The Daily Bongo
Thursday, March 31, 2011 -- Evening
Pens LoseNow as things are starting to count more, the Pens haven't been winning. On Tuesday, they lost to the Flyers. Tonight, the Pens were in Tampa Bay to play the Lightning. The Lightning scored first, collecting two goals in the first period. Mike Rupp scored a goal for the Pens. Unfortunately, even have a rally at the end of the third period, Dwayne Roloson, kept any more pucks out of the net. Final score: Pens 1 - Lightning 2.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 -- Afternoon
How Irrational Are You?See my review of Dan Ariely's book, Predictabley Irrational. I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it for all.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 -- Evening
Pens versus FlyersThe Flyers were in town to play the Pens this evening. This was an important game because the Pens are only two points behind the Flyers for first place in the Eastern conference. The Pens and the Flyers stayed close to each other in the first two periods. However, in the third period, the Pens had a collapse, allowing the Flyers to score two unanswered goals to get a 5-2 win. The Flyers now have four points and one game in hand to the Pens.
Monday, March 28, 2011 -- Evening
Looking for a New TV ShowNow that I've caught up on Bones, I'm looking for a new TV show to watch. I've been searching around on Netflix to find something appropriate. i want something in the mystery genre with compelling stories. I started to watch Veronica Mars, but I'm not sure how i feel about it. So now I am watching Psych. The main character is Shawn Spenser. Shawn has really good observational skills, but he pretends it's psychic ability so he can work with the police. Shawn's best buddy, Gus, is an unwilling participant in Shawn's detective activities. The two form a detective agency, and get called in by the police to help them solve some really tricky cases. The thing that I like about Psych is the humor. It's a hilarious mystery show. I like how Shawn and Gus get along. Great fun!
Sunday, March 27, 2011 -- Late Afternoon
Pens' AwardsThe Pens handed out the team awards before this afternoon's game against the Florida Panthers. The awards were:
Baz Bastien Memorial "Good Guy" Award
Presented by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association to the player who the local media of the PHWA want to acknowledge for his cooperation throughout the year.
NHL Masterton Nominee
Each NHL team selects a Masterton candidate from which the overall winner is chosen.
A.T. Caggiano Memorial Booster Club Cup
Presented in memory of A.T. Caggiano, long-time Penguins' locker room attendant & Booster Club supporter, the award is presented by Penguins Booster Club members, who vote for the three stars after every home game and tally votes at the end of the regular season.
Rookie of the Year Award
Players' Player Award
The players hold a vote at the end of the season for the player they feel exemplifies leadership for the team, both on and off the ice, a player dedicated to teamwork.
Edward J. DeBartolo "Community Service" Award
The award recognizes the player who has donated a tremendous amount of time and effort during the season working on community and charity projects.
Max Talbot and Mike Rupp
Defensive Player of the Year
This award honors the defensive skills of an individual player on the team.
Most Valuable Player Award
Based on the overall contribution the player makes to the team.
Pens versus PanthersMarc-Andre Fleury has been earning his award as most valuable player on the Pens with his actions in the game. He has consistently been holding back the goals to allow the Pens to potentially win games with little goal scoring. This afternoon's game was an example. The Panthers scored first with a goal in the second period. A little over two minutes later, Ben Lovejoy tied things up. The rest of regulation was scoreless for both teams. The Panthers pulled Tomas Vokoun to put Scott Clemmensen in goal for the overtime. There was no score in overtime, so we had a shootout. Fleury stopped both Panthers, but Clemmensen let Alexi Kovalev and James Neal score to give the Pens the win. Fleury registered his 34th win of the regular season. The final score: Pens 2 - Panthers 1. The Pens sealed a playoff berth when the Carolina Hurricane lost on Friday. So the Pens are playoff bound, which we all knew for months now.
Friday, March 25, 2011 -- Evening
Grown UpsI love Adam Sandler, and I finally had a chance to see Grown Ups through Netflix. Granted most of his movies have that stupid quality, but there's always that inner message that goodness wins out in the end. Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider play the main characters. They were the members of a middle school (7th-8th graders) basketball team who won a championship because of their coach's leadership. 30 years later, they all get the call that the coach has died. The group gathers for the funeral, and then decide to vacation together for a week in the old hometown vacation spot. Sandler's character is a rich man who feels that his family has lost touch with common folks. Hence his eagerness to spend time with his old school friends. The movie is hilarious. Selma Hayek, Steve Buscemi, and Tim Meadows are also in the movie. If you want to have a few good hearted laughs, this is the movie for you!
Pens and DevilsThe New Jersey Devils were in town to play the Pens this evening. Well, I suppose you can call it "play." There were a total of four shots in the whole of the first period. The Devils had one shot on goal, and the Pens had three. Martin Brodeur and Marc-Andre Fleury kept the game scoreless through overtime, so both get credited with a shutout. The game had to go into a shootout. Fleury was able to stop all three shooters, but Brodeur couldn't stop James Neal, who gets another shootout goal to give the Pens a win. Final score: Pens 1 - Devils 0.
Thursday, March 24, 2011 -- Evening
Pens Beat the FlyersThe Pens were in Philadelphia to play the Flyers. Since the Pens are so close to the Flyers in the standings, they wanted to get a win in regulation. But you know what they say: "the best laid schemes of men are often gone astray." Regulation was close with both the Flyers and Pens scoring a goal. The game went into overtime, and then a shootout. Finally, Chris Kunitz scored a goal in the shootout to give the Pens the win and two points. Unfortunately, the Flyers also got a point for the OT loss. Final score: Pens 2 - Flyers 1.
Thursday, March 24, 2011 -- Afternoon
What Do the Robins Know?The weather took a turn for the cold and snowy over the past 24 hours. Yesterday in the late afternoon and early evening, we had violent thunderstorms with hail the size of golf balls. Just outside of Pittsburgh, several people saw, and photographed, a tornado as it whizzed through the area. It wasn't that bad in my neighborhood, but as I was on my way home on the bus, the skies turned a dark black and purple. At 5 p.m., it looked as if we were in the dead of night. Within seconds, huge drops started to splatter the bus window, and hail clunked off the metal roof of the bus. Unfortunately, the hail was still coming down when I had to get off of the bus. I made it to the bus shelter without getting coshed by the hail.
Today, the temperatures are at least 30 degrees colder than yesterday. As I was taking my lunchtime walk, I noticed that a slew of robins, maybe 20-30 were scattered throughout the Scheneley Plaza lawn, just sitting there, with ruffled feathers. It definitely made me wonder what the robins know or don't know. They looked as if they were hunkering down for a massive storm. On the other hand, I wondered how silly they were to make the northward trip when it has been so chilly. Obviously, they are just following the location of the sun in the sky, and they didn't realize that the weather gods might not have gotten the message that spring is supposed to be sprung.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 -- Evening
Bones: Season 6Not only have I been devouring the Kathy Reichs' books, I have been having a Bones marathon every evening. I have gone through almost all of the seasons. Right now, I'm on episode 12 of the current season, season 6. I still find that I'm enjoying the series. I like all of the characters. The only one that I don't like is Seeley's new girlfriend, Hannah. I think it's because I'm like many of the Bones fans out there who would love to Seeley and Brennan. I'm hoping that there will be a breakup between the pair.
Monday, March 21, 2011 -- Evening
Cooke Out for the SeasonThe NHL cracked down on Matt Cooke today. For the elbow to Ryan McDonagh's face, Cooke will be suspended for the rest of the season and the first round of the playoffs. That means that Cooke will miss a minimum of 14 games (more if the Pens play more than four games in the first round). This was a bad situation for the Pens because now they will be one man down. It's also a bad situation for Mario Lemieux and Ray Shero because they have been very vocal against head shots. It seems the Pens have been trying to work with Cooke to get him to change his behavior, but it hasn't been working. After the ruling, Shero said:
The suspension is warranted because that's exactly the kind of hit we're trying to get out of the game. Head shots have no place in hockey. We've told Matt in no uncertain terms that this kind of action on the ice is unacceptable and cannot happen. Head shots must be dealt with severely, and the Pittsburgh Penguins support the NHL in sending this very strong message.
Pens Win in a ShootoutThe Pens were in Detroit to play the Red Wingstonight. Brent Johnson was in goal for the Pens, and he was a lot less porous than Jimmy Howard in the first two periods. Howard was pulled after the Pens scored four goals on him. Pascal Dupuis scored two goals, Chris Kunitz, one, and Tyler Kennedy, one. After Joey MacDonald replaced Howard in the second period, Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit. With the start of the third period, the Red Wings went on a scoring frenzy and tied the game at 4-4. The game went into overtime. No scoring in overtime, so we had a shootout. James Neil scored in the shootout to give the Pens the win. Final score: Pens 5 - Red Wings 4.
Monday, March 21, 2011 -- Afternoon
Fatal VoyageI have been enjoying Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan series, and this morning, I just finised reading Fatal Voyage, the fourth book in the series. This book has a rather somber plot. A plane crashes in the mountains of North Carolina. Tempe is on her to way to speaking engagement when she gets the call to lend a helping hand with the identification process. The plane had a slew of young students of the University of Georgia soccer team on board and Andrew Ryan's partner, Jean Bertrand. Of course, this brings Andrew Ryan onto the scene, and we get to view more of the conflict that Tempe has with letting Ryan into her heart and bed. Things take a turn for the worse when Tempe finds a foot with a pack of coyotes. After fighting off the coyotes to regain the foot, Tempe finds herself questioning the existence of the foot. It seems to be from an older black or Native American. However, no one fitting that description is on the plane's roster. Also, the decomposition of the foot leads Tempe to believe that it occurred before the crash. As press rumors circulate that an explosion caused the plane crash, Tempe finds herself being unfairly accused by the state lieutent governer of obstruction of the process and possible collusion with Ryan and Bertrand in the plane's explosion. Tempe finds herself banned from the crash site and morgue and battling for her reputation. The mystery of the foot must explain it all, and Tempe finds herself in a race against a killer to find out the who, how, and what of the foot and the allegations.
Did I enjoy this book? You betcha. It's more of the same. As I commented with some of the earlier books, Reichs has a formula, and she brings it out for every book. Tempe finds herself battling against those in charge of the situation or case to prove a point. In this case, she is trying to prove 1) that the foot did not belong to the crash, 2) that something funky is going on in the hunting lodge that no one seemed to realize existed, and 3) that she is innnocent of any allegations of wrongdoing. Family and friends come into play too with Tempe being concerned that her daughter is on the plane, then finding out that Jean Bertrand was on the plane. A new addition to the action is Boyd, the chow that Tempe has to watch for her erstwhile husband, Pete. Boyd finds himself in the thick of the action since it appears he knows how to sniff out dead things.
I can understand some of the complaints that I've seen from reviewers on Amazon about this book and others in the series. Reichs goes into excruciating detail about numerous aspects of her work. In this book, we learn everything we would need to know about plane crash explosions and reconstructions. Reichs seems to love to expand on her knowledge of forensics, and I guess, assumes that we all want the nitty gritty of every little aspect of her job. It can make for tedious reading. In Fatal Voyage, it was noticeable enough to make me want to skim over the facts to get to the story. I suppose that it doesn't bother me as much as others, but I will readily admit that out of the 363 pages of this book, maybe 163 were devoted to this type of minutia.
I've already started book five, Grave Secrets. This one is set in Guatemala, and I'm going to be interested to see how Reichs works in Andrew Ryan and "family member in danger."
Sunday, March 20, 2011 -- Late Afternoon
Cooke Should Get His Goose CookedThe NY Rangers were in town for an early afternoon game against the Pens. The game was tied 1-1 into the third period, when Matt Cooke brought his goon act onto the ice. Cooke elbowed Ryan McDonagh in the face, getting a 5 minute major and game misconduct. McDonagh was not injured, but that doesn't really matter now does it. After all, it's the action that counts. I am really disturbed and disgusted by this behavior. Since Cooke is a repeat offender, he should get a 10 game suspension. If Mario Lemieux and Ray Shero are not hypocrites, they should publicly speak out against Cooke and maybe even add to the suspension. Do I think that either the 10 game suspension or the Pens' management speaking out will happen? Nope! I hope that I'm pleasantly surprised, but I'm not holding my breath. If I did that, I'd be turning blue as I write this! The Pens lost the game with a final score of 5-2.
Saturday, March 19, 2011 -- Late Evening
Super MoonTonight the moon was in its closest approach to the Earth. And it was a full moon. This is a picture of the moon from my house. As you can imagine, it really didn't look much larger than usual. I think that most people assumed that they would see a huge moon hanging in the sky. It's pretty much the normal size that we see anytime we look at the moon. Because the moon wasn't as close to the horizon, it might have ruined the optical illusion. However, the moon rise wasn't visible from my house.
Saturday, March 19, 2011 -- Evening
Pitt Ain't ItOver the past several years, the University of Pittsburgh Panthers basketball team has under-performed at the NCAA tournament. This year, things were supposed to be different. Pitt was the strongest team in the weakest bracket. This evening in the second round, Pitt was paired with Butler. Well, just as last year, Butler came to play. They beat the Panthers with a final score of 71-70. This is really a huge disappointment for Pitt and its fans. All the sports analysts were saying over the past week that if Pitt did not make it to the final four, it would be a huge embarrassment for the team. Now, the players and Jamie Dixon will have to come home, hanging their heads in shame. What I wonder is if the Big East as a conference is really overrated. Eleven Big East teams made it to the tournament this year, supposedly because the Big East was so strong. Only seven of the 11 teams made it out of the first round. I still have hopes for UConn, but they are fading with every game.
Friday, March 18, 2011 -- Evening
Blooming Flowers and Blooming Spring FeverOn my walk in to work this morning, I saw several groupings of blooming flowers. One was a sort of lily. I thought at first it was a lily of the valley when I saw them from a distance yesterday, but it doesn't really have the right sort of flower shape. There were also several blooming yellow tulips in Schenley Plaza, here in Oakland. The weather was in the upper 60s today, and there were several people outside enjoying the warmth and sunshine. There aren't many days like this in Pittsburgh. We seem to rival the Portland and Seattle area with the amount of cloudy days we have. I'll enjoy it while it's here. It's definitely hard to concentrate on work when it's a Friday with warm, sunny, breezy weather. It's especially hard when I realize that tomorrow, although sunny, will not be as warm. Well, I suppose that means that I can stay in and read.
Java Ain't Just CoffeeI'm job searching again. After making the career change from computer support to technical writing, I thought that I would still find myself intellectually and creatively challenged. Well, I soon found that's not the case. Technical writing jobs are hard to come by in these rough economic times. When it's time to pinch pennies, corporations tend to do the pinching by eliminating the communications type jobs. After all, the programmer can document his product, right? Right now, my job falls in the "professional writing" category. That means that I write memos, emails, and edit my boss' words. That's not very challenging. And it's doesn't produce a copious amount of work. I'm definitely feeling the boredom sucking away any joy in the job. It's a paycheck, so I guess I can't complain too much. However, the job search is on. I talked to a headhunter about a possible opening at a company in Pittsburgh, and realized that I may want to expand on some of my computing skills. I've gotten rusty with some technical things because I don't get the opportunity to do anything. It's very true that if you don't use it, you lose it. But I also want to learn some new things. My goal for the next few months is to teach myself some Java. It never hurts to expand your skill set. I'm going to start by watching the Introduction to Computer Science Programming Methodology lectures from Stanford. It uses Java. Also, I have the O'Reilly Learning Java book on request at the library.
Thursday, March 17, 2011 -- Evening
Spring is Sprung?I was struck with a bad case of spring fever today. On my walk to work this morning, geese were honking as they started their northbound journey. Lilies of the valley nodded their flowered heads as they peeked out from the muddy ground. It definitely looks like winter is ebbing away. Let's hope there's no rebound. All I know is that I love the 60 degree days in March.
Deadly DecisionsAs I was reading the third Kathy Reichs book, Deadly Decision, in a week, I noticed a definite trend. This book dealt with a outlaw motorcycle gang, think Hell's Angels, war that tied in with both Montreal and Charlotte. Tempe was called in to help with the identification of twin brothers who were killed in a bombing. Then Tempe learned that a 9 year-old girl was killed in a retalitory drive-by shooting, Tempe volunteered to be a member of Carcajou, a police team formed to deal with the motorcycle gangs. As a member of the team, Tempe investigated the murder of two gang members several years earlier. When Tempe and company dug up the bodies, they found another set of unidentified bones, skull and leg bones. What did Tempe do? She tried to figure out who the other set of bones belonged to. She found a connection between the bones and a missing girl cold case from Charlotte. Of course, the bones were found in Montreal were found to belong to the girl from Charlotte. How improbable was that?! More murders happened; Tempe was threatened; action intensifed toward the end; and things were somewhat wrapped up. The only thing left hanging was Andrew Ryan. Ryan was found to be dealing drugs and thrown off the force. Well, that was just a cover to allow Ryan to infiltrate the gang. At the end of the book, when Ryan helped Tempe avoid death, did he blow his cover? We don't know, and are left hanging on that point.
So what was the trend that I noticed? In every book, Tempe gets emotionally involved in a case. Detective Claudel thinks that Tempe is a loose cannon and a thorn in his side. They work against each other by not sharing information. A family member is in danger. (In this case, it's Tempe's nephew, Kit, who starts to hang out with the motorcycle gangs.) Only Tempe can save her family member.
What did I think of the book as a whole? Reichs definitely knows how to weave a story, and getst the reader involved and caring about the characters. I want Tempe to figure out the mystery, save the world (and family member), and find love with Andrew Ryan. As an aside, when I picture Andrew Ryan in my mind, I see a Seely Booth. The formula doesn't detract from the story, even though I know where things are going. The books, so far, are a thrill ride and great page-turners. I've already started number four, Fatal Voyage. I would recommend Deadly Decisions, and I would recommend reading the books in order. I find myself wanting to know what will happen next in Tempe's world, and I will definitely keep on devouring the books.