The Daily Bongo
Saturday, March 31, 2007 -- EveningThe Florida Derby was held today. It's one of the prep races for the Kentucky Derby, and was won last year by Barbaro. This year, Barbaro's trainer had a horse in the race, Chelokee who has been lightly raced, but that he was hoping would become Derby eligible. In order to make it into the Derby if more than 20 horses are entered, a horse's earning from graded stakes will be considered. Those with a low amount will be tossed from the race. Back to the Florida Derby. Scat Daddy won by a length and a quarter with a time of 1:49 for the mile and an eighth race. Notional finshed in second 3/4th's of a length in front of Chelokee. Rounding out the field were Stormello, Boogie Boggs, Imawildandcrazyguy, Birdbirdistheword, Adore the Gold, and Johannesburg Star.
Elsewhere in racing, Invasor won the Dubai World cup, a $6 miillon dollar race, the richest in horse racing. Invasor ran the mile and a quarter race in 1:59:50. Premium Tap finished second. Bullish Luck was third followed by Vermillion, Forty licks, Kandidat, and Discreet Cat. Discreet Cat, undefeated before the race, finished in last place 23 lengths behind Invasor. Invasor should be back in the US to race in the Surburban Handicap at Belmont Park.
The Pens played the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening. The Leafs, in ninth place before the game, are hoping to make the playoffs and need a win to give thme a shot. The first period was a good one. The Maple Leafs scored first. Gary Roberts scored for the Pens by crashing the net wot tie things up. However, the Leafs scored in the waning minute of the period to take a 2-1 lead, and then scored again in the first few minutes of the second period. After the Leafs score the second goal midway through the second to take a 4-1 lead, Michel Therrien pulled Jocelyn Thibault from the net and put in Marc-Andre Fleury. It wasn't looking good when the Pens immediately got a delay of game penalty, but Fleury held off the Leafs. Fortunately for the Pens, Maxime Talbot scored a goal to pull the Pens within two of the Leafs. After having a few opportunities in the third that didn't result in a goal, and with time running out, it looked like the Pens wee just going lose. Then Sidney Crosby scored to pull the Pens within one point with over four minutes left in the game. However, Josef Melichar took a stupid hooking penalty which left Michel Therrien shaking his head. With less than a minute in the game, the Pens pulled Fleury. The Leafs missed a few empty net opportunities to put it away. With only four seconds left in the Ryan Whitney scored to tie the game and take it into overtime. It really shut up the crowd who was loudly chanting "Go Leafs Go." The overtime period was held up for some time as the paramedics took care of someone in the stands. The person was removed by stretcher, and the game was back on. The Leafs were putting alot of pressure on our goal, and Fleury made some really nice saves. With just a smidge over a minute left to play in the overtime, the Leafs won on a puck that went past a screen of bodies into the net behind Fleury. The final score was 5-4, but at least the Pens salvaged a point.
Thursday, March 29, 2007 -- EveningThe Pens played the Boston Bruins this evening. The city has been abuzz because the Pens are now officially making the playoffs. We all knew that they would! The first period was an energetic one on the side of both teams with the Bruins and Pens trading goals with the Pens taking a one goal lead with Eric Christensen having a hand in all three Pens' points in the period (two goals and an assist). The other Pens' goal was scored by Colby Armstrong. Armstrong got a high stick to the face towards the end of the first that sent him to the locker room early. He came back in the second period with stitches on his left eyelid and an eye that was almost swollen shut. No scoring in the second period, but Evgeni Malkin got Michel Therrien angry by jumping off the bench too quickly and giving the Pens an extra man on ice penalty. Malkin made up for it in the third period with a goal. Marc-Andre Fleury did a spectacular job in goal, making some great saves in the third period. The Pens win with a final score of 4-2, get 100 points, and move into first place in the Atlantic division and number two in the Eastern division.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007 -- EveningI just finished watching American Idol, and I was shocked at who was voted off. Sanjaya did NOT make it into the bottom three. Chris Sligh, Haley Scarnato, and Phil Stacey. Phil got to sit down first while Chris and Haley had to suffer through who was going home. Chris was finally put out of his misery and sent home. I can't wait to hear the moans from the folks want to see Sanjaya gone. Next week should be great because it is Tony Bennett theme night.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007 -- MorningI watched American Idol last night, and I have to admit that most of the singers were disappointing in my opinion. I'm not sure what the theme was supposed to be, but Gwen Stefani was the coach for the group of 10. I thought that the most disappointing momemt was the first when Lakisha Jones sang Donna Summers' Last Dance. I was groaning throughout the song and thought that at best it was a karaoke performance at best, but for some reason, the judges were lapping it up like they were dogs in a hot desert. Sanjaya was entertaining to say the least. He had a mohawk made up of little ponytails, and basically made a fool of himself. However, he does have his fan base and the Vote for the Worst gang. The people that I thought might be in trouble are Chris Sligh who did just okay, Chris Richardson, who has a really weak voice, and Haley Scarnato, who did some weird things with True Colors. The bright moment was Jordin Sparks. I think that girl has pizazz and talent, and at 17 years of age, someone is probably salavating at the chance of signing her to a contract. I think that she is going to go far. Tonight is the vote off show, and then there will be nine!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007 -- EveningThe Pens played the Washington Capitals this evening in an away game. The game did not start out well, and Michel Therrien called a time out midway through the first period because the Pens had let in two goals. The first was by Alexander Semin and the second was Boyd Gordon. The Gordon goal was a bad one because there were NO, I repeat NO, defensemen anywhere near the net and Marc-Andre Fleury. The local guys were commenting on the broadcast about the lack of defensemen in the area too. That was when Therrien called a timeout and gave them all a lecture. Michel Ouellet managed to get one of the goals back. Then Jarkko Ruutu got a four minute penalty for a high stick that drew blood. Fortunately, the Pens were able to kill the penalty. At the start of the second period, the Pens had a powerplay, and Ryan Whitney scored to tie the game. The Pens got a powerplay six minutes into the period, and the Pens were pounding away at Olaf Kolzig. Finally after lots of opportunities, Sidney Crosby knocked the puck in for the go-ahead goal. With around six minutes left in the second period, Brooks Orpik checked Donald Brashear who started to hit Orpik. Georges Laraque went over to talk to Brashear. Well, Brashear got two minutes for roughing. When he came out of the penalty box, Brashear went right over to Laraque, and they started to fight just as Whitney scored. Now this is why we got Laraque--to take care of things like this, and he did an admirable job. The two heavyweights circled each other. Brashear got in the first hit and knocked off Laraque's helmet. Then Larague put some good hits in on Bradshear and then fell on top of Brashear on the ice. Great moment, and Laraque also got an assist on the goal! I can't wait to start reading The Code: The Unwritten Rules Of Fighting And Retaliation In The NHL by Ross Bernstein because it appears that this fight was a classic observer of the Code. With only 30 seconds left in the third period, Fleury is taken out of a play with goaltender interference. The interference isn't called and the Capitals score. Fortunately, they aren't able to get the tying point in the remaining 30 seconds and the Pens win with a final score of 4-3.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007 -- Late AfternoonI forgot to comment on this earlier, but Martin Brodeur said in a article that he wrote for a French language Canadian paper that he would pick Sidney Crosby for league MVP. Of course as Brodeur explained later, that would be if he could not vote for himself. As Brodeur said, "You should never vote against yourself - that's not a good sign." I know that I would have to vote for Crosby. He is the reason this team is staying in Pittsburgh. Tickets sale went out of the roof when he was picked in the draft. Also Crosby's play has been superb, and is one of the elements that has gotten the Pens to the place they are now. However, I am a huge fan of the goalie (as anyone can notice who looks at my pictures from the home games. Without a good goalie, your team is screwed! According to the TSN article, Brodeur doesn't think that just because there is an award for best goalie that the goalie shouldn't be considered for MVP. After all, the top scorer is still considered for MVP. Whoever is most important for your team's success should be considered, and that means goalie in some cases. Now Brodeur said that he thought that he and Roberto Luongo should be considered for the goalie award, the Vezina Trophy. Luongo and Brodeur both have 43 wins so far this season.
In other Crosby news, Upper Deck is releasing a Sidney Crosby action figure. The doll is 11 inches, and looks like your basic GI Joe doll. The doll is being released today and have 1500 in a black (home) uniform and 500 in a white (away) uniform. Cost for the doll is $49.95. Allstarvinyl.com is sold out, and the response by folks trying to get the doll crashed the server! Allstarvinyl is hoping to offer more on April 9th on a better server.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007 -- AfternoonReally bad news for the New York Islanders. Rick DiPietro is out indefinitely with post-concussion syndrome. That's the thing that is so bad with head injuries. You think that everything is fine, but it's not. The Pens have had the same issue with Eric Cairns. He has been out since Nov. 22 because of post-concussion syndrome. For the Islanders this is not good news because they are in a battle to get into the playoffs.
Monday, March 26, 2007 -- Late AfternoonThe Pens had 2000 individual seats that they put on sale this morning for the first two playoff games. The seats were sold out in 13 minutes! There is definitely a playoff frenzy in the city. Everyone is talking about the Pens, even people who don't normally watch hockey. You can even tell that the atmosphere is charged at the games. Of course, there have been alot of emotions this year because the team has been playing well and there was a threat of them leaving the city. I heard on the radio yesterday that people are trying to encourage everyone to show up to the playoffs dressed in a white shirt. That would be interesting, but I know that I have to wear my black Staal t-shirt because the Pens have won every time I had the shirt on. I think everyone would agree with me on that one.
Speaking of sports, my NCAA basketball tournament bracket has been doing well. It wasn't looking good in the early rounds, but I had the Elite Eight and the Final Four. Now I am just hoping for a Georgetown and Florida final match with Georgetown winning.
I was hugely disappointed in a book this weekend. I got the latest Rita Mae Brown book, Puss 'n Cahoots. Now the past few books have been really going downhill for Ms. Brown, but I thought since she was moving away from Harry Hairsteen's hometown that she would drop some of the topics that saturated the past books and return to the mystery. Yes, I was getting tired of hearing of Boom-Boom's outlook on lesbian relationships. Give me a mystery in my mystery book! Well, Puss 'n Cahoots was such a huge disappointment that I couldn't get more than 30 pages into the book. The writing was poor, and it just seemed to me as if Ms. Brown actually did let the cat write the book this time. I just found myself not carrying about any of them and wishing that whoever was the murderer would become a successful serial killer and kill this series. If you want to read the best of the books, read the first few in the series. There are fifteen books in the series, but stop before you get to the teens. The earlier books concentrate more on the mystery, and less on the philosophical viewpoints of the characters. And from the looks of this last one, have better writing!
Sunday, March 25, 2007 -- Early EveningThe Pens played the Boston Bruins early this afternoon at Mellon Arena. Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal for the Pens. In the past nine games, the Bruins beat the Pens. However, today was a new day. The Pens came out flying and make three goals in the first period. Maxime Talbot was the starting center even thoguh he broke the tip of his nose in the first period of yesterday's game. Tim Thomas, the Bruins' starting goalie, was pulled when the second period started because of the number of goals that he let in. Goal scorers for the Pens were Evgeni Malkin, Gary Roberts, Ryan Malone, and Sidney Crosby with two goals (and an assist on the Roberts' goal). Folks were chanting "hat trick" and "MVP" through most of the third period. Fleury had his fifth shut out of the season and got the third star in the game. Today was not as good a day for picture taking because the crowd was very excitable, and were doing the prarie dog act of jumping up in their seats at the slightest sign of the Pens going near the opposing net. Some folks in back of me were getting vocal about how people should be sitting because the prarie dogs would just stand and not sit down. What could you do though? Everyone just seemed to be really excited. There were also some guys in B17 who painted themselves up and wrote the letters P, E, N, and S on their chests. I have pictures of them and other action from today's game.
Saturday, March 24, 2007 -- EveningThe Pens played the Atlanta Thrashers this afternoon at Mellon Arena. As is usual, the game was a standing room only sell out. Jocelyn Thibault was in goal for the Pens, and he did a great job, and got the number one star in the game. Actualy, both Thibault and Kari Lehtonen did great jobs. Michel Ouellet and Jordan Staal scored to give the Pens a 2-1 win. I was just happy that it was a regulation win and the Pens got two points. If the New Jersey Devils lose tonight, the Pens will be in a two way tie for first place in the Atlantic division. I was on a streak with my picture taking today, and actually caught both Pens' goals. Check out the pictures and see what you think.
After the game, my boyfriend and I went to the Palomino restaurant downtown. Since it was an early game, we thought it might be nice to have an early dinner. The restaurant has a special where a person can get a three course meal for $25 if you eat between 4 pm and 6 pm. The three course meal menu is limited to just a few items, but it covers a wide variety. I choose some items from the three course menu, but my boyfriend went with the regular menu. I had the fried calamari as an appetizer, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans as an entree, and a berry cobler with ice cream. The portions were huge. For the three course meal, I had the same sized portions as those who paid full price. It was alot of food, more than i could eat so I had a doggy bag for home. The calamari was over cooked and very tough and chewy. The chicken though was very good with tasty mashed potatoes with lots of butter in the potatoes. I loved it, but the whole entree was sitting in melted butter. So it might not be good for someone who doesn't want to clog their arteries. The dessert was quite good. The Dave & Andy's ice cream was smeared along the top of the cobbler, and that meant a nice cold scoop of ice cream with every bite of warm berry cobbler. I would definitely go back to Palomino.
Thursday, March 22, 2007 -- EveningI watched the American Idol elimination last night. Stephanie Edwards was the person sent home, and Sanjaya is still there. The only shocker was that Chris Richardson was also in the bottom two. I thought his song was weak, but I thought that since all three judges raved over him, and he has that cute look that he would be safe. Obviously more people were underimpressed like me. I could not believe that Phil Stacey wasn't in the bottom part of the draw. I am leaning towards supporting Sanjaya just because some folks appear to be getting really ticked off about him not being voted off. There's someone out there who is going to starve herself until Sanjaya is voted off. Almost makes me want to see him in the final two. After all, if he is such crap why was he in the final 24 after all those people auditioned and went to Hollywood. I would say that the judges should only put 24 people in who could in theory win. If you don't think Sanjaya is good enough to win, don't put him in the final 24.
The Pens played the New York Islanders this evening. Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal for the Pens tonight. Colby Armstrong scored the only goal in the final minutes of the first period. The Islanders came back with two goals in short order in the first five minutes of the second period to take the lead. Evgeni Malkin was tripped up on a breakaway, and was awarded a penalty shot. The puck almost got past Rick DiPietro, but he grabbed the puck just as it went past and was headed toward the goal line. There were alot of tense moments during the game. It seemed that there might be a fight breaking out, but that it would fizzle out. There were quite a few roughing penalties in the game including for Armstrong and Sidney Crosby. In the third, the Islanders lengthen their lead with a goal by Viktor Kozlov. The refs were doing a poor job of calling penalties in the game, and the Pens were getting beaten up left and right by the Islanders. Brendan Witt tangled up with Malkin, and kicked him from behind. When Malkin fought back, he got a slashing penalty. With a minute and a half left in the game, the Pens had a power play and pulled Fleury. With 14 seconds left, the Islanders got another penalty, which gave the Pens a six on four advantage. Crosby won the face off, but there was no one to get the puck on the Pens side, and the Pens lose the second game in a row. Final score: Islanders 3 -- Pens 1.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007 -- AfternoonI don't know what is going on in politics in the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Bill Peduto has announced that he is withdrawing his name from the Democratic nomination list for Mayor of Pittsburgh. The primary is going to be held in May, but at this point, Luke Ravinstahl is running unopposed for the office. The sad thing is that no Republicians are running against him so this practically gives Ravinstahl the position. Peduto has said that he isn't ruling out running as an independent in November, but doesn't want to run now because he doesn't want to cause conflict in the Democratic party. The problem is that Ravenstahl has a problem with ethical issues. I wonder if Ravenstahl just is so inexperienced that he doesn't know how to tell lies convincingly or he is so stupid that he thinks he won't get caught in his lies. Either way, he is either stupid or a liar. That doesn't exactly make me feel all warm and fuzzy about the future for politics in Pittsburgh. Also, Dan Onorato is running unopposed for the office of Allegheny County Chief Executive. Why is it that no one wants to run against these guys? I'm sorry, but I'd rather see a competition instead of just handing the race to someone. What really sucks is that the Republician party is so ill organized in this city and county that it can't seem to come up with a viable candidate for office.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007 -- MorningI watched American Idol last night, and I have to admit that it was an enjoyable show. The theme was the British invasion, and Lulu and Peter Noone (of Herman's Hermits) were there to assist the Idols in the song selection and singing. Jordan Sparks did an excellent job with the song I (Who Have Nothing). She can really sing, and she put alot of emotion into the song. LaKisha Jones sang Diamonds Are Forever from the James Bond flick of the same name. She should have chosen a song that was more challenging, but I think she did a good job. Melinda Doolittle also did a great job with her song, As Long As He Needs Me. Even Sanjaya Malakar did a decent job. It would really suck if he were eliminated this evening after giving his best performance to date. There was this young girl in the audience who was crying when Sanjaya sung, and Simon Cowell made the remark that the girl said it all. That's when Ryan and Randy let him know that the girl was crying because she liked it. It seems she is a Sanjaya fan. Ryan had Sanjaya go out into the audience to give the girl a hug, and at the end of the show, she was brought up to the stage to hug the other Idols. The poor girl was bawling her eyes out! Who will go home tonight? That could be a toughy. I think that the bottom three will be Phil Stacey, Gina Glocksen, and Haley Scarnato. Stephanie Edwards is another possibility for the bottom three. We'll have to see what happens tonight.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007 -- MorningI have been growing out my hair over the past few months from the short spiky hair cut that I had last year. My goal is to have a chin length bob, but the thing that was annoying me was that my hair seemed to be so limp because it's fine. I've been trying different shampoos, and talking to the woman who was cutting my hair about it. She worked at Philip Pelusi in Squirrel Hill, and her recommendation of one the company's shampoo/conditioner sets, left my hair feeling dry and full of static. I stopped going to her because she really butchered up my hair cut the last time I was there. She cut the sides much shorter than the back, cut one side shorter than the other, and then tried to claim that the sides and back were really the same length instead of having a two inch difference. Whatever you do, don't go to Anne in the Squirrel Hill Philip Pelusi. So I figured what the heck! I've been paying $30 for a hair cut, let me try the $15 SuperCuts in Squirrel Hill. Well, the woman there gave me a great cut, and made a recommendation to try Bed Head Superstar. I don't blow dry my hair, but I put the stuff in, and let my hair dry naturally. The stuff really works! I've been having "good hair days" since I started using it, and I'm a convert. I'm thinking of breaking down and getting a hair dryer to see how much thicker it would look. If you want thicker hair, try Bed Head Superstar.
Monday, March 19, 2007 -- EveningInteresting news from Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, has said that the NHL All-Star game may come to PIttsburgh to be played in the new arena. The earliest date that the game could be here is in 2011 or 2012.
One of the funniest, but true, stories that I read was the article calling for John LeClair to get the Pens' MVP award this year. As Guy Junker, the author, said, LeClair should get the award for his accidental hit on Evgeni Malkin. The accident took Malkin out of action which allowed Jordan Staal to get his opportunity to shine--and shine he did. Staal is the youngest player to get a hat trick, to score two short-handed goals in the same game, and the youngest to score on a penalty shot.
The Pens played the New York Rangers this evening in a game that was telecast on Versus. Jocelyn Thibault was in goal for the Pens. There were alot of opportunities on both sides during the first period, but no goals and no penalties. Midway through the second period, Sean Avery slammed into Thibault, knocking him into the net, and then proceeding to lie on him while some of the Pens tried to pull him off and hit him while the refs came in to break things up. This is the problem that is chronic with the Pens. The opposing team always seems to rough up our goalies without any retribution. This is the second game in a row where there was a call of interference on the goalie. Stuff like this has to stop. The number of penalties increased dramatically in the second period, but they didn't result in any goals. The shots on goal by the end of the second were 13 for the Pens and 29 for the Rangers. The Rangers are the first to score in the first minute of the third period. It wasn't looking good for the Pens when at 14:18, Michel Ouellet scored a goal to tie things up. With 33 seconds left in the game, there was a controversal goal by the Rangers. The puck wasn't in view, and the review went to Toronto, and it was ruled a goal because after the whistle was blown and Thibault moved, the puck was over the red line. The puck had gone off of Robert Scuderi. The last Ranger to touch the puck was Jaromir Jagr. The Rangers got a penalty in the last seconds, and a few seconds were put on the clock. The Pens has 2.5 seconds with six men against four, and after Sidney Crosby lost the face off. The Rangers win with a final score of 2-1.
Sunday, March 18, 2007 -- Late EveningThe Pens played the Ottawa Senators this evening at Mellon Arena. The game was a real nailbiter. For some reason, the Pens are just unable to pull off a win in regulation. This game was no exception. Everytime the Pens would make a goal, the Senators would come back immediately with an answering goal. Part of the problem is that defensively, we let the opposing team crowd the net. That's never very good, and leads to some of these goals. The shots on goal also tell a story with the Senators putting up 35 to the Pens 19. Maxime Talbot, Sidney Crosby, and Ryan Whitney scored for the Pens in regulation. Surprises of surprises was that Jarkko Ruutu was the only person who scored in the shoot out. Marc-Andre Fleury did a good job, and I think he gets a bad rep because of the defense not clearing rebounds and allowing the other team to take up residence in the crease. We give up a point to Ottawa which was not good, but at least we get the win with a final score of 4-3. Check out my pictures of the game. Check out the multimedia page for shoot out video.
Saturday, March 17, 2007 -- EveningThe Tampa Bay Derby was held earlier this evening, and Street Sense, the two year old juvenile champion, won the race by a nose over Any Given Saturday. The mile and 1/16 race was run in 1:43.11 which broke the track record. There has been alot of talk about Street Sense because he was the juvenile champion and is thought to be a strong contender for the Kentucky Derby this year. The controversy is that winners of the Breeder's Cup Juvenile race don't have a good record in the Kentucky Derby, and Street Sense is only going to have two prep races before the Derby. I don't think that is a problem. If the horse is ready, he's ready. Racing a horse alot doesn't necessarily make him ready. Street Sense carried two more pounds than Any Given Saturday. Finishing in third place was Delightful Kiss and Most Distinguished was fourth.
This evening was the last episode of Endurance: High Sierras. My two least favorite teams were the finalists on the show, but I have to admit that I was cheering for Green over Purple because of the extremely annoying Dakota on the Purple team. The guy always had his hair in his eyes, and thought that he was hot stuff. His personality and arrogrance really wore on my nerves. Also, the hair in the eyes didn't make him look any better although it did hide what was for the most part a less than average face. The winning team was Green. Read the recap for more details on the final episode.
Friday, March 16, 2007 -- Late EveningThe Pens played the Montreal Canadiens this evening at Mellon Arena. As is usual with the games, it was standing room only. There were quite a few Canadien fans in the arena, and there were several rows of them in front of me. Usually when I take my pictures, I have a clear view when the Pens defend in my end, but not today. The Pens came out wanting a win, and although the second period was iffy, they didn't disappoint. The first goal was made by Sidney Crosby, and it was spectacular. Crosby beat out four, yes I did say four, Canadiens to score the goal. Erik Christensen scored two goals, and Gary Roberts and Michel Ouellet scored a goal. Crosby put the finisher on with an empty net goal in the final minute of regulation. Marc-Andre Fleury did a great job making some really nice saves even though he let in three goals. The problem is that the Canadiens were at times running all over him and planting themselves in the crease which is the common problem that our defense has. We have to learn how to get people out of the front of our net. Final score was 6-3, and the Pens got two points on the Canadiens! Check out my pictures of the game.
Friday, March 16, 2007 -- AfternoonScientists have found that the polar caps on Mars actually do appear to contain water. For the first time since the polar caps were discovered in the 1970s, scientists were able to a radar technique to probe 2.5 miles beneath the surface of the caps, and they confirmed that it is mostly pure water with a dust coating. There is supposedly enough water in the caps to cover the planet with water if the caps totally melted. This was always a topic of discussion for terraforming of the planet. The thought is that we could do something to make the ice caps melt (after all, aren't we supposed to be good at global warming? :-) ) With water on the plant, we could try to make it more habitable. It's an interesting concept although I think that it would be hard to put in action.
Thursday, March 15, 2007 -- EveningThe NCAA basketball tournament started today. I'm already two teams down in my bracket, but you can never tell how the rest of it will turn out. What sucks is that if you don't know what you are doing, you tend to do well. The first year that I did a bracket, I wound up doing quite well. This year might be another bad year.
I have just finished reading a very interesting book. It is Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax" by Philip Plait. The book covers various topics that people think they understand but usually get wrong. In the book we find out why the sky is blue, why we have seasons, what the role of the moon is, the Moon landing hoax (there are people who think that the Moon landing was faked and filmed in the US deserts), and examples of "bad astronomy" in movies. The last are things that are misrepresented in movies. Our society really doesn't appreciate or understand science, and think that it is hard just because they haven't taken the time to actually do some reading. The book is quite interesting and a quick and easy read. This book would be very good for someone who believes he or she is scientifically illiterate.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007 -- EveningThe Pens played the New Jersey Devils in an away game this evening. Jocelyn Thibault was in goal. This is another one of those games that didn't see a huge amount of penalties or scoring. With less than three minutes in the second period, the first goal was scored by Jarkko Ruutu. With just a smidge over a minute left in the period, Gary Roberts got into a fight with Michael Rupp. Roberts shoved Rupp into the Devils' bench. Halfway through the third period, Erik Christensen scored a goal to give the Pens a 2-0 lead. In the last six minutes of the game, Sidney Crosby got whacked in the mouth by Mark Recchi, and as Crosby was by the bench, he kicked the puck by his foot. Unfortunately, Maxime Talbot was already on the ice so the Pens had to kill a too many men on the ice penalty. They did, and then shortly after that Jordan Staal scored with an assist by Evgeni Malkin. The pair are the leading rookies in the league. The game ends with Jocelyn Thibault getting his first shut out win of the season. The Pens played well today, and the defense also worked. Final score was 3-0, and the next game will be at home against the Montreal Canadiens.
American Idol is down to the final 11. Yesterday evening, the final twelve competed, and most of them were not very good. It was Diana Ross night, and you know they always tell the singers not to take on an icon, so they have them take on an icon. It wasn't surprising that so many were abit subpar. Both Melinda Doolittle (my favorite) and LaKisha Jones were excellent. Poor Sanjaya Malakar really is out of his league, but somehow he has a huge fan base. He looked really bizarre in the competition yesterday with extremely curly hair and gold, hoop earrings. His voice is weak though. Brandon Rogers, Haley Scarnato, and Stephanie Edwards forgot the words to their songs. I really felt for Haley, and I think the judges did too because the poor girl was obviously trying so hard not to cry. She did though when Simon Cowell said that she wasn't that bad. Who got voted out this evening? Brandon Rogers. It comes down to picking the right song, remembering the words, and not having a huge fan base!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007 -- Late EveningThe Pens played the Buffalo Sabres this evening at Mellon Arena in front of another standing room only crowd. There were tons of Sabres fans at the Arena, walking around chanting before the game, and continuing the chants during the game. Before the game, Mario Lemieux gave a little speech about the Pens staying in Pittsburgh. At the news conference, he was saying that he wasn't going to sell the team or give up his interest to Ron Burkle. The atmosphere at the game was electric and at times, the Pens responded with some great plays, especially by Sidney Crosby and Maxime Talbot. Talbot especially was energized. However, there were also times when it seemeed that the Pens wanted to lose the game by letting Sabres get into the crease and have free access to the goal. That's why the Sabres were able to get four goals on only 19 shots. It wasn't that Marc-Andre Fleury was giving up weak shots as much as players like Chris Drury stand in front of Fleury without challenge. Also, at the end of regulation, the Pens had a 4-3 lead, when Mark Recchi missed an open net goal in the last minute of the game. Then Drury planted himself in front of Fleury, and the Sabres scored with only six seconds left before the end of regulation. The game went into overtime and then a shoot out. Fleury was stellar again in the shoot out, and Crosby scored the winning shoot out goal. The Pens win with a final score of 5-4. Check out my pictures of the game. Also, check out the multimedia page for video clips of the Lemieux speech and the shoot out. Unfortunately, I don't have a good angle for the shoot out goals on our end, but I do have a good angle for the Fleury saves.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007 -- Early EveningI just finished watching the Pens press conference. The term papers have been signed and the lease for the new arena is expected sometime within the next 30 days. It was exciting news, and I have to admit that tears came to my eyes at points. I have to take back some of my disappointment in Mario Lemieux. i think that he was using the Kansas City deal to keep the Pens in the city. I am so glad that the Pens will stay here. Mario thanked the fans because it was fan turnout to the games--having so many sellouts that convinced everyone in the government to keep the Pens here in Pittsburgh. I am off to the game now. Go Pens!!
Tuesday, March 13, 1007 -- Late MorningThe official annoucement will be made at a 5 pm news conference this evening, but Ed Rendell has confirmed that a deal has been made between the Pens and officials. I just did a happy dance because now I really do believe that the Pens will stay here. What wonderful news on an early spring day!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007 -- Early MorningWas I shocked this morning when I picked up the morning paper to see a headline story about the Pens arena deal being completed. According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette the deal was finalized over the weekend. The Pens will pay $3.8 million a year for the $290 million arena. They will also pay an additional $400,000 per year for capital improvements. The arena should be ready for use by the 2009/2010 season. Until then, the Pens will remain at Mellon Arena. Supposedly, the official announcement will be made later today. Governor Ed Rendell is supposed to be in town for the announcement. The story is that they will all still meet tomorrow to discuss minor details. I'm really not going to believe it until I hear the offical word from Mario Lemieux's mouth. I've been on enough of a roller coast ride to not leap on for another round. It is very promising, and I will be keeping my eyes and ears open for the official word.
Monday, March 12, 2007 -- EveningA survey was taken in Britain to find out which books people start reading, but don't finish. I have to admit that I was very surprised to find Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire amongst the books listed because although the book is a long one, it isn't a difficult read. By that, I mean that the story flows and the language is easy to understand. Also, I think that I have to agree with someone who posted a rebuttal to the list on the BBC page that Goblet of Fire is one of the best of the books! One of the books that I have tried to read, but failed at finishing was the Lord o the Rings trilogy. I have tried twice to finish the books. The first time, I got bogged down in the Return of the King and the second time, I couldn't even get through The Two Towers. Yes, I skipped over the nauseautingly boring poems and songs, but that didn't ease the overall sophoric nature of the stories for me. In fact, I thought that maybe the films would help and I would be able to finally find out how it ended. Well, I found the second movie to just as boring as the book. I couldn't bring myself to even go to see the third one. So again, boredom overcame me. I can't even bring myself to be interested enough to sample the DVD in small doses. I know that this is sacrilege to fans of the books, but I think that it just comes down to personal tastes and interests.
Sunday, March 11, 2007 -- AfternoonI just recently got a new Palm Tungsten TX. I really like having a Palm, and basically use it as a memo and contact keeper. I also have Secret! installed to keep a list of my passwords and Documents to Go for word documents. What I like about the Tungsten TX is that it also has wireless, so I can use it where there is free wireless and on my home wireless network. I really like the TX and have been very happy with it since I got it at the end of last week. I got it because my Tungsten E had a problem with the power button and wouldn't turn on anymore. Now when I upgraded to the TX, the directions said to rename the backup directory and reinstall all the applications. Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately), I didn't read the directions and just did a sync with the laptop. It was the best thing I could have done because the sync basically put all my old stuff in place on the TX and the whole process was painless. I think that it helped that the E and TX both had Palm OS 5. Otherwise, I might have been screwed. However, this was the least painful of all my Palm upgrades. The only issue was that I applied the Palm Daylight Savings Time patch last week. DST begins three weeks earlier and ends one week later this year in an effort to save energy. Well, it didn't work. My time was not updated. I reapplied the patch, and just changed the time manually. I'll have to keep my eye on the Palm to see what it does on April 1st. All of my other computer equipment seemed to fix itself properly. The only issue was the Palm.
Chris Simon was suspended for a minimum of 25 games for what he did to Ryan Hollweg a few days ago. I think that Simon should be punished. The only thing that irks me is that people keep on bringing up the Todd Bertuzzi incident and "claiming" that he had a stiff penalty. Unfortunately, it was really only a 13 game penalty because the 17 month suspension (and note that it is always referred to by time off--not a games suspension) was mostly during the lockout. Big whoop that Bertuzzi didn't get to play during the lockout. Several NHL players didn't play--and they weren't under suspension. Todd Bertuzzi is a sore spot with me because criminals like him should not be allowed to grace an NHL ice rink.
Saturday, March 10, 2007 -- Early EveningThe Pens played the New York Rangers earlier this afternoon in front of a standing room only crowd at the Mellon Arena. From what I understand, the rest of the home games this season are standing room only. Michel Therrien wasn't there today as coach because he was attending his father's funeral. The first two periods were not very good, and the Pens were playing as if they wanted to lose. It was pitiful because they weren't taking advantage of power play opportunities and during one had no shots on goal. The Rangers took advantage and took the early lead. The Pens were down 2-0 going into the third when the team finally showed up to play. First up was Evgeni Malkin who scored his 31st goal of the season. Then Sidney Crosby ended his drought by scoring his 28th goal of the season and 100th point. That was a thrilling moment. Malkin realized the importance of the moment and grabbed the puck to give to Crosby and leaped on the celebrating group of Pens on the ice. Regulation ended in overtime, and I was thinking yet another shoot out, but Colby Armstrong scored his third overtime point to give the Pens the win. The arena was still packed with most of the 17,132 still there. The game also had a highlight of a fight between Georges Laraque and Colton Orr. Everyone in my seating area had been waiting for a Laraque fight, and were entertained by this one, even though it was short. Check out my pictures of the game. Also, check out the multimedia page for pictures and video clips from all of this season's home games.
Friday, March 9, 2007 -- Eveningi got a new phone a few days ago and I am still adjusting to it. Sprint is my service provider, and I got the Katana phone that's made by Sanyo. As I said, I've only been using it for a few days, and so far, I like the way it feels. I like the feel of it in my hand, and it fits nicely in my pants pocket and my purse. I like the screen which is clear with larger numbers. Also, the keypad is easy to use when typing my text messages. The only negative comment that I have so far is that the ringer is not very loud, and it is difficult to hear unless it is set to the highest ringer. So I have been missing calls and text messages left and right since I got it. I started to put it in my pocket, with vibrate, but even that isn't very strong.
I watched the American Idol show that I recorded last night. Antonella Barba finally went home. I wonder if that will be for the best for her, and hopefully stop all the publicity that she has been getting with the risque photos that were taken by her boyfriend (I hope an ex). Jared Cotter, the tall model type, was also booted. He wasn't that great though, so it was no biggie to see him go. The judges were more shocked at Sabrina Sloan being eliminated, and I have to agree. I didn't think that she was that bad this week. Sundance Head also went home. He didn't impress me, but the shocker is that Sanjaya Malakar has managed to make it to the final 12. He might stick around abit because it seems he has a large fan base. The thing that I don't get is Simon Cowell's constant remark about how it is a singing competition. I disagree. It's not called American Singer, it's called American Idol. The Idol part of it is the reason that people with fans or charisma hang around longer than technically better singers. It's the personality factor. Look at last year's final two. Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee are one hit wonders, and we probably won't hear much more from them--especially Taylor. Chris Daughtry, who only got to the final four, will probably do better in the long run. That's the way it goes.
Everyone in the hockey world has been talking about Chris Simon's clothesline use of his stick on Ryan Hellweg of the New York Rangers. Hellweg checked Simon from behind into the boards, and his stick came up and tapped Simon in the face. No penalty was called on Hellweg, and when Simon got up, he put the hit on Hellweg. The shot was dirty, but at the same time, you know that emotions were running high in a game where penalties weren't being called. Granted, I am not a huge Chris Simon fan, and really hated his dirty play when he had the long hair (he's shaved bald now) and played for the Washingon Capitals. All I have to say is that it wasn't a Todd Bertuzzi move of blindsiding someone from behind with a punch to the temple and driving his head into the ice. Steve Moore, the recepient of Bertuzzi's criminal act, still isn't in good condition a few years AFTER the senseless beating. Bertuzzi was suspended for 13 games and boo-hoo, didn't play during the lock out. Don't get me started on Bertuzzi because I believe that the guy is the lowest of low and should NEVER have been allowed back into hockey, let alone play on the Canadian Olympic team. Hellweg has a injury to his chin and required a few stitches. He will be playing on Saturday. People say that Simon should have a life suspension. All I have to say is that Todd Bertuzzi went with his fists to someone's temple to intentionally maim him for life, and Bertuzzi still plays. As of now, Simon has been suspended indefinitely.
Thursday, March 8, 2007 -- Late EveningThe Pens played the New Jersey Devils this evening at Mellon Arena. The Pens play was spotty throughout the game. There were moments of them being really bad, and then brilliance. Evgeni Malkin was the first to score, but the Devils came back. Again as in many games, it looked like the Pens were going to lose, but MIchel Ouellet tied things up with an assist by Malkin. the game went to overtime, and then a shoot out. Unfortunately, Erik Christensen, Malkin, and Sidney Crosby didn't score. Patrik Elias won the game for the Devils. Final score was 4-3. As usual, Martin Brodeur was stellar as usual, and Marc-Andre Fleury was also very good. The problem that the Pens have is that the defense really is on the crappy side when it comes to guarding the net or keeping the puck in play on power plays. I don't know how many times the Pens didn't clear the rebound, or let the opposing players get between the net and the goalie, or how many times the puck has gone past a defenseman into our end during the power play. Final score today was 4-3. Check out my pictures of the game.
Possibly good news for Pens' fans. it seems that the Pens and the officials made some progress. Further talks are scheduled for next Wednesday. It seems that the talks took around five hours this evening--starting around 6 pm, and ending after 11 pm. All I know is that I am not going to get my hopes up until I hear that the Pens are definitely here to stay. I'm tired of these ploys of delay.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007 -- EveningMario Lemieux and Ron Burkle went to Las Vegas today to shop the Pens around that city. Las Vegas has been looking for a sports team, either basketball or hockey. Supposedly, things are totally done with the Pens in Pittsburgh, and they will be meeting with officials later this week. Word has it that it will be tomorrow in Philadelphia. I can't understand why the Pens would go with Las Vegas because there isn't an arena there that is suitable, and the Pens would have to go through another process of finding funding to build a new arena. Wouldn't it be funny if they moved there, and had the same travails that they have here? I have given up on the Pens being in Pittsburgh next season. If it happens good, but I have resolved that I need to give up on the wishful thinking.
I watched both the men and the women from American Idol this evening. The men were on last night, and the women performed tonight. The men were pitiful. None of them stood out, and as far as I am concerned, any of them could go. It was that unmemorable. The women were far better than the men with one or two exceptions (such as Antonella Barba). My favorite is former backup singer, Melinda Doolittle. She is the one who always is so lacking in confidence, and yet she it the best of the bunch.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007 -- EveningThe Pens played the Ottawa Senators this evening. Michel Therrien was playing with the lines again, trying to find some chemistries that will work, and he paired Evgeni Malkin with Sidney Crosby and Mark Recchi on the first line. The Pens weren't playing very well in the first period. The Pens scored first with a fluky goal by Colby Armstrong. The Pens' defense started to fall apart though, letting Senator players to rush Marc-Andre Fleury, and to get between Fleury and the net. The Senators scored three goals with such plays, and I can't blame Fleury as much as i blame the Pens' defensemen for not doing their job. With the start of the second period, Jocelyn Thibault was put in goal, and Fleury was benched. That didn't stop the Senators, and they ocntinued to score, taking a 4-1 lead early in the second period. Halfway through the third period, Jordan Staal had anotehr short handed goal. It's amazing how the kid does it. So far, Staal has seven short handed goals and a total of 27 goals in the season. Within a minute, Gary Roberts scored to make it a 4-3 game. Seconds later, Ryan Malone ties the game. The Pens played like they wanted to win in the final 10 minutes of regulation, and the game went into overtime. The game went into a shoot out and Dany Heatley and Antoine Vermette didn't score for the Senators, but Erik Christensen and Sidney Crosby did score to give the Pens the win with a final score of 5-4.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007 -- Early AfternoonJoey Porter actually made out after being cut by the Steelers last week. He signed today with the Miami Dolphins who paid Porter a $12 million signing bonus and guaranteed him $20 million over five years for a total package of $32 million. The Steelers cut Porter to save the $5 million that they would have owed him for being on the team. Good news for Porter.
Things are still being discussed between the Pens and the local officials. Officially, folks like the mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, are saying that they are reaching out to the Pens and that a deal is still close to being done. I don't know about that, and I am tired of the rollercoster ride that both sides have put the fans through. I don't think that the elected officials or Pens management (Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle) really care about whether the team stays in Pittsburgh or not. I think that both sides are just playing a game of face-saving, and hoping to blame the other for the deal falling through. Yeah, Lemieux is piqued about the treatment he has received and the broken promises. I think at this point, he is just interested in pulling the spoiled child temper tantrum and taking his toys (the team) elsewhere just to show them that he can. All I know is that I am sick of getting e-mails from the Pens asking me to put my money in now for season tickets for the upcoming season, when it seems that the team management wants to move to Kansas City. Just do it guys, and stop playing mind games with the fans. I know that I, for one, am sick of it!
Microsoft is coming down on the side of copyright and has chastized Google over making copyrighted material available over the Internet. As Microsoft says, their Live Search Books only gives people access to materials that are in the public domain. Google's plan is to scan in books from libraries and make it accessible. Microsoft also mentioned the Google's acquisition of YouTube shows a cavalier disregard for copyright laws. I think that what it shows is that Google understands that folks want something like YouTube that gives that the average person access to video materials when they want it, on demand, if you will. The move should be to get more materials online, not less--and we definitely don't want Microsoft controlling everything! Unfortunately, Google may become the oppressive Microsoft of the future, but I'll take my chances on them.
Monday, March 5, 2007 -- AfternoonReally bad news for Pens fans in the city of Pittsburgh. The team has sent a letter to Ed Rendell (governor of Pennsylvania), Luke Ravenstahl (mayor of Pittsburgh), and Dan Onorato (Allegheny County Executive) stating that the team has reached an impasse in the negiotiations and is going to begin actively searching for alternative locations. That means that the Pens are going to be leaving the city of Pittsburgh. As I have said all along, I don't think that anyone involved in the whole deal really care about the fans. It doesn't matter to anyone that the team sells out games here. The government officials don't care, and the Pens management doesn't care. Everyone is in it for themselves and saving face. The Pens management just want to seem like the golden boys who have tried so hard to keep the team here and have failed. I think that there is pettiness on both sides, and unfortunately, the ones who lose out are the ordinary fans. The Pens management has even gone so far as to say that they are concerned about the appeal that Isle of Capri made against Don Barden getting the slots license. As the Pens said, Barden is to give them $7.5 million in revenues from the slots. But Isle of Capri said they would finance the arena? I think that it is all smoke and mirrors and that everyone knew a long time ago what the outcome would be. I wish that they would all just stop trying to save face and tell us the truth. So get used to the Kansas City Penguins--if they keep the Penguins logo.
Sunday, March 4, 2007 -- EveningThe Pens played the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon. The first period was not a very good one, and the Flyers took an early two goal lead. I wasn't feeling alot of hope for a win, but the Pens came on in the second period to get two goals, one by Gary Roberts and another by Erik Christensen. Roberts was doing a good job in the game causing some disruption on the ice, and putting pressure on the Flyers. In the third period, the Flyers pulled ahead by a goal, but the combination of Christensen and Roberts went into action to tie things up. The game went into overtime and there was still no score. It was time for a shootout, and Christensen went first, and of course, scored. Evgeni Malkin, however, didn't. Marc-Andre Fleury did a great job of stopping both Flyers. It came down to Sidney Crosby who came through with a goal. The Pens win with a final score of 4-3. Check out my pictures of the game.
The final three competed on Endurance: High Sierras. Unfortunately, the Blue team loses even after winning the Karma vote from those who left the game before them. Blue and Green compete at Temple and Green wins. The final two teams are the most obnoxious, Green and Purple. Read the recap for more details.
Friday, March 2, 2007 -- EveningThe Pens did not have the assistance of Mark Eaton in their game this evening because he is going to be out for two to four weeks for a sprained knee. It's not good, but then it is not as bad as it could have been. He should be back in time to give the Pens a boost to get into the playoffs. In other Pens news, Ed Rendell, PA Governor, is saying that the deal for the arena is very close. Of course, until something is actually signed, there is still a possibility that the team will wind up in Kansas City. However, I am feeling a tad hopeful. There is also a story that the Isle of Capri has appealed the slots license going to Don Barden. The appeal is going to delay the opening of Barden's casino.
The Pens played the Carolina Hurricanes in an away game this evening. Jocelyn Thibault was in goal this evening. Michel Therrien played around with the lines again, and had Jordan Staal, Sidney Crosby, and Mark Recchi. Gary Roberts moved to the second line, and Ryan Malone moved to the third line. The game started out promising when Crosby scored his 200th point by scoring a goal in the first period at 14:23. Crosby is the youngest person to get to the 200 point mark. The Hurricanes, however, came on in the second period to get two goals. Malone scored a goal to tie things up in the second. However, the Hurricanes scored the only goal in the third to win. Final score was 3-2.
Friday, March 2, 2007 -- MorningSome scary news for the Pens as a result of yesterday's game. Mark Eaton suffered a lower body injury while trying to put a check on one of the New York Rangers' players yesterday. He is going to be evaluated today, and hopefully, it isn't that serious.
Yesterday on American Idol, some of the worst singers weren't booted off. Surprisingly, after doing an awfu job both Sanjaya Malakar and Antonella Barba both will be back next week. Those voted off are: Nick Pedro, Alaina Alexander, AJ Tabaldo, and Leslie Hunt. I thought Leslie Hunt was on the bland side, and she reminded me of someone that I knew and didn't like.
Thursday, March 1, 2007 -- EveningJoey Porter was cut from the Steelers roster today. The Steelers would have had to pay Porter $1 million as a roster bonus if he remained past today, and he would have gotten $4 million as his annual salary. There were rumors that Porter was going to be a hold out this coming training camp to get more money. This move was bascially a cost cutting move to keep the team under the salary cap. Also released today were Verron Haynes and Brian St. Pierre.
The Pens played the New York Rangers this evening. The first period was uneventful for all intents and purposes. There were a couple of scoring opportunities on both sides, but nothing came of them. Marc-Andre Fleury made a few nice saves, even when he lost sight of the puck for while. Most of the second period went by without scoring until a puck went off the skate of Rob Scuderi into the Pens' net. Yep, the Pens scored on themselves. Less than a minute later, the Rangers got a legit goal with a hit by Michael Nylander. The Rangers took a 2 goal lead in a matter of seconds in the waning seconds of the period. So far, the Pens haven't seemed to be able to capitalize on anything in the first two periods of the game. At 1:16 in the third period, Jordan Staal got a short handed goal. Then Evgeni Malkin got a high sticking penalty. Seconds into the penalty, the Pens get their second short handed gaol with an unassisted play by Colby Armstrong. The Rangers still had a powerplay and they managed to score another one. It wasn't looking good towards the end of the game, when Sergei Gonchar scored the tying goal. It seemed that there were problems with the ice in the third period because there was another hockey game being played in Madison Square Garden right before the Pens game. The game went into overtime. Overtime expires with no score, so the game went to a shootout. The shootout was great! Fleury made three great saves, and Henrik Lundqvist made saves against Erik Christensen and Malkin. It all came down to Sidney Crosby, who came through with the game winner. Final score is 4-3, and the Pens get two points.