church, there really wasn't the photo opportunity that everyone had hoped for. Everyone was hoping to see if the Queen would make any moves to show that Camilla is accepted into the family. The BBC has pictures of the event.

The next crew of the space shuttle has commented that NASA still has to have some attitude changes towards safety with the shuttle. Discovery is scheduled for takeoff on May 15. The astronauts say that the staff needs to speak up more about problems, and ask more questions. The commander of Discovery, Eileen collins said that it's a work in progress to improve the way things are done, and that she will "trust but verify".

Friday, April 8, 2005 -- Late Evening

It's interesting to see how others view the contestants on American Idol. It seems that alot of folks have opinions about Scott Savol, especially because of his arrest record, and it's probably why he was in the bottom two this past week.

The European Space Agency hopes to have a Mars lander that should land by 2013. This rover would be different than the US one in that it would sniff the air for signs of biological life and feel for Marsquakes.

Jerome Bettis may be returning to the Steelers next season. Jerome said that he was just feeling worn out and sore after last season and that made him just feel down. It seems that if Jerome shows up for training on Monday, he'll get a $100,000 practice bonus if he shows up to practice. So we will know by Monday we might have a better idea of what his plans might be for the next season.

Today's math equation is my boyfriend's favorite. It's the Pythagorean Theorem. This is the theorem that the sides of a right angle triangle equal the hypotenuse. Everyone has seen this one. It is a2 + b2 = c2. There's a very nice animated proof of the theorem.

Friday, April 8, 2005 -- Morning

Princess Caroline of Monaco's husband, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, was hospitalized on Monday with pancreas pains, and went into a coma on Tuesday evening. Reports are that he is still in a coma, but there haven't been any official reports. Caroline has had bad luck in the past, first with the death of Princess Grace in 1982, and then the death of her second husband, Stefano Casiraghi in a motorboat accident in 1990. Then the death of her father and her husband in a coma in the same week. Some folks claim that there is a curse on the royal family of Monaco, but I would say that it is just the ordinary things that happen to so many of us in life.

Thursday, April 7, 2005 -- Evening

Prince Charles and Camilla will admit to the fact that they sinned in the past at that the wedding blessing. The wedding blessing will follow the civil ceremony, and will be the only part of the event that is televised.

JK Rowling has read through her new book, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and has declared it her best. As Ms. Rowling said, she liked it, but she is sure that some readers won't. It does peak my interest about what is going to happen. She is also going to take several months off to be with her new baby before she starts the seventh book. That's the hardest part of enjoying a series. The readers want to know what is going to happen next, and the author has to take the time to write it. The anticipation for the next book is going to be great because obviously it is going to be delayed, and it is to be the last book. It's going to be hard to wait to find out how it all ends, and it will be hard to know that it is finally over.

Thursday, April 7, 2005 -- Afternoon

Astronomers are hoping to get a glimpse of distant galaxies with the Dazel. It's an instrument that will look for the specific wavelength of light that should have been emitted from the first stars in the universe. When we look at distant galaxies we are actually looking back in time. If an object is a hundred light years away from us, by the time the light for it reaches us, we are seeing it as it was a hundred years ago, not its current state. Hence if we look for something distant enough, we are seeing it as it was thousands of years ago. It's an interesting concept because are you actually looking at something that is a distance away, or are you just looking back in time? How is it possible now to see something as it was then? It's enough to boggle the mind.

The math equation for today is the Titius Bode Law. This is a basic formula that can be used to approximate the location of planets around the Sun. The planets actually do appear to follow this law quite closely. The equation is a=0.4 + 0.3xk (k is the sequence of the power of two--so the numbers for k would be 0, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc.) You can also denote it as a=0.3 + 0.4(2n) where n is -infinity for Mercury, 0, 1, 2, etc. If you do this, you find that you will approximate the semi-major axis, and be able to locate the planet. So for Saturn, which is the fifth planet, you put in 32 for k and come up with a=0.4 + (0.3x32) which leads to a=10 and Saturn's semi-major axis is 9.54. Now the 10 and the 9.4 are multipliers of the astronomical unit (AU). So Earth is 1 AU, and it's number with Titius Bode is 1. Saturn is then 9.6 AUs from the Sun. 1 AUearth = 147.597x106 km. It gives you an idea of where to look for a planet if you didn't know if one was there.

MSNBC has its forecast for how the contestants at American Idol are doing. It has Scott Savol, Bo Bice, Anthony Federov, and Vonzell Solomon as neutral while Constantine Maroulis, Carrie Underwood, Anwar Robinson, and Nadia Turner are given up arrows. My favorite, in case you haven't been able to tell, is Constantine. We'll have to see how he does next week because there's one thing I've noticed about the show's fans, one bad week, and you can be out.

The folks at Powerball have come up with a new scheme to boost the money values and make it more difficult for people to win so the jackpots grow to higher numbers. They will be adding two more balls to the first pool of number that gets drawn so you have to pick five numbers from 1 to 55 instead of to 53. The Powerball will still be some number between 1 to 42. The jackpot will also move up to a minimum of $15 million, and if you get all five numbers but no Powerball, you will get $200,000 instead of $100,000. My dream is still alive to win the Powerball. I want to be able to cut down my work hours so I can devote time to blogging and other writing.

That Prince Charles is really causing problems with his wedding. First there was the controversy over it happening in the first place since they are both divorced, and having an affair with each other while married. Then there was the delay because of the Pope's funeral. Now the Grand National steeplechase is being delayed. The race will be moved back 25 minutes so the church blessing of the wedding can be televised.

Three minor league Pirates players were caught violating the new baseball drug policy. Two of the players got 15 day suspensions while one got 30 days because it was his second offense.

Star Wars fans are a crazy bunch. A group of them are lining up seven weeks early in front of Grauman's Chinese theater for the new movie, Revenge of the Sith. The joke is on them though because the movie isn't even being shown at Grauman's. It's going to be at a theater a mile away. The queue is not leaving because they don't believe that it won't be Grauman's.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 -- Evening

Tonight was elimination night on American Idol. It was the highest number of votes for a non-final night ever. 32.8 million folks voted. We also found out the whole voting thing for the song that would be released as the American Red Cross fund raiser was a ploy to get folks to vote because all three songs are being released on CD. Which is fine with me because I wasn't a big fan of the song When You Say You Love Me. I liked He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother. Fantasia performed a song, and I wasn't that impressed. It seems that lots of folks like her, but the song was just having her screetch and caterwaul. It was awful! What I think is so funny is that everyone was acting like it was the best singing act anyone ever heard. The three people with the lowest number of votes were Nikko Smith, Vonzell Solomon, and Scott Savol. I was really shocked about vonzell being there because I don't think she was so bad. And I am definitely shocked that Anthony Fedorov wasn't in the bottom three. Anthony even said that he agreed with Simon's comments that his performance was hideous, and he even thought that he would be in the bottom three. Vonzell was the one with the third lowest votes. I do think that I know why Scott was in the bottom two. I think that the news about his arrest in 2001 may have adversely affected his chances. Scott was the next to last though, and Nikko was out again.

The funeral for Prince Rainier will be on Friday, April 15. I think that some consideration went into the fact that with the Pope's funeral this week, it might be abit of a strain on folks to have to attend both ceremonies. Rainier did quite alot to change the image of Monaco. It used to just be a place where gamblers went for the Monte Carlo casinos. He worked hard to make it a place that attracted tourists for other reasons. Two of the big events in Monaco are the Monaco Grand Prix and the Monte Carlo Circus Festival.

The city Mayoral race is heating up. There are three candiates running for the Democratic nomination in the May 17 primary. The city has severe financial problems and the candidates gave us some insight into how they would handle the problem. The three candidates are Michael Lamb, Bob O'Connor, and William Peduto. I have to admit that I like what I hear from William Peduto. It seems that he is willing to make tough decisions that are needed to turn things around in this city. All candidates say that they favor in lowering the parking taxes in the city that are just extremely high.

The Mars Rovers are getting an extension on work contract. Since the rovers have been so productive, and are still chugging away, they were granted an additional eighteen months to continue gathering data. This is great news because even at this late date, they are finding out some interesting things about the water content in the soil.

The math equation today will be a representation of Kepler's Third Law. To start, the mass and the center of mass of two planetary objects are related with the equation m1r1=m2r2. When can then take r1 + 2=a, where a is the distance between the two masses. This quantity can then be put into Newton's equation for gravitational force with F=G(m1m2/a2. G is the universal constant of gravitation. From this we can derive a relationship between the orbital period (P) between the two bodies and their common center of mass. This comes to P2=[4π2/G(m1 + m2)]a3. In our solar system, the Sun has the largest mass, so we just make the substitution of its mass for any two objects in our system. This leads to P2=[4π2/GMsun]a3. If P is measured in years and a is measured in astronomical units, [4π2/GMsun] will equal 1. So the equation can simply be represented as P2=a3.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 -- Afternoon

The Beckhams are looking for a new nanny. It appears that the one they had for their three children got into an argument with Victoria, and was fired. So now the Beckhams are being inundated with applications in response to their ad on

Bond, James Bond. Sean Connery will be returning as Bond....for a new video game. The game is From Russia with Love and Connery will record dialogue for the game and his image will be used. Also on the Bond front, Pierce Brosnan may be returning as Bond for the fifth time. It seems that Sony bought the MGM studio that distributes the Bond movies, and they have opened up the possibility of bringing Pierce back in the role. Of course, there are conflicting rumors that Daniel Craig will be the next Bond. I guess that we will have to wait for official word, or for the movie to actually go into production.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 -- Morning

Prince Rainier has died from the heart, lung and kidney problems that he has suffered for the past few years and that recently hospitalized him. Rainier was Europe's longest reigning monarch. There is no news yet on funeral plans.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 -- Evening

The American Idol competition was this evening. The theme this week is musicals. Now that's an interesting theme because it's not something that pop singers do. Scott Savol went with The Impossible Dream from Man from Lamancha. He did not do a good job. I keep on thinking of Jim Neighbors doing a much better job. Scott was out of tune, and had no emotion. It was a real downer to start out the evening. Randy said that he had pitch problems at the beginning, but that overall it was just okay. Paula, yep, you guessed it, had nothing but wonderful things to spout. Simon thought it was more of a tap than a bang at the end. Simon thought that it was ordinary, and I have to agree. I didn't think it was very good at all. Second up was Constantine Maroulis and he sang My Funny Valentine. Constantine said the he's done plenty of musicals in his life because he did the acting thing. He did a seductive and smouldering version of the song. Boy, I find myself using that terminology alot with Constantine, and he does that quality in abundance. He did a nice job. There weren't any of the pitch or out of tune problems that I've heard with some of the other singers, and with Scott this evening. And those eyes of constantine's. He's the man! Randy said that this was the best he sang any day, and he thinks this should be the thing that Constantine does--he doesn't buy the whole rocker thing, and Paula admitted that she is falling in love with Constantine. She thought that it was remarkable. Paula thought he was the coolest of cool. I agree with her on this one. Simon thought that he grew in confidence, and thought it was the best pouting performance. Simon gave the singing a 7 and the pout a 9.5. Boy, Constantine is my favorite. The guy can do no wrong in my mind. Carrie Underwood sang Hello Young Lovers. She commented on the fact that musicals were hard for the singers. I think it's because most of them can't sing and just know one style of music. I thought that Carrie did a very good job with the song though. I can see her sticking around to the end. Carrie's singing is good, and she has a very nice voice. Randy thought the song was boring, but thought that Carrie sung it and sung it well--in tune and with good voice. He thought it was a good job. Paula thought Carrie looked stunning and her performance was elegant. Paula thought Carrie was a well-oiled machine with her vocals. Simon was not as impressed because he thought it was too old fashioned and abit boring. I think that it might have been the song. There are so many songs to choose from, but obviously she doesn't know the genre, and that's what creates the problem. Next up was Vonzell Solomon who sang People. I think that Barbra Streisand songs are always iffy choices because you only can compare the person to Barbra. But I have to admit that Vonzell did a nice job with the song. I wasn't a big fan of hers at the beginning, but she is winning me over. Randy said that he keeps on thinking that vonzell gets better every week. Paula thought it was a bold choice, but that Vonzell did a good job. Paula said that she sang in the same key as Barbra and hit the high E that Barbra doesn't go for. Simon said that the song left him cold. He didn't feel that the song touched him. I think that Randy and Paula just think that Simon is crazy. I don't think she did a bad job though. I was surprised at how well she did with it. Maybe that was part of it. I didn't expect much, and she gave more than I thought she would. Anthony Fedorov was next singing Climb Every Mountain, and the only thing I have to say is that he is no Julie Andrews. His voice was very weak at the beginning. He hit a few high notes, but I don't think that it was very well done. He just seemed off somehow even though he was loud and high at the end. Randy did not think that it was very good at all, and just thought he threw some high notes in at the end. Paula enjoyed it, but she wasn't as gushing as usual. Simon said that it was hideous. As Simon said, everything about it was just horrible. It was horrible. No other way to describe it. After Anthony, we had Nikko Smith. He sang One Hand, One Heart from West Side Story. Unfortunately, I don't think that Nikko did a very good job with the song. His voice seemed to be all over the place, and it was confusing. Randy loved that he gave a contemporary feel to the song. Randy said he wasn't at his best but it was okay. Paula said that Nikko brings R&B to American Idol. Simon thought that the beginning of the sound was out of tune, and it was. Even Randy agreed to that one. I was really wondering how Anwar Robinson would do. He performed If Ever I Would Leave You from Camelot. I don't think that it was bad, but I didn't think that it was great other. Anwar did his trademark bounce, and then at the end was out of tune. Not very good, but not the worst. I would give that to Anthony. Randy welcomed Anwar back, and said that he showed his good voice and singing ability. Paula, of course, said that Anwar was the best singer on the stage. Simon said "you look very comfortable". And they left it at that. I think that's the thing. It wasn't really bad, but not really good. Mediocre. After Anwar came Bo Bice. He sang Corner of the Sky. Musicals are not his genre. Although his voice was okay, he just doesn't do musicals very well. The song was just abit too happy. In fact, I have to say that I was bored with the song and Bo's performance. Randy commented that he thought that Bo was consistently great. Paula said that Bo was a winner and deserved to be on the stage. Simon thought that Bo personally had two bad weeks. Simon said that he believes Bo is going in the wrong direction and needs to change himself around. Last was Nadia Turner. She sang As Long as He Needs Me from Oliver. I don't think her voice was that strong today, and I don't think musicals are her thing either. I was underimpressed. It was another one of those boring, mundane performances with a few high notes. Randy thought it was a great performance. Paula thought that it was absolutely beautiful. Simon said that it was the best Nadia has done in the past three weeks, but thought that Ryan Seacrest should stop picking the themes. What I think this show highlighted is that alot of the performers are one dimensional and can't carry a tune very well.
Now for the part that I know everyone is waiting for my bottom three picks. However, before I do that, I want to give my top performance, and that was Constantine. He just doesn't disappoint, and he plays to the camera so well. For the bottom three, I would pick in order from best of the worst to the worst: Anwar Robinson, Scott Savol, Anthony Federov.

For the math equation for today, let's look at how astronomers figure out the radius of a distant star. We can determine that radius of the star as a function of its luminosity. We know that energy flux is related to temperature with the equation E=σT4 where σ if the Stefan-Boltzmann constant. Luminosity can then be defined as the energy flux over the area of the spherical object that is the star. This becomes L=4πR2σT4. In this equation, the 4πR2 is the area of a spherical object. So if we want to find the radius (R), we have R=(1/T2)([L/4πσ]1/2).

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 -- Afternoon

North Carolina beat Illinois last night. It was one of those games that looked like North Carolina was going to win, and then Illinois would make a comeback. So it was thrilling. The final score was 75-70.

Poor Prince Charles! Not only did he have to change his wedding date, but now there's all that memorabilia with the first wedding date of April 8 on it. Well, it seems that there are folks out there who are rushing to buy the items in the hope that they will one day be worth money. Experts, however, say that buying the items in anticipation that they will be worth more money later is not good business.

British researchers say that there are probably alot of planets around other stars that are waiting to be discovered>. Right now, it is difficult to find planets because they only reflect light and do not give it off. The only way to notice that there might be something orbiting a star is by a wobble that it has due to the graviational pull of the planet or planets. If you look at the Drake Equation there is a constant that is used for the percentage of stars that have planets associated with them. Estimates at this point run from 20% to 50%. The Drake Equation is used to guesstimate the probability of finding intelligent life outside of our solar system.

Monday, April 4, 2005 -- Evening

Tonight is the NCAA Championship. It is a matchup between Illinois and North Carolina, and so far, in the first few minutes of the game, North Carolina came out with a nine point streak to lead 9-2, to only have Illinois come back to tie it. This should be a very exciting game. It will probably end after my bed time, so I'll post an update on the game tomorrow morning.

For today's equation in honor of Math Awareness Month, we'll look at a real life application of the Doppler Effect as it relates to cosmology. The Doppler Effect is the change in wavelength that is observed in a moving object. You can hear the Doppler effect when an ambulance approaches you and then passes you. You can hear a shift in the sound of the sirens. The same thing happens with light. The wavelength of an object that is moving away from you are longer than if it was stationary. Red falls in the spectrum with a longer wavelength. So when things are moving away from you, like stars or galaxies, they are referred to as redshift. When an object is approaching you, the wavelength is shorter. Blue falls in the spectrum with a shorter wavelength. Hence when something is coming towards you it is referred to as blueshift. Knowing this, we can figure out if galaxies or stars are moving away from us or towards us, and how fast it is doing it. We do this by observing the shift or change in wavelength. We know what the spectrum and wavelength are for hydrogen, and we know that the normal wavelength is 656.285 nm. If we observe another star that gives off a hydrogen spectrum, but the wavelength is different, we can calculate the change in wavelength. For example, Vega's hydrogen spectrum has a wavelength of 656.255 nm. The change in wavelength is Δλ. So, Δλ = λ - λ0, where λ0 is the normal wavelength, and λ is the observed wavelength in the distant object. In the case with Vega, we have 656.255 nm - 656.285 nm = -0.030 nm. The equation that relates wavelength and velocity is Δλ/λ = v/c (where c is the speed of light). In our example we can find the speed that Vega is moving by plugging in the numbers that we know: c is a constant that equals 3x105 km/s, the wavelength of hydrogen 656.286 nm, and the Δλ which equals -0.030 nm. So v=c(Δλ/λ) which is 3x105 km/s(-0.030 nm/656.286 nm) = -13.7 km/s. If the velocity is negative that means the object is moving towards us, so that means that Vega is moving at 13.7 km/s and is moving in our direction.

Monday, April 4, 2005 -- Afternoon

Chris Taft has stated that he is going up for the NBA draft. Now we have to see if someone actually drafts him.

Prince Charles has postponed his wedding due to the Pope's funeral. Prince Charles will be attending the Pope's funeral representing the Queen on Friday.

We now actually have a photograph of a planet orbiting another star. It is possible that the picture isn't showing the planet, but may actually show another object that is close to in the sky, at least from our vantage point. The planet is said to be 100 times farther from its star than Earth is from the Sun. The scientists believe that the star is similar to a younger version of the Sun. Scientists do have some questions about whether the planet on the pictures is indeed the planet. The biggest concern is the size of the planet which is 42 times the size of Jupiter. So it could be that the object is not a planet, but a brown dwarf, or a star that failed to ignite.

Sunday, April 3, 2005 -- Afternoon

For the daily math formula, today we will figure out how to calculate the lifetime of the Sun. This could apply to any star since the Sun is a star. The basic formula is lifetime equals energy divided by the rate at which energy is emitted. We can figure out how much energy the sun emits based on how bright the sun appears to us at our distance on Earth from the Sun. How much energy the sun has to burn is calculated based on our knowledge of the chemical makeup of the sun. We know the sun is basically a huge nuclear reactor, and that it transforms four hydrogen atoms into one helium atom. If we look at a periodic table, we see that the atomic weight of 1 helium atom is 4.002602 while the atomic weight of 1 hydrogen atom is 1.00794. Multipled by 4 (for the 4 atoms) and you get 4.03176. That's a difference of 0.029158 which comes to .7%. That means that 0.7% of the mass was lost, and we know from our knowledge of physics that the mass isn't just lost, but converted into energy. This leads us to the equation that we get from Einsteain: E=mc2 so that means that E=(0.007)mc2. c is the speed of light, and m is the mass of the object. Now the reaction really only occurs in the inner part of the Sun, so we would say that only 10% of the Sun is involved in the reaction (or 0.10), and that would figure into our equation, leading to an equation of the form of E=0.007 x 0.10 x Msunc2. If we throw in all the parts, we get 1.3 x 1044 Joules. This is the total amount of energy that the Sun has to burn. Now we know the rate because we measured it here on Earth as 3.8 x 1026. So lifetime = energy/rate which is 1.3x1044 divided by 3.8x1026 which leaves us with a lifetime of 10 billion years. We estimate that 5 billion of those years have already passed, so the Sun has another 5 billion left to go.

NASA has set the launch date for its robotic spacecraft that can repair satelites without human intervention. The spacecraft is known as DART, and will be launched on April 15.

Yesterday evening the Final Four games were played. For the first time, the top seeds won. Illinois won its game, and North Carolina won its game. So the two will meet in the final on Monday. I am imagining that Illinois will take the championship in the end. It seems that they have had a really great season, and probably deserve this win. When I was doing my bracket, I was thinking that I should pick them to win it all, but I decided not to because I thought for sure they would fall apart in the tournament, and I was wrong.

Saturday, April 2, 2005 -- Afternoon

The Pope died just under an hour ago. The process of what happens after a Pope dies is very ceremonial. The Pope should be buried within four to six days of dying, and he will be buried under the main altar in St. Peter's Basilica. Then within fifteen to twenty days the process will start to elect a replacement for the Pope.

Today's math formula is the Parallax formula. This is the formula that can be used to calculate the distant to a remote object, such as a star or a planet. Basically triangulation is the method that is used to derive the distance. For very distant objects, such as a star, we have to start out with a base, and the one unit that we can measure and know is the radius of the Earth's orbit. The radius of the Earth's orbit is basically the difference between the Earth and the Sun. This is referred to as 1 astronomical unit (AU). The position of the star in the sky is noted, and then checked again in six months. The apparent difference in position of the star in the sky will give us the parallax angle. The formula to determine the distance to the star shows that the distance (d) is equal to the radius (a) of the Earth's orbit divided by the parallax angle (p) which gives us d=a/p. The parallax angle is measured in arcseconds, and the distance to the star is in parsecs with 1 parsec equal to 206,265 AU.

The parking meters by the Carnegie Library are very interesting. I've noticed that there are three of them in a very small area by the Scheneley Park bridge. The boxes are solar powered. What is interesting about the devices is that there isn't really any clear documentation on them, but it is obvious that you can pay for parking in a particular spot with the machines. I took the picture yesterday when it was still fairly nice outside, and all three had their solar panels up and working.

Phipps Conservatory is looking very nice. They have been expanding the building and it looks like they have most of it done. There are brightly colored flags marking out sections on the grounds around the building. Right now, the grounds are dirt from the work they have been doing so the flags give the appearance of flowers and it makes the area look really neat.

The Squirrel Hill Carnegie Library will have a grand opening on April 19th, and they will be having a grand opening ceremony that evening. I am really looking forward to having the library back again.

Friday, April 1, 2005 -- Evening

April is Math Awareness Month. The theme of the this year's Math Awareness Month is Mathematics and the Cosmos. Obviously alot of physics deals with the use of mathematics. So for the month of April, I'll have an equation a day, and try to keep to the use of math in astronomy or physics. Today's equation is for the gravitational pull that two bodies exert on each other. This equation is based on Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. The force of gravity between two bodies is equal to the mass of body 1 times the mass of body 2 divided by the distance between the two bodies. The form is F=(m1*m2)/d. This is derived from Newton's famous equation: F=ma (where the force acting on an object is equal to the mass of the object times the object's acceleration). This is the equation that Newton came up with to describe the apple falling to the ground.

Spirit, the
Mars Rover, has a new life due to a recent wind storm on Mars. It appears that the wind storm cleaned the dust accummulation off of Spirit's solar panels and have given the rover new life and energy. The difference between how it was looking to now is striking.

There is going to be a solar eclipse on April 8. Unfortunately, we won't see any of it here in Pittsburgh, but to the south of us, they will get to see a partial solar eclipse. That means that only a portion of the sun will be blocked by the moon, looking like something took a chunk out of the sun. The interesting thing is that cresent shaped beams can be observed in shadowed areas. It's a phenomena that happens with partial eclipses.

Friday, April 1, 2005 -- Afternoon

Why can't I be this lucky? It seems that a a slew of people in a half a dozen states won money at Powerball by matching the five numbers minus the powerball. When that happens, you win $100,000. Some folks had the number that multiples your winnings also, so some won $500,000. So how did such a large number win so much? They got the numbers from a fortune cookie! It seems that the numbers in the fortune cookie were 22, 28, 32, 33, 39 and 40. Well, some folks who got the fortune cookie played those numbers. The Powerball folks knew something was up because of the large number of winners (110) who all played a powerball of 40. The actual powerball number was 42, which was really close. Geeze, I'd even settle for the $100,000. I'm going to get some Chinese food tonight, and see if I have any luck tomorrow!

It seems that the attempt by the financing company in Boston to buy the NHL teams is still out there. One of the partners in the New Jersey Devils organization is urging his fellow owners to give some serious consideration to the proposal. The problem for this plan is that no everyone will agree. There are a slew of teams that would love to be bought out, but it's an all or none deal.

Friday, April 1, 2005 -- Morning

It seems that Scott Savol's place is secure for now at American Idol. It appears that he informed the producers of the arrest. If he had not, it might have been an issue.

Prince Rainier is not expected to recover. It seems that the end is near for him, but he is still receiving medical treatment. Not only is Rainier at the end, but the Pope is also. The Pope had a set back yesterday, and has a fever from a urinary tract infection. It ssems that there may be multiple things going on with the Pope, and now for both men a death watch is on.

A robotics evaluation of servicing the Hubble telescope has led NASA to a deorbit only decision. This evaluation agrees with the decision made earlier that Hubble should be scrapped. The cost of repairing the telescope is enormous, and depends on the space shuttle crew.

Plaxico Burress has responded to comments that Jerome Bettis made about Burress. It seems that Jerome commented that the NY Giants coach and Burress would probably be "butting heads" because of Burress' attitude off the field. Jerome even commented that Burress had a habit of showing up late to work, and just got away with it at the Steelers because Bill Cowher didn't like to fine folks. Burress, of course, refutes the claims. Hmmm, would I believe the guy who didn't show up for one of his interviews with the Giants and was late for another? Sure. Of course, Burress doesn't have issues off the field.