The Daily Bongo

January 2005

Monday, January 31, 2005 -- Evening

There are many differences between men and women. The most obvious is that women are the ones that bear the children. Other differences may be more subtle, and the way in which we watch sports may be one of them. I know that when I go to sporting events, even if I like the sport, I find myself observing others in the stands while my boyfriend focuses exclusively on the play on the field. So what if men and women are different? Why would we want to be the same? Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard, has gotten quite abit of flack over his comments that women biologically have more difficulty with science, tend to have to take time off for child bearing, and just don't go for the sciences in the same numbers as men. You can imagine the uproar this created in the feminist ranks, but it should be looked at scientifically. Personally, I have a bachelors in Physics and Astronomy, and in the Astronomy division, there was only one woman faculty member. This woman was as dumb as a brick--which does a great disservice to bricks. She should not have been teaching a cat to use a litter box let alone try to explain her topic of expertise, solar creation and evolution. The thought that ran through my feminine brain was that she filled some sort of female quota that the University had in place. I only wished they had found someone with a few more synapses firing.

Sunday, January 30, 2005 -- Evening

Ephraim Kishon died late Saturday night. Kishon was a writer and satirist who also wrote and directed Salah Shabati. I watched Salah Shabati a few years ago, and it was very funny. The purpose of the movie was to show the experience of the Sephardi in the early days of the Israeli state. The situtation that those of Middle Eastern heritage found in the 1950s was quite different from those who came from Europe, and this film highlighted the difference in treatment with a satirical eye.

Sunday, January 30, 2005 -- Afternoon

Marat Safin won the Australian Open today. He started out slowly, and lost the first set 1-6 to Lleyton Hewitt. But he came back from that to take straight sets, 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-4. It was quite a disappoitment for Hewitt and his fellow Australians. It seems that the last Australian to win the Open was in 1976.

I have been watching a very interesting series on BBC America OnDemand. It's called State of Play. If you read any of the episode guides be careful because you won't want to know the ending because the fun of the show lies in all the twists and turns. The beginning of the first episode was abit confusing, but the more you watch, the more you get caught up in the story and the mystery. The story starts with the murder of a young black man who is being chased through the streets of Londan. A passing motorcycle courier sees the murder and is also shot--but lives. We then learn that someone has fallen in front of a train in the tube lines. We then find that the body on the line was a young woman researcher who works with an MP in British Parliment who has recently been put in charge of an important energy commission. Is there a link between these events? We find out the information as a newspaper reporting team uncovers the information. The series is comprised of six episodes and was originally broadcast in May/June of 2003. I had read that Paul Abbott had filmed the first five episodes, and changed his mind on how the show should end, so he made modifications to the final script. Then he went back over the previous episodes to make sure that the information jelled.

The Martian Rovers are still doing their job, but there's no idea how much longer they can last. The dust on Mars is settling on the solar panels and blocking energy the panels can absorb. So far, Spirit is the mostly heavily covered, and it is noticing a decline in power.

Here's another site that has updated information on the hockey situation. The talks are continuing, but they don't seem to be leading anywhere just yet.

Surprisingly, Pitt won last night against Syracus. As usual, Pitt started out 17 points behind, but somehow managed to make up the difference. Even if they do manage to make it to the NCAA tournament this year (because there was some doubt that they would make it) there's no way that they will get far with that sort of game playing.

Saturday, January 29, 2005 -- Evening

The Mossad has had a web site for the past seven months, and there are some interesting statistics about it. For example, only a third of the hits come from Middle Eastern countries other than Israel. So it seems that the Arab world isn't very interested in what is presented there. The purpose of the web site is to provide the positions of the Mossad. Obviously, there wouldn't be anything about covert operations, so that may be why there isn't interest in the Arab world. Also, it appears that the web site receives the most hits at midnight. I can't even speculation on the reason for that!

The UK's Labour party is being accused of anti-semitism. It seems that the Labour party is ciculating anti-Tory ads. One of the ads show two of the Tory leaders as flying pigs. So what is anti-semitic about that? Both Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin are Jewish. The Labour party is saying that it is just meant to be anti-Tory, and there isn't any greater symbolism intended. However, one of the Labour members was offended at the representation of the Jewish members as unkosher pigs.

Friday, January 28, 2005 -- Late Evening

There is still no movement on the NHL situation. It doesn't seem as if there will be a season this year unless there is some decision soon. Now there are no more meetings scheduled. If you want to keep up to date on the hockey lockout, check out HockeyNation.

Friday, January 28, 2005 -- Evening

There is more information on activity and weight. Fidgeters tend to be leaner than people who sit still. Boy, at times, I really amazes me that research dollars are spent on subjects like this because common sense would tell you that folks who move around alot are more likely to burn calories than someone who sits like a bump on a log. In one of my old jobs, my boss said that I didn't sit still for very long, and I was very thin. Meanwhile the person before me, just sat at her desk all day with little movement and she was fat. The interesting thing is the pants that the used in the study to register fidgeting. It's based on fighter jet technology. The question is can you make people fidgeters? I don't think so. We shall see.

Thursday, January 27, 2005 -- Evening

It seems that doing daily chores might do more good for you than jogging. It seems that the point is that doing daily chores is a life style. It implies that you are doing something active every day instead of the occasional jog. It seems that some people just have more biological urge to sit than others. The scientist in the article refer to it as NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. People who have low NEAT tend to have more of an urge to just sit around. I must have a higher NEAT because I can never sit still for very long.

The Earth was bombarded with the largest proton storm since 1989. Basically a huge sunspot on the sun exploded and released an enormous amount of protons into space. A sunspot is a dark spot on the surface of the Sun. It looks dark because the temperature there is cooler than the surrounding area. Why is it cooler? Because of a magnetic field that doesn't allow for proper heat transfer. The sun changes it magnetic pole every year, and this occurs usually at the peak of the sunspot cycle. Or rather you could say the sunspots peak because of this change.

Google has hired the lead developer of Mozilla's Firefox. Some suspect that means Google will be entering the browser war There does seem to be alot of talk and gossip about Google. The guys at Google are really getting their fingers into several pies.

Thursday, January 27, 2005 -- Afternoon

I really don't understand celebrities and Kabbalah. Do they understand that it is Jewish mysticism? It does have religious ties, and although an element of it is practiced by non-Jews, it is for the most part associated with the religion. It seems to me that most are just doing this for the fad part of it, and to be one of the in-crowd by sporting the red string bracelet. Now Britney Spears is into Kabbalah, and has a Hebrew symbol tattooed on her back that is supposed to symbolize the "power of healing". The big question is: does Britney have the correct symbol?

Thursday, January 27, 2005 -- Morning

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. It was 60 years ago today that Auschwitz was liberated.

Marat Safin defeated Roger Federer in an Australian Open semi-final match. The match took four hours and 28 minutes, and was quite a match. Safin was supposed to be the up and coming player a few years ago when he beat Pete Sampras in the US Open. It seems he might be living up to his potential.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005 -- Evening

Ben Roethlisberger commented to the media yesterday that he has been worn out by the season. The interesting thing is that he commented on having some broken toes. The problem is that in Bill cowher's press conference, Cowher said that Roethlisberger does not have broken toes. Probably what happened is that Roethlisberger just bruised his toes, and is exaggerating the extent of the injury. I know when I had bruised toes I always refered to them as broken.

Google Video Search is very interesting. I gave it a try today, and the results were interesing. When I did a search on As Time Goes By, the first two results were for the show. Basically, you get snippets of dialogue and pictures. There wasn't any video available at this time. It's an interesting concept, but I think that it needs alot of work. The bits of dialogue appeared to be chosen based on the appearance of the search words. The nice bit was the fact that you could pull up when the show would be airing next in your location. Others agree with me on the shortcomings. However, the hope is that the service will become something spectacular in the future.

China is planning on sending more men into space later this year. The plan is to have a heavier ship that can carry three people. It may even include a space walk.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005 -- Morning

There were clips all over local television yesterday of Hines Ward's emotional outburst over losing the game yesterday. It was very touching because the outporing of emotion was not for himself, but for the lost opportunities of those who might not be back (such as Jerome Bettis). Very sad, indeed.

Scientists are searching for chemical signs of life on Titan. As they say, methane is destroyed by exposure to sunlight, so there must be something there that is generating the methane. Now, the thing is that methane doesn't have to be produced by biological means. It could be a geological event. Although the surface of the planet is not very hospitable, it appears that the scientists believe that there is an ocean of liquid water 100 to 300 meters below the surface.

Astronomers are finding evidence that our solar system was created with the help of a near supernova explosion. This conclusion is coming from finding an isotope in a meteorite. There are two methods to form the isotope, chlorine-36. One involves a supernova, and the other by a nebular cloud getting radiation from the Sun when it was forming. They don't buy the second method because there isn't any chlorine-36 found closer in to the Sun in our solar system.

Google is on its way to becoming a monothelic company. Yesterday it was VoIP, and today it is a search function for TV programming. The search function is supposed to be available from the main Google search page, but it is not listed there yet.

Monday, January 24, 2005 -- Afternoon

For all those men who believe that women are bad drivers, German researchers have found a hormonal link. According to the researchers, because female babies are exposed to testerone in the womb, it affects their spatial ability. This is supposed to make women poor parkers. It also results in the index and ring fingers are women being the same length, while the ring finger is longer in men. I don't know that I buy this, but I do admit to having trouble with the visualization of objects on the standardized tests.

And for all those dirty keyboards out there, get out your handy wipes. It seems that keyboards and cell phones are dirty than toilet seats. I have to admit as a computer support person that I have seen some really nasty looking keyboards and mice out there. I have a co-worker who carries anti-septic wipes to clean them off, and I guess she wasn't as nutty as we thought. Well, she is nutty, but on this one instance she isn't.

Monday, January 24, 2005 -- Morning

Google might be trying to move into the Internet phone business. So far, from the story that I read, Google is being quiet about what it is actually planning, but if it does, it would be very interesting. VoIP is revolutionizing the phone service as we know it. The US is lagging in adopting it, however.

The fans here in Pittsburgh are numbed over the Steelers' loss last night. I know that it is very hard to take because the team was doing so well during the regular season, but I think that the nerves of possibly losing did them in. This isn't an excuse for the loss of the game. The players should have overcome the nerves and moved on. They didn't though. It has to be very tough on Ben Roethlisberger. What he needs to realize is that he has a great future ahead of himself.

I also feel for Jerome Bettis. I think that he is ready for retirement, but would like to go out with a Super Bowl ring. If he is doing well physically, he can come back next year. Jerome is a nice person, and a good football player. Even if he doesn't win a Super Bowl, he deserves kudos for a job well done in how he handles himself professional and with the fans.

Plaxico Burress, however, is Mr. Sour Grapes. He is already commenting on not coming back to the Steelers next year because he will be a free agent. That's because the Steelers see more value in a real player who works hard to make plays like Hines Ward instead of whiners like Plaxico. The thing is that Plaxico was bobbling the ball and missing catches, but looks like he wants to lay the blame elsewhere for his bad performance.

Sunday, January 23, 2005 -- Later Evening

The Steelers lost the game today. The final score was 41-27. We scored the final touchdown in the last two minutes because New England just basically let us score. It was a very pitiful game to watch, and very distressing. The thing that really sucks is that the celebration for the AFC Championship is going to be on our field. What sports will my boyfriend and I watch now? We used to watch football, then hockey, and then because it would be summer time, we would just be outside. This winter is going to be hard with no sports to watch.

Sunday, January 23, 2005 -- Evening

We are just in the second quarter of the AFC Championship, and the Steelers are losing. I didn't have a good feeling after the first score, a field goal after an interception. Now the score is 10-3. Well, we did have a good season, and even though there is still half of the game to go, I am not seeing anything that is promising. Fortunately, we are still only one touchdown away, so it isn't hopeless yet.

Just right after I finished the comment above, the Patriots scored again, and the score is now 17-3. Well, at least as my boyfriend just commented, all the Steeler merchandise will be on sale.

Johnny Carson died today. He was 79 years old, and died of emphysema. He was diagnosed with it in 2002. I remember watching Johnny Carson at night when I was a kid. It was really a big event to watch Johnny Carson. There really wasn't anything else on at late night, and he dominated. It seems that Carson was still sending material periodically to David Letterman.

It's now worse. Roethlisberger threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, and the score is now 24-3. We are at the two minute warning before the half.

Bez won Celebrity Big Brother in the UK. I did not think that he would win, but that the young kid, Kenzie, would win. The show was not on for very long because celebrities can't commit to as much time locked away in a house as ordinary folks can.

I watched the Hetty Wainthropp, Investigates shows this morning. I was watching the cds from the complete first series. Patricia Routledge plays Hetty, and does a very good job of protraying a woman who is past it as far as society is concerned who shows society by changing her profession to being a private detective. Sleuthing is in her blood. The role is quite a change from her role as Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping up Appearances. The thing that I like about Hetty Wainthropp is that she isn't just an amateur dective. She makes it her job. After all, the money is needed by the family.

Saturday, January 22, 2005 -- Late Evening

Surprisingly, Pitt's basketball team won this evening against UConn. Pitt was behind by nine points at half time, but the team came back strongly in the second half. Again, this agrees with the comments that the players have made to friends that they don't try at first until they find they have to up the effort. we are not doing well in the Big East, and unless we start improving play, we won't be much of a force to contend with in March for the Big East Tournament and NCAA Championships.

Saturday, January 22, 2005 -- Evening

Now this is interesting news from a British newspaper. Mannequins in America are starting to be made with more vuluptuous than in previous years. The mannequins are British size 12. Well, according to the size conversion tables that is equivalent to a US size 10. That's the thing that always throws me. I see women all the time who are bigger than me, and yet they always claim to wear a smaller dress size. The last dress I bought was a size 8. My boyfriend will be very happy to hear of the new models because he likes curves on women.

They won't be selling beer after the third quarter of the game at Heinz Field tomorrow. The food vendor, Aramark, is the same one who was sued because of an auto accident caused by a drunk fan who had just left Giants Stadium.

Saturday, January 22, 2005 -- Afternoon

Popular Mechanics magazine has a short article on the software that the NFL uses to assist with the coaching process. Twenty seven of the teams use software from Pinnacle Systems. The coaches use this software to create dvds with analysis of games for the players. The video of the games are shared amongst all the teams, and they then use the Pinnacle software to mark up the games to show various points such as what the team in question does on third downs and what the weather is. The one stipulation that the NFL makes is that the teams can not use Pinnacle during the game. Printouts from the software are acceptable on the sidelines, but that's it.

Friday, January 21, 2005 -- Evening

Even the national media is commenting on Pitt's basketball team. The team is not doing well, and no one seems to be able to understand it. As I mentioned earlier though, I have heard from people who know the players that there isn't discipline, and the coach isn't respected. I really do believe that is the problem here, and unless Jamie Dixon changes his methods, Pitt is going to lose more. When I read some of the comments that Dixon makes I don't see him as the type of ball buster that a college basketball coach, or any coach, for that matter should be. "It's all about believing in yourself and believing in each other" Dixon says. What a bunch of mealy mouth feel good garbage.

There is more news from Saturn. Since the probe was launched there was talk of information and data that wasn't received, and there was an investigation on the matter. It appears that the problem was due to the fact that one of the two receivers was not turned on. The data was being transmitted from Titan, but there wasn't anything on this side to pick it up. Some of the data was picked up by receivers elsewhere in the world. This is yet another poor showing on the part of the ESA. There is also more information about what has been found on Titan. It appears that there is an abundance of liquid methane on the planet.

Who's the leak? There has been an annoucement from the Hockey News that there was an announcement on the NHL Player's Association internal web site that the players should prepare for a long lockout. That is not good news at all. Trevor Linden is playing hard ball, and doesn't want to believe that there isn't huge amounts of money to be had. My question still stands though. I wonder who the player is who is leaking information from the internal web site.

Thursday, January 20, 2005 -- Evening

Scientists will be presenting more details on Titan this Friday in Paris. Hopefully, they will have lots of information because they have had a week to analyze the data.

One of the things that I hate are the stats that give you for sports. For example, people keep on talking now about how the Patriots are 13-0 when facing a quarterback for the second time in a season. All that means is that now they are 13-0. After this week, they may be 13-1. These stats only mean something to me when the person has finished competing. After all, we are only looking at these stats for this time period, and that doesn't mean that things won't change with the next game.

Ben Roethlisberger is not letting last week's game bother him. Hopefully, that is true, and he will not let the nerves get to him on Sunday evening.

There's a nice article about Troy Polamalu in the New York Times. It seems that his uncle used to be a dancer with Don Ho.

Thursday, January 20, 2005 -- Afternoon

For my continuing search about smoking, I found something that says that only 15-20% of smokers develop emphysema. This is continuing support for my boyfriend's contention that cigarette smoking won't kill you. Not that it is good for you, but it does make you wonder if the problem is that if you are predisposed to a certain condition, cigarette smoking hastens the process.

Tomorrow is another Black & Gold day here in Allegheny County and Pittsburgh. If the Steelers win this week, this place will be crazy at Super Bowl time.

There are alot of folks out there who are just crazy because of the Steelers. Here is a sampling of Steeler songs. There is also a Steeler Baby who says all the Steeler chants.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005 -- Evening

It appears that the Mars rover, Opportunity, did indeed find a meteorite on Mars. There goes my theory that it was a piece of an alien spacecraft.

Pitt's basketball team lost again last night. They are obviously going into a downward spiral, and hopefully the coach will wake up before it's too late, and give them some of the discipline that they have been lacking from him.

A British professor came up with a formula to find the most depressing day of the year. His determination is that the day is January 24. It seems that the depression is due to the miserable weather, debt (probably from overspending at christmas), and failed resolutions from the new year. If anything this does give a person a good reason to cut the spending at Christmas, and not to make resolutions that you won't keep for the New Year. People put such a high store in making unrealistic resolutions. They doom themselves to failure, and then become depressed because they couldn't live up to their expectations.

The National Portrait Gallery in the UK commissioned a portrait of Dame Judi Dench. The portrait was unveiled today. The outfit that she has on for the painting is very manish in my opinion, and was a choice of the artist. It is a very lifelike painting. However, I don't think the painting captures the true beauty and spirit of Judi. It has a harder look to it than I associate with her.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005 -- Afternoon

I continued to watch more Dashiell Hammett that I recorded yesterday. First up was The Thin Man with William Powell and Myrna Loy. William Powell and Myrna Loy really have great chemistry together. I was surprised to learn that William Powell is a fellow Pittsburgher. As for the movie, it was an entertaining comic mystery from the 1930s, and it lead to a whole series of Thin Man movies. Throughout the movies, Nick and Nora Charles (played by Powell and Loy) spend the majority of time either drinking or recouperating from a hangover. After the Thin Man was the second movie, and a young Jimmy Stewart plays a character in the movie. It seems that hard drinking characters were common in those times. The Lockridges' Norths were series characters in mysteries that were written at the same time, and they also spent alot of time drinking cocktails and having parties.

Ben Roethlisberger's teammates are supporting him as the starting quarterback for the game this coming Sunday. The folks on the sports call-in shows are suggesting that Tommy Maddox start the game, and that if Ben plays that he doesn't wear the infamous gloves. Obviously, Ben wasn't the only one who was having problems in the last game. The whole offense seemed to have problems--Jerome Bettis fumbled a ball, and the special teams allowed a touchdown on kick off.

I think that one of the opinion pieces in the Daily Telegraph has it right about the whole Prince Harry debacle. The whole matter has been blown our of proportion, and Mr. Steyn does a nice job of trying to bring things back into perspective.

We all have a reason now to not make our beds in the mornings. It seems that leaving the bed unmade means that the sheets are exposed and any moisture on the sheets has a chance to dry up which makes for an undesireable location for dust mites.

I also will be adding camomile tea to my daily diet. It seems that if you have five cups of camomile tea a day for two weeks, it elevates both glycine and hippurate in the blood which can help fight colds and muscle spasms that are commonly found with menstruation. The effects appear to remain in the blood two weeks after stopping the regime. I have had camomile in the past because it is supposed to be a mild sedative. Now there is more to recommend the herb.

Monday, January 17, 2005 -- Evening

TCM had a tribute to Dashiell Hammett today. One of the movies was, of course, Maltese Falcon. The Maltese Falcon was the movie that started film noire. The movie was a good one. The plot was intricate, and there were many twists and turns. What was the Maltese Falcon? Who were the bad guys, and the not so bad guys? Would Sam Spade ever figure it out? You really have to pay attention to the movie because there are so many twists and turns, and you have to keep the characters and situations straight. Humphrey Bogart does a great job, and I just love Peter Lorre. The movie definitely belongs on the AFI's list of the top 100 movies of all time. I have to work on seeing some of the other movies on the list.

There are five new Sherlock Holmes stories available from the BBC. They have both audio and written versions of the stories.

Yuri Demetris was arrested yesterday and indefinitely suspended from the Pitt basketball team It seems he broke into a former girlfriend's house, and assaulterd her and stole some things from her house. The kid obviously has a problem, and I hope that he gets help. Let's see how much help he gets from the Pitt Athletic department.

Sunday, January 16, 2005 -- Evening

Charlotte MacLeod died today. She was one of my favorite mystery writers, but hasn't had anything new released in seven years. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and died at the age of 82. My favorite stories of hers were the ones with Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn.

The New England Patriots are leading the Indianapolis Colts with less than seven minutes left in the game. It appears that we will be playing the Patriots next week in the AFC championship. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Granted, we did beat the Patriots earlier this year, but this is a whole new ball game.

The one thing that you should know about Steeler fans is that not only do they love to support winners, but if there is even a hint of someone not playing to expectations, the fans are quick to turn with all their fury. Now, folks are calling for the head of Ben Roethlisberger. I think that Ben did show a strong case of nerves yesterday. That could be a problem, but I don't know that Tommy Maddox would be better. Tommy is a crappy thrower, and he really can't run around either.

Sunday, January 16, 2005 -- After midnight

I've been catching up on my large piles of things that need to be read. Right now, I am reading Newsweek from January 10. There's a little blurp about The Cubes. It's perfect for the Office Space type office. Just what I need--more knick-knacks for my already crowded house! It seems that the Cubes will be available for purchase in March.

Saturday, January 15, 2005 -- Evening

My gosh was the Steeler game today a nail biter! In the first half of the game, even though we were ahead 10-0, I noticed that the statistics were showing that the New York Jets had position of the ball alot more than we did. By the middle of the fourth quarter, I was resigning myself to the end of Steeler football this season. Well, I was wrong. The kicker for the Jet, Doug Brien, missed two field goal attempts. The game went into overtime, and somehow, we managed to win the game. The final score was 20-17. The next game is going to be pretty exciting, but I'm not holding out much hope to win next week. The team in general, just didn't seem to be playing well at all.

I had a nice time watching the game. My boyfriend and I went to a friend's house and watched the game in high definition. It actually seemed like we were there watching the game. It really does make me interested in getting a high definition television.

Doug Brien should check out this information on how to kicking a football. But wait! It seems that Doug Brien is the author. Maybe then he should practice visualization as he tells others. Visualize the field goal. :-)

Jackie Stallone was evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house. All I have to say is that woman is very scary looking, as you can see from the picture on the link.

There are more images released from Titan. It seems that the surface of Titan is orange with a tangerine sky. Now that's my kind of place. I love orange. It's my favorite color, and if I see a piece of clothing in orange, I get it. The images are showing a definite liquid ocean, and a methane fog hanging over the land area. It's also thought that the area where Huygens landed was once flooded, and that surface that it is on is moist and squishy.

Friday, January 14, 2005 -- Late Evening

The controversy over Prince Harry continues. In my opinion, I don't think that Harry used good judgement in choosing his costume for the party that he attended. However, the fact of the matter is that he did apologize. What does he need to do to quiet the presses? If he does do anything publicly, it just continues the problem in the presses. Another issue that disturbs me is that we keep on hearing how Jewish groups believe that Harry should go to Auschwitz (which he is not going to do). The implication is that only Jews were affected by Nazism, but that is not the case. Europe was devistated by WWII. There is a bigger question. Harry rented this outfit from a shop that obviously has the costume to rent to people. Is it okay to rent the outfit, but not to wear it? Is it okay for Joe Schmoe to wear the outfit, but not Prince Harry? I think that a mountain is being made out of a molehill. A priviledged child who doesn't have any common sense makes a mistake based in ignorance or rebellion. I think that there are more important things to concern us than how sincere or how profuse his apology is.

Huygens has sent back data from Titan. It seems from a show on the Discovery channel that five hours of data has been received, and it will take some time to do a complete analysis of the images. The analysis of some of the images so far appears to point to a liquid like surface. It is not clear what the liquid is, or if it is just a tarry surface. There is also a picture from the surface that shows a boulder strewn surface. It will be very interesting to see what will result from a complete study of the images. I would imagine that what will result is an interest in sending a probe that can do a longer analysis of Titan.

The whole point in getting a closer examination of Titan is that it seems to be place that might mimic the early Earth. We would like to see how life could have formed, and it is very possible that organic matter will be found there. The question is where have the organic molecules on Earth come from? Is there other life in the Universe? Astrobiology is a fascinating topic, and I think that we have just touched the very surface of what we can learn about life outside of Earth. What is fascinating is that Carl Sagan was one of the first to collect evidence that Titan's atmosphere contained the building blocks of life.

If you are interested in seeing some video of Mars exploration, check out Mars TV. There are a slew of videos that are available.

Friday, January 14, 2005 -- Morning

Huygens has started its descent to Titan this morning. So far, NASA has received a signal from the probe that shows that the probe is alive and that it is able to send signals back to Earth. It is still too early for more information. The thing that sucks is that we don't get the NASA Channel on our cable. Fortunately, it is available through the Internet.

Thursday, January 13, 2005 -- Evening

Huygens is going to investigate Titan tomorrow morning around 7:09 AM EST. The Cassini Huygens Home page has a countdown ticker to the descent. From what I have heard there is some uncertain on whether we will get any signals back. I hope that we do because it will be interesting to see what's there.

Opportunity has found a curious object on Mars. Scientists are quite sure what it is, but it appears to be a metallic meteorite. Opportunity will be doing a closer examination of the rock, and more information should be available soon. Personally, I think that it's a tiny crashed space alien ship. I keep on remembering the Pepsi commercial where the NASA guy was watching the video from one of the rovers, and he was bored and had a Pepsi. As he was drinking it, he missed the littel Martians destroying the rover.

Thursday, January 13, 2005 -- Afternoon

I have to admit that I have a weakness for Big Brother. It's a reality show that originated in England, and was brought over to the good old US. Well, the Brits have some fascinating Big Brother shows, and now have a Celebrity Big Brother. The shame of it all for me is that I am not in the UK to watch it. Instead, I have to satisfy my daily Big Brother dose by reading about it in the Daily Mail. The celebrities that they have in the show are on the has-been side. One of them is Jackie Stallone, Sylvester's mom, and Brigitte Nielsen, Sylvester's former wife. There are alot of petty squabbles, and if I were the celebrities, I wouldn't see it as good publicity. Germaine Greer was also on the show, but she walked out. It's stupid voyerism, but there's something about Big Brother that intrigues me. I doubt that I would last long on the show. It would be awfully boring to just sit around in that house and not have books or television. I suppose that what interests me the most is the interactions between the contestants. It's always entertaining to see everyone hate the person who has the most personality.

Thursday, January 13, 2005 -- Morning

Prince Harry is in trouble this morning. It seems that he went to a birthday party for a friend this weekend, and wore a Nazi uniform. This shows extreme bad taste on his part. An apology was made via a press secretary, as is usually done with the British Royal Family, but Tory leader, Michael Howard, wants a public apology. I don't know if it is going to be forthcoming because the Royal Family says a statement was made and that is the end of it. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Do the young people of Britain understand how others view a swastika? Is it just that Harry is insensitive, or that the young in general don't know or care?

I did not know what was involved with the Super Bowl rings. For some reason, I thought that it was a generic ring that was just supposed to symbolize the bowl game itself. It seems, however, that the ring is customized for the team that wins it. The maximum standards that each ring has is that it must be 10K gold and weigh no more than 30 pennyweight (1 pennyweight = 1.55517384 grams). In the Post Gazette article, they show the pictures of the four Steeler rings.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

I don't think I have enough time in the day for exercise. The government issued a new release of the food pyramid, and the recommendation is to cut calories, eat the right food, and exercise at least 30 minutes a day, but 90 minutes a day being the preferred amount to lose weight. With work taking such a large chunk of time out of our day, how could we put in 90 minutes a day every day? If you think about it too much, you get depressed. Don't eat, and exercise 90 minutes. You might be healthy, but you sure won't be happy! The pyramid is a joint release with the Agriculture Department and Health and Human Services.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005 -- Afternoon

Do you remember the story from the old days that the analog cell phones would cause brain tumors with extended use? Well, it appears that the current type of phone also has issues. There has been a report released in the United Kingdom that states that children under the age of 8 should not use a cell phone. It seems that they are at greater harm from brain and ear tumors.

There's alot of talk around town about the Steelers this week. There is even a main page article on ESPN about various myths that folks have about what it takes to win the Superbowl. One of the myths is about rookie quarterbacks not winning the Superbowl. I am hoping that Roethlisberger can prove them wrong.

I love to walk during the summer for exercise, but in the winter time it is difficult to get the steps in. Part of the problem is the cold weather. The other part is that it is darker sooner, and walking city streets in the dark isn't always a good practice. There are other options such as ice skating. As the article says, it's a great form of exercise for this time of year. Now, I do have a problem with ice skating because I am awful at it. According to the article, it is relatively safe, but I have seen too many people who have fallen and broken wrists, screwed up knees, and cracked their heads on the ice. I do have to admit that it is fun. One of my favorite memories is skating at an outdoor rink in Scheneley Park while it was snowing.

I don't exercise enough. I used to do more in the past, but I just don't seem to find enough hours in the day. To top it off, I have put on a few pounds. My BMI is 23.2 which is in the normal range, but I still think that I would just feel better if I lost five pounds. Now, I have been trying exercise without much change in my diet because I love food too much. But I think that I need both. Boy, if only there was a magic pill to take so you could eat all the glorious food you want, exercise just a bit, and still be thin and healthy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 -- Evening

Ben Roethlisberger did a very nice thing today. He is going to donate his first playoff check to tsunami victims.

I watched I, Robot with Will Smith this evening. I wasn't expecting much from it, and I was pleasantly surprised. I am a big Will Smith fan. He is very good in the comedies, and is making a name for himself in action flicks. I haven't read the Isaac Asimov stories, but I will have to check them out. The thing that I find fascinating is that for years now, science fiction has shown robots as humanoid type creatures that will be commonplace. We have The Jetsons, The Terminator, and Alien. So far, I think that we have found that the creation of artifical intelligence as we see in the robots in movies is not that easy to achieve. The question: if we are able to achieve a high level of artifical intelligence, should we implement it? If we do, would we risk robots that would attempt to overtake civilization as we see in The Terminator and I, Robot?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

Deep Impact will be launched as early as tomorrow afternoon. This is the probe that is going to study the comet. There is a window of opportunity that lasts until January 28 for the launch to put it on the correct path for the comet

Scientists have identified the three largest stars found in the universe. If the stars were in our solar system, and centered where the Sun is now, the stars girth would go out past Jupiter--1.5 billion kilometers. The stars are red giants. That means that the star is nearing the end of its life, and although it is large, its temperature is cooler.

Monday, January 10, 2005 -- Evening

NASA scientists are studying the Indonesian earthquake. It seems that all earthquakes have some effect on the rotation, axis, and shape of the Earth.

As a person with high cholesterol, I am interested in the fairly new research on CRP levels as a risk factor in causing heart attacks and strokes. I read something about this around a year ago, but recently the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that in women high levels of CRP can predict whether the woman will have a heart attack or stroke. CRP (C-reactive protein) is an inflamatory agent, and it appears that it can be connected to instability with plaque that forms in the veins. Now CRP levels can be tested in the blood stream, but the problem is that even if you do have elevated CRP levels, it appears that there really isn't any treatment for it.

The question that ad agencies have is what is going to happen to the television commercial? Right now DVRs are in 7% of the households in the United States, but it is estimated that it will be closer to 40 or 50% in the next four or five years. I know that I personally love the DVR. I can record the shows that I love in the middle of the night, or when I am at work, and watch them whenever I want. In fact, I rarely watch live television now, and fast forward through all the commercials. Comcast is giving the satelite companies a run for their money because it has come out with its DVR. I have Comcast now, and I am very unhappy with the cost of their service. Satelite services are cheaper and have more channels available for the price. The reason I am with Comcast for now is because of the DVR and On Demand.

Sunday, January 9, 2005 -- Evening

My friends and I had a discussion about smoking today that started because of smoking laws. My friend who went to Germany recently was upset because Germany doesn't have laws against smoking in public places. The question is should governments make laws that prevent people from smoking. I don't smoke and being in smoky places really clogs my sinuses, however, I do wonder if it is the governments job to make such bans. Some of my friends say that it is necessary because smoking will lead to your death. Now my boyfriend says that just because you smoke, it doesn't mean that you will develop a disease. My goal is to find statistics on what percentage of smokers develop a particular disease. Now most folks would tell you that smoking would lead to lung cancer, and 85 to 90% of those with lung cancer are smokers. However, research shows that only 10% of people who smoke develop lung cancer. There's also a big debate on the dangers of second hand smoke. Again, it appears that the EPA found through some longitudinal studies that having a spouse who smokes lead to the non-smoking spouse having a 20% increase in developing lung cancer. So in my opinion the claims of non-smokers that these laws must be passed to save the health of non-smokers is not sustantiated with hard facts. I'm not saying that smoking is good for the smoker or non-smoker, but if I saw statistics that said 50% of non-smokers who are around heavy smokers develop lung cancer, I would be more agreeable with the laws. The way it should be handled is through popular demand. If I don't like a smokey place, I won't go to it. Hence, I don't go to bars in Pittsburgh because they tend to be smokey and the smoke makes my allergies worse. If there were a non-smoking bar, I might go to it. Should bars be forced to be non-smoking? No. Why? Because I don't have to go into a bar. Let's put it this way, smoking isn't good for you, and can lead to health problems with no clear statistics on how many smokers have health problems of a certain type. I don't like smoking personally, but that does not mean that the government should be involved in smoking in restaurants or bars.

Sunday, January 9, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

Today was the Palestinian election day and at this time Mahmoud Abbas is claiming victory. So far, exit polls (and we know from our own Presidential election how reliable they can be) show Abbas winning with 66% of the vote. Abbas is supposed to be a more moderate leader than Arafat, but the question that I have is how will he deal with the terrorist groups. The acts of terror that are perpetrated by the extremists on the Palestinian side against the civilians of Israel has to be stopped and controlled, and the Palestinian leadership has to show that it will work for the citizens of a Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership has to put in place a structure that actually provides stability and legal authority for its people.

Saturday, January 8, 2005 -- Evening

I really haven't commented alot on the basketball scene at the University of Pittsburgh because I'm basically really not interested in basketball. To me, it's one of those games were scoring is fairly easy. Give the ball to one side, they go to the basket, shoot, and either it makes it or it gets caught by the other side who then goes to their basket, and does the same thing. Boring, in my opinion. Now the University of Pittsburgh does have a decent basketball team. Now the thing is that I have been hearing rumors for some people that I know that know some of the basketball players on the team. What I have heard is that the players really don't get disciplined by the coach, Jamie Dixon, and the players have a lazy attitude that Dixon does not address. It seems that Dixon wants to be the players' friend instead of a coach. This sort of behvavior becomes obvious when the team loses to Bucknell, a team that they should easily beat. Basically the Pitt team doesn't seem to really put their all into the game. It's obvious at the beginning of games where the Pitt guys go out and seem to be seeing how badly they can play and still win. The sports writers in the area don't seem to be picking up on this behavior, and I'm not sure why. The last few games have been tighter than they should have with two loses and one win by three points over Rutgers in overtime.

Dave Wannstedt had a Q&A with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I do like Wannstedt's comment on calling the team Pittsburgh or Pitt. He says that he uses both. I think the University administration thinks Pitt sounds too common or makes people think of the "pitts". More administrative gobbledgook. I'm hoping the Wannstedt can do a good job with recruiting. He has the talk that sounds like he would be great at selling the University.

A friend of mine was in Germany over the Christmas holidays, and he brought back some candy for me. Now I am a hopeless addict to the Kinder Schoko-Bons. The candy is small and egg shaped along the lines of the little chocolate eggs that I would get in my Easter basket as a child. The Schoko-Bons have a thin shell of chocolate over a fabulous hazelnut cream. The concept reminds me of the Whopper malt ball only 100 times better.

Friday, January 7, 2005 -- Evening

President Bush had his new puppy, Miss Beazley, meet the press. Miss Beazley is a Scottish terrier just like Barney, the Bushes' current dog. I like dogs, and I have to admit that she is a real cutie.

Scientists have found that the nose has a more complicated airflow than a jet's wing. It seems that the reason for this is due to the fact that the olfactory bulb needs air to hit it at high velocity. The hope is that the research will lead to find cures for runny and congested noses. That would be great! I would love to be able to breath through my nose instead of through my mouth.

Thursday, January 6, 2005 -- Evening

Things are not looking good for the NHL lockout. The NHL cancelled the board of governors' meeting on January 14 because there is nothing new to report. It is not looking good for any hockey being played this season.

Not only did Jerome Bettis win the Toughman Award yesterday, but Ben Roethlisberger also received an award. He received a $125,000 bonus for the work that he did this past year. You can also buy "Big Ben Beef Jerky". It's going to be released in local stores in Pittsburgh and comes in original and teryaki flavors.

I am starting to check out RSS feeds. Basically RSS (Real Simple Syndication) allows you to know when there are new updates on a web site without going to that web site. All you need to do is to install and RSS News reader on your computer. I have been trying out SharpReader as a client on my computer. If you have a server, you can install the server portion, and others can subscribe to your website, and find out when your pages are updated. I've only been using it for a day, so I don't have much of an opinion about it yet. So far, I have subscribed to CNN's and BBC's feeds.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005 -- Evening

Jerome Bettis was given the Howie Long Toughman Award. The local station, KDKA has a weekly segment with Jerome called the Bus Stop. The award was mentioned during the segment. Howie gives the Toughman Award to the player he thinks played the hardest and showed up to play every game. That definitely describes Jerome. He always puts his all into his work. The award was a black truck of some sort. I really don't know trucks that well. One pretty much looks like another to me.

I love mystery books. Books are my addiction, and mysteries are the ones that I crave the most. The Carnegie Library has a Mystery Book Group. The book coming up in the last week of January is The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie. I haven't read the book in a long time, so I'll have to catch up on it before the end of the month.

The earthquake that caused the tsunami may have also caused the Earth to spin abit faster, and to tilt an inch on its axis.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005 -- Afternoon

Ben Roethlisberger was named the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year. It seems that a quarterback hasn't won this award since its inception. The reason why I think Ben deserves this award is because I've noticed that while he has been the quarterback everyone seems to be scrambling around trying to make plays. It seems that others seem to think that Ben will try to avoid the sack, and all the others have to do is get open to get the ball. The only thing that concerns me is that with all the hype, there's no where to go but down. I can just hear the Pittsburgh fans now getting on Ben's case when he loses his first game. It will either be "he choked in the playoffs" or "he didn't lose a game in his rookie season". You can't tell much from a person's first year in a sport like football. It's the record over time that really counts. It will be exciting to see how Ben's career progresses and how it helps the Steelers.

Tuesday, Janauray 4, 2005 -- Afternoon

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, blog readship is up 58% percent from last year. I'm not sure if may folks are reading the Daily Bongo, but I hope that I have some things of interest to write about. As time progresses, I hope to broaden my horizons more, and cover more topics.

I think that I suffer from a problem that most people have. I really don't like my job. A co-worker sent me an article on quitting your job. The only problem I see is supporting yourself if you quit, and the article mentions that too. Personal happiness does come first, and when you are on your deathbed, you regret the things like not spending time with family and being happy.

I watched one of my favorite movies last night The Mark of Zorro from 1940. That's the one that stars Tyrone Power. For me, Zorro is Tyrone Power. He was charming and full of charisma. At least that is how he came across in the movie. Also, he managed to pull off wearing those tight clothes without looking silly. The pace of the movie is good, and there are a slew of good sword fighting scenes, especially the fight with Basil Rathbone.

Monday, January 3, 2005 -- Evening

You might think from all that I have been writing about the Steelers that I am a big football fan. However, I am actually a big fan of hockey. Since the lockout is on, there really isn't any news to tell about them. It seems that Wayne Gretzky thinks that the lockout could be a long one. If something doesn't change with hockey payrolls, the Penguins won't have a long life here in Pittsburgh. Right now, the tickets are extremely expensive--$30 for a seat in peanut heaven or behind a pole. I hope this matter gets resolved soon, but I think that the players think there is more money out there than there actually is.

Back to football--it seems that the Buffalo Bills were really shocked that they lost. As Drew Bledsoe said that if they couldn't beat the Steeler backups, the Bills didn't deserve to be in the playoffs. Funny because without beating the Steelers, they couldn't get into the playoffs.

Matt Cavanaugh is out as the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coach. The team hasn't been doing well offensively since he has been coach of that area. Now, the Ravens have been saying that he wasn't fired, but it sure does sound like it from reading the Baltimore Sun article. I think that it's just a damn lucky thing that the University of Pittsburgh didn't hire cavanaugh because the guy would not be up to the job.

Sunday, January 2, 2005 -- Evening

I knew there was a reason why I liked turmeric. It seems that there is research that shows that the spice might be useful in slowing down Alzheimer's disease. It also seems that turmeric is useful in "aiding digestion, fighting infection and guarding against heart attacks". It also seems that Alzheimer's isn't found alot in people in India where the spice is used alot. I usually use the spice when I make pasta and put it liberally on chicken. I'll have to find more uses for turmeric.

I've been spending the evening watching DVDs. I started with a black and white Saint episode called The Romantic Matron. Roger Moore looks so young in the black and white episodes. This one wasn't one of the best, but I love all the Saint episodes. So far, the complete first series is only available from Carlton video in the UK. Unfortunately, the DVD is region 2, so unless you have a DVD player capable of playing that region, you will have to settle for the few black and white episodes released by A&E which did not get a very wide distribution. In fact, I can't even find it listed anywhere anymore, and it was just released less than a year ago.

Since we have been footballed out with all the games that have been on with the New Year's bowls game, my boyfriend and I spent the evening watching the
second series of As Time Goes By. It has one of my favorite episodes in it. It's the one where Lionel and Jean go to Penny and Stephen's house for the weekend. It is hilarious when Lionel puts the elastoplast above the bathroom door so he can find the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Sunday, January 2, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

The Steelers won today. They finish the season 15-1. It was really amazing because for a good percentage of the game the starters weren't playing. In the second half, Brian St. Pierre even got to play. The rumors all week were that the Steelers wouldn't be playing, and that Buffalo had so much to gain by winning that they would be going all out. There was so much talk of the Steelers losing momentum because they were going to lose the game, and that Buffalo would have our number in the playoffs. Then the Steelers came in and won by a score of 29 to 24. It was a great game, and the backups (both second and third stringers) did a fabulous job.

I just finished reading The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie. This book isn't part of a series, so there isn't a Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple in it. The story was a good one. It starts with a seance at Sittaford. A message comes from the great beyond that Captain Trevelyan is dead. One of the members of the seance party is worried, and walks six miles to check on Captain Trevelyan during a viscious snowstorm to find Captain Trevelyan dead. Who killed the Captain? One of his relatives, James Pearson, just happened to show up in the town right before the murder, and left the next day. James also was one of the four beneficiaries in the will. So, of course, he gets arrested, and his spunky, feisty fiancee Emily Trefusis is on the case to prove James innocent. I love stories like this. The book was published in 1931, and it has all the flavor of that time---no phones available to call to the Captain and a snowstorm that makes Sittaford unreachable for days. Also, there is an intriguing subplot about Mrs. and Miss Willett who rent Sittaford from Captain Trevelyan. Who are the Willets and why did they want to come to Dartmoor in the dead of winter? It's a very entertaining and engaging mystery, and definitely one that I would enjoy reading again.

Sunday, January 2, 2005 -- Early Afternoon

Obviously, I wasn't the only one who thought the Pitt Panthers really sucked last night in the Fiesta Bowl. Bob Smizik, a sports reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette thinks so too. The best quote in the article is Walt Harris saying he was "numb". Walt thought the Panthers should have played better. Well, the reason that they didn't is because they were outclassed, and poorly coached. As Bob smizik says in his piece, Stanford should have watched the game with care because that was class Walt offensive--and they hired him for his offensive abilities!

The Steelers just started the game against the Buffalo Bills. So far in the first quarter, we took advantage of a fumble to score a field goal, and Buffalo answered by taking advantage of a fumble of ours to score a touchdown. The score is 7-3 with six minutes left in the first quarter.

Sunday, January 2, 2005 -- Just after midnight

Utah won the Fiesta Bowl by a score of 35 to 7. It's shocking that Pitt even managed to score the one touchdown. Tyler Palko was on his back more than a cheap hooker. He was sacked nine times by my count, and was usually running around trying to avoid Utah's defense. By the half time, the Utah fans started chanting "overrated". It wasn't that Pitt was overrated--they managed to back into this bowl because of stupid BCS rules. Poor Utah suffered because they got no match at all from Pitt. The BCS should change how they determine the bowl matchups.

Also, Pitt's fans had a poor showing. The Sun Devil stadium was a sea of red. It's a shame that so few Pitt fans showed up. That's why no bowl sponsers are happy to see Pitt--the fans just don't travel to support the team.

Saturday, January 1, 2005 -- Evening

It is now half time at the Fiesta Bowl. Pitt has so far scored the big goose egg. Utah has scored two touchdowns and is doing a fantastic job of keeping us from scoring--even blocking a field goal attempt. I am not holding out much hope for Pitt. They really don't belong in the Fiesta Bowl. Utah was undefeated this year, and Pitt was in a four way tie in the crappy Big East division--just winning the tie breaker.

My boyfriend and I had an early evening dinner at Murray Ave. Grill this evening. It's a bar/restaurant in Squirrel Hill on Murray Ave. The food there is good, and not very expensive. The cost of a meal for two people is usually around $30. This evening, I had the chicken scallopini pasta. The portion was large, and it was filled with articokes, capers and chicken. My boyfriend just had chicken fingers and fries. That's the nice thing about Murray Ave. Grill. There is a nice assortment of sandwiches, salads, pastas and specials, so it is always possible to find something that you like. We had dinner earlier today because the Fiesta Bowl is on at 8:30 am EST.

Saturday, January 1, 2005 -- Afternoon

NASA will be launching Deep Impact on January 12. Deep Impact is a spacecraft that is going to observe Comet Tempel 1. The plan is for Deep Impact to reach the comet six months after the launch, and it will basically record images of the comet, and then release a device that will land on the comet (around July 4, 2005), and create a crater on the comet. The mothership will fly off and record information on materials released by the impact. The goal is to identify the composition of comets. The scientists are saying that what they are doing with Deep Impact should not do anything to move the comet's orbit into any conflict with the Earth's orbit. That's part of the problem with destruction of comets that are on a collision path with the Earth. By trying to blow up the comet or asteroid, are we just making smaller bits that will still hit Earth, or by just having a detonation on a comet, could we deflect it from a near miss into a definite hit? Research like Deep Impact needs to be done so we can make a better guesstimate on how to handle possible future impacts.