The Daily Bongo

March 2005

Thursday, March 31, 2005 -- Evening

The Smoking Gun is always good at dragging up the dirt on folks. Well, now they appear to have let the cat out of the bag about Scott Savol from American Idol. It seems that Scott was arrested for domestic violence for an incident with the woman who is the mother of his son. The whole thing happened in February of 2001. Now the thing that is interesting about this is that the American Idol rules may force Scott from the show. If that happens then Jessica Sierra can be back next week. We'll have to see what the producers of American Idol do with this news about Scott.

As is common with the British royal family, when they go on a vacation, they usually have a photo session with the press. This is done for the most part so the press will then leave them alone to enjoy their vacation. Unfortunately, some of the tabloid press don't practice such ethics. Well, today while Prince Charles and sons was at Klosters in Switzerland, Charles was overheard muddering about the photographers at the photo session and called them "bloody people". William, at least, seemed to handle the situation with better grace. I think that the whole incident illustrates how the much younger William, who could be excused for making stupid remarks, shows the more Kingly behavior. It also seems that Prince William has a girlfriend. Her name is Kate Middleton, and she has been photographed with him at Klosters. They have been just friends who shared a townhouse with a couple of others when William first joined college.

Thursday, March 31, 2005 -- Afternoon

Prince Albert has taken over a regency for Rainier because of his health. It seems that Rainier's health is very fragile, and if he even does recovery, Rainieri probably won't be able to resume his duties.

The results for the American Red Cross song competition on American Idol has When You Say You Love Me in first with 54%, second was He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother with 36%, and last was Everything is Beautiful with 11%. It's funny because the first song was my least favorite of the bunch.

Scientists at the Carnegie found a fossil of a little mouse sized muscular mammal that may have lived off of termites. The little mammal, named Popeye, came from the Jurassic period. The find will be published in Science tomorrow. The scientists say that this little mammal is different from others of that period and shows that there was greater diversity than originally believed.

The big question now is whether Chris Taft will be in the NBA draft this summer. It seems that he may be in the top ten or fifteen players considered to go in the draft, but he has some serious problems. Basically he may be getting drafted based on potential. The drafting process doesn't actually seem to take actual statistics into account. With Taft it is confusing because he has not had a very good season this year, and wasn't even considered to be in the top fifteen players in the Big East this year. There is another problem with Taft. It appears that he doesn't have a good work ethic, and may actually border on the lazy. It seems that past players in Taft's position who went with the NBA aren't doing so great, so Taft might be better served by remaining at Pitt instead of moving on.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 -- Evening

Tonight was elimination night on American Idol. They had the highest number of votes outside of a final with 32.5 million votes. They had the final song tonight for the American Red Cross song. The song was Everybody's Beautiful. The song was okay, but I like last week's song much better. There should be a voting section on the American Idol that allows you to vote on the song you like. There will only be an eleven hour window in which to vote. The three people who had the lowest number of votes were: Nadia Turner, Jessica Sierra, and Anwar Robinson. At least I got one of them right! Jessica and Anwar were in the bottom two. Surprisingly, Jessica Sierra was voted off. I was really shocked because she wasn't that bad at all. I don't even think she had a bad night last night. It was just that the song wasn't the best song. The thing that was shocking to me is that she did not sing poorly. Meanwhile, Anwar was "pitchy" as Randy said.

Christopher Eccleston, who is now starring in the new series of Dr. Who has quit the show because he doesn't want to be typecast. Boy, the guy has only been in one show so far! Talk about over-reacting. Because the show had such a great response, and generated ten million viewers, the BBC is going to have a second series and a Christmas special. Christopher Eccleston will finish the current series, and should also film the Christmas special.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 -- Afternoon

Mikalah Gordon might have found her life's calling. The former American Idol contestant doesn't necessarily want to be a singer, she just wants to be famous. Because she was blasted so much over the Internet about the quality of her singing and speaking voice, she's thinking of turning to acting. She does have that Fran Drescher bit about herself in looks and voice. Maybe that is the thing for Mikalah--a sitcom.

MTV thinks that Jessica Sierra will be the next idol voted off tonight. I don't know about that one. I didn't think her performance was that bad. They do mention that Scott Savol will be in the bottom three for the first time.

Is he gay, or isn't he? For those of you who may have been wondering about Anwar Robinson's dating preference, you might want to check out his profile on BlackPlanetLove. It seems that he is looking for a guy in this ad. There are three pictures of Anwar in the personal ad.

Some Pitt fans are suing the University over the new fund raising plan that is based around season ticket sales. As the fans say in their class action lawsuit, the University made a promise to the season ticket holders a few years ago that as long as the ticket holders maintained the level of their contribution to the University, they could continue to purchase season tickets. Well, now the University wants a much larger donation. The new program is the Quest for Excellence campaign. Maybe they should quest by getting a winning team in basketball or football. Right now, the football part of it seems promising, but Pitt needs to work on the coach for basketball.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005 -- Evening

The next competition with American Idol was on this evening. The theme for the songs was the nineties. First up was Bo Bice with Remedy by the Black Crowes. It was okay. I didn't think it was his best performance. The crowd went wild though. He does know how to work the audience. Randy thought he did a good job going back to his rocker roots, and Paula was practically wetting herself over him. Simon didn't like the song. He said that he thought the performance was closer to something you see at a wedding. I'm glad that I wasn't the only one who wasn't overly impressed. It's not that it was bad--it's just that it wasn't good. Next up was Jessica Sierra. My boyfriend likes her because he likes a female who's chunky but spunky. She sang a Leigh Ann Rhymes song. She did a nice job singing it. Country songs really seem to suit her voice. Randy thought she sang the song well, and that she was consistent. Paula thought that the song didn't showcase how great Jessica's vocals are. Then Simon said that she didn't have the likeability factor that the other contestants had. He thought that she sang it well, but that it was forgettable. Simon thought she should have chosen another Leigh Ann Rhymes song. Anwar Robinson sang an R. Kelly song, I Believe I can Fly. I thought his voice was abit wobbley. I really love the song, but I really did not like Anwar's presentation at all. It left very much to be desired! The audience again went wild. Randy said that he was an Anwar fan, but thinks that Anwar's lower register is pitchy. Randy thinks he needs to pay attention to the whole song. Paula, as usual, thought that it was incredibly good and original. Simon told Paula she needed a new cd collection. Simon said that he agreed with Randy and Randy was spot on. Simon said it wasn't anywhere as good as Paula thought. I agree with Randy and Simon. The song was really hurting my ears at the beginning. Next up was Nadia Turner. She sang I'm the Only One. She did a sassy job with the song, and it was not bad. I liked it better than the performance from last week. Abit weak, but okay. Randy said that she's not the best singer, but she's a really good performer and made something of the song. Paula said that it was miles better than last week, and even Simon said that it was a thousand times better than last week. Simon thought that the song was not a melodic song, and was worried that might do her in even though she did a good job. Now my favorite, Constantine Maroulis. He sang some song that I recognize, but I don't know the name of. Gosh is he a hot, smouldering singer. He really has the sex appeal, and the teen idol thing going on. Boy, those smouldery eyes! I loved it!! Randy said that it was the best vocal performance for him. Paula agreed and said he is creeping into the favorites. Simon thought that Constantine did better than Bo tonight. Simon said that he had the classic pop star style and appealled to his audience. Nikko Smith came up next. His dad, Ozzie Smith, played for the St. Louis Cardinals. Now the bad thing was the song. He picked some song that I didn't even recognize, and didn't do a very good job with it. Randy and Paula thought he knocked it out of the park with his performance. Simon thought it was a breath of fresh air and a good copy of the original, but he didn't mean it as a complement. Then came Anthony Fedorov. He sang some song that I didn't recognize. I wonder where I was in the nineties. I thought I was listening to the radio, but I guess not. I think the song was The Way You look tonight. He did okay, but there was something about the performance that I didn't like. Randy thought it was all right--nothing more. Paula as usual thought it was a great job. Simon said that he wanted to be nice because he liked Anthony, but he thought that it was excruiating to watch in parts. And the parts? Beginning, middle, and end. I have to say that there was something about the whole thing that I didn't like, and I'm not sure if it was Anthony's look, or what. He doesn't look better without his glasses, let me say that! I was looking forward to seeing how Carrie Underwood did. She sang a Martina McBride song, Independence Day. She did a great job with it. Country is definitely her style. Randy said it was a great, great performance, and the best of the night. Paula also thought it was a great job. Simon said that Carrie had the It factor. She is a pretty girl and will probably go far. Next up: Scott Savol. I didn't recognize his song, but I thought he had some real trouble hitting some of the high notes, and I don't think it sounded that great. It was really out of tune. Randy thought it was a very ambitious song, all right, and very pitchy especially at the start. Paula was loving it. What doesn't she like? She can't say a single bad word about anyone. Simon said that it was a karaoke performance, and he would have switched the microphone off in the bar. Last up was Vonzell Solomon. She sang I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston. I'm not a big Vonzell fan, but she did a great job, and she looked really good. She reminded me of Brandy. The audience went wild. Randy said that she keeps on getting better. Paula thinks America is falling in love with her, and it was the top notch performance. Simon thought that she pulled it off.
So here are my bottom three picks of this week: Anwar Robinson, Scott Savol, and Anthony Federov, and I think that the one to go should probably be....Anwar Robinson. It could be a toss up with Anthony Federov, though.

Madonna was blasted today for dressing up as a nun while hubby, Guy Ritchie, dressed as a pope for a Purim party they attended. Some were complaining because they thought it was in poor taste, and thought it was in poor taste because it was a few days before Easter (which just happens to be when Purim was) and the pope is not very healthy. For Purim, folks are supposed to wear costumes which are supposed to hide their identity. I think it's another mountain out of a molehill situation. Madonna is Madonna, and loves to shock folks. And she usually loves to shock them with religion. Folks should just get over it. There are more important things to take offense with than Madonna dressing as a nun.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005 -- Afternoon

It seems that one of the cameras on Deep Impact has an issue and is sending back blurry pictures. Deep Impact is the spaceship that was sent out to crash on a comet this July 4th. The blurriness was discovered after the verification phase of the trip. After the craft was launched, they ran the tests, and did some heating procedures to remove residual moisture from the barrel of the instrument, the HR1. That's when they noticed the blurry pictures. The scientists do believe that they can fix the problem.

Scientists have discovered a protein that may help folks suffering from allergies to cats. It seems that the protein may also be helpful with more dangerous food allergies too, like allergies to peanuts or bananas. The protein was tested in mice that were bred to have allergies to cats. Now that's ironic I think--a mouse that is allergic to cats. It seems that the protein trains the immune system to not react to the allergen, and therefore stops the symptoms that we experience when we come in contact with the allergen. The research should be released in the April issue of Nature.

Monday, March 28, 2005 -- Evening

I watched The Incredibles this evening, and I enjoyed the movie alot. Pixar really does a good job with the animation and the story. It was amazing how realistic the animation is. So far, I don't think that anyone has really captured humans well with animation, but the backgrounds look like they were actually filmed from the real world while the cartoon characters are placed on it. The animators do a great job with sunlight and shadows too. Where Pixar excels though is in having a story that grabs the imagination of the viewer. Watching The Incredibles was like watching the first Indian Jones movie. There was non-stop excitement. Mr. Incredible is a super hero who in the first few minutes of the movie does five different heroic acts, only to be sued by the folks that he rescued because they were injured in the rescue. Well, this leads to the US government paying out millions of dollars, and the superheroes going into hiding. Mr. Incredible had married Elastic Girl, and they are relocated to a small town where they raise their family--Violet, the oldest daughter who can become invisible and has the ability to create a protective shield around things, Dash, the middle son who can run incredibly fast, and baby Jack-Jack, the normal one, supposedly. We get to see the difficulties that a family of superheroes goes through when trying to blend in with normal folks. The action increases though when Mr. Incredible is recruited by the mysterious Mirage to reenter the superhero world. The action grows and the whole family gets involved. The movie was very entertaining, and I would highly recommend it. There were three separate instances where the multi-angle icon appeared on the screen, but we weren't able to get any additional angles. The two disc set is supposed to be rich in Easter eggs. I haven't checked out the second disc yet, but I do plan on looking out for the hidden extras.

Monday, March 28, 2005 -- Afternoon

There has been alot of controversy about steriods in sports, especially baseball, lately. To me, it has been obvious for years that Barry Bonds was not achieving the growth that he had naturally. Not only did his body grow so much bigger than you would expect, and put on an abnormal amount of muscle for someone of Barry's years, but his head also became bigger in shape. I don't know about you, but I don't have alot of fat on the top of head. So even though my face might grow pudgy, the area where my hair grows on top of my head is just skull and skin. Barry's whole head changed in dimension as you can tell from the photos of him in his younger years and now. Well, now the controversy has moved to football with revelations that players with the Steelers in the 1970s took steroids. Looking at the history of steroids, you will note that steroids were developed in the 1930s. By the 1950s, scientists noted that it should improve athletic performances, and by the 1960s steroids were available on the market for athletes to use. It wasn't until 1991 that steroids were put of the list of items considered to be a controlled substance. Steroid use before 1991 might have been ill-advised or there might have been regulations on the use of steroids by sports, but they weren't illegal. The issue that I have with Barry Bonds is that he is using a substance that although not banned by baseball is an illegal substance to use in this country. Does this taint his record? I think it does because at this time in his life, his statistics should be dropping, not growing by leaps and bounds. Because of this, I can only assume that his records are not due to natural ability but to chemical enhancement. So how does this tie in with the Steelers? The question becomes do we shine as harsh a light on the 70s Steelers as we do on Barry Bonds? I think that I have to agree with Ron Cook that we can't be hypocrites and say that Bonds' record is tainted while the Steelers' is not. I think that the only comment I will make is that if everyone does it, then there is an equal opportunity to achieve. It does seem that in football in the 70s, steroids were rampant thoughout the league. When only one person does it, he/she has an unfair advantage. If you want to compare records across generations, you will just have to make a clear demarcation of the start of the steroid era, and have assume that records after that period are tainted with steroids.

Prince Rainier's condition has had a slight improvement and that is being attributed to the fact that he was given dialysis yesterday. The doctors are still not hopeful that Rainier will have a complete recovery, but he might receive more dialysis in the future. At least the treatment has stopped the deteorioration of his organs.

Sunday, March 27, 2005 -- Afternoon

It seems that Mario Vazquez may have signed a record deal with P. Diddy's record company, Bad Boy Records. So far, there is no confirmation or denial, just a comment from Diddy that he can't comment on the situation at this time. That sounds like a confirmation to me. We'll have to see what further developments there are in this area.

I finished reading Cat's Eyewitness by Rita Mae Brown, and I was underimpressed. It was definitely a subpar book, and not up to Rita Mae Brown's usual efforts. Read my review of the book.

A bishop in the Church of England said that Prince Charles should apologize to Camilla Parker Bowles' former husband, Andrew, for committing adultry with Parker Bowles' wife. Now the bishop didn't specify how the apology should be made, just that it should happen before the wedding on April 8. Who really knows if it hasn't already happened? Just because there hasn't been a public apology does not mean that an apology wasn't made in private. The other thing to keep in mind too, is that it isn't obvious to folks outside of a relationsip or marriage what the dynamics are from the inside. Mr. Parker Bowles may have been perfectly aware of what was going on, and accepted it.

Sunday, March 27, 2005 -- Late Morning

Prince Rainier's condition has stablized and his heart, kidneys, and lungs have stopped deteriorating in condition. He is said to be conscious but sedated because he is still on the respirator. That doesn't mean that he is on the way to recovery, but that for the moment the descent has been paused.

The new Dr. Who that was released yesterday on British television has gotten some good reviews. The question that I have is when and where will the series be released here in the US. PBS is usually good about bringing shows like this to our attention. BBC America has been somewhat good, but usually the same old shows are repeated over and over.

Saturday, March 26, 2005 -- Late Evening

It seems that others feel like I do. People prefer buying a DVD to going to see a movie. Over the past year, I don't think I have gone to see a single movie basically because the cost of going is so high. There aren't alot of movies out there that I would want to pay $9 per person to see. Throw in a snack and a drink, and it's close to $20. As I said, if it's a good movie, I would consider it, but there are so many movies out there that are just a waste of two hours. Who wouldn't want to stay in the comfort on their own home with a big screen television, nice sound system, food, drink, and the ability to pause or rewind when you want? The Incredibles DVD sold 5 million copies in its first day, making $100 million which more than a third of what it made the first weekend that it was released.

Saturday, March 26, 2005 -- Evening

World Expo 2005 opened in Japan yesterday, and folks there were greeted by a very life-like robot that is able to great visitors in four languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean and English). The expo will be running for six months, and has 63 different types of robots. There are cleaning robots, robots that play music in a band, and another robot that is capable of picking up a human. there will be a prototype robot expo from June 9 to 19 at the Expo. The Emperor of Japan attending the opening with his wife and son, the Crown Prince. Crown Princess Masako did not attend because she has been having alot of stress issues with her role and the demand to produce heirs.

It was a very exciting game, and West Virginia lead for most of it, even by 20 points at one time. At the end it was tied and went into overtime, and finally West Virginia lost to Louisville 93 to 85. I was getting very excited too because I thought that West Virginia would make it into the Final Four, but it was not to be. Ah well, the team did have a great tournament, and have nothing to be ashamed of.

26 years ago today Israel and Egypt shook hands on a peace treaty. It was a very historic moment. It lead to Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, it also lead to the assassination of Sadat in 1981 from an element in his own military who were unhappy over peace being made with the Israelis. However, inspite of that, the peace between the two countries has been maintained.

Saturday, March 26, 2005 -- Afternoon

Yesterday on my way to the library I saw an interesting object near the parking meters by the Schenley Park Bridge. It's rather interesting because I haven't seen anything like it elsewhere in the city. It's a box where you can punch in your parking space number, and then pay for your parking with either cash or credit card. The cost for parking there is one dollar an hour. The only thing that confuses me about this box and its neighbor across the street from it, is that the meters don't appear to have any numbers on them. There aren't any instructions on the box other than the ones that tell you to punch in your meter number and where to place your cash/credit card. I've looked around at the Pittsburgh Parking Authority web site, and can't find anything about the new meter/paying device. I'll keep an eye out for more information. I have to admit that I like the idea. I've been in situations where I needed to park at a meter and didn't have quarters, so it's nice to have something that will take coins, paper money, AND credit cards.

In a very exciting game, North Carolina won the game against Villanova. It was a close game and both were leading at different points throughout. It looked for awhile that Villanova would win, but North Carolina mananged to pull it out. The score was extremely close though, 67-66. There are only two games to be played today. The West Virginia game will be starting at 4:40 pm.

Friday, March 25, 2005 -- Evening

This evening has not been a good day for my bracket. Duke lost its game this evening to Michigan State. The final score was 78-68. That really sucks for me because I had Duke winning the overall championship. What is also bad is that my third final four team is losing. Yep, I also have North Carolina. Well, this has been a learning experience for my future brackets. No more will I pick all number one and number two seeds. Here are the other games from today.

Not for the first time, the students and fans of West Virginia set fires around Morgantown to celebrate the team's win last night. It seems that at least 50 bonfires were set, and the police were forced to use mace to control the crowds. It doesn't say alot for the school or fans that this happened. It happened before when the West Virginia football team beat Virginia Tech. I would be ashamed of myself if I were one of these "fans".

Some folks would have you believe that Mikalah Gordon was really not that bad as the voters would have you believe. According to the article from MSNBC, it's not that she was totally out of tune and sounded awful, it was because she didn't listen to Simon and sing the types of songs that Simon liked. According to the writer of the article, Mikalah had Barbra Streisand in her heart, and wanted to sing those songs even if they weren't suited for her voice. Well, the reason they weren't suited for her voice is because she is not able to sing those songs. I don't think that the voters were that strongly influenced by Simon. I think that they just were turned off by Mikalah's voice, and I think that Nadia Turner's hair style and look probably turned alot of fans off. That's the way fans are. They like you one way and hate you in another. I wasn't a big fan of Nadia's look, but I still thought that her voice and singing were good. It seems that 31.5 million folks voted this past Wednesday for their favorite idol.

The latest news about Prince Rainier's health is that it is worrying. Rainier's children are at his side, and the whole country is praying for him, but it does not look good at all.

Friday, March 25, 2005 -- Morning

Today is Purim. This is a festive holiday when kids dress up in costumes and get treats. I have a plate full of cookies to eat, especially Hamentaschen. This is the holiday of Esther who talked to the King of Persia to save her fellow Jews from the mechanations of Haman. Here are some recipes for Purim, especially Hamentaschen.

West Virginia won its game last night. The score was somewhat close: 65-60. So now West Virginia moves into the Elite Eight. Next up for the Mountaineers will be Louisville.

Thursday, March 24, 2005 -- Evening

Tonight was the belated ousting on American Idol. They played the second song that could possibly be used by the Red Cross as a fundraising song. This one was He Ain't Heavy, He's my Brother. I liked this one much better than the song they sang last week. It definitely sounded much better with no weak out of tune voices. The fans will get a chance next week to vote on the website on which song they like best after the third song is performed. One of the commercials was for a Ford, and it was quite cute. We came back to the eliminations. As usual, they dragged it out. They pulled out the bottom three. Surprising, Nadia Turner was in the bottom three along with Mikalah Gordon and Anthony Fedorov. It would have been hard to come up with a bottom three I guess because the only one who really stood out as bad was Mikalah. Believe it or not, Nadia was in the bottom two and of course, Mikalah joined her. Mikalah was voted off. I can't say that it was much of a shock because she really has been sucky for the past few weeks. Alot of the female contestants were crying. Boy, was it hard on the ears to hear her off tune again, but thank goodness that we won't have to hear her voice again.

The NCAA tournament continued this evening. The surprising news here was that Louisville beat Washington, but that's how I had it in my bracket. The final score was 93 for Louisville to 79 for Washington. West Virigina is going to play Texas Tech next, and I'll report the final score tomorrow. Here are all four of today's games.

The BBC has found how who leaked the first episode of the new Dr. Who and had the guy fired. They aren't giving details, but it was someone who worked with a third party company in Canada. I wonder if they just found a fall guy to take the pressure off the BBC while generating good publicity for the show which is airing this Saturday in the UK.

It seems that Prince Rainier is not doing well, and the folks of Monaco are expecting to hear of his death at any moment. considering that he has a lung infection with heart and kidney failure, I can understand their concern. Also, it doesn't help that Rainier is 81. Rainier did alot for the country and took it from being a seedy, gambling location into a hot spot for tourism and finance.

It seems that David Beckham is rethinking whether he wants to stay in Madrid. As he says, his children are being stalked by paparazzi, and it is frightening for both them and him. However, I think that there is more to it. I'm not sure that he was ever really happy playing with Real Madrid, and he has not been doing well since he joined the team. I think that he may return to England, where he speaks some semblance of the language, and perhaps retire from soccer. He has been plagued by injuries of late, and is probably considering all his options, including those outside of professional soccer.

Paleontologists have found some T-Rex tissue. It seems that they found a fossil in Montana in an area where they find alot of fossils. Well, they found a thighbone. If you have ever seen a T-Rex in a museum (not everyone may be as lucky as we are here in Pittsburgh with the Carnegie Musuem's dinosaur display), you will know that the dinosaur is huge. Well, they couldn't fit the thighbone into the helicopter that they had, so they had to break the thighbone to get it in. That's how they discovered the tissue. What a bit of luck! They are hoping to be able to learn some things about dinosaurs from the find, such as whether or not they were warm blooded.

The NHL has cancelled the draft that was to be held this coming June. I wonder if things will be resolved before we wind up losing another season of hockey. I am not feeling very hopeful, and to tell the truth, I think that I am starting to lose interest in wanting the NHL to come back. I think that they need to find some replacement league.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005 -- Evening

The re-do of the American Idol show is now on, so I will comment on the four contestants that I missed yesterday. First up was Anthony Fedorov singing I Knew. It was not bad, but there were some notes that just weren't hit quite right. Paula and Randy were postive, but Simon wasn't as impressed. Simon thought it was a very ordinary performance. Second up was Carrie Underwood singing Alone by Heart. Simon thought that Carrie would outsell any American Idol participant. I have to admit that it was a very good rendition of the song. She had a very nice, strong voice on the song. Third was Scott Savol with Against All Odds. Scott really got into the song, throwing off his hat and glasses. He had a very nice voice, and did a very good job with the song. He looks frumpy with those gangsta clothes. Randy and Paula really liked the performance, but Simon again was not impressed with it. As Simon says, he tries to put his comments in the real world instead of the La-La Land. Last up of the ones that I missed was Bo Bice singing Time in a Bottle, one of my favorite songs. He sang the song with only a solo guitar and a few light strings. It was a departure for him because it's a slow song and not really a rock type song. He does have a nice voice, but he should stick to rock. Paula and Simon liked it, but Randy wasn't as impressed yesterday, but he said tonight that it was a very sensitive performance. Bo says that Jim Croce is his all time favorite performer. I have to say that I agree too. I saw the other performances yesterday and have more details on them in yesterday's section. Randy thought that Nikko Smith's performance was the best of the evening. It's really ironic because Nikko was voted off (wrongly in my opinion) two weeks ago. Randy and simon thought that Vonzell Solomon was the most improved singer. Constantine Maroulis really did sound like a rough David Cassidy. I really liked it and thought that it was a very good job. Looking at it again, I really did not like Nadia Turner's mohawk. It just really didn't suit her. I know she was going for the Cindy Lauper type look, but it's not here. The song was good though. Simon thought that she lost her edge with that performance, and said he thought it was worse seeing it a second time. Mikalah Gordon was really awful the second time around. It was like regurgating bad food. It sucked going down, but words can't describe how awful it is coming back up. As Simon said, it wasn't the song, it was what came out of Mikalah's mouth, namely her voice. Mikalah says she is learning and is supposed to be learning and making mistakes. I did love her shirt. It said "My Job is to Annoy You", and that does describe Mikalah. I still liked Anwar Robinson's performance. I think he really turned a corner with this performance. As Anwar said, he had a great time performing. Randy said Anwar should not be singing a Chaka Khan song, and Anwar gave him a good answer back that you have to do things like that sometimes. Last was Jessica Sierra and I still liked her performance too. Simon still thinks Jessica has one of the strongest voices in the competition. I am sticking by my choice of Mikalah to be dropped. If she is still on the show next week, I will be extremely disappointed. She needs to go!

It seems there was a screwup with the phone numbers that were given for three of the American Idol. Two phone numbers appeared on the screen. The top number was the 1-866-IDOLS number with the specific number for the singer. The bottom number had IDOL spelled out, and gave the wrong second number. So instead of having number 09, Mikalah Gordon had 01. Because Fox doesn't want anyone to complain about an unfair advantage, the show is being rebroadcast tonight at 9 pm EST. That does give me a chance to catch the first four singers that I missed last night. I still think Mikalah Gordon will get the fewest votes because she was next to last last week, and really gave a subpar performance this week.

Prince Rainier is on a respirator, but is said to be in stable condition. His problem is being described as a lung infection that suddenly became seriously worse. It seems that he has been in the hospital for the past two weeks being treated for the infection. His weak heart and kidney problems lead to his move to the intensive care unit.

Camilla is saying that she will not accept the title of Queen when Charles becomes King, and will instead take the title of Princess Consort. It seems that both she and Charles are very aware how the citizens of the country feel about Camilla being Queen. Since it will hopefully be a long time before Charles becomes King, we won't know what will really transpire.

It's very difficult to see planets in other solar systems. Because planets only reflect light and don't generate it, it makes it very difficult to see them, especially since they orbit something that gives off light. Try it yourself. In a dark room, turn on a single light, and from a distance try to see what's around that light. Not that easy is it? Well, it seems that for the first time, astronomers were able to detect two planets from heat emission. It seems that the planets are gas giants and are around different stars. They found the planets by using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Ben Roethlisberger has been hard at work studying and working out for the next season. It seems that this is the earliest that a quarterback has ever shown up for off season training. This is very promising. It's giving me some high hopes for Roethlisberger having a good season.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005 -- Morning

Poor Barry Bonds! The poor guy had knee surgery and might not play for the rest of the season. So what does he do? He blasts the news media for bringing him down. He was saying that the media wanted to bring him down, and they got what they wanted. Another comment was that the media wanted him to jump off the bridge, and now they have their wish. I don't know what the heck this has to do with him not playing. Excuse me, but I thought he wasn't playing because of knee surgery. I didn't realize it was because of the media and the steroid controversy. Hmmm. Maybe there is something that I don't know. Maybe someone from the media whacked him in the knee.

Vladimir Putin is going to making a trip to Israel. It will be the first visit from a Russian or Soviet leader to Israel, and will happen in late April.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005 -- Evening

Another American Idol competition was on this evening. I was not at home then, but thank goodness for DVRs. There was a screwup with the recording schedule, but fortunately, we never turn off the DVR, and we were able to catch the last half of the show by rewinding. They were singing number one hits. So I started watching with Nikko Smith. I think that he did a good job with his song, Incomplete, and he was dressed very stylishly. It's funny because he was quite good, and he was voted off the show. Randy and Paula loved him. Even Simon thought it was Nikko's best performance. Paula was so overcome by Simon's comments that she started kissing him. It was quite funny. It seems Nikko was the fifth singer, so I only missed the first four. Next up was Vonzell Solomon singing Best of My Love. Vonzell did a really good job. She really gave the song her all, and had every body grooving to the song. Randy and Paula again really liked it, and said that the performance and voice were great. Simon said that for the first time in this competition people were going to remember Vonzell. It seems that everyone has been doing a good job this evening. Constantine Maroulis was next, and he sang I Think I Love You. He really had a very good David Cassidy voice going with this. I never noticed how he had a raspy David Cassidy sound before. He also did a really good job. It was definitely a high energy version of the song. Paula loved it and thought he had a good girl fan base. Simon said it was like ordering a guard dog for your house and getting a poodle in a leather jacket. Next up was Nadia Turner. She sang Time After Time. Nadia had this really extreme mohawk in her hair. She started the song out very slowly, and then just started really rocking with it. I really do like Nadia. I love her look. She is a real showman, and has a very nice voice, and a seductive look. Randy said that she definitely is a star on the stage all the time. Paula said she looked like a rocker and really rocked the audience. Simon thought it was over the top, and that it was like a cabaret on a cruise ship. Leave it to Simon. He has a way with the put down and the complement. Next came Mikalah Gordon. She sang Love Will Lead you Back. Her voice was very squeaky and off key, at least in my opinion. As far as I could tell, it was one of the worst performances that I ever saw. She really did a poor job. Randy commented that the performance was pitchy. Paula didn't seem very positive. Simon said that he was going to say what Paula wanted to say, that it was a complete and utter mess. Only two performers were left. Next was Anwar Robinson singing Ain't Nobody. He seemed really loose, and did a good job with the song. He really seemed to get into it, and it was very nice to see him singing something modern and hip. This sure wasn't Moon River (another song that he sang a few weeks ago). he has a great voice, and gave a very good performance this evening. Randy said it was a very stylized choice, and thought it was only all right. Paula thought he did an incredible job. Simon said it was a risky thing to do, and thought that it was inconsistent. I didn't think it was that bad, and I really liked it. Last up was Jessica Sierra. She sang Total Eclipse of the Heart. She did a very nice job, and I think that she handled the song very well. Randy thought she did a great job, and Paula said it was a brilliant performance. Simon said that Jessica and Carrie outsang every other person in the competition tonight. I saw snippets of the first four performances, and it looks like they all did a good job. I would have to say that the one person who really stood out with a lousy performance was Mikalah Gordon. It she does not get voted off tomorrow, I will be in real shock because she really doesn't belong in this group.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005 -- Afternoon

The album that Mario Vazquez recorded with Cesar called World of change has been doing well at Amazon. Mario recorded a few vocal tracks on the album, and word has it that the record company may repackage it to list Mario's name on it. If you go to the album's page on Amazon, there is a download link for two songs that Mario sings, Soldier of Glory and Get up and Dance. He does have a Michael Jackson type of voice. I wasn't able to download Get up and Dance because I think the server was getting alot of hits for this song, but Soldier of Glory was okay. I like music that's abit peppier.

Prince Rainier of Monaco has been admitted to the intensive care unit. He has been having health problems for the past few years that have been of varying degrees of seriousness. It is not looking good now. If something happens to Rainier, he will be succeeded by Prince Albert.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005 -- Morning

Believe it or not--25% of the hacked computers in the world come from Britain. It seems that the problem in Britain is being tied to the number of folks who have gotten broadband and to user ignorance. According to Symantec, the US is second with 24.6% and China is third with 7.8%. The US, however, leads with the number of computers that are launching attacks. Which I suppose means that we have more hackers than Britain. How did I come up with that statement? Well, if 24.6% of our computers are hacked and acting as robot machines, they are probably initiating hacks on other computers. Then when you add in the hackers, we wind up with the high number of hacking machines. Now Germany may have the most hackers, but the individual users in the country are smarter and don't have their computers compromised. So both numbers add up to make us the country that initiates the most hack attempts.

The next time you go to Rome, remember to take along Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. It seems that fans are flocking to Rome and retracing the steps of Robert Langdon around Rome. If you haven't read the book yet, you should give it a try. It is a non-stop thriller. Once you start reading, you'll find it difficult to put down. The only problem is that you will want more, and Dan Brown doesn't have that many books published.

Monday, March 21, 2005 -- Evening

Interested in science? Would you like to know what is going on at NASA? Well, if you have an iPod or other mp3 player, you could download podcasts of NASA news stories. If you don't have an iPod, you can download the NASA channel on your Palm with Avantgo.

New controversy with Prince Charles' wedding. The news has been that when Charles becomes King that Camilla will be Princess Consort. Well, now it appears that legislation will be needed to prevent Camilla from becoming queen. It seems that since the marriage will not be a morganatic one that Camilla would become a Queen. It seems that morganatic marriages aren't recognized in England. Originally they started in Germany, and were meant to be ways for someone of a higher class, like royalty and nobility, to marry someone of a lesser rank. The marriage would be legitimate, but no titles would pass from the husband to the wife or any children of the marriage.

Sunday, March 20, 2005 -- Late Evening

Jamie Dixon would have us believe that Pitt did not have a very bad season. In fact, he would have us believe that the team was improving by the time they lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. As Dixon said in a press conference after Pitt lost on Thursday, Pitt had a great year and was improving steadily. Anyone who actually watched the season would know that's not the case. Pitt lost the last five of its seven games! In fact, Dixon has an interest in trying to pull some sleight of hand to influence our thinking because ultimately, he bears a lion's share of the responsibility for the team not performing up to snuff. The coach is the person who is responsible for coming up with plays for the team, for coming up with a working lineup, and for inspiring the players to give their best and when the players do not to do something about it. Well, poor Jamie can pout as much as he wants. Hopefully he will pout all the way to the unemployment line.

Sunday, March 20, 2005 -- Evening

What in the world is going on in the NCAA tournament this year? It has been one of the most exciting and surprising weekends. Right now, a very exciting game is going on with Duke and Mississippi State. The only thing that I noteiced in the last two minutes of the game was that there were some surprising moves made that looked like blatant fouls to me that weren't called. In my opinion, I have been seeing alot of rugby scrums in the middle of these basketball games. When I play like that with my friends, they keep on taking the ball from me claiming that I am not playing fair. Usually I have been cheering on the underdogs, but I with Duke I was cheering them on because I have them winning the championship in my bracket. In the end, Duke managed to pull it off with a fine score of 63-55.

I am scoring my bracket in the following way. I give two points for each 1st round win, four points for each Sweet Sixteen member, six points for each Elite Eight member, eight points for each final four member, ten points for each correct Championship Game member and fifteen points for the correct National Championship pick. So far, I had 25 correct picks in the 1st round for 50 points and nine of the Sweet Sixteen picks for another 36 points. That leaves me with 86 points for the tournament so far. Fortunately, I still have three of my teams in the final four, so there is still hope for more points in the future. My poor boyfriend only has Illinois left in the final four, and he has them losing to Wake Forest.

Sunday, March 20, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

UConn lost to NC State in a close game that almost went into overtime. The final score was 65-62. So far, the other games are going pretty well for my bracket. I picked Villanova, and they are leading in their game and just won it.

Sunday, March 20, 2005 -- Afternoon

Although it screwed up my bracket, it was a very exciting game that West Virginia won yesterday. The game went into double overtime, and was a big upset over Wake Forest. I knew deep in my heart that I probably should have had West Virginia beating Wake Forest in the bracket because they were hot at the end of the season, but I just didn't think they had it in them to take on such a big team. Obviously I was wrong. I have to admit that even though it was going to screw me up because I had Wake Forest as a final four team, I started to cheer on West Virginia because there is nothing as exciting as a giant killer--especially when it is a local team. Now the question is "will the upsets continue today?"

Right now, NC State (seeded 10) is giving UConn (seeded 2) a run for its money. Check out the games for today.

Saturday, March 19, 2005 -- Late Evening

Prince Charles' wedding blessing will be televised live. This is the blessing that will be held after the civil ceremony in the registrar's office. The blessing will be in St. George's Chapel in Windsor. I am not sure how the situation of charles marrying Camilla will play out when the Queen dies. I would imagine since longevity is on her side, both with a mother who lived until 102 and Queen Victoria on her paternal side living until 82 (which was old for 1901) that it won't be something to be considered for another 20 years. By that time, Charles may be in his late 70s, and it might be deemed appropriate for him to abdicate in favor of William. Now, I'm not so sure how likely it is that Charles would do something like that because he has denied the possibility of abdication in the past. It would make sense though to pass the reins to William who will by that time be in his 40s instead of having an elderly monarch for an extended period of time (elderly Elizabeth followed by elderly Charles). Here are the locations for the wedding and honeymoon.

Saturday, March 19, 2005 -- Evening

So far, the NCAA games today have not been going well for the higher seeded teams. Both Gonzaga and Oklahoma lost, and Boston College is in trouble. This has not been a good year for my selections, and I wonder how others are doing. So far, I'm doing better than my boyfriend because I still have my final four teams in the games, but it's not looking good. It seems that all the lower seeds want to prove something.

There is a move afoot to merge the city of Pittsburgh with Allegheny County. What this would do is elimate some row offices that duplicate efforts and hopefully save the city and county some money. If this proposal is actually undertaken, the population for Metro Pittsburgh would be 1.27 million people and would become the 7th largest city in the United States. There have already been some consolidations such as moving the city's 911 call center to the location for the county 911 center. Also, the Pittsburgh Magistrates Court was eliminated and made part of the Common Pleas Court system. The city has a major problem. The downtown area has no business in the evenings or on the weekends, and there have been plenty of talks of ways to rebuild the business distrrict. I can tell them what the problem is. No one lives downtown, and when 5 pm rolls around, folks want to go home to be with their families. To stay in the downtown area is not really feasible because public transportation is at a bare minimum, and parking fees are horrendous. The downtown area is like a ghost town by 6 pm, and that increases the unease that folks feel because it isn't a very safe feeling. So what needs to be done is to lower parking fees, and try to get some folks living downtown to make start to make it a place that folks would want to be in after 5 pm, and during the weekends.

Friday, March 18, 2005 -- Evening

Syracuse lost to Vermont this evening. It was quite an upset because Syracuse was the Big East champion and was seeded number 4. So it was surprising that Vermont won. They were seeded 13. The game was a close one throughout, and went into overtime. The final score was 60 tp 57. It isn't great for my bracket because I have Syracuse going up against Duke in the Sweet Sixteen. Fortunately, Duke won its match tonight, although that was close at times too. Here are all the scores for today.

Friday, March 18, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

I was just reading the recent issue of Newsweek, and I was abit annoyed with an opinion piece article on blogging. Basically the geist of the article is that women and minorities are under represented in the world of blogging. The question is why is this an area dominated by white men. The answer of course is that computers for some time have been the realm of white men. Why? Probably originally because the cost of computers made it possible for computers to be in homes of folks who had more disposable cash. Why it continues to be the case may have something to do with the interests that folks have. What disturbs me are the comments that the number of bloggers or the number of people represented in tradional media opinion/editorial pages should be more representative of the percentages of the population. What if we can't find opinion pieces for the op/ed page that will lead to 51% representation by women. Do we publish pieces that are of lower literary quality to allow for the representation? What if we have some well writen opinions by men that would make up more than 49% of the opinion pieces? Do we not publish those pieces to publish something of less quality just so we can have a fair distribution? It's a slippery slope to put quotas on the numbers of people who can express opinions. What if more women than men want to contribute opinions either by blogs or opinion pieces? Does that mean that we have to cut them off at 51% representation because that's the percentage of women in the population? We should not judge whether someone expresses an opinion or becomes a published author based on race or sex. Can you imagine the chaos in the news room? We have to have x% of men, %y of women, and then have the breakdowns in race and religion. And if we can't find a qualified person for the position, just throw anyone. Who cares about quality as long as we have equal representation! That's why the judgement should be based solely on the quality of the writing. Now if women and minorities are not represented in a number that is deemed appropriate--usually the decision is made based on representation in the population, then the question should be asked why that is the case. The assumption should not be that the minorities or women are somehow being discriminated against or somehow prevented from participating in an activity. As a female who has been in computer related fields for some years, I have not experienced any sort of discrimination which has prevented me from having a job or having a web site. With implementations of quotas being the norm for some years, I think that the problem is less one of discrimination and more of differences in interests that is more deep rooted. The problem that I see is in forcing people to have certain interests. We should allow all people to do what they want, and accept that they may at times want to have what is considered a traditional role.

Friday, March 18, 2005 -- Afternoon

For those of us who are not large chested, help is on the way. Chewing gum with extracts from a plant called "Pueraria mirifica" is very popular in Japan, and is said to enhance breast size. A university in Thailand found that using Pueraria mirifica could have an effect on breast size by 80%. The gum is being sold in Japan with the name of Bust-Up. It would be interesting to try.

Spring will be sprung this coming Sunday. The problem is that usually we associate spring with March 21, not the 20th. If you are wondering why the date changed, the reasons are that the calendar year isn't an even number of days, the Earth's elliptical orbit is changing the its orientation to the Sun, and the pull of gravity of other planets is effecting our location in our orbit. Also, the seasons themselves are not an even number of days. The longest season is summer with 93.651 days, spring is next wtih 92.758, autumn is third with 89.842 and winter is last with 88.994 days. It's funny how winter always seems to be the longest while summer always seems to be so short. I suppose it is all relative to how you much you like or dislike the season.

Friday, March 18, 2005 -- Early Afternoon

The NHL has made two more proposals to the players. One of the deals had a tie between the revenues that the league makes and the cost of the players and the other didn't. The one that did allowed for the cap to be negotiated up depending on profits. So far, the players are showing much interest in the proposals because the offers aren't as good as the ones that were made previously. The cap with this offer is $37.5 million instead of the $42.5 million offered in February.

According to a paper to be released in Science this week, the warming of our planet is at a point of no return. According to the model that the scientists used who wrote this article, even if the greenhouse gases that we emit had been stablized in 2000, we would not be able to stop global warming. That means without any adding any more of those pesky greenhouse gases, we would experience a half degree Celsius increase in temperature, and to have the global sea levels rise 4 inches by 2100. The question that I have is how do we know for sure that the models these folks use is right, and how do we know if there is anything we can do to reverse the process. As they state here, they don't think that we can. Based on my own experience with scientific models that I used in my engineering classes, I know that they tend to be closed models. That means that there are certain elements that you consider and no others. The problem with that is that the world is not a closed model, but an open model. That means there are more factors than we can imagine that might play a role that we would have difficulty in presenting in a model, basically because we don't even know what they might be. In order to get any results at all in a timely fashion, you have to resort to the closed model. I'm not saying that the research can't be done, just that we should take some of it with a grain of salt.

I found an interesting science article on the 13 things that don't make sense. The first item is the placebo effect because it really doesn't make sense to scientists how the human body will react to a placebo in the exact same way that it would if given a drug. In fact at times, when blind tests are done on drugs with A being the drug and B being a placebo, patients will have similar reactions with both positive effects from the drug and side effects. It does go to show that the brain is much more complex that we are capable of understanding at this point. Another interesting item is the drop off after the Kuiper Belt--called the Kuiper cliff. Scientists believe that the sharp drop off in amount of rocks in this area imply that there is a planet the size of Earth or Mars in the area. We just can't locate it if it is there. The question is why not look in the area with Hubble. Well, I looked around and Hubble does look at our solar system. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack though to find it when you don't know where it is.

Friday, March 18, 2005 -- After Midnight

Plaxico Burress signed with the NY Giants. It seems he has a 6 year, $25 million deal with an $8 million signing bonus. It's supposedly not what he initially wanted, but I think he realized he had to settle for what he could get.

My bracket is doing okay so far after the first day of the tournament. So far, all of my teams made it except for three. West Virginia managed to ike one out over Creighton. Also, Texas Tech beat UCLA, and UAB slaughtered LSU. Now that final game was abit of an upset and lopsided with a final score of 82 for UAB to 68 for LSU.

Thursday, March 17, 2005 -- Afternoon

Pitt lost the opening game in the NCAA tournament. This is really bad for the team. It's what I expected from them given their level of play this year, but I know that tons of folks here in Pittsburgh are going to be quite shocked that the team is out this quickly. It's really going to look bad for Jamie Dixon too because this is only his second year with Pitt, and instead of keeping the team competitive or making them better, they just wound up getting worse. Next year does not bode well for the team either because the few stars will be gone.

So far, I have one of my teams out of the bracket. Alabama lost to Wisc. Milwaukee with a score of 83-73.

Cassini has found an atmosphere on another moon orbiting Saturn. The diameter of Enceladus is only 310 miles, and its gravity is too weak to hold on to the atmosphere so gases are constantly escaping. However, because there is still something around the planet, it implies that the atmosphere must be getting replenished somehow, perhaps from volcanic activity.

Fox has announced that it has a new marketing plan for boxed DVD sets of its TV shows. Basically the plan will be to release two shows on a single DVD starter kit that would sell for less than $10. If you like the show, and want to buy the complete set, you can do so with a $10 coupon inside the box for the single set. I suppose that this is a good idea to sell the very expensive boxed set. The only thing that I have to say is that you wind up with two of the shows twice, and the overall cost of the boxed sets is still too high. What I think would have been a much better deal would have been to drop the cost of the boxed sets to something more reasonable. Instead of retailing for close to $60 perhaps they should drop the cost so with a discount, it might be possible to buy a season of a television show for $30. After all, I think that the DVD sets are pure profit for the company because the shows were basically paid for with advertiser dollars at inception. When you throw in syndication fees and the fees from the DVD sells, they can rake in a pretty penny. I think in the long run, they will sell more DVDs and make more money if they drop the overall cost of the boxed sets.

Thursday, March 17, 2005 -- Early Afternoon

News is out on the Mario Vazquez incident. It appears that Mario hired Clay Aiken's lawyer, Jess L. Rosen to represent him. The story has it that Mario already worked on a flamenco album where he did some vocals, and that album may be re-released in Mario's name some time soon. Contestants for American Idol are not supposed to have records deals, so it might be interesting to see how this forthcoming album is intrepreted.

Half time at the Pitt game, and Pacific is leading 45-30. Now there is still the second half, and goodness knows what will happen. The only comment I have to make at this point is that all the comments that the Pitt players have been making about not being respected are sounding uncalled for. Pitt is playing at its usual inconsistence, and is having problems with turning over balls. It is looking good for my bracket so far because I have Pitt out in the first round. Now as for the other games, goodness knows what will happen! I don't think I will have the best score, but it's fun to see how things turn out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 -- Evening

The vote was in tonight on American Idol. I really couldn't think of one person that I wanted to get rid of because so many of them were subpar yesterday. I guess if I had to make a choice, I would have chosen Anwar Robinson because his performance was so boring. It seems that they will be releasing a group song with the final 12 contestants that will benefit the American Red Cross. Three songs will be sung by the group, and the audience will get to choose which one is releaseed. Gosh, they did the first song Tell me that You Love Me and the individual voices sounded so incredibly bad. It's amazing how many of them individually sounded weak in the song. At least when they sang together the bad voices got drowned out or at least blended into the whole. I know these guys are supposed to be good singers, but it's hard to hear at times. There should be more information about the three song competition next week. They had the three lowest score getters sweat it out. Those three were Lindsey Cardinale, Mikalah Gordon, and Jessica Sierra. In my opinion, Jessica was the best of these three. Lindsey Cardinale had the lowest number of votes and was out. They dragged out the experience far too long. They kept on throwing commercial breaks in at the end, and that was quite annoying.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

It seems that the BBC may have leaked the new episode of Dr. Who on the Internet on purpose. It seems that folks at the BBC may have been given the idea from folks who support viral advertising. So the BBC releases the episode while denying they have done so. The episode being on the Internet creates alot of buzz which stokes interest in watching the show when it comes out on March 26.

The University of Central Florida's Institute of Diversity and Ethics released statistics on the number of athletes who are graduated from the Universities that participated in the NCAA tournment for 2005. It is amazing that 42 of the 65 teams graduated less than 50 percent of the basketball athletes. So I looked for the stats because I wanted to know how Pitt fared, and I was absolutely shocked! Pitt only graduated a total of 15% of the students. That is absolutely disgraceful!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 -- Afternoon

A report has been released in the Geophysical Research Letters that questions the validity and mathematical technique used to create the hockey stick diagram that shows abrupt global warming over the past 1000 years that is supposed to be related to human activity. It seems that the report states that a method was chosen to look for data that would result in the hockey stick shape and use that data so that the dominant pattern would result in a hockey stick. Of course, scientists supporting the hockey stick model say that it is only a tecnical issue and that other data would show the same result. The question is who do you believe? There is a problem when you have bias in science because you are not getting the truth but someone's version of the truth. Unfortunately, that appears to be what is going on here.

It seems that some NFL owners tend to get the raw end of the deal in treatment from agents of players, and supposedly, the Giants had enough with the recent Plaxico Burress dealings, and told Burress' agent to take a hike. It seemed that it really got the Giants' goat that Burress didn't show up for one meeting and showed up late for a second. To top it off, Burress wanted to not give serious consideration to negotiations until he heard more from the Vikings. The article gives a very nice illustration of how free agents and their representatives do business.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 -- Early Afternoon

I finally have my NCAA bracket ready. If you look at my bracket, you should be aware that the selections on the bracket were in no way influenced by any sort of research. Basically, I did what I did last year, and just picked names of the teams that I liked or felt for some reason might win. Last year my boyfriend made fun of my bracket until I wound up with three of the final four. I am not expecting anything like that this year because I won't have any beginner's luck. However, I think that having a bracket just makes watching the games more fun because it gives you a vested interest in the games. Anyway, here is a link to a jpg of my scanned bracket. The only thing to really note I think is that I don't have Pitt winning any game. I debated the issue for some time because I think that Pitt is very inconsistent, but I know that if they can pull it together they should be able to beat Pacific. At the same time, they should have won at least one of the Big East tournament games too. What really decided me is the travel woes that the team experienced yesterday. They didn't get into Boise until very early this morning, and missed a practice yesterday. So I think they might not be as fresh for a 10:40 am Boise time start.

The Pitt team has not been happy with their seeding in the NCAA Tournament, but there have been comments from the players about the fact that the team doesn't get any respect. Bob Smizik has some comments to make about that, and about how the team should be happy for its opportunities and how some awards like the Big East All-Star team nominations were signs of respect. Pitt would have gotten a better seed if their play was more consistent and if the non-conference schedule was not as weak as it was.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005 -- Evening

This evening was the first competition for the 12 American Idol contestants. A brief comment was made that Mario Vazquez quit for personal reasons. Then the competition started. Tonight was a theme night, and everyone was told they could sing whatever they wanted as long as it came from the 1960s. First up was Jessica Sierra. She sang Shop Around by Smokey Robinson. I thought that she gave a great performance. Considering she has been doing country type songs in the past, I thought she ave a nice soulful and throaty version of the song. I think that Jessica really gets into her songs. Randy and Simon didn't think that she did that great of a job, although Paula thought that she did a really great job. I have to agree with Paula on this one. Up next was Anwar Robinson He sang A House is not a Home. His voice sounded weak and shaky to me, and I have to admit that I lost interest in his performance before it was even half way through. That was very telling because the one comment that Simon made was that although Anwar has a fantastic voice, he has to be careful to not become known as a boring performer. Randy and Paula also expected more from Anwar than he provided. Mikalah Gordon was next, and she was back to peppy performer with Son of a Preacher Man. Her voice left something to be desired, and was at times on the weak side. The only comment that Randy would make was that "that was rough". Paula said it wasn't her favorite performance, and Simon said Mikalah's confidence is stronger than her performance. Fortunately, after that constantine Maroulis was up, and he sang You Made me so Very Happy. He actually did a very nice job of the song, and I was worried that it might go bad when I heard the title. Randy said it was constantine's best performance to date, and Simon said that it was "smouldering" night for constantine. It was back to bad though after that. Next up was Lindsey Cardinale. She sang Knock on Wood. I thought it was a very weak performance, and at times the band sounded like it was drowning her out. The judges also thought that she did a bad job today, and Paula asked how Lindsey thought she did. Simon just came right out and spoke his mind and said that he thought folks around the country were simultaneously turning down their tv sets. After Lindsey came Anthony Fedorov. He sang Breaking up is Hard to Do. I think it was a poor choice for him because he didn't get emotionally into the song, and his voice was not very good at all. Randy said that it was Anthony's worst job to date, and even Paula agreed with that one. Simon said that it was akin to someone singing at an office Christmas party and not doing it well. I have to admit that up to this point, I was really disappointed in the performances and thinking that I could do as well as some of these people. Well, actually, I think that I could have done better. Anyway, then Nadia Turner came on, and did a great job of singing You Don't have to Say you Love Me. She did a fabulous job playing to the audience and camera. Her voice was great, and she gave a really good performance. The judges were equally happy. Randy commented that the show was finally starting. I have to admit that Simon's comment was my favorite. He said, "in a competition full of hamburgers, you are a steak." It was very well put. Then came the second great performance. Of course it was Bo Bice. He sang Spinning Wheel. It was an outstanding performance. Bo has one of those great rock voice and gave a great rock performance. He even jumped into the audience and walked around. Randy commented that Bo is fearless and knows the way to get it done. Paula said that Bo was already a superstar. Simon even commented that Bo looks like he has been doing this sort of thing for 20 years. I have to admit that is just the thing. Bo looks like the sole professional amongst a slew of amateurs. Next up was one of my least favorite singers Vonzell Solomon. I don't know why I don't like her style so much. This time she sang Anyone who Had a Heart. I couldn't make out most of what she said because her voice was drowned out at times, and she didn't enunciate very clearly. Randy said that it was an ambitious choice while Paula said that she loved it, and thought it showed Vonzelle's beautiful showmanship. I have to say that I don't see it. Simon said that Vonzelle has this thing of staying in the middle, and needs to come out of that. Next was Scott Savol. He did a very nice job of singing Ain't too Proud to Beg. He also walked into the audience, and seemed very at ease. Scott has this very nice, smokey, bluesy voice. Randy said that he enjoyed the performance, and so did Paula. Surprises of surprises, even Simon agreed that it was a good job. The final two performed with Carrie Underwood up first singing When will I be Loved. Her voice seemed abit off too me--a bit on the squeaky side. Randy said that her voice hasn't been showing up lately, and Paula said that the performance was safe and boring. Simon, however, was the only positive saying that Carrie is one of the three performers who knows who they are musically. Last was Nikko Smith sang I Want You Back He did a nice job, and sounded like a young Michael Jackson. Randy said that he was glad to have him back, and Paula said that it was a good job. Simon said that he thought Nikko sounded horrible. I have to admit that this was for the most part a pitiful show with only a few stand-outs.

My boyfriend and I are on vacation this week. It was one of those "use the days or lose them". The weather here isn't necessarily the best for a vacation, but it isn't snowing. I can handle the cold. This afternoon we went to The Cafe at Frick. This is the location of Henry Clay Frick's home in Pittsburgh, and is known by the name of Clayton. There is only an admission fee to tour the house, and the furnishings in the house are changed seasonally. On the grounds of the house, there is a greenhouse, art museum, and car garage. It's especially nice to go to Clayton when the weather is warmer because you can walk around the grounds. The car garage is very nice, and usually has a selection of around 20 antique cars. However, my favorite thing to do at Clayton is to go to the Cafe and have the afternoon tea. It is a typical British tea with sandwiches, scones and cakes. The cost of it is abit steep. One tea costs $16 and provides you with one individual pot of tea (they do refill it with hot water), four small tea sandwiches, two small scones and three to four small samplings of cake. Now this doesn't sound like much, but it is filling for one person. Usually I get one tea just for myself. The offerings in the restaurant also chance on a seasonal basis. For the tea today, the sandwich selections were chicken curry, egg salad, a slice of bread with mustard, carmelized onion and mushroom, and Irish soda bread with a dollop of cream. The chicken curry sandwich is heaven. The restaurant will provide you with a recipe for the curry if you ask for it. One of these days I'll have to try and see if I can make it at home. The scones today were currant scones, and they are served with Devonshire cream and jam. The scones today were warm from the oven and gloriously soft inside. They are the best scones that I have had in a restaurant/coffee shop setting. For the desserts today, there was a small sample of lemon cheese cake with a cream icing, key lime tart, and chocolate flourless cake. The cakes come with a huge helping of homemade whipped cream. I had the peppermint tea to wash it all down while my boyfriend had the Frick houseblend tea, which he says is very tasty. The ambience at the Cafe is very nice. It is small with seating for maybe 20 to 25 people. The dining area is surrounded by windows so you can look out at the grounds. In warmer weather, there are tables outside, and that is truly relaxing. One of these days, we would like to try something else from the menu, but I can't bring myself to have anything other than the tea if it is being offered (from 2:30 pm until 5:00 pm). Even though it is expensive, it is well worth the treat--just not on a regular basis.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005 -- Early Afternoon

TiVo has joined forces with Comcast, and will be offering a customized version of its service for Comcast subscribers. The offering should be available in most of Comcast's markets by mid 2006. It seems that if you have Comcast you will get the option to select the TiVo service, and will have access to the TiVo wish list that recommends programs for you, or records shows based on previous things that you have recorded. This announcement has boosted TiVo's stock. It will definitely be something to look forward to. The way the current Comcast DVR works is getting more like TiVo then when it started, and it would be nice to have the wish list option.

Monday, March 14, 2005 -- Early Evening

The Mario Vazquez story just keeps on heating up. There are a variety of stories out there, both official and unofficial. According to Mario, he quit for personal reasons that had to do with his family. There were rumors that he was really quitting for other reasons. One of those mentioned was that Mario quit because of rumors he was gay. Now there is another story that is that Mario didn't want to sign a management contract with the show's producers as everyone who is part of the show is required to do.

Plaxico Burress is now supposed to be interested in the Miami Dolphins according to his new agent. I think that Burress is interested in any team that will be willing to pay him. It also seems that the Giants may be interested in Burress again because of his agent change. I guess the Giants are thinking that the new agent might be more agreeable to a reasonable salary. The one thing that local sportscasters have been saying is that Burress may have to accept a one year deal.

Monday, March 14, 2005 -- Afternoon

The rumor is that Mario Vazquez quit American Idol. The story has it that there were comments being made about him being gay on some of the fan blogs that put undue pressure on him. The reason that he gave for quitting was "personal reasons". The interesting thing is that they brought back Nikko Smith. This is really surprising news because I thought that Mario would go far in the competition.

It seems that the Pitt players aren't too upset with their seeding in the NCAA tournament. As Carl Krauser says Pitt is used not getting respect from others in basketball. Boy, these guys really miss the boat, don't they? It's not that Pitt has such superb play, and that the officials just don't have respect for the team. It has everything to do with the fact that the quality of play by the team deserves a 9th seed. It's not lack of respect from sports writers and NCAA officials that lead to their loss last week in the Big East tournament. It must be nice to live in the fantasy world of the Pitt players, don't you think? Let's see how they actually do in the tournament this week.

West Virginia, on the other hand, received a seven seed placement, and will also have the advantage of playing close to home in Cleveland. Now that is a team that I have some hopes for. I don't think that they will win the championship, but I look forward to some good games from them.

There are plans afoot for a joint mission between Europe and the US to investigate Europa, a moon of Jupiter. The moon is of interest because scientists believe that there is a vast ocean of water under the ice crust of the moon that could be the home to micro-organisms.

Sunday, March 13, 2005 -- Early Evening

The selections are being announced for the NCAA Tournament. Illinois was listed as the number 1 overall and will be playing in the Chicago bracket. Second number 1 was North Carolina in the Syracuse bracket, Duke was the third number 1 in the Austin bracket, and the big surprise was Washington as the fourth number 1 in the Albuquerque bracket. Illinois was the over-all number one team. Here is a simple text version of the bracket:

1 Illinois
16 Fairleigh Dickinson
8 -- Texas
9 -- Nevada
5 --Alabama
12 -- UW- Milwaukee
4 -- Boston college
13 -- Pennsylvania
2 -- Oklahoma St.
15 -- SE Louisana
7 -- So. Illinois
10 -- Saint Mary's
3 -- Arizona
14 -- Utah St.
6 -- LSU
11 -- UAB

1 -- North Carolina
16 -- Oakland or Alabama
8 -- Minnesota
9 -- Iowa State
5 -- Villanova
12 -- New Mexico
4 -- Florida
13 -- Ohio
2 -- Connecticut
15 -- Central Florida
7 -- Charlotte
10 -- NC State
3 -- Kansas
14 -- Bucknell
6 -- Wisconsin
11 -- Northern Iowa

1 -- Duke
16 -- Delaware St.
8 -- Stanford
9 -- Mississippi St.
5 -- Michigan St.
12 -- Old Dominion
4 -- Syracuse
13 -- Vermont
2 -- Kentucky
15 -- E. Kentucky
7 -- Cincinnati
10 -- Iowa
3 -- Oklahoma
14 -- Niagra
6 -- Utah
11 -- UTEP

1 -- Washington
16 -- Montana
8 -- Pacific
9 -- Pittsburgh
5 -- Georgia Tech
12 -- George Washington
4 -- Louisville
13 -- LA-Lafayette
2 -- Wake Forest
15 -- Chattanooga
7 -- West Virginia
10 -- Creighton
3 -- Gonzaga
14 -- Winthrop
6 -- Texas Tech
11 -- UCLA

In the final four, the Chicago bracket will play the Albuquerque bracket and Syracuse bracket will play the Austin bracket. In the next couple of days, I should have my picks in the bracket up in a more readable fashion. I was not so surprised at Pitt winding up as the number 9 seed in the Albuquerque bracket. As you might notice from things that I have been saying about them over the past couple of months, I haven't seem much that impresses me about them, and I think that a good kick in the pants is what the players need to wake them up to the fact that they need to work on actually showing up to play for the games, being more consistent, and working on free throws and three point shots.

Sunday, March 13, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

The NCAA Tournament selection should be happening by 6 pm this evening. It will be interesting to see how things are finally settled. Lots of folks are starting to put out their analysis. We shall just have to wait and see what the finally outcome will be.

The most interesting story of the day, in my opinion is the one about Plaxico Burress. It seems that he has fired his agent. Well, geeze, what would you do if you were Burress? Obviously he is having trouble finding a team who is willing to pay his high price because of a problem with his agent. The problem couldn't possibly be anything with Burress. There are obviously no problems with Burress' consistency, quality of play, or his attitude toward working for his team. Doesn't everybody go through three agents in one year? The agent that Burress is going to sign with (he has to wait five days because of NFL rules) is Drew Rosenhaus. Rosenhaus is a high profile agent, and Burress is hoping that Rosenhaus can get him signed with a team at the price that Burress wants. We shall see.

Saturday, March 12, 2005 -- Late Evening

West Virginia lost the Big East final to Syracuse this evening. The score wasn't too close either. The final was 68-59. The analysts were saying that no team has won for games in a row to win the Big East, and I can see where playing four games in four days would be abit of a strain on a team. West Virginia did a nice job in this tournament, and they went up abit in my books. I am looking forward to the release of the NCAA bracket to see how West Virginia and Pitt fare. I plan on posting my choices. Even though I don't really know alot about basketball, it adds something to the enjoyment of the sport to have a vested interest in how the games go.

I just finished reading The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie today. It was an enjoyable book, and I have to admit that I picked the wrong murderer from the beginning. This was the first book that Agatha wrote, and it was published in 1920. It seems that as time past, Agatha was sorry that she had started out with Hercule Poirot as old as he was in the first book because it became difficult to age him as the years past. He is described in this book as a retired policeman which would put him in the 60 year age range. Poirot was a popular character though, and readers kept on asking for more. There were 30 novels with Poirot, and I read somewhere that she really didn't like the character but was stuck with him because of his popularity. In the Mysterious Affair at Styles we are introduced to Captain Hastings as Poirot's not too bright assistant and Inspector Japp as the police investigator. The novel is set the country estate of Styles and fits well into the country manor type of cozy mystery. At the time that Agatha wrote the story, she was working as a nurse during World War I, and spent time in the pharmacy. She made use of her knowledge of hospital pharmacies and drugs in this book. I have to admit that I love mysteries like this one. You have a closed set of characters who could have committed the crime, and you have someone who has no professional standing (since Poirot is a retired policeman and Belgian refugee in England) who investigates the crime. As whodunit is unravelled at the end of the book, you realize that all the clues were staring you in the face all the time. Agatha just did a great job of leading you down the garden path.

Saturday, March 12, 2005 -- Evening

I have been checking out the possible bracket arrangement for the NCAA Tournament coming up. Tomorrow is selection Sunday, so we should have some definitive answers then. Right now Pitt is being given a possible seed of 6 in the Austin bracket. They are also listed as a falling seed based on their poor display on Thursday and their none too stellar season.

Plaxico Burress is still looking for a home. He toured the Viking facilities on Friday, but didn't have a contract offer by the time he left. It seems that the vikings are unwilling to give him the amount of money that he thinks he deserves. Rumor now has it that he maybe considering Philadelphia as a new home. Since Burress wasn't too happy with sharing receiver duties in Pittsburgh, I can't imagine that he will be happy playing second fiddle to Terrell Owens, and I can't imagine Philadelphia paying him an enormous sum to be that second fiddle.

Friday, March 11, 2005 -- Late Evening

West Virginia beat Villanova in one of the Big East semifinals this evening. I only saw the last 30 seconds of the game, and I have to admit that it was quite exciting. The Villanova player made a really stupid move by fouling the WVU player because that let WVU win with the two foul shots. The final score was 78-76. I think that WVU has been doing an excellent job this season, and I think that they stand a good chance at winning the finals tomorrow. Right now the Syracuse versus UConn semifinal is going on. There are under two minutes left, and Syracus is leading by 55-49.

There was a meeting today between the NHL and the NHLPA. It was the first meeting since Feb. 19. The NHL would like to get the talks underway so a deal can be reached to enable the draft to be held in June. The players, however, want a longer break from negotiations.

Garry Kasparov has announced that he is going to retire from competitive chess. He says that he will continue to play chess, but not as a competitor. Kasparov is only 41, and it seems that he decision took the chess world by surprise. The stress and pressures that Kasparov has been under for the past few years lead to him to make the decision to stop.

Apple won a ruling against the bloggers who published information about "Asteroid". The judges decision was that the material was stolen from Apple, and the bloggers didn't have any rights to the information, or to withhold information on where the material came from. Now this is a ruling that I can live with. As the article states, the judge found against the bloggers not because they are bloggers but because they violated trade secret laws.

Friday, March 11, 2005 -- Evening

On Monday, I became sick with the cold virus that has been going around. There have been alot of folks at work coughing up a storm, and it eventually got to me. I've been trying to get rest, but by yesterday evening I was so congested that I was really having problems breathing. I tried all the usual remedies--hot steam, Vicks VapoRub, nose strips (yes they actually do help), but I was still having breathing issues. So in the wee hours of the morning while I was unable to sleep or breathe, I tried an herbal remedy that I found on the Internet. The one I tried is supposed to be best for the onset of the cold, but it helped clear some congestion and get me back to sleep. I warmed a cup of milk with 1/2 teaspoon each of ginger and cinnamon with a tablespoon of honey. It really doesn't taste bad either--abit of a kick from the ginger I think, but it did seem to help out. Of course, it could have been just psychosomatic, but I had a second cup later in the day. It does seem to aid in breathing and getting you to sleep which is just what you need when you feel sick.

I was really saddened to hear that Dave Allen died today in his sleep. I remember watching Dave Allen at Large when I was a kid. One of the local stations here in Pittsburgh had it on late at night, and I would just laugh my head off. The show was around a half an hour long. Dave would sit in front on an audience with a drink and tell jokes and show filmed skits. Usually he made fun of religion. Most of his stuff is on VHS and hopefully there will be some releases on DVD at some point. If you haven't heard of Dave Allen before, check out some of his jokes.

Thursday, March 10, 2005 -- Evening

The New York Giants have withdrawn their offer to Plaxico Burress. Rumor has it that the team wasn't offering Burress the monety that he wanted, and he turned down their latest offer. So the Giants are looking elsewhere. Burress is sill in talks with the Minnesota Vikings, and I guess he is hoping they will pay what he wants. In the meantime, Burress' agent said that Burress would accept a one year contract if Burress' price couldn't be matched, but then the agent backed away from that story.

Going to be in Huntsville, Alabama on April 5 through 7? Then you might want to check into the Physics for the Third Millenium conference. The conference is being geared toward the lay person and will include hands on demonstrations and talks about careers in physics on the final day. The conference is one of many that are being held to commemorate the World Year of Physics that is meant to honor the hundred year anniversary of 1905 when Albert Einstein wrote three papers that had a huge impact on physics. The three papers covered the theory of special relativity, light as particle (photons), and Brownian motion as random collisions of molecules.

Scientists have announced that they have found the upper size limit of stars. The cutoff is supposed to be a star that is 150 times the size of our Sun. The reason that it has taken awhile to determine what may be the biggest size that a star can achieve is that there aren't alot of really large stars to examine. The larger the star is the shorter its life span. The reactions that happen within the star are accelerated by its size. It burns brighter, and therefore burns through its mass quicker than a smaller star.

So some of the older missions from NASA may have to have the funding cut. Some folks are having a problem with this because they feel that the projects haven't reached the end of their life spans. One project that cost $4.2 million dollars a year is the voyager project. Voyager was a two spacecraft mission started in 1978, and has passed 10,000 days productivity. According to NASA, they receive valuable data from the project, but only 10 full time employees are dedicated to the project. Right now, the scientists believe that Voyager I is entering the final frontier of our solar system, the area that makes the end of our solar system and the beginning of interstellar space. My question is whether the project is worth $4.2 million, and if 10 full time employees and goodness knows how many part time employees should be working on the project. I know that researchers and scientists want all projects funded for an unlimited amount of time because of valuable data collection. What they don't ask is where the money will come from. I get the feeling that they believe that all other fundings are not important, especially if it is for the defense department of this country. Only so many projects can be funded, and at times you have to terminate funding on some projects, even if data is still incoming.

Thursday, March 10, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

Pitt lost the game to Villanova this afternoon. It was not a good display on Pitt's part. I thought that Pitt was really out of hand in the fouls that they were making. Even the announcers of the game were commenting on the roughness of Pitt's play, and how the referees weren't calling some of the fouls. What is sad is that there are folks who thought Pitt would go far in the Big East tournament because they haven't shown that capability throughout the season.

Thursday, March 10, 2005 -- Afternoon

Google may be making serious efforts to enter into the VOIP world. Representatives from Google have been meeting with meeting with several Internet voice providers. Keep your eyes open for a Google take over of the world.

The cover art for the British versions of the new Harry Potter book that will be coming out on July 16 has been released. The children's edition will feature Harry and Professor Dumbledoor in the center of a ring of fire while the adult version will show a leather bound version of a book of Advanced Potion Making by Libatius Borage on a desk. The question is can anyone figure out if the covers will give clues to the action in the book? The one thing that we do know is that the book will only be 608 pages which is 169 pages less than Order of the Phoenix.

Wayne Gretzky has said that he thinks the hockey talks are back at square one, and everything will have to start from the beginning. This is bad news for the both players and owners. The issue becomes will the owners need to resort to replacement players in order to get the next season under way. The biggest sticking point is finding a cap that both sides can live with. However, that doesn't seem possible as long as the players think that the owners are making more money than the owners claim.

The big question on the minds of Steelers fans is whether the team is dooming itself to mediocrity in the future by relying too much on contract restructuring. It appears that other teams have done this sort of thing in the past, and have had to pay a heavy price because of the amounts that had to be paid out for past contracts. I think right now the organization is concentrating on making the Super Bowl, and really don't want to think beyond that period.

With only a few minutes left in the half, Pitt is behind Villanova 26-17. I have not had a very high opinion of Pitt's play this season, and I think that they may prove me right with a lose in their first game. We will have to see if Pitt picks up its act in the second half. Meanwhile West Virginia is on a winning streak, and won its second game today against Boston College.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005 -- Evening

Tonight is elimination night on American Idol. They really seem to go out of their way to create tension on this show. I just don't understand this whole thing where they say "you stay". Just let us know who leaves. Granted, it might not take very long, but you wouldn't have this phony drama. So, I'm just going to cut to the chase and say who's out. I got only one of the guys right. Both Travis Tucker and Nikko Smith were out. I was in shock over Nikko. I thought he was better than some of the others who got in. I also had a shock with the women and only got one right. The two who went out were Janay Castine and Amanda Avila. I guess that being half right is okay. I am really shocked over Nikko though.

So scientists have been studying why you get a song stuck in your head. They did some tests by playing tunes that folks would know, like the theme to Pink Panther. The scientists found that when they put in silent gaps that the person would fill in the blanks, and MRIs showed that the auditory cortex was active at those times. More advanced part of the auditory stream were in action when the songs had lyrics.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005 -- Evening

The final eight women performed this evening on American Idol. First up was Amanda Avila. She sang some country song that I didn't recognize, although I think it may have been a Tina Turner song. She did a nice job of singing the song. The one thing you do have to say about her is that she is very pretty. Randy and Paula said that it was good, but not that great. Simon said that by choosing the song she showed herself as an average singer, but a good performer. Next up was Janay Castine. she does not have a very strong voice, and I think that her song selections showcase the weaknesses in her voice. She also doesn't put any emotional or physicality into her performance, at least not tonight. Randy said that he thought it was one of her worst performances, and Paula said that she was really pitchy. Simon didn't think she would make it past tonight. Paula was saying that Janay's fan base should call in to save her. Why? So a good singer leaves, and the poor one stays? I think not. After Janay was, Carrie Underwood. She started out her song rather slowly, but then started to belt it out. I think she did an okay job. Randy didn't think that was her best performance, and that the beginning was kind of pitchy. I know that the beginning didn't sound very good, but it did get better towards the end. Simon said that he is waiting for the moment for Carrie to hook up with a good song that showcases her voice. The judges think that she will go through to the final twelve, but that she needs to get the peppy country song that fits her better. My least favorite performer is Vonzell Solomon. Something about her personality just rubs me the wrong way, and I don't think she has done a good job in the past. Tonight she sang Respect. It wasn't a bad version of the song, and I think she did okay this evening. The judges thought that she did a good job too. Not the best, but decent. In my opinion, I wouldn't vote her off based on this performance. She's not the best singer, but she didn't do such a bad job tonight. Nadia Turner was next. I do like her look. She looks like someone who would make a good performer--very hip and energetic. Her song started out as a jazzy, smooth song that rocked up at the end. For some reason, I can never identify the songs that the women sing, and this was one of them. It seems it was an Otis Reading song. I thought she did a nice job. She is a very good performer. Even Randy and Paula said that she has that star quality, and she does. It is that undefineable something. Even Simon liked her, and said it was her best performance so far. Next up was Lindsey Cardinale. She sang Don't Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith. She did a nice job, and really put her heart into singing it. Paula said that she likes her voice, but she doesn't always pick the right song. Simon said Lindsey has the look, but that her performances just leave soemthign lacking. After Lindsey was the infamous Mikalah Gordon. She sang There's a Place for us. I think that the song was a bad choice, and I don't think she did a very good job at singing it at all. Because the song was a slow one, she really didn't get the audience going either. Randy said that she was pitchy through the song, but that he felt that she was fearless in making the song choice that she did. Even Paula said that she started out very rough. I think that choosing a Barbra Streisand song was bad. Simon thought the first part of the song was hideous and the second part was okay. As Simon said though, it sounds like she went through an aging machine, and that it was a boring performance. The thing with Mikalah is that she was this really outgoing, obnoxious personality, and now she is just this quiet, studious type girl. Last up was Jessica Sierra. She sang a very peppy countryish song. It was really a nice job. I think she is definitely through to the finals. The judges really liked her performance too, which is understandable because it was one of the best of the evening. My picks for the two worst performances of the night have to go to Janay Castine and Mikalah Gordon. I really hate to select Mikalah as one to go, but she did a very poor job with her song.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005 -- Afternoon

More news on the Plaxico Burress front. He didn't show up for his meeting with the NY Giants yesterday because of the flu. No one seems to know when he actually will meet with the Giants, or if there is some interest now from another team. I think that Plaxico is trying all sorts of ploys to up the price that he will receive. We'll have to see if it works.

Meanwhile the Steelers have been signing their players. They signed Jeff Reed and willie Williams, and have just today signed Cedric Wilson for wide receiver. Wilson had a good year last year with San Francisco, and he might be an adequate replacement for Burress.

Chevy Troutman was nominated to the first string of the Big East All Star Team. Carl Krauser was nominated to the second team. Chris Taft had an honorable mention and Ronald Ramon was named to the rookie team.

The results are in from the x-ray of King Tut's mummy. It appears that Tut may not have been murdered after all. The theory had it that Tut was murdered by someone either because he was moving the kingdom back to polytheism, or because he was going to try to return Egypt back to the monotheism of Akhenaten. Well, the x-rays revealed that Tut may have severely broken his leg shortly before his death. They surmise that this may have lead to a severe bacterial infection which killed Tut. So much for the court intrigue. It just goes to show you what results you get when you get a bunch of scholars involved in an analysis. I'll bet that what we will hear next is that one of the groups pushed Tutankhamun down the steps, breaking his thigh bone, and hence fitting into the murder plot.

A blogger has been allowed to cover the daily White House press briefings. This is just another move in the whole question about whether a blogger is a journalist or not. At least the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan sees the value of blogs and bloggers. The blog in question is Fishbowl DC, and it basically covers gossip about Washington DC media.

Monday, March 7, 2005 -- Evening

The BBC has found that its first episode the new series of Dr. Who has already been released on the Internet. They are investigating the matter. The new series won't be released on the BBC for another three weeks. The first episode appears to be 45 minutes, and the BBC isn't saying if it is a final cut or not. The Doctor and his assistant are being chased by shop mannequins that come to life. It sounds like an interesting show.

The final sixteen contestants are battling it out this week on American Idol. The men competed this evening. First up was Scott Savol. He sang Sugar Pie Honey Bunch, and he did a very decent job. Simon was the only judge who had a problem with the performance and said that Scott did an amateurish dance performance. I don't think it was justified. Scott did a decent job. Bo Bice was up next. This time he sang a ballad like song, I'll Be. I think that he did a good job. The guy definitely has a good singing voice, and has a very nice stage presence. Randy wasn't as enthused, but Paula and Simon were very complementary. Simon even said that it is Bo's competition to lose. Next up was Anthony Fedorov. He mentioned how he came here from the Ukraine as a child and that he couldn't speak English. He sang a peppy song that I didn't recognize, but it sounded like a Marc Anthony type song. It was a good performance, but I wasn't overly impressed. Randy and Paula said that it was the best that he has done so far. Simon commented that he didn't think that a Marc Anthony type song was the song for Anthony. I think that was my problem too--it just didn't seem like the song for him. Nikko Smith came up next. He sang one of my favorite songs, Georgia on my mind. I don't think he did as good with this song as he has with others in the past. He picked it up at the end, and had a great ending. However, I don't think it was his best showing. Randy even commented that he started out rough, but he really had a spectacular ending. I have to admit that too. Even Simon said that although the beginning was shaky folks were going to remember that great finale. Next up was Travis Tucker. Travis sang Every Little Step I Take. I thought that it was a bad choice of song. He did a good performance with the dancing, but I think that the singing was lacking. Randy agreed with me. Randy said that the singing was really out of pitch, and I know that there was something about the singing that really struck me as off. That must have been it. Simon even said that he thought the performance was appauling--and compared it to a theme park performance. Simon made a good comment about how Travis came across as a dancer more than a singer which is not what you want to do at this stage of the game. Right now, he is the first performer who is on my "out" list. The fifth performance was Mario Vaszquez. I think that the song he picked was just not a good choice for his voice. He sang What Makes the World Go Around. At least the beginning part of it was not that great, but he did pick up abit at the end. The judges thought that he did a good job, and Paula said that he should be in the top 12. Simon says that Mario has a charm about him, and I have to agree. I agree with Simon one hundred percent. It's not that Mario has the best voice, but there is something about him that makes you like him. Next to last was Constantine Maroulis. His performance was subpar. He picked a Police song, Every Little Thing she does is Magic. I don't that the song suited his voice very well, and I don't think that the performance as a whole was a good one. I hate to say this, but I would have to make Constantine my second choice to go so far (and there is only one person left). I loved simon's comment that it was a bad impersonation of Sting. I really have to agree even though Paula and Randy didn't. Last up was Anwar Robinson. Boy, his performance was shaky too. He sang one of those oldies What a Wonderful World. Anwar did manage to pick it up at the end. With the first few words out of his mouth, I was thinking that he might have to go, but I will keep him for another week. Randy really liked his performance, and so did Paula. Even Simon liked him, which is surprising. I have to admit that the group of men is a good one, and at this point it is hard to pick the two that I would get rid of from the competition. I will stick with the choices I made during the show. I would give Travis Tucker the lowest number of votes, and Constantine would be second. Let's see if others agree with me on the men on Wednesday. It's not that it's an easy selection, but I think that those two were the weakest of the bunch this week.

Monday, March 7, 2005 -- Afternoon

Plaxico Burress is hoping for a good deal from the NY Giants. His hope is to get an offer better than Muhsin Muhammad got with the Chicago Bears. The difference here is that I saw some of the marvelous plays that Muhammad made, and the mediocre ones that Burress made. Believe me, Muhammad is worth $30 million, Burress isn't.

CMU is preparing to take part in the Grand Challenge. This is the robotic vehicle race over 175 miles that must be completed in 10 hours. The vehicles are to be totally autonomous, so there should be no human intervention or control in movements. The race should be held on October 8, and the CMU team is hoping to have two vehicles competeting this time. The Challenge is being held by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Rumor has it that there should be vehicles that complete the challenge this year, and the first to do so will win $2 million. Last year, the CMU challenger got the fartherest, but it didn't finish the race.

Sunday, March 6, 2005 -- Evening

I just finished reading Timeline, and I really enjoyed the book. It's another Michael Cricton book. The thing that I enjoy about his books is that he brings in a tie with science, and he does alot of research to make the material believable. I wrote a more detailed analysis here.

Scientists believe that space dust may have been responsible for the time periods when the Earth experienced major glacial and ice coverage that resulted in mass extinctions. It appears that there are dense clouds of space dust that the solar system could have gone through on the two occasions when global ice patterns covered the planet. This isn't a common occurance, but according to scientists, it could be an explanation for the mass extinctions on our planet.

Sunday, March 6, 2005 -- Afternoon

It seems that poor Plaxico Burress is not getting the salary responses that he feels he is worth. Personally, my opinion of Burress is that he is not that great of a wide receiver. He made alot of bobbles of balls during the past season, and he made some nice catches too. The thing is that you couldn't count on him to make the play when it was needed. According to the local sports guys on the Nightly Sports Call, the Giants have expressed some interest, but not with the level of money that Burress wants. At the New York Post, they have some insight on why that is the case. It seems that others in the league have also picked up on Burress' lack of consistency, and his attitude problems. When you combine this with the fact that Burress ain't that bright, and according to a source, needs to have his playbook pared down so he can learn the plays, you have someone with a whammy on him.

Chris Taft upped the level of his play because of an article about him in the Post Gazette. The columnist, Ron Cook, had mentioned in an earlier article how Taft wasn't pulling his weight, and how that was a sorry state for someone who wants to be in the NBA draft this year. It seems the coaches showed Taft the article on the flight to Boston, and after he read it (or had it read to him), he was then told by the coaches that it was true. Do you know what I think is really sad about this? Couldn't the coaches have told him this earlier so it wouldn't have become an issue that a columnist had to comment about? This just illustrates the fact that the coaches are NOT doing their jobs, and that they have to use a newspaper columnists articles to communicate to their players. It's a pitiful display even if it did result in Taft playing better.

Saturday, March 5, 2005 -- Afternoon

It appears that NASA made a boo-boo, and accidentally switched around an instrument that was going into the Mars Rovers. So now Opportunity has a tool that was meant to be in Spirit and vice versa. The problem came to light because of readings that scientists were getting on the chemical composition off the rocks. It seems that the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) was switched, and the difference in the tools was causing a higher reading in Opportunity than in Spirit. Once the scientist involved figured out the reason, corrections were made for the difference in tools. It seems the tools were created based on rocks samples that they anticipated finding in the area. NASA isn't too embarassed by the mix-up. The issue is a minor one, and the two rovers are identical.

Pitt won the game today. The final score was Pitt 84 and Notre Dame 75. Pitt pretty much upped the game in the second half, and pulled away. There was a short span in the middle of the second half where Notre Dame started to come on again, and pulled to within four points of Pitt, but then Pitt pulled away again.

Forbes Magazine questions whether Apple is pulling a Microsoft type move by with its recent lawsuit against three bloggers. Basically, Apple's claim was that bloggers are not legitimate members of the press and therefore were not covered by the journalist code of legal privilege which allows a journalist not to identify the source of his information. Apple is not alone in this claim. Others question whether a blogger should be given the same consideration for legal privilege that a print or broadcast journalist receives. As some claim, a person shouldn't be considered a journalist just because he has an Internet connection and posts items on a web site. However, I don't think that folks should be excluded from being classified as a journalist just because the person is a blogger. With the ease of publishing items on the Internet and readers turning more to electronic means to gather information, there has to be some other criteria that is used to define a journalist. That is a tricky thing because can you identify what a journalist is? Is it someone who writes for a media organization? It is based on number of readers? Is a person not a journalist because he self publishes either print or electronic media? How about free lance journalists who have no affiliation with a media organization, and just sell articles to a willing buyer? Is this person not a journalist until he sells the material?
Apple also claims that web sites aren't protected by first amendment rights and therefore authors on web sites have no claim to free speech. I think that claim is absolutely ridiculous. According to Apple, there are no distinctions on the web. All sites are equal in not having a right to free speech, but then what does this mean about traditional media who also have web sites? Or sites like Salon which only has a web presence? Just because someone has a web site does not mean that the writer of the site can libel someone, but the writer should have every opportunity to express his opinion and to report news. I think the thing that Apple and the legal profession needs to realize is that publishing is publishing whether it is electronic or print. The only difference is that it is now easier and cheaper for folks to self publish than it was in the print only world.

Pitt is playing Notre Dame this afternoon, and the second half will be starting momentarily. Pitt was down by nine points in the first half but in the last few minutes Carl Krauser helped Pitt score 7 points, and the score at the half time had Notre Dame only leading by 35 to 32. With a minute played in the half, the score is tied at 38.

Friday, March 4, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

Prince Charles is on a tour of Australia, and he was confronted by a little girl who said that she hoped he was in love with Camilla. Charles answer was "yes, very much." That is refreshing to hear after his answer to the same sort of question at his engagement to Princess Diana. At that time, the answer was "whatever love is supposed to mean". Poor Diana. He was never in love with her and just married her for convenience.

If like you mysteries and physics, you will want to check out Mousetrap: the Physics Detective. The story is a special that Nature is presenting in honor of its Year of Physics. There are ten parts in the story, and it has been running since January. Right now, it is at part seven.

Friday, March 4, 2005 -- Afternoon

There has been alot of talk about salary caps with the NHL, but there may be some flaws in the system that are coming out in the NFL which already has a salary cap. For example, the Steelers may be heading for problems in the future because of juggling that they are doing now to be under the salary cap. Right now, the Steelers are restructuring existing agreements with players (such as with Jerome Bettis) so they will be under the salary cap for this year. The thing is that just defers the moment of payment. For example, the player might take an actual salary that is much lower than the amount he is actually given. In the article, they use the example of Jeff Hartings who is going to have a $650,000 salary this year, but will get $3.5 million in a signing bonus. This is paid over the next few years. So the $650,000 goes against the cap, but then the other money is going to be have to be paid at some point. So with all this bogus cutting and deferrement of payments, it might actually do more harm to the team in the future. Are you saving the present to kill the future?

Scientists have found a star the size of Jupiter. The thing that is surprising about a star this size is that scientists did not believe that something that small would be capable of having nuclear reactions that would generate light. The star is part of a binary star system with a much larger star as its partner. The star that was found is estimated to be 16% larger than Jupiter, but is 96 times more massive.

Apple won a preliminary ruling that bloggers can't be protected from disclosing information about sources. If a journalist is a member of the traditional media, ie, newspapers and broadcast stations, there is not an obligation on the part of the journalist to release the source of his/her information. However, the California judge in this case is not giving three bloggers that liberty. It seems that the bloggers released sensitive information about some upcoming Apple releases, and now Apple wants to know where the leak came from. The leaks were about Asteroid or Q97 which is supposed to be some sort of firewire audio interface for GarageBand. GarageBand is a software program that allows you to record your own music, hence the name. It will be interesting to see where this lawsuit leads us because the ways that information is being disseminated to people no longer is just through traditional media forms like newspaper, radio, and television. I think that idea of communicating electronically is an idea that folks have some trouble understanding. The immediacy of the information makes some think that it is not as reliable or that it isn't true journalism.

Friday, March 4, 2005 -- Morning

Google poached a key person from Microsoft yesterday. The guy, Marc Lucovsky, has been with Microsoft for 16 years, and he was a chief software architect at Microsoft. It does make you wonder what plans Google has, and what Microsoft will try to do to cut off Google's air supply. For those of you who don't know, this was a comment that a Microsoft executive made in an email about Netscape that came out in that anti-trust law suit against Microsoft. I have nothing but words for encouragement for Google. I think it's about time that Microsoft got knocked down a few notches. Maybe then Bill will actually care about the quality of his product. Also, I just don't like the notion of everything being dependent on one software company. That's the sort of setup you have in those apocalytpic sci-fi movies.

Thursday, March 3, 2005 -- Evening

The Post Gazette has some details from Jerome Bettis' interview with Bob Pompeani yesterday. It seems that the interview with Pompeani was an exclusive.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have two prospects under 21 who were ranked in the top 6 prospects by The Hockey News. The two players were Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury (of course). Malkin is a center that the Pens drafted from Russia, and Fleury played as a goaltender for the Pens at the beginning of last season. It will really be a shame if these guys can't get some playing time against some good players.

Bob O'connor, who has the Democratic endorsement in the Pittsburgh mayoral race, has a plan to build a streetcar line between Oakland and the Downtown area. There is alot of traffic back and forth between the two areas, and the thought is that putting the money into the streetcar idea will promote development and growth in the areas along the streetcar line, and that it will be an attractive way for students from Oakland to have an easy way to get into Downtown, thereby promoting the businesses there. I would think that it might help out with the public transit problem in the city. We have the most expensive public transportation system that provides little service for the amount that is paid by the users. I think that I'd like to see more details about the plan before I decide if it will actually accomplish what they say.

Thursday, March 3, 2005 -- Afternoon

Steve Fossett has landed safely. Originally they thought he would land around 2:20 EST, but he wound up actually landing at 2:48 EST. You have to wonder what drives this guy to do these types of things. Obviously if he had lived in the past, he would have been an explorer of some sort. I just don't think that I have that type of adventurous spirit to do these types of things myself.

Thursday, March 3, 2005 -- Morning

There are some Boston firms that are willing to offer $3.5 billion for the NHL teams. Now this doesn't mean that the individual owners would be willing to sell their teams. Some may and some may not. The two firms are Bain Capital Partners LLC and Game Plan International.

Steve Fossett is hoping that he will be able to complete his solo non-stop flight around the world. He left Kansas on Tuesday, and should be returning today. Yesterday there was a problem with his fuel system, and he thought that he would have to abort the flight. However, he then got some help from winds that pushed him along and made the flight more fuel efficient. It seems that Fossett is in US airspace now, and it should not be long before he lands.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005 -- Evening

This evening was the night that four more folks were voted off of American Idol. They were quick today because they had on that stupid Interns show with Paris Hilton. Celena Ray had the lowest vote count amongst the women, and was first off. I was surprised at that one because I didn't think she did that bad of a job. The second lowest was Aloha Mischeaux. The judges didn't think she should have been leaving, but I was shocked that Aloha didn't get the lowest number of votes.

The men were up next. They really torture the contestants. They picked four guys, and said "two of you have the lowest votes and we will find out who it is after this commercial break". You can just see the contestants sweating and not breathing when they do stuff like that. I know that I have a couple of paused heart beats. The guy with the lowest number of votes was Joseph Murena and second was David Brown. The men were just as I called them. I knew that Joseph Murena had to have the lowest because he absolutely sucked. Surprise of surprises, Mario Vazquez was not wearing a hat this evening, and the guy has thick, lush hair. It's surprising that he was able to fit all that hair under a hat!

Today on KDKA news, Bob Pompeani talked to Jerome Bettis about his plans for the coming year in a special report on the news today at 5:45 pm. Jerome said that there is still a 50/50 chance that he might retire. He did make a deal with the Steelers to restructure his salary so the team would be under the salary cap. As Jerome said, he is happy with his salary and incentive plan, and he did not want any of his demands to be a "deal breaker". Because they came to this agreement, it gives Jerome until June to actually announce his plans for the future. Jerome's plan for the coming months is to start his exercise regiment as he usually does, and see how he feels. The main reason that he hasn't really decided yet is because Jerome likes the makeup of the team, and thinks that the Steelers could make it to the Super Bowl, which is going to be held this coming year in Jerome's hometown of Detroit. Jerome said that whatever his role is with the team, he will be happy. He doesn't need to be a starter, he just wants to be a contributing member. Now Jerome has also been talking to some network guys, and it seems he is getting an offer to be an announcer for either CBS or ESPN.

Bill Gates was given an honorary Knighthood by the Queen today. Gates received the Knighthood based on his charity work and what he has done business-wise. It seems that in private talks, the Queen talked to Bill about computers. As Bill says, for her age group, it's not very natural to be a computer user. Heck, for most of her life, personal computers really weren't around!

Bubba, this huge 23 pound lobster that a local fish store, Wholey's, has on sale recently, has been in the news alot. PETA was outraged that the store was thinking of selling Bubba for food. So Wholey's gave in to the pressure and gave the lobster to the Pittsburgh Zoo. Well, Bubba was transferred to the Zoo yesterday and today----he died. There's something ironic about this. PETA, the "save an animal at the expense of human life", fight to save this lobster who dies because of the transfer to another aquarium. Boy, what a waste of a big hunk of lobster.

It took seven years, but Orthodox Jews finished reading the Talmud today. Not to worry, the process restarts. It is part of Daf Yomi which is the reading of a page of the Talmud daily. The Talmud is basically a discussion of Jewish law, ethics, customs and stories. It is supposed to be the interpretation of these items, and it is studied by rabbis and Jewish scholars all over the world. Daf Yomi started in 1923 to promote study of Jewish religion and customs.

The campaign to save Star Trek: Enterprise got a boost with a three million dollar donation from anonymous sources in the space flight industry. The group TrekUnited is hoping to raise enough money to stop the cancellation of the show. I think that they will have to find a network interested in taking on the show first. Star Trek fans tend to be very loyal to the show.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005 -- Evening

Larry Foote signed with the Steelers today. The deal is for five years, but no other details have been released.

It seems that Ian Fleming was influenced by the time that he spent in Naval Intelligence during World War II. MI5 has released documents from that time period. One of the documents refers to an Italian plan for a human torpedo that is similar to a jet pack that Fleming created for Bond in Thunderball.

This evening was the women's competition on American Idol. The first of the women was Aloha Mischeaux. I didn't recognize the song, but I didn't think that it was a good song for her to sing because at times the music drowned out her voice. In fact, it was one of the worst songs that I ever heard. Randy thought it was very below par, and I had to agree. It was absolutely awful. Second up was Lindsey Cardinale. She sang a peppy country song. She gave a good performance, and did a very good job. Randy and Paula commented that the song didn't really show how good her vocals were, and really didn't show how good she could sing. Simon really didn't like it at all. As he said, he couldn't remember what Lindsay sang last week. The third singer was Jessica Sierra. She sang a country ballad. It wasn't a big crowd mover. In fact, I thought it was pretty boring. The voice was not that strong either. At least in my opinion. Randy, Paula, and Simon liked her though. Who can tell? One of the most annoying people on the show is Mikalah Gordon. The one thing you can say about her is that she is a personality and a prima donna. I don't think she did a good job at all although she had a large audience response. Randy, Paula, and Simon seemed to really like it. They said it was a joy to listen to. It was one of those smokey ballads. I don't know. Maybe it's just not my type of music. Next up was Celena Rae. She did another countryish type song. Her voice wasn't bad, and she did a decent job. Randy, Paula, and Simon weren't too pleased with her performance. As Simon says, she looks nice, and thinks there is a fine line between being a pop star and singing in a motel, and he though Celena would be doing the latter. The girl that I like the most so far in the competition is Nadia Turner She sang the Paul McCarthy song My Love. Only I don't think it was as in tune as it could have been. Simon thought it made her sound older than she was, and that he wouldn't sing it again if he was her. After Nadia was Amanda Avila. She sang Turn the Beat Around. It wasn't a bad performance. I think that she did okay, and it was pretty peppy. Last week, Simon said that he wanted to come back as her microphone. This week, Simon didn't think the whole song was in tune, and I have to agree, but I think that she hid it with the loudness of the song. Janay Castine. She sang rap song that I recognized--maybe called Hit 'Em Up Style, and I think that she did a very good job. I was shocked when I heard Randy say that he thought she didn't think it was very good. None of the judges liked her performance, and Simon said that he thought it was the inexperience of her age (17). I don't understand that one because I think Janay did a very good job with the song. After her was Carrie Underwood. She sang Take Another Little Piece of My Heart. The one thing that I have to say about her is that she THE best performer amongst the women. Surprising, the judges really weren't that impressed and they thought that she should stick to country music. The last competitor was Vonzell Solomon. Parts of her performance were good, but I didn't like the song for her voice. Sometimes her voice wasn't even audible. As Randy and Paula said, she was ambitious in her song, but it wasn't good, and Paula said for her to watch her pitch. Simon said it was an overcooked performance and that she oversang at the end. Who would I vote off? Definitely Aloha. She gave the most notably worst performance. The others are really a blur of averageness. No one really peaked, and no one else was really very bad. I think that my second pick to leave would be Vonzell because her voice stood out to me as not in tune.
The one thing that I noticed was that I seemed to have a different opinion of the performances than the judges. I seemed to like the performances that the judges didn't like, and vice versa. Could it be that I just don't know what I like to hear, or don't know how to pick a good performance, or is it that they are looking for something that I'm not? It's just like movies or books. The ones that win critical acclaim don't always make the most money.