The Daily Bongo

February 2005

Monday, February 28, 2005 -- Evening

Okay. You can knock me down with a feather right now. Pitt wound up beating Boston College. The final score was 72 to 50, and what was impressive is that Pitt managed to take the lead close to the beginning and they just ran with it. I guess that they may make it to the NCAA tournament.

As a break from basketball, I started Watching American Idol. This evening was the men's competition. There are ten guys left. Mario Vasquez was first. His song was a nice peppy one. I think that he has alot of personality. I think that he will continue in the competition, and go pretty far. Mario is cute, and he says he has a full head of hair under his constant hat. I don't know. I'm thinking that it's thinning out. Anwar Robinson was second, and he did a very nice rendition of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. It was another very good performance. I think the guys learned from the comments that were made last week, and so far, no one is singing a ballad. Joseph Murena was third, and he said Al Green's Let's Stay Together. I have to admit that I do love that song, but I'm not too impressed with Joe's voice. Simon colwell agreed with me, and he wasn't too impressed with Joe. Simon says that he would make a decent cabaret singer. David Brown was the fourth singer. He went against the grain and went with a ballad. I don't think it did a good job of showcasing his voice, and in fact, it seemed abit on the squeaky side, and at times out of tune. Randy, Paula, and Simon agreed that he was really not at his best. simon said that David left "whatever sparkle he had behind". That's what I like about Simon colwell. He calls it like it is. The fifth guy was Constantine Maroulis. The guy does know how to give a performance. I don't think his voice is very strong. He sang Hard to Handle from the Black Crows. Constantine has sex appeal, but not all the singing talent that I would like. The sixth guy was Scott Savol. The thing that struck me as I listened to Scott is that all the male singers have the same sounding voice. I don't think his voice was too strong. He went for a soul type peppy song. I recognized it, but I don't know the title. I agree with Randy who said that he just hasn't brought his A game to the competition yet. Simon and Paula liked him though. Travis Tucker was next. He sang a Lionel Ritchie song All Night, and his voice seemed really weak to me. He was peppy, but I don't think the singing was that great. Simon said that Travis wasn't the best singer, but he was a good performer. I would agree with that. Next up was Nikko Smith. He sang Let's Get it On. A good performance, and a decent voice. He put his whole soul into the song, and I thought he did a decent job. The next to last competitor was Anthony Fedorov. He sang I Want to Know What Love is. I don't think he performs well, and I don't think this was his best vocal performance (in my opinion). The last person was Bo Bice. I don't like Bo's look personally. I suppose I don't like the unwashed rocker look. I do have to say that he does sound like a seasoned rocker. He sang Whipping Post which I believe is an Allman Brothers' song. I can see him performing his rock music professionally. His voice is definitely different from everyone else in the competition. The guy is really good in his genre. They did a recap at the end, and the two guys that I would be voting off would be Joseph Murena and David Brown. We'll have to see if the rest of the folks out there agree with me.

It's now half time for the Pitt versus Boston College game. So far, Pitt has not done a bad job, and they are leading 28-25. They don't seem to be doing a great job of trying to get the ball, but at least they are making baskets that Boston College is not making. We shall have to see how the game ends.

Monday, February 28, 2005 -- Afternoon

I found an interesting web site with Retro Junk on it. One of the most interesting commercials made me think of a friend. He is really into the Commodore 64, and had the logo tattooed on his arm. Well, one of the commercials on the site is for the Commodore Vic-20. William Shatner is the presenter in the commercial. What more could one ask for than a Commodore and Captain Kirk!

Pitt is playing Boston College this evening. The players here are confident about making the NCAA tournament, but others aren't as confident. We only have two games left. The one tonight against BC, and then Notre Dame. The fans booed Jamie Dixon on Saturday after the game because they see alot of the problems stemming from him. The biggest issue that I see is that Pitt hired an assistant coach that the players personally liked. So the guy basically coaches like an assistant coach, which a head coach can not do. Also, because of personal friendships with the players, he has a hard time disciplining them and gaining their respect as a task master. Right now, Pitt is sixth in the Big East, but they could drop as low as eighth if they lose both of their final games and West Virginia beats Seton Hall.

More than seven thousand people said that they would pay to go into space. Richard Branson, the guy who is behind Virgin Air, is also the person behind the recent private space ship enterprises that we have seen, like SpaceShipOne. Supposedly, the flights will start in 2008. I don't know if I would want to go up into space. Well, in a way, I would love to see what the Earth looks like, and it might be interesting to feel weightless. I think my biggest problem would be the fact that I am really not a risk taker. Ever since the time I had a rough air flight a few years back, I've been nervous about flying. When I imagine how rough the launch would be to get me into space, and the potential problems with landing, I think that I will keep my feet on firm ground.

So without hockey, what sports are left? I'm not a big basketball fan. I do follow the Pitt team just because there is nothing better to do, and you have to support local teams--even when you find fault with the coaching. In the past, I used to like auto racing, so maybe it is time to go back to that. I do like Formula One because of its road racing history. It's so boring to watch cars going around in an endless circle. At least with Formula One, you get left AND right turns. It appears that the cars have changed alot over the years. At least I thought of it before the start of the season. This year, the season starts on March 6 in Australia.

Sunday, February 27, 2005 -- Evening

Sean Connery and Judi Dench topped a list of British Film Legends on a poll given by Sky Television in Britain. The poll listed the top 10 men and women and covered a variety of eras. So Cary Grant is side by side with Kate Winslet.

I just watched an episode of Jacques Pepin: Fast Food My Way. Jacques Pepin is one of my favorite chefs to watch on television. I think that some folks are intimidated because he is supposed to be a French chef, but he does tend to make some very easy, hearty countryside French food. So you don't get the stuff that you find in the fancy restaurants, but the food that you find in the French countryside. In this show, he tries to give recipes that are easy to make and don't take alot of time. That eliminates the excuse of "I don't have time to cook a meal for dinner because I work all day". Sometimes I use that excuse, but that's just what it is: an excuse. Usually it is just because I feel tired. So I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes that Jacques has. Only a few of the recipes are on the website, so I am going to check the book out from the local library.

On Friday evening, I went to Smokey Bones Barbeque and Grill. It is one of my favorite restaurants, but I don't go there very often because it is in Robinson Township. That means I have to go through the Fort Pitt Tunnels to get there, and that's not always a pleasant drive during rush hour traffic. So I don't go there often. Smokey Bones is a chain restaurant that has a simple barbeque type place feel to it. The menus are placemats on the table. There are televisions all over the place, and you have a selector at your table so you can hear the audio from whichever television catches your eye. There aren't alot of options on the menu, but all the food is good. This time we shared the barbequed chicken nachos, which are very tasty. For an entree I mixed the shrimp appetizer with some rice and broccoli. The shrimp was in a tangy tomato sauce and really had a kick to them. The others with me had burgers or pulled pork. One of these days when I go there, I'd like to save room for dessert. One of the options is a bag of freshly cooked cinnamon sugar doughnuts. The service is always good and fast. I just wish the restaurant were in a more convenient location.

Sunday, February 27, 2005- Late Afternoon

It is getting to be like a broken record. Pitt lost yet again yesterday afternoon. This time it was to UConn. This is the third straight loss for the team, and there are only two more games left in the regular season. For a while now, some of the folks that I know have been talking about how Pitt won't make the NCAA tournament this year. I have to admit that I have serious doubts about their ability to really be competitive in the regular or post season, so I doubt that they should qualify. You want the tournament to be exciting and competitive, and I don't think at this point that Pitt will be able to provide that. what sucks about the game yesterday is that Pitt had a seven point lead that they just blew.

Jerome Bettis will be back with the Steelers next year. He will have abit of a pay raise, going from one million dollars to one and a half million dollars. This is alot less than he is owed. This coming year, he should be making almost four and a half million dollars. What Jerome has said is that he would like to go to the Super Bowl this coming year because it will be played in this hometown of Detroit. I really admire Jerome. He saw the benefit in getting an education, and completed his degree when he was having issues with the St. Louis Rams, and he encourages young people to put education first. When you add that in with his friendly and pleasant demeanor to fans and teammates, his skill, and his loyalty to the Steelers and Pittsburgh, you see a person who is worthy of admiration.

Rumor has it that Tommy Maddox is being shopped around by the Steelers. I can understand that because I think that he is a mediocre quarterback who is making a pretty penny. If you want to replace him, you can replace him with a quarterback with similar skills and pay less. We should be seeing a much changed Steeler team next year because Plaxico Burress will be gone--he wasn't franchised this year so that means byebye Plaxico--and chad Scott and Jay Riemersma will also not be back.

Mario has also been saying that the he was mislead by the players also in the whole hockey fiasco recently. Mario doesn't understand what was behind this ploy, but I am sure that it was just a way to try to make the owners look really bad. According to the players (or at least the players association), we should hate the owners because they are trying to make money. Why shouldn't they? No one goes into business to lose money! Anyone who did that would be stupid. Or they would become involved in the NHL which at this point is just a money pit for owners.

Saturday, February 26, 2005 -- Morning

My old laptop was starting to give me problems. Not all of the keys were functioning, and it was old and slow, so I decided that a new laptop was in order. Why a laptop over a desktop? Because I can sit and watch television with it on my lap, or take it anywhere I like in the house. Mobility! It's a wonderful word. Anyway, since I am a Windows person, and Dell has some good specials, I bought an Inspiron 1150. It's a nice laptop, and surprises of surprises, here and enlarge the photo, you can get a view of the keyboard layout. Well, the Inspiron 1150 is totally different. The keyboard fits in a perfect rectangle on the computer, and all the control keys are in different locations. For example,, the insert and delete are below the right hand shift now, and the home and end keys are to the far right hand side of the keyboard. The windows key is up in the upper right instead of below the left hand shift key, and the list goes on. If you wonder why folks have a real phobia about updating their computers, this is why. There is no consistency. You have to learn new keyboard locations---the new version of the software has different menu layouts---functionality in the software or hardware is changed, aka "inhanced" so you have to relearn how to use it. For me it is more of an annoyance factor, and just is plain irritating while you are first getting setup, but I can see how frustrating it must be for the computer illiterate.

Then there was the Palm. I have a Tungsten E, and when I initially switched from my Palm M500 it was a nightmare. The update on Palm OS and data did not go the way the Palm folks claimed it would. What should have been a half hour process turned into a 4 hour ordeal. But I figured since this was just a switch of computer, the process should be less painful. It wasn't as bad. Again, the only problem was an annoyance. I use DataViz Documents to Go, and I love it. This software allows you to view and edit Word and Excel documents and your palm, and sync with your laptop. The annoyance that I had with the switch to the new laptop was that I had restored my data to the computer. A subset of the files was on the palm, and I had updated a few of them on Friday. When I did the sync, it created a filename1 as opposed to syncing with the desktop. What you had to do was rename the file, and then change the sync settings to have the desktop overwrite the palm to get things back in groove. As I said, an annoyance because I first notice that the files weren't updated, then I noticed that it created a file1, then I had to go to the website to see that in order to make everything happy you had to have the desktop overwrite the palm to make syncing work properly in future. Whew! Will I ever update hardware again? Sure! Will I plan for a raise in blood pressure while doing it? You betcha!

Friday, February 25, 2005 -- Afternoon

One of the current exercise routines going around now is Krav Maga. It is a tough self-defense training that was started by an Israeli guy who trained the military in Israel at the start of the nation in 1948. It doesn't take long to learn, and they say you can learn with just a couple of hours a week. It's very rigorous training. It sounds like something that I would like though. My idea of a good martial art is one where you give jabs in the eye, and things like that.

Disney sold off the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. This shouldn't really be news to anyone because Disney has been saying for some time now that they don't have the money to support the sports teams that they purchased.

TiVo's stock is rising due to speculation that Apple might be buying the company. This must be Steven Jobs answer to Bill Gate's trying to take over the digital future. As Bill says, everyone wants to have one device that does it all. Jobs just wants to make sure it is an Apple.

At a space conference, an Italian scientist, Vittorio Formisano, says that he believes that the composition of gases currently found on Mars might indicate current biological activity. In other words, the scientist believes that the little green men are alive and well, and probably just right under the surface. He says that the combination of methane and formaldehyde could be signs of life because the gases should have a short life span. The fact that we see evidence of it implies that there is a source replenishing the gases. Formisano believes that more soil samples need to be taken before a definitive answer is given. Boy, does he know how to cover his butt! Through some comment out there based on the minimal amount of information that we currently have, and see where it flies. That is how science works. You have to postulate a theory, and then see if you can get financial backing to prove it. The only thing is that you have to hope that you have enough information so that you will be able to prove it in the end. I would love to see more research done on Mars, and I hope that the governments of the world can afford it.

Thursday, February 24, 2005 -- Afternoon

I was a huge fan of Star Trek, The Next Generation, but I have to admit that I really didn't get into any of the other Star Trek shows. From things that I saw about Enterprise, it didn't sound like something that I would want to see, so I never even watched it. There are a large number of fans though in Israel, and they are protesting to save Enterprise from being cancelled. I think that the reason I really liked Star Trek TNG is because it always seemed to have some sort of philosophical dilemna that the Picard and the crew would grapple with. I was taking a philosophy of ethics class at the time, and every week I would see one of the principles from the class on the show.

The Pope had a relapse of his illness and is in the hospital now undergoing a tracheotomy. I'm just shocked that that Pope hasn't keeled over yet from all the problems that he has had. He looks much older than his 84 years, but somehow he keeps on ticking.

HP is being sued by a woman in the US who says that the printer cartridges that HP sells are programmed with an expiration date. Even if the cartridge isn't empty, it seems that the programming is such that the cartridge will register as empty. I wonder if other companies do this. The woman is initiating a class action suit that should benefit anyone who purchased an HP printer since February of 2001.

Thursday, February 24, 2005 -- Morning

More members of the Royal Family will not be attending the wedding ceremony portion of Charles' wedding. You could say that they are trying to keep the affair low-key, and that it isn't a snub. Prince William is scheduled to be one of the witnesses, so he will be attending.

Locally, the news is that Lynn Swann has formed a campaign committee to run for governor of Pennsylvania. The election will not be until 2006, and it appears that Swann will be running as a Republican.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 -- Later Evening

Well, Pitt played to its level of incompetance. Pitt lost this evening to West Virginia. What was so bad about this loss is that Pitt was ahead, and just threw the game away at the end. How do you go from a 15 point lead in the second half to a 4 point loss? If your team is on the poor side, then that's what you get. Even the commentators remarked on the fact that the fans were booing the players in the final seconds of the game. If Pitt wins anything after the regular season, I will be shocked. I don't think that they will be able to pull it together.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 -- Evening

Barry Bonds had a 'roid rage yesterday at a press conference. Well, he was very testy about the whole steroid issue. What I think is funny is that the guy wants us to believe in his late thirties, he beefed up as he wasn't able to do when he was younger. Come on, Bonds would have us believe that he achieve his state of fitness and bigness by munching on flaxseed and rubbing Ben-Gay on his body. Has steroids affected his performance. Sure it did. It is illegal in this country to have it? Sure it is. I think that he should have some sort of mark by his name, and any other player who performed while taking steroids should have a similar mark. This has nothing to do with Bonds being black as he would lead us to believe. It has everything to do with unfair advantage.

The Paris Hilton debacle has brought to light the possibility that a phone could be hacked or perpetrate viruses. The most common way for a phone to be hacked is via Bluetooth. The fact is that if you have something on a network, it is going to be vulnerable to attack. why should cell phones be different?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 -- Afternoon

So Microsoft is suing an Israeli spammer for causing damage by sending tons of spam. The spammer is Amir Gans, and it appears that he is quite open about the fact that he spams people. He is supposedly responsible for 50% of the spam that Israelis receive, and he targets Hebrew speakers. I know some folks here in the US who get Hebrew spam all the time, and I wonder if good old Amir is behind that. I have to admit that I personally don't like spam, but that is what spam filters and the delete key are for. In fact, if it weren't for spammers making money off of spam, there wouldn't be spam stoppers making money. So it's one of those economic circles. Unfortunately, none of the interviews that were online are available anymore, but here is a short review of one. Anyone that Microsoft sues can't be all that bad!

Scientists have found a dark galaxy that they suspect is made of dark matter. There is no visible trace of stars in the galaxy, and it was found because of the huge amount of hydrogen gas in that area. It seems that hyrdrogen gas releases radiation, and they found the location by using radio telescopes.

So was Paris Hilton's phone hacked? She has been advertising the Sidekick for T-Mobile for abit now, and it appears that somehow someone was able to get their hands on her phone list and personal pictures that were on the device. The information was then made available to everyone on the Internet. Seeing how stupid this girl is, she probably gave her password out to every Tom, Dick and Harry, or she was in a public place and talking about it loudly. This is really bad PR for T-Mobile, and I bet they'll get rid of dumb girl from the commercials soon.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005 -- Evening

The Queen will not be attending the civil ceremony when Charles marries Camilla. She will be attending a blessing for the couple at St. George's Chapel, and will be giving the wedding reception. It is very curious though that she is missing the ceremony. Supposedly we aren't supposed to be reading any slight into this, but how else could one interpret it? As the Times put it, it may be because Charles forced his mother's hand by making a more public display of a controversial decision to marry.

Well, well. It appears that Lemieux and Gretzky may have been pawns in the hands of the NHLPA. It seems that they were invited by the NHLPA to the meeting on Saturday, and the cap that they believed the NHLPA would be presenting wasn't even developed. It seems that Gary Bettman was quite open about what his views were about the situation and the fact that the hockey season might not be saved. If I were the players, I would be calling for Goodenow's head!

Mobile PC has a list of the Top 200 Gadgets of all time. The list is pretty versatile. It includes a Zippo light (number 81), Rubik's Cube (89) and HP Omnibook 300 (76). There are some criteria that they used to select the gadgets. The gadgets had to be electronic or have moving parts; it had to be able to function on its own; and it had to be smaller than a bread box. Here's my top five gadgets and the reason why I picked them. Number 5 would be the transistor radio. I have very fond memories of lying in my bed as a kid and listening to my transistor radio with the one ear earphone. What did I listen to? The racing results from the local horse racing tracks. Number 4 would be the DVD player. I love the ability to watch a movie AND be able to jump from scene to scene or fast forward at different speeds instead of just one speed fast forwarding that you get with a VCR. And those extras? What more could you want? Number three would be the Dial-O-Matic. How can you not have a Ron Popeli product as a top gadget? I love watching his commercials, and my mother used to have one of these when I was a kid. You could slice food, you could shred food, and tons of french fries in only a few minutes. Number 2 would be my Palm Tungsteen E. Boy, it was like watching the Wizard of Oz, where all of a sudden you go from the drab black and white world to the color world of Oz. And now the drum roll--my number one gadget is the cell phone. Anywhere you go, you can call anyone or get any call. Not only that, but in all of those mystery books, the heroine just needs to call for help instead of being a damsel in distress. That is if she has a signal and didn't forget to charge her phone.

Monday, February 21, 2005 -- Evening

Scientists believe that there is a frozen sea beneath the surface of Mars. The analysis is based on photos that have been taken by Europe's Mars Express. Somehow we have to send something or someone up there to actually see if this is actually the case.

On a personal note, I had a very good day today. Over a year ago, my eye doctor noticed that I had a blind spot in a visual field test. I was having the test done because glaucoma runs in my family. So I was diagnosed with glaucoma. The damage to the nerve is only in one eye, and it is only 1/12 of the nerve. Fortunately for me, the damage does not affect my vision as far as I can tell. The brain is a complex thing and fills in the blind spot at this point. All the drugs that I have tried in the past year have failed, and my regular eye doctor, Dr. Richard Bowers, thought that I should see a glaucoma specialist. He recommended Dr. Robert Noecker. Dr. Noecker has alot of experience with SLT treatment. This is laser surgery to the eye where holes are poked into the part around the iris of the eye. This forces the eye to go into healing mode and this lowers the pressure. I'm not really sure that I understand how it all works, but it does work. At least it did work for me. I had the treatment on my right eye only in December and I went to see Dr. Noecker today, and the pressure in both eyes is an acceptable 13. My issue was open angle glaucoma, and my pressure was never really high which is why the problem was only caught by the visual field test. Since I have been seeing Dr. Noecker, I have been feeling more confident about the glaucoma being managed so I don't experience visual problems. One of the problems with the glaucoma drugs is that they really dry out the eyes. This was a major problem for me because I had dry eyes to start with. Dr. Noecker recommended that I take flaxseed for the dryness, and believe it or not, it has helped! Dr. Noecker has noticed increased tear production in my eyes. I have to admit that I am very glad that UPMC hired Dr. Noecker. Now there is one thing that I should add. I still take Lumigan for pressure. One of the side effects of Lumigan is that it really lengthens your eye lashes. It's funny when your doctor has to hold your eyes open to keep your eye lashes out of the way while he checks your pressure.

Sunday, February 20, 2005 -- Evening

It seems the Hockey Rumors guy is gathering information that proves the point I made a bit earlier. It seems that the whole bit about the players being willing to have further compromise was just a ploy on the NHLPA's part to make the owners looks bad when a deal wasn't struck. Boy, this really gives me a low opinion of Goodenow. I hope that the players wise up and dump him. Then they need to get their priorities straight and get some hockey going!

Sunday, February 20, 2005 -- Early Evening

Pitt lost today against Villanova. Right now, Pitt is fourth in the Big East conference, and it is not looking good for them to win the regular Big East season. Now they can hope to do better in the Big East tournament held in New York in early March. I'm not holding out much hope though. The team is far from consistent.

I just finished reading State of Fear by Michael Crichton, and I really enjoyed it. He writes books that are exciting page turners, and also make you think about things. At least that is what happens with me. I am starting more detailed reviews of books that I read starting with this book.

Sunday, February 20, 2005 -- Afternoon

The Beckhams have another son. Victoria gave birth to a son that they have decided to name Cruz. You do have to give it to the Beckhams. They do come up with unusual names for their kids: Brooklyn, Romeo, and now Cruz. Congratulations to the Beckhams!

The NHL owners appear to be getting alot of flack from the player friendly media, but I am really glad that they stood firm. They can't continue to go down the road to bankruptcy just to make the players happy. I say they need to find players who are more agreeable to reasonable salaries. The thing is that I don't think the players union was being sincere in wanting to make a deal. I think that what they wanted to do was get out into the media that they (the players union) had a plan which it appears they didn't so that when a deal wasn't struck, the owners look like the bad guys. The Hockey Rumors guy is saying that he is hearing that the players are planning an unofficial vote to get rid of the NHLPA leadership so they can take the owners' offer.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 -- Evening

Well, of course the Hockey Rumors guy was wrong. My boyfriend is devastated because for some reason, he seemed to think that the guy actually knew what was going on. What I noticed it that the guy seemed to get some information, but he seemed to consistantly put the wrong spin on it. Maybe it's just that his sources wore rose colored glasses, or maybe his sources were too low down on the food chain to really know how things were going. Who knows. The only I know is that the hockey season is off. What I am just shocked about is how the media is spinning this. An analyst on ESPN news was blaming the owners and making it sound like it was a money making scheme on their part. That's what I abhor about the media. They always put a spin on things, and present their opinions as news. when teams are going bankrupt then a few million dollars DO mean something. Also, I think that this whole bit about an end to the lockout/strike happening today was not realistic. Maybe it was a ploy on the players part. It made it look like they were willing to make some sacrfices so the owners could be the bad guys. The ESPN analyst on the news show (I didn't catch his name), really ticked me off because he said it was just so the owners could make a deal in May, and then make money selling season tickets and merchandise. Hello! Season tickets were being sold last summer here in Pittsburgh, and guess what? Those folks aren't watching hockey games, and are probably expecting refunds on their money. So yeah, let's pin the blame on the big bad owners. All I know is that I want to see hockey, and the problem I have is that players are making a shit load of money that the majority don't deserve, and the ticket prices are prohibitively high--preventing lots of people from going to the number of games that they would like to attend.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 -- Afternoon

Today was the final episode of the Endurance show on Discovery Kids. Yeah, I have to admit that I am a fan of the show. I find it entertaining. It's a show for teens that pairs a boy and girl together to compete in different sorts of challenges. Some of them are physical, some are intellectual, and some are just to showcase that teamwork and trust are needed by the team mates to win. Of course, there is alot of drama. Some of the kids try to manipulate the others. The funny thing is that the other kids recognize this quality, and they don't necesarily reward it, but they don't punish it. Today's final episode was down to the Orange and Grey teams. Now the girl with the Orange team was a manipulative, bitchy type girl who was in constant conflict with her partner. Fortunately, the Grey team won the final competition, and won the trip to the Galapagos.

So far there isn't any news about the hockey situation, even though the guy on Hockey Rumors is claiming that they are setting up for a press conference. I don't know. I have been following his rumors, and everyone in the news media locally keeps on saying that the guy has wonderful insight, and really seems to know what is going on. So far though, I don't think his record has been that great. Mostly it is just positive rumors that never really seem to come true. Yesterday there was such a buzz about a deal being made although it seems that all that is happening is that talks are resuming without any clear deals at all. The Hockey Rumors guy says that at 3:11 (I assume Eastern time) things are being setup for a news conference, but I see no confirmation anywhere, and that doesn't mean they aren't setting up for a news conference later today or tomorrow. AND now the Hockey Rumors guy says the news conference will be at 6 pm today. Let's see.

The second episode of As Time Goes By was taped earlier this week, and here's a posting from someone who attended the taping.

Tedy Bruschi of the New England Patriots suffered a stroke last week. It is assumed that the stroke was a mild one because he is now walking and talking normally, but it is not clear yet on what the cause was, and whether it will be the end of his career. It's sad to see something like that happen to someone who is young (Bruschi is 31).

Friday, February 18, 2005 -- Evening

Late breaking news on the hockey front. Supposedly a deal is in the works that might save the season. There is supposed to be a meeting in New York tomorrow where the deal will be made public. Supposedly, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky are the folks who have worked on the deal, and rumor has it that Mario headed to New York on Friday. I'll believe it when I see it. I have been hearing so many rumors like this that I'm not going to get my hopes of. Believe me, if the hockey season is on, I'll be at the games. I'll be at more if the ticket prices drop abit, but even so, I'll be there to support the Pens.

There are major problems at the University of Pittsburgh's Athletic department. There are already questions about the schedule that the Pitt football team has. We don't play all division 1A teams. For example this coming season, we'll be playing an 1-AA team (Youngstown state). Now this really sucks because it means that we are playing soft teams at the beginning of the season which doesn't do much to toughen the team for future opponents. The other thing is that it doesn't add to the credibility of the team if we manage to win the Big East division it will be tainted by playing a soft team. Now on top of all that, as if that weren't enough, ticket sales for football tend to be low, and now the University has this Quest for Excellence campaign. So how does this tie to football? Well, a quarter of the seats for season ticket holders for football and basketball will only be given out to folks who make a $1000 donation to the University. It's not a bad thing for basketball where the seats are sold out for most games. It is going to hurt football where they are having difficulty as it is getting folks into the stadium. Supposedly, they need money because of all the facilities that have been built, like Heinz Field and the Petersen Events Center. Funny, my tax dollars went to both facilities, and I think very little of actually Pitt money went to them. It's just another money grabbing technique from a University that is known for overspending without getting good bang for its buck.

There was an explosion on a super magnetic neutron star 50,000 light years away in our galaxy. What did we see of this? Well, it appears that the blast affected detectors on telescopes that are orbiting Earth, and on December 27 lighted up the Earth's atmosphere. That's quite a blast. Scientists theorize that if the star were within 10,000 light years of Earth, it would have caused "severe damage to our atmosphere and possibly triggered a mass extinction" said Bryan Gaensler of Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. I wonder how the climate change folks would blame this on human abuses of the planet.

Thursday, February 17, 2005 -- Evening

The rumors about hockey just won't stop. Now there is a rumor that Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky are trying to do something to get the talks back into action. It seems that some of the players are behind the move. The question is if it is something that is actually realistic. I don't think that the NHLPA will be very excited about it because it undermines Bob Goodenow. The question is "where does hockey go from here?" Unfortunately I think that it is just going to get worse before it gets better. If they come back, will the fans be there? The serious ones will be, and I think it will be forgive and forget for them. But for others, I think they will have moved on to other things. Of course, part of the problem are ticket prices, and I would imagine that in order to woo the casual fan back, prices will have to go down.

Charles and Camilla won't be getting married in Windsor Castle. They are going to have to do the deed in a local town hall. The reason is supposedly that the new location will allow the public to see the couple arriving and leaving after the event. Or is it because the Queen wanted to put a bit of a damper on the event?

Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice, is posing nude for Tatler magazine. The pictures early in her pregnancy so it won't be a repeat of Demi Moore posing nude late in her pregnancy.

Arlen Specter has been diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease. There is some concern that his age and past brushes with a brain tumor and bypass surgery might lessen his chances. His doctors though are very postive. The recovery rate for Hodgkins is supposed to be 70%.

A University of Pittsburgh professor is getting money to study lava flow on Mars. That's not the only news about Mars today. It appears that some NASA scientists believe that there is present life on Mars. They believe that the finding of methane is similar to that found here on Earth and could mean that there are some basic life forms in caves or underground on Mars. They have a paper that is being peer reviewed now for publication in Nature.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005 -- Evening

I am watching my DVR recording of the NHL press conference from this afternoon. This is really a sad event. The players association really did a disservice to its members by not giving them the option to vote on the NHL's proposal. The Players Association didn't even take the owners up on the offers to check the book to see that the money wasn't there. You can't bleed a stone, and now we see what happens when they try to bleed a stone. Mario Lemieux gave a press conference about the issue today. He was very much on the owner's side which is understandable considering that he gave up the salary he was owed but couldn't get because the Penguins were bankrupt.

If you are interested in how your team will fare due to the cancelled season, you can go here. The Penguins are a team that won't lose out so much by the season cancellation. After all for the past couple of years, the management has done everything to lower the total salary costs, and scheduled the lease for the practice rink to run out prior to this season.

It was eighty two years ago today that Howard Carter had the ceremonial opening of King Tutankhamen's tomb. Contrary to popular myth that entering the tomb of a pharoah leads to death, Howard Carter lived for another 16 years and died at the age of 65.

The Mars Rover, Spirit found an interesting rock that has been named Peace. The interesting thing about the rock is that it has more sulfate salt than any other rock that has been investigated on Mars. Usually the sulfate is found on the surface of the rock, but in this case, it was found deeper in the rock. The sulfur has a correlation to magnesium, and it is theorized that the rocks may have been in a liquid rich in magnesium.

Feeling stressed? Have a cuppa tea. Want to fight cancer? Have another cuppa tea. It seems that researchers are finding health benefits. At first, it was thought that only green tea was healthy and that black tea was a problem because of the caffeine contant. But now the good qualities are being realized. I have always been a big tea drinker and it's nice to know it might also be good for me too.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005 -- Afternoon

Breaking news on the hockey front! The season was cancelled. The news conference started a few minutes ago, and it was announced then. The issue was the salary cap. The owners wanted a $42.5 million dollar cap while the players wanted a $49 million dollar cap. The whole season gets thrown away because of this $6.5 million dollar difference. What gets me is that the players seem to believe there is money to be had that isn't there. This does not bode well for hockey returning in the state that it had in the past.

A German shorthaired pointer won the Westminster Dog Show last night. The dog held two frozen positions during the judging which is remarkable considering the level of noise and excitement.

The University of Pittsburgh filed a lawsuit against the architects of the fairly new Petersen Event Center. A few years ago, the old Pitt football stadium was torn down to make room for the Petersen which houses the basketball team and various exercise facilities for the students. Well, there was a huge expose about it in the Post Gazette because they went grossly over budget with it, and spent a large amount of tax payer dollars. (That article is no longer available online, but this one is.) What made it worse were problems with the building and it now needs some repairs. The architects have responded by filing their own lawsuit. All I know is that my tax dollars are gone, and it was money that was taken without a referendum for the tax payers to approve.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005 -- Evening

Since December I have been having some problems with my right elbow. I was doing some daily bicep curls and kickbacks with five pound weights. So I did what anyone else would do--I looked up my symptoms on the Internet. I decided that the problem was tennis elbow and that it would go away on its own with some time as long as I stopped the curls and kickbacks. Well, it didn't. So today, two months later, I went to the doctor. He confirmed that it was tennis elbow, and recommended a cortisone infection, ice, ibuprofin and elbow brace.

It seems that the NHL players and owners have agreed on a salary cap. They just can't agree on the amount. What is such a shame is that they seem so close, and yet so far. Now the guy at Hockey Rumors is saying that the end might be near, and that the season might be starting. The guy has been saying for a while now that the season would commence on March 1st. Let's see if he is right.

Today is Galileo's 441 birthday--well, it would be if he were still alive. One of the things that Galileo did was become the first person to actually study sunspots with a telescope. Sunspots are dark areas that are observed on the Sun that are associated with the changing magnetic field of the Sun which occurs every 11 years. Of course, it is really dumb to look directly at the Sun for any length of time, but there are methods to observe the Sun. Basically what you want to do is project the image onto a screen and do your observations that way.

I just don't understand the controversy over Chris Rock and his comments over the Oscars. Obviously none of the people who are up in arms have ever seen chris Rock performing. The guy is funny, vulgar, and he doesn't hold back on his opinions. He doesn't care what other people think. I have seen a couple of his televised shows, and I thought he made some funny and insightful comments. One of the funniest was his comment about Justin Timberlake flashing Janet Jackson's boob at us. As Chris said the thing that was wrong about it was that a 40 year old boob should be kept private--a 20 year old boob should be public domain.
People are just so stupid, and just need to lighten up. They want to have Chris Rock be the host, but they don't want him to be Chris Rock. They want him to be someone else. Incredible! The thing is with Chris Rock as a host I'll watch, and I'm sure that a whole slew of straight, black men will be watching too.

Monday, February 14, 2005 -- Evening

Bob O'Connor has announced that he is going to run for Mayor of Pittsburgh. So far, O'Connor has my vote. He comes from Squirrel Hill, and is very visible in the neighborhood. My boyfriend approached him one time at the local Starbucks, and Mr. O'Connor actually gave him some unbiased information about politics in Pittsburgh. If you want to have any influence in the local elections, you really have to be registered as a Democrat. The reason is that most of the local offices wind up being filled by Democrats because the majority of folks in the area vote that way. So the real decisions are made in the primaries as opposed to the general election.

The University of Pittsburgh was number 10 in the March Muscle and Fitness magazine listing of America's Fittest Colleges. Because of the large number of colleges in the US, they limited their selections to colleges that had NCAA Division 1 sports teams. Pitt was the smallest of the colleges listed (Penn State was number 7). Pitt was picked because it has four exercise facilites that are open 24 hours in the dorms, a total of 14 exercise facilities and 8 weight rooms. Also, 10% of the majors at Pitt are in health or clinical sciences. I was quite surprised to see Pitt listed with the likes of Ohio State University (which was number 1).

The smallest extra-solar planet has been found. The interesting thing about finding planets around stars is that since planets don't generate heat, they are usually observed by the graviational effect that they place on the star. This particular planet is orbiting a pulsar which is a rotating neutron star. When a massive, supergiant star reaches the final death throes, one of the things that it can become is a neutron star. Neutron stars are very heavy and dense stars. The pulsar gives off a pulsating light that is caused by the fact that it is rotating. This particular planet that was found around a pulsar is one-fifth the size of Pluto and was discovered with the use of the Arecibo radio telescope. I wasn't able to find information on how they managed to observe the planet. I'm keeping my eye open for more information.

Believe it or not, Pitt beat Syracuse this evening. The final score was 68-64. It was an exciting game. I just saw the last 13 minutes of the game, and I was surprised at how Syracuse seemed to be doing everything to throw the game away. Well, others may say that Pitt was doing everything to win the game, but from my viewpoint, it seemed that Syracuse was trying hard to lose because they were ahead a few times, and just made a slew of stupid mistakes and moves.

The NHL has a news conference scheduled for Wednesday at 1 pm. I'm not sure how to read this one because Tuesday was supposed to be the cut off day. There are supposed to be additional meetings on Tuesday, so it does make you wonder if it is at all possible that there might be a season this year. The news conference will be streaming on Wednesday from the NHL and NHLCBA News, so mark your calendars.

Sunday, February 13, 2005 -- Late Evening

The AFC won the Pro Bowl. The final score was 38-27. The last half actually seemed pretty boring. That may have been because the ESPN announcers weren't even discussing the game. They were busy talking about the past and future seasons and the players themselves.

Sunday, February 13, 2005 -- Evening

Don Ho sang Tiny Bubbles during the Pro Bowl half time. My gosh has the man aged! And the shocker of it is that he doesn't have any pictures on his web site that acurrately depicts him. His hair now is sparse on his scalp and grey, and he walks like he needs a walker or cane. Meanwhile his web page shows someone with thick, dark hair. It's the Don Ho of the 70s or the 80s. After all, the guy is 74 years old, and looks it!

They are just into the second quarter of the Pro Bowl. Hines Ward just made a spectacular catch on an onside kick and took it in for his second touchdown of the game. Hines is one of those people who just always seems to be having a good time, and he always puts his all into every game that he plays--even if it is just an exhibition type game like the Pro Bowl. Right now the AFC is kicking the NFC's butt. The score is 21-7 and the AFC just intercepted the ball.

Sunday, February 13, 2005 -- Afternoon

It was 75 years ago that Pluto was discovered. At that time there wasn't alot of debate on what Pluto was. But nowadays folks want to remove it from planet status and make it a Kupier Belt object. That's the area where comets usually come from. As the scientists say, they want to change the classification because of Pluto's size and its irregular orbit.

This evening is the Pro Bowl. I'll be watching it because there is some question about whether this might be Jerome Bettis' last appearance in a football game.

The Pitt basketball team beat Notre Dame yesterday afternoon. The final score was 68-66. Jamie Dixon pulled Chris Taft from the game which was a controversy because Taft wasn't playing well, and there is some question about whether he is going to bounce back from the poor play and pull from the game.

Saturday, February 12, 2005 -- Afternoon

I just finished reading The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton late last night. It took me a while to get it done because I never seeem to be able to find time to read. The book was an interesting one. You can definitely tell that it is Crichton's first book. Although the story is a gripping one, you can tell that as Crichton published more books, his style became more fluid and flowing.
The US has been sending satelites up into the upper atmosphere to look for molecular life forms that could be used to create a biological weapon. One satelite that is sent up winds up crashing unexpected in 24 hours. The satelite had landed in a remote part of Arizona near the town of Piedmont. Unfortunately, one of the residents of Piedmont got to the satelite first and pried it open. This lead to the death of everyone in the town. The bizarre part of it is that while half of the town died of something unknown, the other half committed suicide. There are only two survivors--an old man and a two month old baby. Why did they survive? Fortunately, the military had been planning for a possibility of dangerous extraterrestrial organism with Project Wildfire. The five members of Wildfire work against time to find out what the organism is and how it spreads. The tension builds to a cresendo at the end, and then fizzles. I have to admit that I was wondering what the organism was, but I really wasn't satisfied at the end. What becomes very obvious though is that all the plans that are made to contain the threat of a deadly contagious extraterrestrial go horribly wrong. The thing that I like the most about Crichton is that he brings in alot of scientific detail. crichton is an intelligent man, and obviously puts alot of work into researching his books. You get an education and a joy ride while reading his books.

Friday, February 11, 2005 -- Evening

65% of the British public is in favor of Prince Charles marrying Camilla. However, that doesn't mean that they believe that he should one day become King. Only 37% want Charles to become King while 41% want William. Considering the life span of the female members of the Royal Family, it could be some time before the matter becomes a reality. Since Charles is now almost 57 years old, he might just not be in good enough health to accept the throne. So it might be a moot issue.

Friday, February 11, 2005 -- Afternoon

It's not looking good for hockey this season. Talks have ended, and it is expected that Gary Bettman will be saying that the hopes for a season are ended.

It seems that Karl Malone is going to announce his retirement this weekend. I've always had a soft spot for the Mailman (I usually call him the Postman), and I think it's a shame that he was never able to be on a team that could win the NBA championship. It seems that he is the best player in the NBA to never have won one.

It seems that Prince Charles was told to get his affairs in order and marry Camilla to prevent a possible future constitutional crisis when his mother dies. I suppose that once you are in your 50s the thought of marriage isn't as exciting or necessary as when you are younger.

Our local CMU is going to be developing armored robotic vehicles for the Marines. CMU does alot of robotic research and have done things like meteorite searches in Antarctica and the robot race across the Mojave Desert.

They are still trying to launch an Ariane rocket in Europe. The hope is that this one won't blow up a few minutes after launch as its predecessor did.

Thursday, February 10, 2005 -- Evening

So have you ever wondered how astronauts go to the bathroom in space? This and other questions are answered at NASA's Brain Bites. And the answer to the bathroom question is...well, you will just have to check it out for yourself.

Thursday, February 10, 2005 -- Afternoon

I watched Curb Your Enthusiasm for the first time last night. HBO has a free preview of their OnDemand service this week, and Curb Your Enthusiasm was there. It was only the first six episodes of the second season. I just gave it a try because there was nothing better on television, and I was waiting for my boyfriend to come home from his parents' house to watch some of our DVR selections. It was not what I expected. I didn't realize that it was basically Larry David being himself. The show really reminded me of Seinfeld which I love. At least in this show, Larry is alot like George, and I think that he is supposed to be the role model for the character. Now I have to go to Netflix to check out the first season. The episodes that I saw dealt with Larry trying to do a show first with Jason Alexander and then with Julia Louis-Dreyfus about a former television actor who keeps on getting identified as the one character. The character of the show was just like Seinfeld with the obsession over the little things, like not giving candy to 16 year old trick or treaters without costumes, or getting the wrong takeout order from a Chinese restaurant, and when you take back the wrong order, you find the HBO executive had your order, and ate the shrimp from your order. It was really quite funny.

Thursday, February 10, 2005 -- Morning

Even though there was a screw-up with turning on receivers to capture data from Huygens last month, scientists have been able to salvage the data. They were able to collect the data from a variety of other radio telescopes from around the globe. They did find that the winds near the surface of Titan are weak, while much stronger higher in the atmosphere. The winds move in the same direction as the rotation, and were measured at a speed of 120 miles per second.

Scientists have observed a star that is moving fast enough to escape our galaxy. In 1999, another astronomer named Jack Hill theorized that if a star system came in close contact with a black hole that it was possible for the star to be expelled with such force that it could escape the galaxy's gravitational pull. The astronomers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who observed the star that is leaving the galaxy now say that the makeup of the star is medal rich which implies that it came from the star forming center of the galaxy which would also be the location of a massive black hole.

The big news this morning is the upcoming marriage between Prince charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. Because both are divorced, and Camilla's husband is still living, there will be only a civil ceremony that will be held on April 8. Last year, a poll was carried out in Britain to see how the folks felt about Charles marrying Camilla. The results were 32% approving while 28% disapprove. %38 didn't care. What I think is so odd about the Church of England is that King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church because he wanted to divorce. Anyway, when (or if) Charles becomes King, Camilla will only be a Princess Consort because the Church of England does not recognize the marriage.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 -- Evening

Gary Bettman says that because there really has been no movement towards a settlement in the hockey situation this weekend will be the cut-off point. With no pressure of trying to get a season going this year, I don't know what will happen with October. There's nothing to force the movement, and because of that I don't see a solution even for the next season.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 -- Afternoon

So, do we all feel sorry for poor Donovan McNabb? The poor soul was just so exhausted that he was almost puking towards the end of the game, and was so exhausted that he needed assistance in calling plays. He just was giving his all for the team, and wore his body out. Okay, you can laugh now. I don't know about you, but I expect a high caliber athlete who makes millions of dollars to be in shape to handle game. The Eagles offense only had the ball for 28 minutes and 23 seconds. What the heck tired him out? Oh, did the wittle baby have a sniffle? Well, talk to Tom Brady who won the AFC Championship with a fever of 103 degrees the night before. All I have to say is this illustrates the difference between a winner and a loser, and McNabb has a big fat L on his forehead.

Happy Chinese New Year! Today starts the Year of the Rooster. Those who are roosters tend to be diligent and talkative--definite hard workers. The Chinese year is based on the lunar calendar, and it started today because there was a full moon last night.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 -- Later Evening

Pitt beat St. John's. The second half was not as bad as the first, and it fits in with typical play on the Panthers part of playing poorly in the first half (so they can see how little they have to play) and picking up the play in the second half. They really do need to address that type of performance because as long as they have it, they will never get far in the NCAA tournament.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 -- Evening

Filming started on the first of the two As Time Goes By specials. One of the folks who made it to the taping provided a play by play description of what the show is about. Be warned that you will be seeing a spoiler. It sounds like an interesting story line, and I can't wait to see it. The second show will be taped on Feb. 15.

I am a huge fan of David Beckham. The guy is cute, and he does (at least did) have a way with making really spectacular goals. Well, now he is on an anti-bullying campaign. The point is to encourage kids who are bullied to go to an adult they trust, and let that person know about the bullying. Hopefully that person can stop the bullying by alerting school management to the issue. When I think back to my childhood days, I was always told to stand up to bullies. Today that sort of thing doesn't happen so it is a bully breeding ground. As with so many things nowadays, you can tell if you support the anti-bullying program because you will wear a blue bracelet.

The Pitt Panthers are playing St. John's this evening, and the game is now at half time. Pitt is not playing their best, and they have had a slew of turn overs. So far, Pitt is ahead 17-15, but who knows what the second half will bring with the way Pitt plays. Jamie Dixon really needs to step up and stop the assistant coach mentality and become a head coach. The sports casters don't comment on it because they don't seem to know what is really going on in the program. I am always hearing from folks who know players that they get no discipline, and that has to end for the team to become as competitive as it used to be. The guys who are broadcasting the game this evening keep on referring to Pitt's play as sloppy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 -- Afternoon

Ian Wilmut and Kings College London have been given permission by the British government to clone human embryos. The goal for the group is to study motor neuron disease. The question becomes is cloning of a human embryo ethical? Sometimes I think it depends on what your personal situation is. If you have a family member that would ultimately benefit from the research, then you would obviously be more inclined to be for it. I wonder myself if there are other possible methods that can be used that will have the same end result. There have been earlier attempts at human embryo cloning, but it was successful. The Advanced Cell Technology lab was able to division to six cells before the process stopped.

There was a Middle East summit in Sharm al-Sheikh today, and it has resulted in a truce between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas seems to have been able to get an informal agreement amongst the various militant groups to cease the acts of aggression against Israel. Ariel Sharon has also agreed to stop any actions against the groups once the violence stops. I think the key word here is stops. If Abbas is able to get the groups to agree and work together toward peace, there might actually be a chance to achieve that goal. The BBC has a fairly nice timeline. One thing to keep in mind is that the BBC tends toward a Palestinian bias. For example, in the bit about the year 2000, there is mention that both sides failed to come to an agreement on Jerusalem and the right of return. Nothing is mentioned about the fact that Barak offered up Jerusalem only to be turned down by Arafat. Even Palestinians admitted that Barak came the closest to meeting their demands. It will be interesting to see how the present day truce plays out over time.

Monday, February 7, 2005 -- Evening

Scientists are trying to think of ways to make Mars more habitable. As they say, the stuff to make the planet hospitable and conducive to life is there, it's just a matter of releasing it. Now this could be a scary concept because is terriforming another planet wise? Will we resurrect organisms that will make the journey back to this planet on a space ship that will lead to wiping out life on our planet? I remember watching Cosmos with Carl Sagan years ago, and he had a plan to terraform Mars. His plan was to put something dark on the southern polar cap which should absorb heat, warming the planet abit, and possibly melting the ice on the cap. This would release the gases from the solid, and start to make the atmosphere more dense and hospital to plant life or life that might be hidden in the polar caps or ground/rocks. From that point it would just snowball. Interesting that folks are just coming around to this idea that Carl Sagan had 30 years ago.

NASA is going to let Hubble die a slow death. There really isn't money in the budget to repair it, and the attempts to repair it are risky to human life. So instead of throwing more money at Hubble, the money can go towards other items such as manned flight to the Moon, and then on to Mars.

The weather was beautiful today. It's not often that you get sunny, 50 degree days in Pittsburgh in February. Because it was so nice, my boyfriend and I went out to dinner, and went to Aladdin's here in Squirrel Hill. The food there is iffy. There are some good items there if you know what to get, and some over rated, over priced items if you don't know. The soups are tasty, but noodle-less. The garlic soup is an interesting broth. Today I had the lentil soup which was mostly lentil, and very little potato. For the entree, I got the chicken Sambusek appetizer with a side salad. If you do this, you pay less than if you order the Chicken Sambusek entree which is also the sambusek with a salad, but $2 more expensive. The sambusek is toasted for a health alternative. Personally, I think it would be great fried, but the restaurant is going for a healthy item. My boyfriend had a chicken shawarma rolled pita. The food was good, not the best, but good. The one thing to keep in mind when you go to Aladdin's is that it is Americanized Middle Eastern. If you want something that is authentic and delicious (as opposed to just tasty), go to Mediterranean Grill down the street on Forbes Ave. That restaurant is owned and run by a Lebanonese family, and has the best Middle Eastern food in Pittsburgh.

Monday, February 7, 2005 -- Afternoon

I am not alone in thinking that the Super Bowl ads this year weren't that great.

Sunlight might not be bad for you after all. For years we have been hearing that being out in the sun would cause skin cancer. Now, there are reports that it might not be that risky. I think in our culture, we are very quick to find the one thing to mark as a taboo, like smoking, cheesecake, and exposure to the sun that we go overboard and lose the forest for the tree.

Monday, February 7, 2005 -- Morning

Okay, I must be losing it, but I don't remember seeing any commercial during the Super Bowl that had a guy holding a white cat. That's one of the commercials that is listed in this article. Fortunately I still have the game recorded from the DVR, and I can go back to check. It sounds like it could have been funny. Personally, I think that the commmercials that were shown were a bunch of sore-ass, dull commercials. No, it's not because the commercials were "clean". They were just darn boring with nothing that would make you comment on them afterwards.

It seems there was a mud wrestling competition at one of the detention camps in Iraq, and one of the female participants was demoted from a specialist to a private first class because of it. As long as the participants were willing, and it was just to release steam and tension, I'm not sure what the problem is. There are more photos here. Maybe there is something wrong with me because I don't see what the big deal is about the mud wrestling parties. It also seems that there is alot of sex going on too, but isn't that what happens when you throw young men and women together? I'd need to know more before I make any other decisions.

Sunday, February 6, 2005 -- Evening (Post Super Bowl)

The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles were tied into the fourth quarter, but then things changed. New England started to pull ahead. Surprisingly, Terrell Owens played even though he broke an ankle six weeks ago, and he did a good job. Owens is amazing--such an athlete and very talented. Philadelphia was acting all slow right before the two minute, and then managed a touchdown right after. So the score was 24-21 and Philadelphia tried an on side kick, and unfortunately, it went right into a Patriots guy's arms. Even though the Patriots didn't capitlize on that particular move, Donovan McNabb was picked off with only 11 seconds left. McNabb is a crappy quarterback in the sense that he wasn't a good time manager, and didn't seem to be managing the game very well, especially in the fourth quarter. The final score was 24-21.

The commercials in the second half were really awful. Most of them were either old commercials, or they were repeats from the first half. It was really a disapointing commercial day. I wonder what others' opinions were.

Sunday, February 6, 2005 -- Evening (Super Bowl halftime)

The commercials this year have been really sucky! In fact, I am very disappointed in them. The Bud Light commercials on the whole tend to be humorous. Not that any one of them has really stood out, but they were consistent in putting a smile on the face. My favorite of the Bud Light commercials were the ones with two guys talking about their fantasy on a desert island, and having two girls, and the one thinks, and the girls start bickering over things he should be doing, so he revises his fantasy to have a dog, tons of beer, and a big screen tv.

The two funniest commercials were the ones for with a stripper like girl who is testifying in front of Congress, and almost exposes a boob. The other was for Ameriquest where this guy is in a convenience store talking to someone on a handfree cell phone, and telling the guy on the other end that he was robbed with a finance deal. The convenience guy thinks HE is being robbed, and starts beating up on the guy.

The game is much better than the commercials which is really a first. The score is now 7-7 at halftime.
Paul McCartney is doing a great job at the half time show! He sang Baby, You can drive my car, Get Back, Live and Let Die, and Hey Jude. It was a very well done show, and a real audience pleaser. Now here is an example of an old man playing rock, but for some reason to me if feels different. I wonder if it is because i am a fan of the Beatles. All I know is that the show was a heck of a lot more entertaining than Janet Jackson's boob!

Sunday, February 6, 2005 -- Evening

The Super Bowl is on now, and you know what that means--commercials! Lately the game has been sucking, with one side being alot better than the other, so the commercials are the best part of it. The problem is trying to figure out when the new commercials start. So far, there is one commercial that I haven't seen with a guy frozen at the wheel of his convertible--Ford will be releasing a new Mustang convertible this spring, because having a convertible in the winter can lead to you freezing with the top down.

In the first real commercial break, Bud Light had a funny commercial with sky divers jumping out of a plane. One guy doesn't want to jump, so the instructor throws out a 6 pack of Bud Light. Next thing you know, the pilot goes running by and out of the plane after the Bud. The instructor looks, and then says "see you on the ground" and jumps. Funny.

Sunday, February 6, 2005 -- Afternoon

The preshow Super Bowl show has got to be the most boring show ever. They really don't have enough material to rationalize spending five hours of time on nothing. There were a few segments on football, then the rest was filler. For example, we got to see John Fogerty--who really looks like an old fogie now--sing a few songs. There's something abit pitiful about someone who is close to 60, and looks older, playing music that is associated with youth. It's like Mick Jagger stating in the song that rock is for the young, until he became old. I'm not saying that once you hit a certain age you should stop living. I'm just saying that you should channel into another arena.

Speaking of music, I just heard of a hassidic reggae singer, Matisyahu. To me, that's yet another contradiction. Supposedly, the guy doesn't perform on the Sabbath. I suppose that it is just a musical style which is just what the old guys singing rock would say.

Saturday, February 5, 2005 -- Late Evening

Dan Marino was elected to the Football Hall of Fame today. He's a native Pittsburgher, and went to the University of Pittsburgh before being drafted by the Miami Dolphins.

Pitt's basketball team lost again today. We lost to West Virginia, and we really shouldn't have. This is not boding well for the post season tournaments.

Saturday, February 5, 2005 -- Evening

I have a Google mail account, and recently found that I was given 50 invitations to send out to friends. I wasn't alone. Rumor has it that Google is planning on making the accounts more publicly available, and this is the first step in that front. It is a nice service. I only use 2% of my quota of 1 gigabyte, and I tend to get alot of mail.

Jupiter Research found that folks with DVR devices watch two more hours of television each week than those without DVRs. To me this is very understandable, and in fact, I'm surprised that it is only two hours. The joy of the DVR is that you can watch shows that you want to watch when you want to watch.

Amazon entered the search engine world a few months ago with A9. They use the Google search technology (doesn't everyone?), and give a few cents discount to Amazon buyers if you download the toolbar for Internet Explorer. I used A9 for awhile, but I found that the search results didn't always match what I would find from Google, and I missed the option to also search newsgroups or the news for items by just clicking on the tab. Well, A9 has added a new Yellow Pages option. When you search for a subject like pizza, or look for a business name, it provides a list of options that has both a map and picture of the location. So far, Pittsburgh isn't one of the cities that has photos, but there is an option to share a picture if you have one. Here's how A9 did it.

Friday, February 4, 2005 -- Evening

The next Bond movie to be released will be Casino Royale. It's the first book that Ian Fleming wrote in the Bond series, and was made into a comedy movie with David Niven as Bond. The book was nothing at all like the movie, and had one of the most gruesome torture scenes that I ever read. So far, there is no word who will be replacing Pierce Brosnan.

No progress was made in the NHL talks today even though there were four hours of discussion. I think that they should just admit that there's no way that the season can be salvaged and give it up. Unfortunately, as I've been saying, I think that it might be the end of the NHL.

Scientists have found some of the matter in the Universe that has been "missing". Basically when the amount of stuff that makes up the objects in the Universe is totalled, it doesn't amount to what computer models say should be out there. The answer is dark matter and baryons. Baryons are elemental particles, and scientists have found evidence of them with the help of the Chandra X-ray Observatory. I think that we really don't have a very good understanding yet of all the things that are going on. It will take a very long time, and what we know now may go through a major revision as we do more observations.

Scientists have discovered a hot spot on the southern hemisphere of Saturn. It's not clear yet what is the cause, and it has scientists perplexed because the change in temperature from one section to another isn't a graduation one. It just suddenly increases by several degrees. It seems that the hot spot is a polar vortex, and other planets have them, including Earth. The difference is that on the other planets the polar vortex is cold while on Saturn it is hot.

Thursday, February 3, 2005 -- Evening

What was the NFL Play of the Year? Jerome Bettis's touchdown pass against the New York Jets in Week 14.

A report has been released about Beagle 2. A committee of European Space Agency members determined that Beagle should not have been launched. It appears that there were several problems with it, and the ship in general was just considered as a part of the whole as opposed to an individual ship that should be given special attention.

The NHL may cancelling the rest of the season. I think that if they cancel the season, there won't be any incentive for the players to come to term with the owners before the start of the next season. That could mean a two year lockout, or the end of the NHL. I'm beginning to think that it is going to be the end of the NHL. There's no way the owners can do without a salary cap. Viewship for hockey has been dropping over the past few years, and the lockout is just going to lose more fans. I've also heard some say that they believe that the biggest problem has been the fact that the hockey expansion with teams in Tampa Bay and other areas that aren't traditional hockey towns lead to the financial woes of the league.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005 -- Evening

Israelis of Iraqi heritage were eligible to vote in the Iraqi election this past weekend. A voting location was designated in Jordan, and it was open to the Israelis. Most probably did not vote, however, because of they didn't want to travel to Jordan or because they just don't feel as much of a connection to present day Iraq. Israel has done a good job of absorbing Jews that were forced out of other Middle Eastern countries, and those who left Iraqi don't necessarily want to go back. They may miss the Iraq that was, but have no wish to make it return.

The Japanese use KitKats as a good luck snack to assist them in passing exams. It seems that the Japanese have a mantra that they repeat to do their best to succeed and the word "kitto katsu" sounds like--you guessed it--Kit Kat. The Nestle KitKat is much better than Hersey's which is the one that is sold by default here in the US.

I was having trouble sleeping last night, and was constantly tossing and turning. Part of my problem is that I tend to obsess over problems in my life, real and imagined, and that leads to me getting up every hour and noting the time. I should have put on some soft music because researchers say that it calms poeple and helps them to fall asleep. If you think about it, that sounds like common sense. Soothing music should calm the soul and body. I tend to like movies playing on the television. If I get up, and find myself obsessing, I can just pay attention to the show for abit and forget my worries.

Need to do some massive number crunching? Sun Microsystems will rent computing time to folks with the need for $1 an hour. Sun believes that it is the wave of the future, and that computer grids such as these will become as common as the electricity grids.

Dick Cheney is getting blasted for wearing a parka to the Auschwitz memorial on Jan. 28. What a bunch of bull donkeys! Does it really matter what someone wears? I suppose that the naysayers would prefer that he wear a nice overcoat and not be sincere in his heart. Of course, they claim that his style of dress shows that he doesn't care. I say that the cover of the book is not as important as what lies on the pages in between. We need to think less of fashion and facade and more about the depth and quality of the character.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005 -- Evening

Jane Seymour was on Fox and Friends this morning. She was there to talk about the fact that although women are most terrified about getting breast cancer, nine times more women are killed by heart disease. So Jane was on the show to publize the National Wear Red Day. It seems that the California Pistachio Commission is helping with the campaign, and has a link to postcards that Jane designed for the California Pistachio Commission to generate money to make women aware of the heart risks they face.

Pistachios are supposed to be good for you. It's cholesterol free, and has lutein which helps with eye health. The majority of pistachios that we eat in this country come from California.

It appears that bulimia increased in the UK after folks found out that Princess Diana was bulimic. Now the question becomes whether the amount of people with bulimia increased, or whether the fact that she talked about the disease encouraged people to come forward to get treatment.

A new steriod has been discovered when it was seized on the Canadian border. Actually, the substance was not identified on the border, so the border police took a sample, and that's when the authorities found out that it was a THG type steriod. So far, two steriods have been identified, but goodness knows how many more are out there.