The Daily Bongo

June 2005

Thursday, June 30, 2005 -- Evening

The Big Brother hype is starting. I saw the first Big Brother commercial this evening which is probably timely since the show will be airing next Thursday. One of the secrets has already leaked. It seems that the producers of Big Brother are going to have secret pairings of all the contestants. The thing is that each pair will think that they are the only ones who have a secret alliance prior to the start of the game. If the pair makes it to the final two, then the winner will get $1 million instead of the usual $500,000. The person who finishes in second will get $250,000 instead of $50,000. The thing is to see if all the pairs keep it secret. So who are the pairings? Are they folks who live in the same location? The pairing twist will not be announced on the first show, but will be made public on the July 14th show which should be the first live show.

Thursday, June 30, 2005 -- Afternoon

It seems that with the new NBA collective bargaining agreement, Chris Taft might wind up playing for a minor league team. I heard from some of the players on the Pitt basketball team that they thought it was funny that Taft got taken down a few pegs. It seems that he had an arrogant attitude along with the laziness that made him difficult to work with. Also as I heard from them, even though Jamie Dixon said that it made Pitt look good to have someone drafted anywhere in the NBA draft, their concensus is that it makes Pitt look bad. Why? Because Taft came into the program as a good prospect for a first round pick, and wound upn in the cellar.

An interesting thing to note is that men tend to overestimate normal penis size. It seems that guys tend to want larger penises because they think that what they have is smaller than normal. A Canadian researcher though found that of 92 men that he studied while in Cairo, 92 complained of having a smaller than normal penis. Meanwhile every single one of them was normal. Basically what they did is tell the guys what was normal size and then measured the penis and found they all fell in the normal catagory. This reminds me of a story that I heard a few years ago. A friend was walking with a woman who tripped on uneven pavement. She said that her judgment of size was off, and it was from years of being told that this (and she held her fingers apart 2 inches) was 7 inches. I suppose that perceptions can go both ways.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 -- Late Evening

TV Guide has a one page article about Big Brother 6. The article has some pictures of the inside of the Big Brother house. Also, the CBS Big Brother web site has been updated, and there are now pictures and bios of the contestants. There are eight women and six men. It will be interesting to find out what the secrets are. One thing that I noticed is that no one is over 40, and everyone just seems to be really good looking. Where are the average people, and anyone over the age of 35? The oldest person is Eric, the firefighter who is 36. Another interesting part of the page is the voting section. You can rate the popularity of the contestants, who will be evicted next, and who will win the Grand Prize. I'm planning on paying for the 24 hour access because I have some foot surgery planned for July 8 and won't be getting around much.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 -- Evening

You have to feel sorry for Robert Kraft. He showed the 2005 Super Bowl ring to Vladimir Putin after a meeting that some American businessmen had with the Russian leader in St. Petersburg. Putin tried on the ring, then put it in his pocket and walked out. It's not clear whether Kraft intended to give the ring to Putin, but the Russians are saying that it was a gift. Poor Kraft! It appears the ring is valued at alot more than $15,000.

This is one time when I didn't miss out on a free ice cream deal. Starbucks had an ice cream social today and they were giving out 4 oz. free samples of their ice cream in their stores today only. The ice cream that I got was Java Chip, and it was tasty. The ice cream had a nice coffee taste, and the amount was just right. It gave you a good idea of what the ice cream tasted like without giving too many calories.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 -- Morning

So now folks are seeing the light of day, and realizing that Chris Taft was given bad advice. The kid's head was being filled all year with how well he would do in the draft, and how it didn't matter that he didn't have a good season because he was going to be in the NBA. Meanwhile, his season really sucked, and someone should have told him to stay in school and buckle down and work. No one did. Now Taft won't be getting the millions that he fantasized about, but will be getting a minimal salary if he makes the roster. So now he has no guarantees.

New research and analysis is suggesting that a dark spot that is seen on Saturn's moon, Titan, might actually be a lake. The scientists are basing this assumption on the smooth outline of the feature which some refer to as a shoreline. According to the scientists, they say that the smoothness of the "shore" is reminiscent of a shoreline on Earth that has been eroded over time. Sometimes scientists will see what they want to see, and make analysis based on what is common to them. I think this is where science can go wrong. Sometimes you have to realize that you aren't looking at a picture of Earth but of a planet/moon that is much distant and might be different.

I saw this sign on a door in my doctor's office this morning. I think it belonged to one of my doctor's co-workers. It's a quote from Einstein: "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" How true!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 -- Late Evening

I found out before I went to sleep--Chris Taft was the 42nd pick in the second round. He was drafted by Golden State. The ESPN commentators were saying that his handlers did Taft a disservice by making him think he was a lottery pick, and that he should have stayed in school for another year. As one of the announcers said, Taft is an unskilled player. He can't shoot and he really doesn't have any skills to recommend him. The only thing that he has going for him is that with hard work he might become something. Maybe being picked this low in the draft will give Taft the kick in the pants that he needs. Will he be able to live up to the "potential"? We'll have to wait and see.

Well, the first round of the NBA draft is over, and Chris Taft was not picked. Now his only hope is for the second round. From hearing all the talk starting at the end of last year, folks were just raving about how Taft would be in the top five picks, and that he was definitely lottery pick on potential. A lottery pick means that you are one of the first fifteen people picked in the draft. But as Chad Ford of ESPN said Taft was a lottery pick on potential, but a second rounder on heart and desire. The ESPN guys were talking at the start of the second round about some players who may have been told that they were better than they were and Stephen A. Smith said "Chris Taft". Right now on the local sports talk show, Ron Cook was saying that he was shocked that Chris Taft didn't go in the 16-30 range of the first round. Paul Alexander was just commenting on the local sports show that he didn't think that Taft had the quality of hard work that would make him a worthy pick. It must be that I just don't know basketball as well as the Pittsburgh sports analysts, but I just didn't think much of Taft. Obviously, the NBA scouts agreed with me. In the first round, Taft would have had guaranteed money. In the second round, the money is not guaranteed. This is a big drop for Taft's expectations who obviously thought that since folks thought he should be a lottery pick that he didn't need to do anything other than sit and look pretty. Since I will probably be sleeping before the second round finishes, I'll probably have to wait until tomorrow to know if Taft does get picked at all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 -- Evening

Some news on the Big Brother 6 front. It seems that the theme for the show will be the Summer of Secrets. It seems that the house is setup to contain secrets, and some of the contestants will also have secrets. The new house is supposed to be a two story affair, and there is going to be a location on the second floor where you will be able to have a view of the whole first floor. This year there will be a total of 14 guests, but the show will not be extended so that must mean that there will be times when two people go. Also, the producer of the show, Arnold Shapiro, has also said that there won't be a moderator in the house or familiar faces. This is in response to Internet rumors that both would be happening.

The NBA draft is taking place now. So far, only the first four picks in the first round have happened. The first pick for Milwaukee was Andrew Bogut who is from Australia. It seems that this is the first time in a few years that a college student has been the number one pick. Usually they go for the brilliant high school student. It will be interesting to see where Chris Taft winds up.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 -- Afternoon

Corey Clark, the guy who claimed Paula Adbul had an affair with him, is in the news again. This time it was because he got involved in an argument and food fight with his record company manager. Obviously, Corey ain't too bright. Why not bite the hand that feeds you? The female executive is not pressing charges, but it seems that they both started throwing food and plates and both had scratches.

Also on the American Idol front, both Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice are on the charts with songs from the compilation cd American Idol Season 4 - The Showstoppers. Carrie sings Independence Day while Bo sings I Don't Want to Be. Unfortunately, Mikalah Gordon and Anwar Robinson are also on the cd. I guess in their case, they meant Showstopper as in stopping up your ears! Be careful in listening to the samples on the Amazon site. For example, when clicking on the Windows media player link for Anthony Federov, I got Anwar instead. I know, I know, both can hurt your ears, but it was not what I expected.

Deep Impact is still on schedule for its July 4 rendezvous with comet Tempel 1. This animation shows you the journey that Deep Impact has made, and how the rendezvous will occur. Basically, a probe is going to be place in the path of Tempel 1, and the probe and comet will collide. That is a better idea than trying to land on a small moving object. It's at times like this that I wish my cable provider carried NASA TV. Granted I can watch online, but it would be better on a larger screened television. NASA TV is also going digital starting July 1. The nice thing about digital over analog is that you can get more stuff transmitted with digital--digital can be compressed more than analog.

The NBA draft is tonight, and folks still seem to think that Chris Taft will be drafted because of his potential. Originally he was thought to be a early first round draft pick, but now the highest folks think he will go is 15th, and he might not go until the second round. I still find it hard to understand this whole potential thing with the NBA. They must get bitten by it so many times. So they get Taft because he is tall, and showed some signs a year ago of being good. Will he overcome the lazy factor? I guess we will have to see.

Monday, June 27, 2005 -- Afternoon

The Supreme Court has ruled today that sites that encourage file sharing may be held legally responsible for any copyright infringement activity. That's all well and good for places that are located in the US, but since the Internet is not bound to any one country, the sites will just spring up in other locations where US law doesn't impact. I don't have a problem with the ruling because it didn't talk about the technology, but about the copyright laws. We should all know that if someone has copyrighted material that they have purchased that they can't make copies to share with others. We all know that everyone will share things with friends, and if I get a CD and make a copy for a friend, it's going to be near impossible to catch. However, if I make 50 copies and sell them on the street, I am breaking copyright rules and should be arrested. It's no different to have the items on the street or on the Internet. What needs to happen though is that the recording and film industry need to realize that distribution and cost of materials needs to change on their end. We all know that it takes pennies to copy a CD, and the reason that CDs are so overpriced is so the recording companies can fill their pockets. Even the recording artists get screwed for the most part. The only thing that does disturb me about the ruling is that it might not give the studios a heads up to change their ways. Also, I wonder how easy it is going to be to show that a web site is encouraging theft of copyrighted material. The Supreme Court decision is based on Metro-Goldwyn Mayer vs. Grokster. This decision about the Grokster case is in contrast to the 1984 case against Sony where the Supreme Court did not find Sony liable for folks who use their VCRs to make copies of television shows.

Monday, June 27, 2005 -- Morning

I forgot to watch or record the show last night, but the Discovery Channel picked the Greatest American last night. The winner, as selected by the viewers, was Ronald Reagan. He was also my boyfriend's pick for Greatest American. Number 2 was Abraham Lincoln, followed by Martin Luther King, George Washington, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey, and Franklin D. Roosevelt rounded out the top ten. What I found hard to believe is that the first scientist on the list was Albert Einstein at 14 followed by Thomas Edison at 15. How could a talk show host like Oprah Winfrey possibly rank higher as a great American over someone who has actually accomplished something like Edison. It just goes to show you what is important to the common person. I just would have expected a higher showing for the sciences considering that it was on the Discovery Channel.

Sunday, June 26, 2005 -- Evening

The third season of Pimp My Ride was on MTV this evening. The car that they pimped was Jessica's 1976 Pacer. The girl claimed that she had it at her father's house and mice got into it. Well, it wasn't a mouse. It was a big ass rat, and when the guys started to strip the car, they found tons of rat feces and a live rat! Now this really freaked me out and the guys in the shop. The rat had been living in the dashboard. What really freaked me out is that the girl had food stored in the car that she ate--she was a nutrionist into health foods. Actually she sounded like a garden variety vegetarian. It was totally gross knowing that the rat was living in her car and probably gnawing on her granola bars. The guys at West Coast Customs pimped out the car very nicely. I loved what they did with the paint job. First they put silver on it, then put stars on it that peeled off after they put on some yellow and faded in red. The other thing they did with the car was to put in a juice bar. I'm sorry but I would never go near that car. I kept on shivering just thinking of the rat. Xzibit gave the girl a white cat at the end of the show to be a mouse catcher. I missed Q. He wasn't in the show at all, and I wonder if he isn't going to be on anymore. It appears that he still works for West Coast Customs, at least according to their web page.

Jeremy Roenick was at the Mario Lemieux golf tournament this weekend, and he expressed his views on the lockout/strike situation. It was interesting to watch on television because they kept on bleeping him out. It seems that he gave a really good rant about how the players had a better deal offered to them in February and because of stupidity, they turned it down, and now are going to be signing an deal that isn't as good in July. As Roenick said they hurt the league's reputation and integrity by not doing the right thing in the first place. He also said that the hockey players had to stand up for themselves, and that wasn't being cocky. As Roenick said, if the fans think they are cocky, it's because the fans are jealous, and they don't need fans like that. You know, there's one that you can say for Roenick, and that is that he speaks his mind. I saw him on an episode of ESPN's Teammates and the guy was an exuberant, crazy guy--just my sort of man.

The twelfth episode of first season of Endurance was on today. It was titled Leap of Faith. Only the Blue, Red and Yellow teams are left and there is no Samati to influence the results in this mission. We start the show with Christian and Aaron taking their morning shower in the ocean. It seems they do this every morning, and say that the cold ocean water is warmer than the showers. Christian doesn't seem to be the brightest person. He was doing backflips in two foot deep water. Everyone is talking about today's Temple mission because the winner does NOT go to the Temple. The two losers automatically go to the Temple. Jonna is now rethinking the fact that they took the Samati out of the game. As Jonna says, Yellow was appreciative at the beginning but then changed it to "stupid Blue team, now Yellow will win". It seems that Aaron was the one who was solely responsible for the decision. It seems that he is a decent honest person who wants a fair game. Sabrina admits though that she doesn't want a fair game, she wants to get rid of Blue. Now on to the game. The mission is for the teammates to jump as long as they can. A huge wooden swing like object is going to circle around like a jump rope, and the teammates have to jump as a unit over it. Christian of the Red team jumps on the board which breaks it, and Red is out. Sabrina of Yellow steps on the board and breaks it. Sabrina says, "you can't blame it on me", and Blue is the team guaranteed to go to the finals. Aaron says to Jonna, "we rock" to which Jonna replies, "oh yeah". You have to admit that Blue really does have a chemistry and great teamwork. As Jonna says, the biggest part of the game was rhythm. Jon and Ashley commiserate on how their partners are clutzes. As Jonna says, Jon will be upset because it will the last time he will see Ashley, and Ashley will be upset because it is the last time she will see Sabrina--and either Yellow or Red is going home. Red team only has the Leadership piece. Christian is wearing a necklace that Jonna gave him. It is her heart necklace, and she told Christian that he has to come back because it is her favorite necklace. Yellow has four pieces, and were in contention for the lead, so they have alot to lose. In the first game, Red picks water and Yellow picks fire. Red wins the first game. In the second, Red picks wood and Yellow picks fire. Yellow wins and the games are tied. It is down to the final rock. Whoever wins is a finalist. Yellow picks water. Ashley whispers to Christian that she thinks they should have picked wood, but they stick with their first choice which was water. It is a tie. So there is another game. This time Red picks wood and Yellow picks fire. Yellow wins. Ashley and Sabrina are crying, and Jon and Christian look devistated. The Yellow team returns to the beach to compete in the finals against Blue.

The thirteenth episode is titled Don't Drop the Ball. Sabrina said that she misses Ashley, Ashley and Ashley. Jon says that he misses Ashley, Ashley and Lana. It is obvious that Jon likes Ashley. Jonna is positive that she will win. The final mission is up today, and Jonna has painted her face with warrior marks, while Aaron has tattooed his arm with similar markings. The game today is Don't Drop the Ball. The teammates have to hold a huge medicine ball above their heads while standing on a platform in the water. They can only hold the ball with their hands, and the first team to drop the ball is out. The winner wins the piece, and gets to trade their trip to go to Australia. The ball can not touch their heads or be dropped. Jonna is warned because the ball is close to her head. Waves start to come in, and before we know it, the Blue team bobbles the ball and almost loses it. Blue team tries to rest one arm at the time, and wind up dropping the ball and winning. With Yellow winning, both teams are tied with five pyramid pieces each. Yellow keeps their trip to Belize. Sabrina admits as they think back on the experience that she didn't think she would make it this far, and both she and Jon admit that they wouldn't have made it that far with each other. Aaron and Jon both admit that they are going to really miss the ocea and the place in general because of their friendships. Jon also admits that he is going to miss the people. Jonna says that she will tell her grandchild and great-grandchildren about this amazing adventure that she had. Yellow and Blue met for the final time at the rock with JD Roth. JD gives them smaller versions of their pieces that they will need for the final game. Blue team has Luck, Courage, Knowledge, Commitment and Discipline. Yellow team has Strength, Trust, Leadership, Perservance, and Heart. The final game is back at the Temple at sunset. Back at the huts, Aaron admits that this game changed his life forever, and he is nervous about the game and heading back home. Meanwhile, we find that Jonna had a piece of Ashley's clothing that Sabrina recognizes. They all pack, and head to the final mission. The beach and huts look empty after they are gone. The final challenge is to bet the pyramid pieces the teams have on where the golden pyramid lies. There are a selection of silver pyramids on the table, under one is the gold pyramid. In the first round, there are three pyramids. One team can beat on where the golden pyramid is by placing one of their pyramid pieces by their selection. They can leave as many places open as they want and the other team has to fill in the blanks. Whoever has selected the spot where the golden pyramid lies wins all the pieces on the table. This continues with the number of pyramids on the table increasing until one team has all ten pyramid pieces. The first game starts with three pieces. The first to lay down pieces is the Yellow team. They got to decide who went first because there was a tie in pieces, and they won the last mission. Yellow covers the two end pieces. Blue has the middle. Yellow had the pyramid and gains a piece. Now there are four pyramids. Because Blue has fewer pieces, they go first. They put out three pieces covering the two ends and one middle. The end pyramids are turned over with nothing. It is under the middle, and Blue wins. It is now a tie. Blue goes first again with five pyramids on the table. Blue take the end two and the middle one, and Yellow covers the rest. It comes down to two at the farthest end. Yellow wins three pieces. They now have 8 to Blue's 2. There are now 6 pyramids and Blue puts only one down at the one that is next to the last. Yellow has to cover the rest of the pieces. Blue wins, and get five pieces. Blue has 7 and Yellow has 3. Yellow now has seven pyramids to choose from . They pick two in the middle, and Blue has to cover the others. Blue wins again! They now have 9 pieces, and Yellow has 1. They put the piece down first at one in the middle. Yellow's last piece is the pyramid piece that Yellow got from the Red team. The pyramids flip, and Blue wins. They are the first Endurance champions. Blue will be on their way to the Amazon.

Sunday, June 26, 2005 -- Afternoon

I never understood the Chris Taft hype. For some reason, he has been rumored to be a top five pick in the NBA draft to be held this coming Tuesday. Taft has not show anything but laziness and inconsistency in the past year here at Pitt, and I have been wondering why any NBA team would want him. Potential, smential! If you don't live up to your potential, and work hard, knowing that you coulda, shoulda, woulda means nothing. Well, now it seems that Taft is not one of the 15 draft eligible players that have been invited to Madison Square Garden to be introduced when picked. Now this doesn't mean that he won't go in the first round, at least not if you listen to his agent's hype. As of June 11, Taft was out looking for suits for his appearance at Madison Square Garden. Taft doesn't know where the rumors of him being lazy have come from (maybe from those who have worked with him at Pitt--because that's where I have heard the rumors). Even looking back at his past season with Pitt, Taft was benched a few times for laziness, poor work ethic and lack of commitment. Of course, that's because he really had his mind on the NBA, and couldn't be bothered with playing for Pitt. As far as Taft is concerned, only one workout went poorly, and that was for the Toronto Raptors when the coach publicly stated that he wondered about whether Taft should return to Pitt. We'll have to see what happens on Tuesday.

Saturday, June 25, 2005 -- Evening

I really have alot of respect and admiration for Shaquille O'Neal. From watching the Shaquille reality series, and from hearing his comments about Kobe Bryant, I really have formed a postive opinion of Shaq. Well, my respect has increased for Shaq because he has been getting an MBA behind the scenes. He graduated from the University of Phoenix which is geared towards working adult students. They make classes available online, although Shaq did attend some classes while in LA.

The question is will men become extinct because of the increased feminization of men. Maxim here in the US refers to this syndrome as "mantropy". This comes back to the whole idea of metrosexuality. If you look at men in ads or television, or look at some of the celebrities, you see men who are well-coiffed, stylishly dressed, and in tune with female emotions. I have to admit that's not my idea of a what a man should be. I'm not saying that I would want a stinky, dirty man, but I don't want a guy who wears makeup and is obsessed with his appearance. I want a guy who is going to be able to protect me and can do the strong manly tasks like lifting heavy objects. The one item that would be a dumpable offense for me would be a guy who wants a small, yippy dog. Get a manly dog--a Doberman, Irish wolfhound, a Rottweiler. It seems that I am not alone. Researchers have been doing surveys and they have found that 75% of men queried didn't think that the image of the metrosexual man was very representative of reality. Women also are turned off by the image of feminine men. 905 of the women surveyed preferred men who were low maintenance--meaning that the men should take less time in front of the mirror than the female.

Saturday, June 25 -- Morning

Carrie Underwood single is out, Inside Your Heaven. So far, in one week's time, the song has sold 170,000 copies which makes it the best selling song of 2005. What makes it even more surprising for those in the know is that the song won't be released on the radio until July 5. The song also debuted at No. 1 on four charts that Billboard puts out. So Carrie is number one on the Hot 100, Pop 100, single sales and country singles sales. Impressive!

I was going to go to the Mario Lemieux Invitational Celebrity Golf Tournament, but the temperature today is supposed to be extremely high--in the 90s in Pittsburgh (that's Fahrenheit, of course) with high humidity. Since there isn't alot of shade in the area, I am going to pass, and consider my ticket purchase as a donation to a good cause. So far, the activity at the tournament seems to be interesting, and it looks like Charles Barkley is leading. Barkley also put his two cents in about fellow tournament participant Ben Roethlisberger's bike riding without a helmet. Here's what Barkley said: "A jock who's playing today, to ride a motorcycle is flat-out stupid. Period. Whether you're wearing a helmet or not."

Friday, June 24, 2005 -- Evening

I finished reading the newest Carolyn Hart book, Death of the Party. It's another book in the Death on Demand series featuring Annie and Max Darling, and comes next in the series after Murder Walks the Plank. Now this book was slightly different from the other books in the series because it takes place outside of Broward's Rock. Max Darling is approached by Britt Barlow, who tells him of the murder of her brother-in-law, Jeremiah Addison. The problem is that the murder occurred a year earlier, and Britt hid the fact that a wire trap was laid out for Jeremiah at the top of the stairs, causing him to fall to his death. Britt's reason for hiding the murder attempt was to save her dying sister Cissy (Jeremiah's wife) from the horror of a murder investigation. Cissy died shortly after Jeremiah, and Britt inherited Golden Silk, the island getaway that Jeremiah had owned. Britt received a blackmail threat, and her plan is to bring all the guests who were at Golden Silk when Jeremiah died, and unmask the murderer. For this she needs Max's help. Of course, where Max goes, Annie follows. The guests wind up trapped on the island after the handyman beats a hasty retreat with the only boat. Another murder is committed and Max and Annie are in a race to find out who is the murderer before anyone else dies. The mystery is a good one, and although I managed to figure out who the murderer was, I thought that the plot had a really nice twist. The difference between this book and others in the series is that there isn't alot of mention of other mystery books and authors. I didn't miss it because the the story was intriguing. What I really like about the Death on Demand series is that the quality of the stories remains consistent which isn't always the case with mystery series. As for the five paintings in Annie's bookstore, I was only able to guess one of them this time too. It was a good book, and I would recommend it for anyone who likes a good read.

Karl Malone's daughter, Cheryl Ford, plays basketball, and she recently signed a one year contract to play for Ramat Hasharon, a team in Israel. I saw Cheryl on an episode of ESPN's Teammates, and she was the spitting image of Karl Malone.

Friday, June 24, 2005 -- Afternoon

Sales of tv shows on DVD are on the increase in the US. It's the fastest growing section of DVD sales, and has gone from $160 million in 2000 to $2.8 billion in 2004. I can understand the increase because there are alot more shows that are available now. Personally, I am a big fan of tv shows on DVD. There are shows that I loved that are no longer on television, and it's nice to be able to pop a DVD into the player and watch the show whenever you want. Hopefully this news will lead to even more titles being released because there are still some shows that I haven't seen on DVD yet. I would love to see some of the more obscure shows that didn't make it past one season. I used to love to watch Love & Curses and Diamonds which I would love to have on DVD. Diamonds was a Canadian show about two actors who played detectives on tv, fell in love, married, divorced, and then setup a detective agency in real life. Love & Curses was about a woman who turned into a were-wolf and a professor who knows occult stuff. They investigate weird happenings. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping to see them eventually.

Mario Lemieux says that he is optimistic about the chances for the Penguins to get an arena. Mario figures that they should know their status for sure by the end of 2006 because that is when the licences for the slot machines should be handed out. I hope that he isn't suffering from false hopes.

Britney Spears is going to pose nude. Don't get too excited guys! She is going to do a Demi Moore and appear on the cover of Vanity Fair naked and seven months pregnant. Demi, on the other hand, will just be appearing nude on the cover as a 15 year anniversary of doing it when she was pregnant. I'm telling you! I think that I should get my boyfriend a subscription to Vanity Fair instead of Playboy!

Thursday, June 23, 2005 -- Afternoon

Bernie Eccleston, the person who is president of Formula One Management, created a controversy by saying that "Women should be all dressed in white like all other domestic appliances." Now he said this before the controversial Indy Formula One race this weekend that had most of the cars withdraw minutes before the start of the race because Michelin said that its tires weren't safe for the track at Indy. And then Bernie repeated it to Danica Patrick in a phone call later that day. You really have to wonder from which planet Ecclestone beamed himself. Not surprisingly, Danica is totally baffled on what Ecclestone means, and why he said it to her. I think the guy is a loser, and hope that he doesn't influence too many young men with his crazy talk.

I admit that there is nothing better in the afternoon than a snack, and I am addicted to getting a bottle of Coke C2 from the local Holiday Inn snack shop. C2 is the Coke answer to lower carbs. It has half the calories of regular Coke while retaining the wonderful taste. I don't like diet drinks because of the aftertaste. Given the choice of saving calories on the drink while scarfing down a Little Debbie's cherry pie, I would prefer the lower caloric drink. Well, today when I went in, they also had Coke Zero in addition to C2. Since it is becoming more and more difficult to find C2, I thought that I would buy a bottle of Zero and try it out. Zero has the whole zero calorie, zero fat line just like all the "zero" products. The only thing listed as non-zero is the 30 mg of sodium. Anyway, the taste is not quite like a regular diet. Zero has both aspartame and acesulfame potassium. I would say that it is more palatible than regular diet, but not as good as C2. There's a bit of a perfumy taste to me that just doesn't appeal to me. In fact, the more I drink of it, the less I like it. However, if my choice was diet Coke or Zero, I would take water so I could eat cheesecake. My favorite is C2! Unfortunately, it is becoming very difficult to find in the stores, so I might be back to drinking just plain water.

I watched Breaking Away last night. It was a very good movie. Read my review.

Sad news for Tim Henman. He lost today at Wimbledon. Tim usually has alot of expectations on his shoulders at Wimbledon because he is British, and the top player in Britain. This time he lost to an unseeded player.

Thursday, June 23, 2005 -- Morning

The Pittsburgh Penguins have posted six job openings on the NHL website. Now folks are saying that the fact that the team is looking for people means that the owners must be feeling confident that a settlement must be near. I keep on saying that we will see.

Prince William graduated today. He officially received his hood for obtaining his equivalent of a master's degree in geography. No one else in the Royal Family has managed to get the grade that William did, so he now gets the title of the "brainiest Royal". Now that might not be saying much, but it does show that William does appear to have a good work ethic.

IBM has built the world's most powerful computer. It's called Blue Gene/L and already has a peak processing speed of 136.8 teraflops--and it's still in the process of being built. When the system is complete, it is expected to have a speed of 360 teraflops. What's a teraflop you say? It measure the speed of a computer and is equal to a trillion floating point operations per second. Pretty impressive!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005 -- Evening

Poor Cosmos-1! The solar sail spacecraft was lost shortly after its launch. There was a problem with the booster rocket 83 seconds after the launch. So far there hasn't been any sign of the debris. There have been attempts to launch solar sail objects in the past, but none of them have succeeded for a variety of reasons.

Hubble has confirmed that there is a planet at a nearby young star. The star is Fomalhaut, and it is 25 light years away from us. The star is still surrounded by the matter that formed it, and it forms a ring around the star like our Kuiper Belt. Basically, there is a distortion in this ring of dust surrounding the star, and scientists believe that it is caused by a Saturn sized planet. The dust around the star is not centered around the star, and that is a sign that there are other objects in the neighborhood that are exerting a gravational force on the matter.

Continuing with more astronomy, if you are interested in seeing a conjunction, go out and look at Venus, Mercury, and Saturn this weekend. Starting on Saturday, the planets will appear in our skies in a triangle so close together that if you held your thumb up to the sky, it would cover all three planets. On Saturday, the planets will be 1.5 degrees apart. On Sunday, it will be 0.5 degrees, and on Monday, it will be less than 1/10 of a degree. To see the planets, look west near the setting Sun, close to the horizon.

Geoffrey Palmer of As Time Goes By received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) from the Queen today. This was the Queen's first appearance in a few days because she was recuperating from a cold. So how much does the British public pay to maintain the Royal family? The overall cost is approximately 37 million pounds. This equates to around $74 million. This cost includes travel and upkeep on residences that the family owns. This translates into a cost of 61 pence per taxpayer.

Carl Krauser made it official that he will not be participating in the NBA. We won't know for sure if Krauser will be returning to Pitt until August. chances are that he will go to Europe and try to improve his skills there and return to the US for the draft next year.

Speaking of Pitt, the cost for the replacement roof for the Petersen Event Center will cost $5.6 million. The repair will start next week and should be completed by November. The roof repairs should not affect any of the events that are scheduled for the building. Leave it to the folks at Pitt to find a way to pore more money into a project than was originally planned. The cost for the Petersen tripled since it was proposed in 1992 with a total cost of $119 million dollars. Of this, $66 million came from tax dollars and that was five times the original proposal.

The American Film Institute has picked the top 100 quotes from the movies. Top on the list is "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" which is what Clark Gable said in Gone with the Wind. Here's the whole list.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 -- Late Evening

Late breaking news from the Nightly Sports Call. Paul Zeise will probably have an article in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post Gazette about his talk with Carl Krauser. It appears that Krauser is withdrawing his name from the NBA draft, and is considering trying out for the EuroLeague. It will be bad for Pitt to lose Krauser, but he has to move on. After all, Krauser is 24 years old, and he ain't getting any younger. Hopefully, he can mature and learn in the Euroleague and come back to the NBA later on.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 -- Evening

Bad news for Cosmos-1. It seems that the spacecraft may have malfunctioned shortly after lift off. So far, there have been no signals from the craft, and that is definitely not a good sign. The craft may not have separated from its launch rocket, or something else might be wrong. Nothing definite is known other than the lack of communication.

I was abit behind on my television viewing and just watched the Sunday Sports Showdown that is on KDKA late night on Sunday. The show has a couple of different sports folks from television and print who give their opinions on a variety of topics. This past weekend, they were talking about Carl Krauser, and Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette said that he was told by one of the coaches who was at the NBA draft camp that the league that would want Krauser would be the league of short people who don't shoot too well. The guys talked about it, and they believe that Krauser is so keen on being in the NBA draft because Chris Taft is being touted as a first round draft possibility, and yet Krauser did better than Taft last season. I can't believe that Taft is so highly regarded by the NBA. The rumor about the Pitt campus is that Taft is very lazy and hates to work. That was pretty obvious from his performance this past season.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 -- Afternoon

If you want to ward off Alzheimer's, you should start exercising your brain. It seems that the goal is to build up a "cognitive reserve" that will be useful as you age or possibly develop dementia. You can build up the cognitive reserve by learning a foreign language as an adult, tackle some puzzles, learn to play chess, or just continue education classes. I signed up for the daily puzzle from Brain Bashers to build my reserve. There are other keys to good brain health, such as exercising on a regular basis, avoiding stress and anxiety, interact with others socially, and eat the right foods. Vitamins B, E, and C are supposed to be good. Folic acid is also important. (And if you take folic acid be sure to take some B12 so the folic acid will be absorbed.)

Myron Cope is retiring as a Steelers broadcaster. Myron is 76 years old, and missed a game last year because he fell and banged his head pretty badly. I suppose there always comes a time when someone needs to realize that the strain of doing things can't continue because of age or health concerns, but it's still a sad moment. I wish Myron the best, and will miss his squeeky voice. Double yoi!

Carl Krauser is going against the advice that he received from a bevy of NBA coaches and will be remaining in the NBA draft. The announcement is supposed to be made today, and Krauser will not be coming back to Pitt next year. It seems that most think that Krauser will not be picked in the first round, and might not even be picked at all. This could be a bad move on Krauser's part.

Cosmos-1, a solar sail spacecraft, is supposed to be launched sometime today or tomorrow. It is the first vehicle to use the concept of a solar solar for power. The craft will be powered by a sail that reflects photons from the Sun. This will give the craft momentum in the opposite direction, and thus give the craft motion. Carl Sagan was a big proponent of the solar sail, and his wife Ann Druyan continued the work in his memory. The craft should be launched from a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea, and will orbit the Earth once every 101 minutes. The craft won't get alot of speed from solar power, but as time goes on, it should start to gain speed and climb higher in orbit.

Monday, June 20, 2005 -- Afternoon

Today is the first day of Wimbledon. So far, Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt and Lindsay Davenport have won. No big upsets, but it is only the first day.

The full moon this week is going to be hanging lower in the sky than any full moon since June 1987. Because of this, we are going to experience an illusion that the moon is much larger than usual. The effect is known as the Ponzo Illusion. Basically in the Ponzo Illusion, you take two lines of equal length, and you put them on a pair of converging lines. One of the lines looks larger than the other because it looks like it spans more of the converging lines. The moon's Ponzo Illusion is probably caused by the houses and trees and will make the moon look larger than it is. You only see this effect with your naked eyes, and not in a photograph.

There is some news on the British royalty front. The first story is the big controversy about betting on the color of the Queen's hat for Royal Ascot. The Brits are known to bet on anything and everything, and betting on things the Royal family does is a biggie. Well, bets were being placed on the color of the hat that the Queen would wear, and right before her appearance at Royal Ascot, bets started flowing fast and heavy on the color brown. Well, guess what? The Queen appeared with a brown hat. So now the bookies are wondering if there was insider information that spawned the late betting. Royal Ascot is a special five day event held at Ascot racecourse and is attended by the Royal Family, most noteably the Queen.

The other news on the Royalty front is that Prince William gave Camilla a kiss on the cheek after a polo match that he played in. Camilla was handing out the prizes after the match. The story made the news because it shows public acceptance of Camilla by her step sons. I think that if William can get over his father cheating on Diana with Camilla, the rest of us should too.

If you want to know when Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince will be coming out, Scholastic Books has a counter that you can download to your computer. The counter right now is at 25 days, 9 hours, and 46 minutes.

This coming weekend is the Mario Lemieux Celebrity Invitational golf tournament. It is going to be held this weekend at Nevillewood. I am planning on going Saturday morning and taking some pictures for the blog, so keep your eyes open for it. It seems that Mario has been a big golf fan for years and his whole family joins in the enthusiasm. I know that he has been doing the golf tournament for several years, and has gotten alot of celebrities and sports guys to show up, like Michael Jordan. Next year, it's supposed to be more of a corporate outing, so I wonder if that means no regular people can attend.

It seems that the courts and local governments might be trying to take away our tax free days on the Internet and mail order shopping. For years, even before the Internet, mail order did not have to charge local tax for people buying outside of the state. The only thing they had to do was to charge tax for in-state buyers. Well, it seems there is controversy over whether the online sellers are charging and paying the in-state tax. Right now, there is a case against Borders for local taxes. Borders says that they are not headquartered in California and they are fighting the case. We'll have to see where it goes.

Sunday, June 19, 2005 -- Evening

There is news on the American Idol front. Bo Bice has signed with 19 Recordings/RCA Records. This coming Tuesday, a single will be released with Inside Your Heaven on the A side, and Vehicle as the B side. For some reason, I think the B side will be doing better. Richie Sambora collaborated with Bo on Vehicle. Bo will be on the Today show tomorrow morning, and on The View on Wednesday.

This may be news to some, but to me it just makes common sense. Scientists have found that people who have bigger brains are smarter than those with smaller brains. I know that there was research in the past that showed that it was the brain grooves that determined the intelligence. Scientists are now able to use MRIs to get a better estimate of brain size than they did in the past. In the past, you had to wait for someone to die, and then measured brain size. My boyfriend always tells me that I have a big head, and I say that I just have a big brain. Now he says that I have a thick skull and not a big brain, when I told him that this study showed that I might be smarter than his small headed self.

The tenth episode Dial In of the first season of Endurance was on today. This is a pivotal episode because only four teams are left, and the Blue team has been given the Samati which puts them at a disadvantage for today's game. The show starts with the comments that Sabrina made in the previous show that Sabrina did not know that Aaron liked her. As Christian said, Sabrina knew. Aaron told everyone and was making her necklaces all the time. Sabrina was trying to say that Aaron was lying about saying he liked her, and she took off all the necklaces that he made her. Green team believes that the game will change alot today because the Blue team has the Samati. Everyone thinks that Blue will lose today. The game today is a code game. The teams have a code to crack. They have a dial with letters and numbers. The objective: to line up the numbers with the correct letters to figure out what the question is. The team then has to answer the question. The numbers are color coded and the individual words in the question are color coded. So once the wheel is lined up properly, it's just a matter of reading off the letters and unjumbling them. The Blue team will start 15 seconds after everyone else. The game starts. As the 15 seconds tick off, we see the Green, Red and Yellow teams stumbling along. Jonna works the wheel for the Blue team, and starts to tell Aaron what to write. The question is "Which team left Endurance first?" Jonna had it and ran up and answered Grey. Blue team surprisingly won! Now Blue has to send two teams to temple. Unfortunately, two of the three from which to select are part of an alliance with Blue. Either Red or Yellow will have to go to the temple. After the game, Green admits they were clueless. Jonna said that she figured that if it was a question, the first word was a question word--who, what, why, which and only which fit. Jonna admits to being very upset because she has to choose the teams to send and will have to split the alliance. Aaron admits that it will be hard to send up Red because he is very good friends with Christian, and it will be hard to send Yellow because he likes Sabrina. Jonna tells Sabrina to talk to Aaron and tell him the truth. Sabrina claims to Jonna that she likes Aaron, but we know from Sabrina's confessions that she doesn't. So Sabrina decides that if telling Aaron that she likes him is what she has to do to stay in the game, she will lie. Jon is surprised that Sabrina will lie to Aaron, but he half-heartedly goes along with it. Sabrina tells Aaron that she likes him, but says she isn't saying it so Yellow won't go to temple. Aaron says that everyone told him Sabrina has said she doesn't like him, but Sabrina claims they are all lying. Jon wants to tell Aaron that Sabrina is playing with his head, but decides to keep out of it. Poor confused Aaron thinks that he and Sabrina have worked everything out. Jonna and Aaron then begin the difficult task of deciding who to send to the temple. Finally comes the time to tell JD who will go to the temple. Jonna says that it has been really hard. Green and Yellow are being sent to the temple. Sabrina begins crying and Jon comforts her. Meanwhile Aaron looks heart broken. Jon believes that Aaron picked Green and Jonna picked Yellow. As Christian said, Sabrina thought that lying and backstabbing would get her through the game, but it didn't. Sabrina is claiming that she never did anything to Aaron, and talks loudly about him as he walks away very sad. Meanwhile, Lana and Sabrina start to really attack Jonna. Sabrina really comes across as a petty witch. Poor Jonna is hated by everyone, and no one is talking to her. Green and Yellow are upset for obvious reasons, and Ashley is upset for Sabrina. Finally after alot of emotional turmoil, Yellow and Green go to the temple. This is Green's third trip to the temple. Will they make it back yet again? In the first game, Yellow picks wood and Green picks fire. Green wins the first game. In the second game, Yellow picks wood and Green picks water. Yellow wins. It is down to the tie breaking game. Yellow picks fire and Green picks wood. Yellow wins and will return to the game. Green has to forfeit their pieces and the trip to the Amazon. Back at the camp, there is a happy reunion of the three alliance teams.

The next episode is Build a Pyramid. We are reminded at the start of the show about how mean Sabrina was to Jonna. Jonna admits that she does not feel all right about it. As Jonna said, Sabrina just apologizes for bad behavior and that is to make it all good. Jonna thinks that Blue has made it this far because of Jonna's qualities, such as taking risks, trusing and believing in yourself and your team. Aaron thinks they have made it this far because of friendship and because Blue is a strong team. Sabrina thinks that Yellow has made it this far because Sabrina has persuaded others to do things. Christian feels good about making it to the final three but he wants to win. Jonna asks Jon if he likes Ashley, and he said yes, and asks if others could tell. Jon wrote a letter to Ashley to tell her how he felt just in case he didn't make it back to camp. Ashley reads the letter in her confessional, and Jon basically said that he has a great time with her and hopes that they can keep in touch. Jon then asks Ashley how she felt about the letter. Ashley says she guesses the same way, and Jon says that they both really like each other. It is very touching to see them together because they really do seem to have a genuine affection. The next game will be a difficult one. All the teams want to win. Blue thinks that Yellow is the real competitor, and Sabrina vows to give the Samati to Blue. Today's mission? A pyramid frame is on the beach for each team. The goal is to fill in the frame with the seven different shapes with a window without a piece left in the middle of the pyramid. First to finish wins. The game is a difficult one, and the teams keep on placing and removing pieces to get them all to fit. Jonna tells Aaron what to do throughout the game, and Blue finishes first. Jonna and Aaron do work well together. Blue gets the two pyramid pieces and gets to give away the Samati. Jon thought he had it figured out, but we won't know because Blue won. Jonna takes the credit saying that she knew how the pieces should fit together. Aaron and Jonna talk about who to give the Samati to, and both agree to give it to Yellow. Sabrina is in a pickle because she has been playing games with Aaron. Jonna tells Ashley and Sabrina that Aaron is deciding, and Sabrina is sure this means she is safe, little knowing that she is getting the Samati. Blue is given their two new pyramid pieces, Commitment and Luck. Blue now has a commanding lead of five pyramid pieces, Yellow has four and Red has one. Blue exchanges their African safari for the Amazon. They are also given the Samati, and will give away the Samati later in the day. The three teams are then told that in the afternoon they will be going snorkling in the ocean and seeing the sealife. Ashley was nervous because she was never underwater before. It was also Jonna's first time in the ocean because she's from Arizona. It looked like it was a fun time for the kids. Evening comes and the teams are at the rock. As JD comments, only the alliance members are left. JD comments on Sabrina losing it when she was sent to the temple. Sabrina admits that she should not have gotten upset because it was just part of the game. Jonna admits that she was upset, but she forgave Sabrina since Sabrina was speaking out of anger. Blue said that they chose Yellow over Red because Yellow is the stronger team. Aaron said that he wanted the stronger teams at the end instead of leaving a weak team because it will be a more satisfying win in the end to win against a strong team. JD asks Ashley how Red is still there since they only won one game. Red said that it is friendship that keeps them here. Ashley said to get to the finals, they have to not get the Samati. Aaron said they have decided to give the Samati to Yellow. JD stops the Yellow team, and gives Blue team an option. Since it is the last Samati and last mission, he gives Blue the choice of giving Yellow the Samati, or can take the Samati out of the game and have a level playing field. Aaron quickly decides to take it out of the game. As JD says it will be the three final teams going against each other fair and square. The alliance will be broken, but it will be from a fair game. And so the show ends.

Saturday, June 18, 2005 -- Evening

This evening, my boyfriend, his sister and I went to the Cheesecake Factory. It's located on the South Side in an area called the SouthSide Works. The location is being built up with a variety of shops (mostly upscale) to compete with the Waterfront area. The Cheesecake Factory is off of the main street, East Carson Street, but is within sight of the road. Although there is a usually a wait before being seated, the area outside of the restaurant is quite nice. There is a area for a band called the Town Square, and tonight the group was the String Cats. The music was the swing type that you would hear from Frank Sinatra. It was very nice to sit on the bench, listen to music, have conversation, and watch the fountain display. The fountain is a group of perhaps 24 spouts that are placed in the middle of the square. The water spouts up in a changing rhythm. It was very soothing and relaxing. Now on to the Cheesecake Factory itself. The seating area is large, but arranged in such a way that you feel some privacy as you sit in one of the booths. The food was good, and the portions were enormous. The menu is huge, and I had alot of difficult making a selection. We started out with an appetizer, and got the Bruschetta. This was an 8 inch round of pizza dough that was piled high with chopped tomato pieces, garlic and olive oil. It was tasty--abit too many tomatoes, but I am not a big fan of tomatoes. For the entree, I chose the Veggie Curry Pot Pie. The puff pastry was enormous, and overwhelmed the dish. I would have preferred more of the veggies in the dish, and a smaller size in the overall dish. My boyfriend had the salmon special which came with french fries and steamed broccoli. He said that the salmon was tasty. My boyfriend's sister had the fresh Fish Tacos. There were three tacos, and the sides were black beans, rice and guacamole. She liked the tacos which were made with grilled mahi. The spicy avocado cream was abit overwhelming though, and took away from the taste of the fish. The guacamole was salty too. We weren't disappointed in the food, just not overly impressed. The dessert menu in enormous, and dominated by cheesecakes. However there are other options, and we got settled on sharing a chocolate cake. It was a huge piece. Even with three of us sharing, we weren't able to finish it. In fact, a large portion was left over. The cake was very tasty and moist. Desserts are definitely great. I will go back because the area is nice, and the food is decent.

Saturday, June 18, 2005 -- Afternoon

A poll by the Associated Press shows that 73% of Americans would prefer to watch DVDs rather than go to the movie theater. Only 22% said that they prefer going to the theater. Also 47% of those questions also said that movies were getting worse. Only 33% thought that movies were getting better. I have admitted many times that I prefer the movie watching experience at home. With large screened televisions and a good sound system, it's a much more enjoyable experience to stay at home and watch a movie. Also the cost of renting a movie is so much cheaper than going to the theater. What the movie industry needs to do is look at this information, and get movies to DVD much more quickly. If they want to make money at the theaters, they need to come up with better ideas for movies. The majority of movies out nowadays really aren't that good and are definitely not worth $20 for two people.

If you are in the Northern part of the Earth, summertime is the time to see noctilucent or night shining clouds. These are clouds that are higher than the usual clouds that we see, right on the fringe of space. Some scientists believe that they are affected by space dust while others think they are a sign of global warming. All I have to say to the later is that some people would anything as a sign of global warming. Noctilucent clouds are electric blue in color and look very pretty. They are usually seen in the sky after sunset. The reason some scientists think that they are a sign of global warming is because they can sometimes be seen in the Southern Hemisphere, and scientist think that global warming leads to lower temperatures in the higher atmosphere which leads to ice crystals and the spread of noctilucent clouds.

Computer scientists in the US believe that within a human generation, we will be able to teleport 3D objects. Supposedly, it can be done by capturing images of a moving object and person, and transporting that information to atoms via camera. The atoms then, in theory, would bunch together to form the image. Sci-fi fans are excited, but so far it is just one of those theories. I love how scientists come up with these theories. Only a small percentage of them actually turn into fact. However, I don't begrudge them the theories. Where would we be today without the wild theories of the past? 200 years ago, folks would have thought the telephone, televisions and computers of today were crackpot ideas.

Friday, June 17, 2005 -- Afternoon

Liz Hurley created a storm of controversy by saying that the one item of clothing that she would ban would be clothes that are too small or too tight--unless you were really skinny or toned. She hates seeing flab. You know what? I agree with her 100 percent. The most disgusting thing that you can see is a fat woman waddling around in spandex pants with a short tight tube top with body parts bulging out and covered in cellulite. Just the thought of it is turning my stomach, and if you want down any street here in Pittsburgh in the summer, you get an eye full. You really have to ask yourself if the women think they look attractive by making others want to retch. I think that the chub busters who love to subject the rest of us to the vision of them in spandex should be forced to look at video of themselves walking around. Maybe they might change their tune then. Believe me, tight clothes don't look good on the majority of people. I try to steer clear of them.

Forbes magazine released the top 100 money making celebrities. Not surprisingly, Oprah Winfrey tops the list, followed by Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson, George Lucas, Shaquille O'Neal, Steven Spielberg, Johnny Depp, Madonna, Elton John, and Tom Cruise. It seems that Shaq got the number 5 spot because he has the highest salary in the NBA of almost $28 million dollars for his year only!

Scientists have figured out what blurry images on Deep Impact. It appears that during the testing process, the mirror became warped during the low temperature simulation. Basically the test chamber was flooded with liquid nitrogen, and when the test image became clear, the technicians locked the mirror into place, little knowing that the mirror was actually warped. The front part of the mirror contracted more than the back face of the mirror which is what caused the warping. The good news is that the image problem was fixed earlier by making modifications to the image file once it is received here on Earth. Deep Impact is still on schedule for its July 4 landing on the comet.

The University of Pittsburgh is going to pay $3.7 million dollars to replace the three year old roof on the Petersen Event Center. This is more than double the original cost of the roof. I think that the whole deal with the Petersen shows how the folks at Pitt mismanage and waste money. Only this time, it was also tax payer dollars too, because of funding Pitt received for the project from the state. Currently Pitt and the architects are busy suing each other.

The other news of the day is that Tom Cruise proposed to Katie Holmes, and she accepted. They have been going out all of two months. Tom is not letting the sixteen year age different come between them either. I have to admit that I have never seen anything that fits the stereotype of a gay man trying to act straight then Tom's performance in proclaiming his love for Katie. Whatever makes them happy! It really doesn't affect my personal life, but it is entertaining to watch. Personally though, I am not a big fan of Tom Cruise. His movies just never interested me, and his look and personality just turned me off.

Scientists have come up with a new model for time travel. The dilemna has always been that if you go back in time and prevent your parents from marrying (aka Back to the Future), then how could you have been born to go back to prevent them from marrying. Well, the new quantum model allows you to go back, but no changes could be made that would affect the future. As soon as the first person time travels, we'll see if the theories work!

Thursday, June 16, 2005 -- Evening

I have been watching Playermakers on DVD. The show is about the fictional Cougars football team. ESPN was forced to drop the show even though it had good ratings because the NFL. It seems that the folks at the NFL felt that the show ws one-dimensional, and it showed a very negative view of what it's like behind the seasons with an NFL team. I have to admit that the show is very dark. No one seems like a happy camper. Demetrius Harris, a promising young rookie running back, is a drug addict. The veteran, Leon Taylor, who has been replaced by the rookie has alot of anxiety issues about being replaced by the rookie. Leon's friend on the team, Eric Olczyk, had psychological issues because of the stress he feels over a helmet to the head shot that crippled the other player. Eric also has problems with his father and with feelings for Leon's wife. The quarterback, Derek McConnell picks girls from the stands to have sex with. The owners and coaches don't seem to be very concerned about the players other than seeing them as objects to win games and make money. The show is a decent one and deserves the excellent reviews that it has gotten from the critics. It's a shame that ESPN gave in to the pressure from the NFL. Granted it does show the Cougars team in a very positive light, but we all know that it is fictionalized. There might be a grain of truth, but obviously things become magnified and exaggerated.

It's a sad day in Tel-Aviv. Sarunas Jasikevicius of Maccabi Tel-Aviv is rumored to have signed a two year deal with his old team in Barcelona. I say rumored because that is the word from the team. Jasikevicius' agent is saying that he will be signing with an NBA team. Maccabi is also denying the rumors. Either Barcelona or NBA will be sad news for the Maccabi fans.

The Mighty Ducks have been sold to Henry Samueli and his wife. Cost? $75 million dollars. The team's name will not be changed, and they should not be relocated, at least for now. I guess that the Samuelis are hopeful wishers. They seem to think that there will be a return to hockey sometime. I'm still not hopeful.

The Runaway Bride has sold has made a deal with ReganMedia to make a movie of her escapade. There's no report on how much money exchanged hands. The folks in Jennifer Wilbanks hometown aren't too happy because Wilbanks only made a minimal effort to pay back the costs for the search that wasn't needed. According to her attorney, we should feel sorry for Wilbanks because she lost her job and has gotten so much negative publicity over this. Duh! So she thinks that faking your kidnapping, disappearing for almost a week, and then turning up and blaming others for her kidnapping shouldn't result in negative publicity? I can't believe that she is going to make money from this whole thing, and I hope that the first bit of money goes towards the bills for her search.

Thursday, June 16, 2005 -- Afternoon

There is new controversy over the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, more commonly knows as Gitmo. Folks have been saying that the folks being held there aren't getting due process and that they are being denied human rights. Newsweek started a whole controversy and problem because they made unsubstantiated claims that there was Koran abuse in the facility that they later detracted. Unfortunately, this wasn't until after riots in Afghanistan that lead to deaths. Well, Senator Dick Durbin has now entered into the controversy by saying that conditions in Gitmo are comparable to a Nazi concentration camp. Now you may ask yourself, are we starving people or sending them to a gas chamber to die just because we don't like their religion? No, it is even worse. One prisoner was shivering because the air conditioner was on too high. Another prisoner's cell was too hot. Another was chained to a floor and made to listen to loud rap music. Come on, how could any intelligent being find a similarity between Auschwitz and Gitmo? If having the air conditioner turned on high is an abuse of human rights, then my human rights are being abused right now at work. I am shivering because of the chill of the air conditioner. I think that I better put my call into Amnesty International now! Ah, you would say that I can leave and the detainees can't. Well, geeez then, I would guess it would be the same as saying Gitmo is Auschwitz.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005 -- Evening

It seems that Israel might be one of the countries that the NBA might visit when the teams are sent to play the European teams. The reason, of course, is because a match might be made with the Euroleague champion, and that is Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

Warner Brothers is making a stand against movie piracy. The way they are doing it is by releasing DVDs of current pictures on the day that they are released in the US. The movie that was released on DVD in china was The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which sounds like a stupid teenage girl movie. The plot is that a group of girls have one pair of pants that they all fit in (yeah, right) and they keep in touch by passing the pants around from one to another. The DVD is going to be sold for $2.65 US dollars, which is a dollar more than the bootleg copies. The thought is that the shopper in China will buy the more expensive DVD because of its better quality. One person commented that the plan may backfire because people in other countries might realize that DVDs don't need to be as expensive as they are. Also, what's to stop the bootleggers from making copies, or buying the DVDs to sell in other countries. Warner Bros. says that if this works, they'll make more popular movies available.

Netflix has gone into the movie selling business. They are now selling DVDs that have already been viewed, and include not so-popular titles. The DVDs are being sold for $10.99 and that includes shipping and a guarantee that the DVD will play. I'm going to have to check it out because Netflix had alot of good titles. This is Netflix's way to refresh the inventory.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 -- Evening

It seems that Wal-Mart will not sell VHS tapes after the 2005 Christmas shopping season. I'm surprised that VHS is still around. The options with DVDs so outweigh anything you can get with VHS. I guess if you only have a VHS player, you are going to be in for a hard time in finding titles, but DVD players are so cheap. The cost for DVDs is not much more than VHS (if not less at times).

Phil Jackson said at the press conference today that he got a phone call from Kobe Bryant this morning congratulating Jackson on returning as the coach, and Jackson commented that he did not expect any of the tensions that the pair had when Jackson was coach a year ago. I'll wait to see if that happens.

Speaking of the Lakers, I have become a big fan of the ESPN documentary called Shaquille. It's a six part series that shows you the behind the scenes Shaq. I have to admit that since I have been watching repeats of the show, I have really grown to like and admire Shaquille O'Neal. He seems like a decent guy. I feel sorry for his poor wife though, because it looks like he really encourages the kids to do things like burping after a meal. At times, the kids and Shaq get carried away, and his wife has to lay down the law of the land.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

It's still a few minutes from the LA Lakers press conference, but I will be on my way home then. It seems that Phil Jackson is going to sign a three year deal with the Lakers, and that the whole move meets with Kobe Bryant's approval. I guess that LA has to do something because the team really did suck last year--well, at least, they didn't make the playoffs which is every team's goal at the minimum.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 -- Afternoon

Breaking news that will be announced at 5 pm ET news conference today is that Phil Jackson will be returning as coach of the LA Lakers. So far the only thing I see is a breaking news headline on ESPN. It's hard to believe that Phil would go back after the comments that he made about Kobe Bryant, but I guess that sometimes money talks.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 -- Morning

It seems that researchers have done a study on PMS, and they have found that a diet that is rich in calcium may be able to prevent PMS altogether. Of course, any time you take calcium, you have to take it with vitamin D because that helps in the absorption and processing of the mineral. The calcium is supposed to at the least reduce the symptoms. Now you have to make sure to get enough calcium, and that is thought to be four or more servings of a dairy product a day. Right now, I don't get that much, and my irritabilty scale is pretty high. So I suppose this means more milk, ice cream and cheese for me.

It seems that the NBA is going to have four teams play some pre-season games in Europe this coming season. The NBA teams and the European teams have yet to be announced. It would be nice if the games could be played in this country, but it will b interesting to see. The European League isn't a bad one. Sometimes we just think that the NBA is head and shoulders about everyone else, but that isn't the case anymore.

Word also has it that the NHL will be participating in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. It also seems that the talks between the league and the players is continuing in a positive way. I'm not believing any of the news stories or rumors that an agreement is near or that certain things have already been agreed upon. It seems that the situation is still too shaky and uncertain for anyone to make claims of an agreement. I'll believe it when we get the official word from the NHL and the NHLPA.

Monday, June 13, 2005 -- Afternoon

The smallest non-gaseous planet outside of our solar system has been found. It is orbiting a star 15 light years from our solar system. The star is Gliese 876, and the planet is thought to orbit the star in 2 days. The planet is also thought to be 7.5 times the size of our planet with a temperature of 200 to 400 degrees Celcius. I keep on saying "thought" because of course there are no direct observations of planets that are orbiting distant stars. In this case, the planet was found with the "wobble" effect. Basically the star has a wobble to it on its axis and movement, and the cause of the wobble is attributable to an orbitting body. Scientists can make calculations on distance and size based on the amount of the wobble. Gliese 876 is a star that is similar to our own star the Sun. Whenever scientists find planets around such stars, it makes the case for extraterrestrial life more compelling.

Ed Rendell, Pennsylvania governor, is not too keen on an arena for the Penguins. He says that it's not high on his list because he doesn't see any chance for the arena, and doesn't see any support for it with public funding. The thing is that a slots license for the Penguins would do the trick and help them fund the arena. However, I think the controversy with that is that Rendell is only giving the licenses to his cronies, AND thinks the only city worth thinking of in Pennsylvania is Philadelphia. Give your support to the Slots for Mario movement and foil the attempts of our Governor to kill hockey in this city.

Monday, June 13, 2005 -- Morning

It seems that Dave Wannstedt is doing just what he promised when he came to Pitt. Wannstedt said that he would go out there and do a great job of recruiting and selling the Pitt program because he knew both the area and the program. Well, it seems that he was right. For the month of May, Wannstedt has been out there working his butt off going to six to seven schools a day when he was in Florida recently.

Folks are beginning to realize that Afleet Alex coulda, woulda, shoulda won the Triple Crown this year if only he had eight more feet in the Kentucky Derby. Afleet Alex was third in the Derby, but he was just a length off of the lead, and that translates into around eight feet. That's really not that much. The jockey, Jeremy Rose, is kicking himself because he feels that he should have done something to change the end. The problem was having such a large number of horses in the race, and a couple of hares (fast horses who set a blistering early pace). The track that day was also slow, and there were other favorites that wound up losing that day because they were inside by the rail (where Afleet Alex was), and that was the slowess part of the track. Well, there's not point in crying over coulda, woulda, shoulda.

There are going to be some big shake-ups at NASA in the coming months. By August, twenty senior officials should be gone. They are the folks who have been responsible for the manned flight program, both with the space shuttle and the Mars initiative. Supposedly the goal will be to have a less political and more scientific administration. That would be a great idea. Let's see if it gets implemented.

Sunday, June 12, 2005 -- Evening

Shavuot started today at sundown. It is a harvest holiday that is celebrated exactly seven weeks after Passover. Shavuot is also the holiday that marks the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses. There is alot of eating of dairy products for Shavuot. I like the eating of dairy in the form of cheesecake (which some eat for Shavuot). I don't like some of the heavy dairy or cream things that my boyfriend's mother makes. It's just too rich for me.

I just finished watching two more recorded shows this evening. I am trying to clear out some of the things in the DVR. The first one that I watched was Murder Ahoy. It was the last one in the Margaret Rutherford series of Marple movies. This film was not based on an Agatha Christie novel. The plot was pretty far fetched. Miss Marple inherits a position on a board that reviews naval ships from her grandfather. The death of a fellow board member leads Miss Marple to check out a local cadet training ship. The movie culminates in Miss Marple engaging in a vigorous sword fight with the murderer at the end of the movie. It was not one that I would really recommend watching. The second movie was also another Margaret Rutherford movie. This one was Murder Most Foul. The screenplay was based on an Agatha Christie novel, Mrs. McGinty's Dead. The book featured Hercule Poirot. You would have thought they could have come up with a Miss Marple novel. Granted there weren't many, but still. Anyway, this movie was much better than the first. It starts with Miss Marple being a juror at a trial for a man who is accused of murdering his landlady. The trial ends in a hanged jury because Miss Marple won't find the man guilty. From there, she runs off to investigate the murder of the landlady, and that leads to Miss Marple joining a theater group. Murder Most Foul was at better than the first one, and it was a very entertaining movie to watch.

The eighth episode of the first season of first season of Endurance was on today. The episode is titled Eruption. We start by hearing Skylar of the Orange team say that getting the Samati twice is demoralizing. Jon of Yellow says that he does feel challenged by Orange. It is important for Orange and Green to win or else they will be sent up to the Temple. In today's game, each team has to hold on to a rope with a net full of water balloons. The pressure will get great and cause a team to let go of the rope. The Orange team loses a foot of their rope. The game begins. Skylar and Chelsea are being lifted off the ground before they let go, and they are the first eliminated. Yellow, Red and Green were having problems, and Yellow was the second to let go. Next Red was out. It was down to Green and Blue. Trevor let go, and Green was out. Blue won. Green and Orange were obviously upset because everyone knows they will be going to the Temple. Orange admits that the loss of a foot of rope was too much. Christian was complaining about how Ashley let go, and Lana was complaining of the same of Trevor. Even Jonna of the Blue team said that she was shocked that Green didn't hold on until their arms fell off because it was to Green's advantage to win. Lana and Chelsea try to put the pressure on Jonna to send Yellow and Red to the Temple. Jonna says that she won't break a promise to not send Yellow to the Temple, and even if Yellow breaks the promise later, Jonna won't now. As Jonna says, she doesn't care if it is stupid--it's what she promised. Everyone thinks the idea is a stupid one because they believe that Blue will lose the game because Blue is sending the weakest teams. Green promises that Blue will be the next team off the island. Everyone also realizes that Sabrina is a liar and backstabber, and she admits it. Sabrina also admits that she manipulated Aaron into thinking she liked him so she won't be sent to the Temple. We see Sabrina working Aaron to make sure that Yellow isn't sent to the Temple this time. Everyone thinks that Red and Yellow will be the final two unless someone separates the teams. We get the official word from the Blue team that Orange and Green will be sent to the Temple. Afterward, Lana is rude to Jonna and surprisingly, Jonna really wants the Green team to come back, and gives Trevor a good luck charm so he will come back. Aaron of the Blue team admits that he would prefer Green to come back too. It's surprising because orange is the weaker team. Jonna doesn't go out to say good-bye to the teams because she is still upset over what both teams have said. Green admits when they come back, they will target Blue. orange says they will target Yellow first and then Blue. In the first game up at the Temple, Orange picks wood, and Green picks fire. Green wins the first game. In the second game, orange picks wood again, and Green picks water. Orange wins. It comes down to the final game. Orange picks fire, and Green picks water. Green will be heading back to the island. Orange forfeits their Luck pyramid piece and their trip and go home. Green heads back to the others. Jonna is very happy to see Green even though Lana blows her off.

The ninth episode is next, and this one is called House of Cards. Of the remaining teams, three (Yellow, Red, and Blue) have an alliance. As christian admits, not everyone is happy that Green is back. Lana and Trevor are saying that they are out for Blue, and if they win the Samati, they will give it to Blue. Sabrina said that she and Jon realize they are carrying Red, and are trying to get rid of Red. Sabrina even tells Lana that Red is out to get Green. The funny thing was that a ribbon from the Red pole was wrapped around the Yellow pole, and Sabrina and Lana were throwing rocks to get it off. Sabrina doesn't want Aaron to know that she really doesn't like him, and even though she has been telling everyone else, she is still lying to Aaron. Everyone wants to win the Endurance mission and have the power to give away the Samati. JD comes to the camp and takes away the guys to get them ready for the mission. The girls then go to the beach. At stake in this mission is the Luck pyramid piece, a trip to Bali and the Samati. On the beach is a bucket and some bricks. The girls are told to stand in front of the bucket with their color. The lift the buckets straight in the air at the count of three. Under the buckets are the girls teammates. The guys are buried in the sand up to their shoulders. The game today is to build a wall like the Great Wall of China on their partner's head. The first team to get all the blocks on their partners head wins the game. The guys hold a board on their heads, and the girls have to put the bricks on two at a time. They have to dip the bricks in mud and then pile them up. Yellow seems to be in the lead, and then Jon drops all the pieces. Yellow quickly comes back, and almost had it finished. It was down to Yellow and Green. Green finished first. They won, and they were really excited. Trevor just kept on saying "we won something". Jonna starts a mud thowing battle with Green and everyone joins in. Green get together to say that they won't let anyone know who they will give the Samati to later. Sabrina was talking to Lana and trying to talk her into giving the Samati to Red. Christian tries to tell Ashley that her best friend, Sabrina, is back stabbing her, but Ashley refuses to believe it. JD mets with the teams to give Green team the Luck piece. The Green team keeps their trip to the Amazon and the Bali trip is gone. We get the run down, Yellow has four pieces, Blue has three, Green has two and Red has only one. Green gets the Samati, and will give it to the team of their choice later. There is decension between Lana and Trevor. Trevor wanted to give it to Yellow but Lana won't change in giving it to Blue. Sabrina admits that she is the biggest liar in the world, and that she was telling Ashley she won't send Red. Ashley talks with Jon and Jon tells Ashley that she can trust him, but that she shouldn't trust Sabrina. It's obvious that there is an attraction between Ashley and Jon. Ashley then told Lana that she found out that Green and Red would be sent to the Temple by Yellow. Then Lana tells Ashley that Sabrina has been trying to talk Green into giving Red the Samati. While Lana and Ashley are talking the red ribbon that was wrapped around the yellow pole unwrapped. Is the Sabrina and Ashley friendship finished? Ashley was very mad and disappointed in Sabrina. Ashley approaches Sabrina and says that she still loves and trusts Sabrina. They have a heart to heart talk, and Ashley says that she will never vote Sabrina off. Sabrina then admits that she will not vote Ashley off and they will be the final two. At that very moment, the red ribbon wraps back around the yellow pole. Woohoo! Scary! Back at the rock, all the teams meet for the giving of the Samati. JD asks Red team about its alliance with Yellow. Christian says the Yellow/Red alliance is barely together because of betrayal. Sabrina says that winning is most important. As Sabrina says she came to win and not make friends. JD then asks Aaron if there was a girl that he likes, and Aaron admits it was Sabrina, but that he doesn't any more. Sabrina tries to claim that Aaron never said that he liked her, but it was obvious though all the shows because he was fawning over her and making necklaces for her. Aaron admits that liking Sabrina is what had Blue keep Yellow on the Island. The alliance is falling apart because of Sabrina's game playing, or is it? But they are there to give out the Samati and Green gives it to the Blue team. After breaking it open, Blue finds a rock that says Blue team will have a 15 second delay before they can start the next game. Has the power shifted on the island?

Saturday, June 11, 2005 -- Late Evening

Danica Patrick finished 13th in the Bombardier Learjet 500 race this evening. Some think that the pressure is on for her to win. Those people really need to learn something though. The point is that she is a rookie, and rookies don't do alot of winning. In fact, considering that she is a rookie, her performance has been impressive. It is true though that the masses won't understand her not winning and will think that means she isn't good at what she does.

Saturday, June 11, 2005 -- Evening

Today was the Trouping of the Colour. One of the big stories was that Camilla made her first balcony appearance. So after the parade which this year honored the Irish Guards (their colour was the one that Trouped--if that's the correct way to say it), the Royal Family goes to Buckingham Palace and makes an appearance on the balcony. This year, Camilla was allowed to join the family.

The other royal news today was that Prince William earned a 2:1 degree in geography Master of Arts degree from St. Andrews University. It seems that this is actually a pretty good showing on his part. It seems that he is in the upper second class. It's a better score than his father did when he went to college. The plan now is for William to join the Armed Forces, but it's not clear yet what he will actually do. First up is to travel to New Zealand for his first solo royal engagement.

Today was the Belmont Stakes. My god it was such an exciting race. When the race started my favorite, Afleet Alex, was really lagging behind. He was running in ninth place (of nine horses), and he was just sitting in the back. I was sure that it was a bad move and that something was wrong with Afleet Alex. Well, in the last 3/4th's of a mile, Afleet Alex just turned it on, and it was like all the other horses were standing still. He blew past everyone, and opened up a 7 length lead. Andromeda's Hero finished second by another 7 lengths and Nolan's Cat was third. Giacomo was in the lead as they were making the final turn, and was just blown by. It was amazing just watching the rerunning of the race because Afleet Alex pretty much went from almost last place on the inside as they went into the final turn to winning the race impressively from the outside. The final quarter time was 24 2/5ths seconds. That's the fastest final quarter time since Arts and Letters in 1969. The final time for the mile and a half was 2:28 3/5. If only Afleet Alex hadn't finished third in the Kentucky Derby, we might be looking at a Triple Crown winner. Afleet Alex's trainer, Tim Ritchey, knows what he is doing. He had a training schedule for Afleet Alex that had the horse going out for an hour or so four times a day.

Seagate has announced a new line of hard drive for folks who want to live "terabyte lives". One of them is a 2.5 inch 160 GB hard drive. Seagate also has made some 20 and 30 GB drives that can withstand temperatures between minus 30 to 80 degrees centigrade. The drives are meant to handle conditions that you might find in a car that is either outside in freezing temperatures in the winter or under a hot beating sun in the summer. They can also handle the vibrations that you would find in driving a car. For the small 160 GB drive, they use perpendicular recording to fit as much as possible on the drive. The old drive technology used longitudinal recording which lines up the bits of horizontally. Perpendicular recording also allows for bits to be placed vertically which allows for more data to fit on the drive.

Friday, June 10, 2005 -- Evening

Because the Queen celebrates her birthday when the weather is good, and for England, the best weather is usually in June, the Queen will be celebrating her birthday tomorrow in the Trooping of the Color. The other thing that happens when the Queen celebrates her birthday are the Queen's birthday honors. This year Dame Judi Dench was awarded the Companion of the British Empire. She's not alone in receiving honors. Also getting honors are 893 other people, including Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin fame) and Stephanie Cole (from Waiting for God).

Friday, June 10, 2005 -- Afternoon

The Pittsburgh Penguins are in the process of being bought by the West Coast group of investors that showed an interest in the team earlier in the week. It seems that the Penguins will be remaining in the city (if hockey every returns), and Mario will still hold a reduced interest in the team. The letter of intent to purchase the team has been negotiated, but this doesn't mean that the sell is final. All it means is that the process is in place for the purchase of the team. The guy, William Del Biaggo, heading the efforts to buy the Penguins also has an interest in the San Jose Sharks.

NASA scientists think that they have solved the problem of the blurry lense on the Deep Impact space craft. This is the spacecraft that is supposed to land on Comet Temple 1 around 1:52 am EDT on July 4. The way they will solve the problem is by using deconvolution on the images when they arrive at Earth. This is a mathematical process that will be applied to the images and it should reverse the distortion.

It seems that scientists have found a magnetar only 10,000 light years away. What's a magnetar you ask? It's a neutron star that has a surface that quake releasing high energy gamma rays. These types of stars are rare, and we haven't done alot of research on them because of that, but their magnetic qualities are very strong. The star in question is Cassiopeia A, which had a supernova explosion in 1572 and was observed by Tycho Brahe. I remember watching Cosmos and hearing Carl Sagan talk of Tycho Brahe's nose. It seems that a part of it was cut off in a duel, and he had a replacement made from an alloy of gold and silver.

This is an older news story, but the Trojan Horse scandal from Israel is pretty interesting. It all started because the father-in-law of the guy who wrote the Trojan Horse software noticed that his files were appearing on the Internet (pieces of a book that he was writing), and he noticed that someone was trying to access his bank account information. Well, he suspected his son-in-law who was having a breakup with his daughter. So the guy called the police, and they tracked down the perpetrator. The thing that they also found is that the guy had sold his software to some private investigators and they were using the software to spy on corporate adversaries. That's the scandal because the companies being spied on had no clue, and it seems to have affected all of the really big Israeli companies. The question on people's minds is could this happen in this country, and I would say that is a given. When you have data on computers that are attached to the network, you run the risk all the time of someone getting in and looking at your files. Leave it to the Israelis though. Technology is booming there, and how better to do industrial espionage than with a Trojan horse. The thing to keep in mind with this, is that the companies accused of doing the spying are large--like large cellular companies who were spying on rivals.

Thursday, June 9, 2005 -- Evening

I watched my recording of Mystery Woman: Vision of Murder. I had watched the other episodes in the series, and I found them entertaining. The plot is basically about Samantha, played by Kellie Martin, who owns a mystery book shop and who gets involved in a ton of mysteries and murders that happen in this town. I have to admit that I think that this show was my favorite. The plot in the show is that Samantha gets a job photographing a health spa for its new brochure. She takes her Cassie, the local district attorney with her, and one of the women winds up getting murdered. A young woman working at the spa has psychic visions, and takes Samantha and Cassie to the dead body. Why did the woman die? Was it because she was having an affair with the husband of another guest at the spa, or did it have something to do with suspicious activity at the spa. I like Kellie Martin in the show. It's a nice twist to have a young woman playing detective because usually the television shows give us the older woman character. She's the spunky sort who always seems to find a way to get into trouble. I also like Philby, played by Clarence Williams III, and I really wonder what his deal is. In this show, Philby disappears when the local police chief comes into the mystery book store. We are lead to believe that Philby is a former spy and that somehow something happened that caused him to leave the spy business. The only issue that I have with the show is that the show is scheduled as a two hour show. Well, the show itself is probably less than an hour and a half. For the first twenty minutes, the Hallmark Channel shows the show uninterrupted. After that, there are constant commercial breaks, and they are lengthy. One was at least seven minutes long! That was some break. Thank goodness for fast forward with the DVR! I did like the show and the characters, and I strongly recommend them for any fan of cozy type mysteries. I have to admit that even though I don't like the Hallmark Channel's commercial breaks, I do like the idea of the rotating mystery show schedule that Hallmark is practicing with Mystery Woman.

Thursday, June 9, 2005 -- Afternoon

It seems that the NHLPA is now denying that there has been an agreement on a salary cap. I don't know what this means, and neither does anyone else. I have to admit that I am getting tired of the soap opera that the hockey situation has become.

Thursday, June 9, 2005 -- Morning

Poor Carl Krauser! He has been at an NBA pre-draft camp, and it appears that the message he has been getting from scouts and coaches is to stay in school. That can't be something that a 25 year old player who has already graduated would like to hear. I suppose that the suggestion is that Krauser needs some more work to be ready for the NBA.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 -- Evening

The Cassini spacecraft has found an icy volcano on Saturn's moon, Titan. Analysis of the results of Titan's surface show that there aren't any methane oceans on Titan's surface, so what they think happens now is that ice is forced up in the volcano and that is what puts the methane into the atmosphere. Of course, all of this is pending further analysis where they will have another theory about the methane.

Now this will be interesting. They are planning on remaking The Persuaders as a movie. This is the tv show that starred my favorite spy guy, Roger Moore, and Tony Curtis. What I don't understand is the selection of actors. I can see Ben Stiller in in Tony Curtis role, but Steve Coogan, star of I'm Alan Partridge as the Roger Moore replacement? So Coogan might have the humor, but he really doesn't have the sauve look of Roger.

This Saturday is the Belmont Stakes. Afleet Alex and Giacomo are preparing for the race, and will be joined by nine other horses. Eleven is not a large field. The question is if Afleet Alex will have the stamina to win the Belmont because it is the longest of the three Triple Crown races at a mile and a half.

The NHL and the NHLPA came to an agreement on a salary cap. The cap will range from $32 to 34 million with a minimum of $22 to 24 million dollars. There are still other issues that are up for consideration, such as salary arbitration and free agency. So it could still be some time before we know if we have hockey next season.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 -- Evening

The Discovery Channel is having a contest to find the Greatest American. They are showing the top 100 on the Discovery Channel every Sunday in June. For the greatest American, I think that I would vote for Thomas Edison. Why? Because he invented such a diversity of products. Edison invented the phonograph, incandescent light (light bulb), the motion picture, fluorscent electric lamps, and the nickel-iron-alkaline storage battery among other things. Where would we be without Edison? The common joke is sitting in the dark watching television, but since he was the father of the motion picture camera, we wouldn't be. My boyfriend said that he would pick Ronald Reagan as the greatest American. In his opinion, Reagan embodied Americanism, defeated Communism by forcing the former Soviet Union into a spending war on weapons, and by inventing Reaganomics.

So what makes a good comedy? Well, believe it or not, scientists have discovered the formula for fun. Now this gets complicated, but what the researchers say is that you take a recognizable character multiple his/her delusions of grandeur, add the verbal wit of the script, which is all divided by the amount of times someone falls over. Using this formula Only Fools and Horses ranked number one, followed by The Office, Father Ted, Fawlty Towers, and Blackadder. My favorite of the bunch is Fawlty Towers. Leave it to scientists to try to explain the unexplainable. Sometimes the things that make you laugh have some personal meaning. In fact, to me, those are the funniest moments.

The American Geophysical Union says that it believes that NASA is giving up on space and Earth sciences in favor of the manned missions to the Moon and Mars. After a review of the 2006 budget, the American Geophysical Union says that there is too much on NASA's plate, and that will mean that projects like Earth System Pathfinder will not get the funding that it deserves.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 -- Afternoon

Google is planning on opening a division in Israel. Right now, there is a Hebrew Google search engine. What Google hopes to do with this move is to better the Hebrew language capabilities of any engine or software, and Google can start to provide more content. It seems that the Israeli search engine market right now generates $6 million dollars while Israel Internet activites generates $30 million. Google is hoping to get a larger share of that pie.

My favorite player for Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team, Sarunas Jasikevicius, is hoping to make a move to the NBA this coming season. Right now, his agent says that he is looking for a $10 million three year contract. Right now, ten teams are expressing interest. We'll have to see how it all works out.

Monday, June 6, 2005 -- Evening

I have been trying to catch up on my reading. I admit that I am a book addict, and if I'm not buying a book, I'm getting a few from the library. Since I work in Oakland, the Carnegie Library is right there. However, I really prefer the local Carnegie Library here in Squirrel Hill. The book that I just finished was Murder Walks the Plank by Carolyn Hart. It was an entertaining book, and I did enjoy reading it.

Monday, June 6, 2005 -- Afternoon

Today is Jerusalem Day. This is the day that marks the unificiation of Jerusalem after the 6 Day War in 1967. Prior to that, the old part of the city was under the control of Jordon. Israel captured the city and the portion of Israel that is refered to as the West Bank, because it is on the West Bank of the Jordan. The Jewish people celebrate today as the liberation of Jerusalem.

Apple is rumored to be ending its deal with IBM as its sole provider of processors. It seems that Apple will be switching to Intel. What does this mean for the consumer? It could mean cheaper prices. Right now, the chips that IBM makes for Apple accounts for only a small portion of its business. Because Intel makes so many chips, they could probably give Apple a much better price. Supposedly the first Intel Mac will be out in 2006, and all Macs will be Intel by 2007.

Two of the robotic vehicles made at CMU have been selected as semifinalists to compete in the qualifying rounds for the DARPA challenge. Basically the challenge is for a robotic vehicle to navigate a 175 mile desert trip on its own. The first one to finish the race will win $2 million dollars. Last year there were no winners. The semifinals will be held from Sept. 27 to Oct. 5 in Fontana, CA. The main race will be held on Oct. 8 at a location to be announced.

Sunday, June 5, 2005 -- Evening

I watched the sixth episode of first season of Endurance this evening. The episode is called Squeeze Play. In the last episode, Purple was given the Samati which prevented them from participating in the episode's Temple mission. Purple thought this meant they would go to the Temple for sure at the end of the day. The mission was based on the survey from the previous episode. Basically, each person on each team will be answering a series of questions. As the person gets the answer right, the person gets to move up in a pyramid of spaces. The pyramid has six rows. As the players climb the pyramid there are fewer and fewer spaces, of course, which will squeeze some of the players out of the game. When a row is completely filled, those that are below that row are elimated from the game. The person who makes it to the number one spot wins. The votes are done with team colored rocks. First question: "Which team would do anything to win?" Answer: Blue. "Which team is the most honest?" Answer: Orange. "Which team is in charge?" Answer: Yellow. "Which team will be the next team to leave the island?" Answer: Purple. So far, Ashley, of the Red team, is the only person to have gotten all the questions right. A row is complete so we had three players leave. If Ashley gets the next answer right, Red wins. "Which team would change partners if they could?" Answer: Green. Ashley won. That means that Red gets to select two teams to send to the Temple. Christian was saying that he knew he was going to win--which is funny because Ashley did all the winning. Skylar thinks that Orange and Purple will be going to the Temple. Layla told Lana that she would send Red and Yellow up if Purple came back, and Lana told Ashley. We hear that Ashley would really like to send Blue to the Temple. That does make sense because Blue is strong. Layla claims that Sabrina, Ashley and Layla made an alliance that they wouldn't send each other to the Temple. Sabrina said that she didn't remember this alliance and that obviously it is over. We then see Ashley and Christian discussing who to send. Ashley says that Christian made a pact with Blue and she made a pact with Green--just for this round and then things will change. JD Roth comments on the fact that only weak teams seem to be getting the Samati and sent to Temple. Red says that they will be sending Purple and Orange to the Temple. Layla begins to cry because she and Chelsea of Orange are really close friends, and Layla doesn't want to go to Temple. Brandon of Purple threatens to send Yellow and Red to Temple when he comes back. Ashley apologizes to Orange, and Layla overhears Ashley telling Christian that she wants Orange to come back. Layla keeps on talking about how she will really miss chelsea when Chelsea leaves the game, and how difficult it will be for Layla to continue playing. That's alot of confidence. Orange and Purple then make the trek to the Temple. Chelsea has a piece of Ashley's hair as a good luck charm. The game is to pick the dominant element between wood, water and fire. In the first game, Orange picks Wood and Purple picks water. orange wins. In the second game, Orange picks fire and Purple picks water. Purple wins. Whoever wins the next game goes back to the Island. Orange picks fire and Purple picked wood (Layla wanted them to pick water). Orange wins and stays. Purple is sent home. Orange's Luck pyramid piece must have helped them out. Orange returns to the beach to the welcoming arms of their friends.

A recap episode is shown of the first six episodes before we come to the seventh episode entitled Water Logged. We are reminded about how Orange and Purple were sent to the Temple with Purple leaving the Island. This episode's mission is an Endurance mission. That means that Purple's Strength pyramid piece and its trip to Costa Rica is up for grabs. The day starts with an overnight rain storm. It seems that the huts leaked and everyone got waterlogged and were in miserable moods. Only Chelsea thought the misty, sunless day was beautiful because she comes from Arizona. It seems that everyone in the Red, Blue and Yellow teams are in an alliance although Ashley really wants Blue gone because they are strong. Ashley says that it's a game, and they should realize that Blue is strong and needs to be gone. Today's mission. One person of each team is on a platform and will be tied via a long rope to a bucket. The other team member gets to add water into another team's bucket. The goal is to get the person off of the platform. Last on wins the mission. The guys are on the platform, and the girls fill their bucket. Everyone went after Blue. Ashley was smiling while doing it, and Lana was getting into it too much. Aaron finally wasn't able to hold on, and was out. Everyone switched to Green and Trevor did not take long to get out. Christian of Red was threatening to send Green to Temple, and Red wound up getting out because they were targeted next. Then everyone switched to Orange, and they were out. So Yellow team won the game. Yellow now has another pyramid piece and the Samati. Sabrina said that she was confident that Yellow would win because Jon was really strong, and she also commented on how she likes having power. Yellow now has four pieces, Blue has three and everyone else has one. Yellow turns down the trip to Costa Rica. Yellow now has the rest of the day to decide on who gets the Samati. Ashley tries to talk Sabrina and Jon into giving the Samati to Blue because Ashley doesn't want to compete with Blue at the end. Sabrina then says that she wants to give the Samati to the Red team. Jon said that he will not do that, and then tells Ashley. At the rock at the end of the day, JD recapped how the teams have been doing. Sabrina admitted that she targeted Blue in the water game because Blue is a strong team, and she wanted to beat Aaron. Yellow wound up giving the Samati to the Orange team. The Samati this time is a note saying that "one foot of your rope will be cut prior to the Temple mission". And so the episode ends.

Sunday, June 5, 2005 -- Morning

The Mars Rover, Opportunity, has finally been freed from the sand dune that it has been stuck in for the last five weeks.

Saturday, June 4, 2005 -- Evening

This afternoon, I went to the Coffee Tree here in Squirrel Hill. Since the weather was so nice, I thought that it would be nice to sit outside at the sidewalk tables the store provides. The outside experience was pleasant and the coffee drink, a frozen carmel coffee, was good. The problem was that the service was horrible! After my order was taken, the drinks were made, and then were set aside before they were completed so they could work on drinks that came after mine. I was abit perturbed by this, and had to call it to the attention of the two coffee makers. Then because I didn't want whipped cream on the drinks, and I suppose they can't give you the raised whipped cream style lid if you don't get whipped cream, the girl slopped out some of the drink to put a lid on the cup (losing an inch of drink), and gave me the plastic glasses in the sloppy, messy condition. My boycott is on! I won't be going to Coffee Tree for drinks again this summer. In my opinion, it's not only the quality of the food and drink that's important, but the level of service. The level of service today was extremely below par. I should have known it was not going to be a good experience based on the flies inside the pastry case that were buzzing the unwrapped food.

I did have two very good slices of New York style pizza at the Italian Village on Forbes Avenue here in Squirrel Hill. The service is always quick, the food is hot, and where else can you watch someone actually twirling the pizza dough in the air? The store also has very good prices. $3.50 will get you two large slices of pizza and a drink.

Today was Geoffrey Palmer's 78th birthday. He plays Lionel Hardcastle in As Time Goes By. I love the show, and watch it every chance I get. The show is entertaining and enjoyable, even on the 50th viewing.

Friday, June 3, 2005 -- Evening

CBS finally has a page up for this year's Big Brother 6. Supposedly, we will learn of some big surprises soon. There is not alot on the site yet--just a few video clips.

I am watching The Replacements on television. It's an entertaining movie. I love any movie with Keanu Reeves. The thing that makes this movie for me are all the other members of the replacement team. This movie does contain one of the lines that most annoys me. It's a line about the deaf player that Gene Hackman makes. He says "At least he'll never be called offside on an audible". Well, the guy is a tight end. That means he's on the offense. The offense doesn't go offside. A member of the offense has a false start. Geeze! Get it right!

I love a good nap. Sometimes a weekend afternoon isn't complete without a nice nap. Sometimes after a nap, I wake up feeling refreshed and raring to go, and other times I just don't want to get up. Well, it seems that NASA scientists are finding that there is alot about naps that we didn't know. It seems that a well timed nap is actually good for you. The scientists did some research on naps for the astronauts. It seems that they don't always get a good night's sleep, so a nap seems to be the solution. 91 volunteers were observed over a ten day period. These folks were supposed to have a night's sleep that ranged from 4 to 8 hours in length and daily naps from 0 (no nap for you!) to 2.5 hours. They found that longer naps were better than shorter ones, and that working memory benefited more than alertness. Working memory means you remember one thing while working on another. Naps also weren't very helpful if you were a night worker. It seems that working in the night and sleeping during the day threw folks out of sync. The other thing that the scientists found was something called "sleep inertia". Basically that means that when you had a hard time waking up from a nap, and tended to be groggy for an hour after the nap. This seemed to happen when the biological clock was thrown out of whack by the night work, and sometimes would also occur with the folks on a regular schedule.

A settlement for the class action lawsuit that some of the Pitt basketball season ticket holders brought against the University may have had a preliminary approval from the Court of Common Pleas. In the past, only folks who bought season tickets in particular areas of the arena had to pay an additional fee--called a donation by Pitt. I can understand paying a "donation" when you want VIP seats, but because of the Quest for Excellence to raise even more money for a University that knows more about wasting money than any other I know, even folks who want regular seats are expected to make a hefty "donation". What sucks is that there is no quarantee that you will get to keep you seat by making the donation. So the settlement will be that the folks who were part of the class action suit will get to keep their seats at the minimum donation level which for the coming year is $250. Next year, it's going to go up to $300. Personally, I think that Pitt should call it a fee and not a donation. A donation is something that isn't obligatory in my mind. If I am forced to make a donation of a certain price than let's call it a fee. After all, extortion would probably be a harsh word.

Friday, June 3, 2005 -- Morning

NASA is planning to launch a mission to Mars called Phoenix Mars Lander in 2007 that is to land in the North Pole area and check for evidence of water and signs of life. I would imagine that they will have some luck in the water area because we already suspect that the polar caps are formed of water. I wonder when we will hear about the mission to terraform Mars.

It seems there are some folks from the West Coast area that are interested in buying the Pittsburgh Penguins. Supposedly, they would not want to relocate the team. So far, there really hasn't been an offer made. It is just basically an interest that has been expressed by a group of individuals who see potential in the team.

Thursday, June 2, 2005 -- Evening

It seems that my man, Jaromir Jagr, broke his pinky finger during the World Championships. Being a hockey player, that didn't stop Jagr from playing though. He had the finger surgically fixed today, and is now on the mend.

Thursday, June 2, 2005 -- Afternoon

There was a flurry of talk on last night's sports talk shows that there might be a deal between the players and the owners in the NHL mess. To tell the truth, I have really given up following the non progress, and I wondered if I even cared. Well, when I heard that a deal might be imminent, my ears perked up. I shouldn't have bothered though, because it appears that a deal really isn't on the horizon. I think that some sports folks just had a bout of wishful thinking. What is worse news for the NHL though, is that ESPN has ceased negotiations with the NHL. So that means that there will be no hockey for the coming season--if there is one--on ESPN. NBC does have a deal with the NHL for broadcast rights for two seasons if the sport ever comes back.

It seems that scientists have found a way to tell what sex a dinosaur was. The discovery came about with a T. Rex and strengthens the link between dinosaurs and birds. It appears that female birds have a tissue called a medullary bone that is seen in birds that are laying eggs. An article in Science have identified this bone in the hind quarters of some T Rexes. Now the question is does this translate to other dinosaur breeds?

Carl Krauser will not be deciding if he is going to return to Pitt next year until later in the month. Folks have been waiting with bated breath around here to find out if he will be returning to the basketball team. I think that the team next year will need all the help that it can get. Krauser, however, has a workout scheduled with an NBA team in the upcoming weeks, and wants to wait until after that to make his decision.

Bob O'Connor is scheduled for knee surgery this coming Monday. It appears that he has had problems with his left knee since injuring it while playing football as a teenager. Good luck, Bob!

Wednesday, June 1, 2005 -- Evening

Tom DeLay is saying that NASA's top priority will be to find funding for manned missions to the Mars and the Moon. According to Michael Griffin the new NASA administrator, the agency has gotten the funding necessary to look into manned flights. In fact, Griffin said that the agency has gotten the amount of funding in the last 16 years that it received in the first 16 years. That's promising news. I am one of those folks who is in favor of the continuation of manned flight. I understand that there are difficulties both on the toll on the human body being in zero gravity for an extended period of time, in money to fund the missions, and in the technology that will be needed for an extended mission and fuel generation. But as JFK said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Jerome Bettis was named the YMCA Person of the Year. He was given the honor because of his willingness to take a paycut and to take a role as the second string running back. Also, Jerome has given alot of time, energy and money to charitable causes, especially asthma awareness. Not only that, but he always does everything with a huge smile and happiness. The guy really deserves the award!

Astronomers have used a group of supercomputers to recreate the Big Bang and the creation of the Universe. The experiment is being called Millennium Run and the results are in the latest issue of Nature.

The guy responsible for the designing and developing the domain name system (DNS) which gives our computers their names on the Internet, Paul Mockapetris, has been given a lifetime achievement award from ACM Sigcomm.

The Steelers aren't planning on cutting or adding someone when the NFL free agency offerings start tomorrow. Unless someone really impressive comes along, there's no movement expected.