The Daily Bongo

May 2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 -- Evening

Robbie Gordon is taking back his comments that Danica Patrick. He is now trying to say that it wasn't a comment against Danica, but was just about the IRL rules in general. The thing is that Robby Gordon hasn't commented on men who are smaller than him, he has commented ONLY about Danica Patrick because she is a woman who could actualy challenge the men. For the first time, we have a female who is part of a higher level team that can actually provide her with a car that is capable of winning. Danica has the resources to actually compete on a level footing with the men so that the judgement can come down to racing ability. That's what Robby Gordon doesn't like. He wants to come up with some excuse to explain away why a woman can do as well as a man.

After denying that there will be a Live Aid concert this year, Bob Geldof announces that there will be a concert event. Live 8 will be held on July 2 in London, Philadelphia, Rome, Paris and Berlin. From the looks of the complete list of stars, the London show should be the most entertaining, at least in my opinion. That's where we will have U2, REM, Sting, Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, The Cure, Geldof, Robbie Williams, Annie Lennox and Coldplay (among others). Now doesn't that sound like a good lineup? The concert is supposed to call attention to world poverty and is meant to tie in with the G8 conference to be held from July 6 to 8 in Scotland. The concerts are to be a free event, and tickets will be available through a text message lottery for the Hyde Park show.

Monday, May 30, 2005 -- Evening

Astronomers have discovered that the Andromeda galaxy is larger that originally thought. It seems that stars that were originally thought to be part of a halo and not part of the actual galaxy are now being counted as part of the galaxy. It just goes to show you that scientists, especially astronomers are revising their opinions and findings. Sometimes I just wonder if they come up with ideas just knowing that they will eventually change their minds in a few years. So how much did the galaxy grow? It tripled in size from 70,000 or 80,000 light years to 220,000 light years. This extra bit is supposed to be the result of collisions with smaller galaxies.

Finally, the last two series of As Time Goes By will be released on DVD on August 30. I can't wait to get my copy. I really love the show, and even though I have the first seven series on DVD, I still record the shows off of BBC America to watch on a daily basis. There is something about the show that just makes me forget about all my worries and experience and inner joy and relaxation.

Today is Memorial Day, and that means that the summer has officially begun. Now all the swimming pools in the area will be open and the schools will be releasing all the children who have been anxiously awaiting summer for the past nine months. The tradition on Memorial Day is to have a barbeque, so my boyfriend and I had a little one of our own in between rain showers. I made some chicken shish kabobs with Italian dressing mixed with some extra garlic, Old Bay seasoning and Italian Herb mix. I also made some mushroom shish kabobs with the same dressing. For the potatoes, I preroasted them in the oven with olive oil, butter and herbs and spices. I think that the meal turned out pretty good.

Sunday, May 29, 2005 -- Evening

I have been catching up on the first season of Endurance that is on Discovery Kids, and was watching the recorded shows from last weekend and this weekend. First up was the third episode on the series, Tilt. The competition for this show was to win the final two pyramid pieces that were up for grabs. We find out that Chelsea has a crush on Max, and we see the first signs of Sabrina flirting with Aaron. We would see signs of this all through the first season. Aaron starts making shell necklaces for Sabrina, and admits that he really is attracted to her. Too bad that Sabrina will take full advantage of it. Lana of the Green team admits that she doesn't feel a close bond with her partner. It is also obvious in this episode that Sabrina and Ashley are tight which leads to comments from others that they need to separate the Yellow and Red teams. Before the competition we learn of the Samadi which is the Buddist word for contemplation, and the winner of the competition gets to give it to another team which will negatively affect the receiving team. We find out that in this competition, a device is setup over the water. One of the teammates will be harnessed to the contraption, and will be holding onto the arms of the other. The base will then tilt with the free teammate dangling over the water. The last team holding on at the end will win the competition. It has to be hard on the teams with the small guys and big girls, like the Green team. The first team out though is the Grey team (they were plotting earlier to throw the competition so they aren't a target). Green was second, Orange was third, Purple was fourth. Red was fifth which left only Yellow and Blue in the competition. Blue wound up holding on the longest. Aaron is very strong--the guy on the Blue team. You can already see the good teamwork between the members of the Blue team. We learn that the other teams think that Blue will pick Yellow or Red for the Samati, but we then seen Jonna (Blue), Sabrina (Yellow), and Ashley (Red) talking about giving the Samati to the Orange team, a decision with which Aaron agrees. We learn in this episode about the Brotherhood that is made up of Brandon, Trevor, Skylar and Aaron. Alot of scheming is going on between all the teams. It's funny because Skylar thinks that being quiet is a good thing, but everyone wants to target Orange. Meanwhile we see Yellow and Red making deals not to send Blue to the Temple. At the Rock where the teams meet to discuss the days events and to give out the decisions on the Samati and Temple. Jenna admits that she and Max threw the competition in Tilt. Then we find that the Orange team is getting the Samati. As Aaron and Jonna sit there, Aaron seems very depressed--maybe because he knows it is the end of the Brotherhood. We find out that there is a rope with three knots in the Samati, so all we know now is that Orange will be affected by the three knots. The next episode will be the Temple mission. The winner of that will send up two teams to the Temple.

The fourth episode is Knotted Up, and this is the episode with the first Temple mission. Chelsea and Max both express their lack of concern over being sent up to the Temple. Hmm--makes you wonder doesn't it? We find out what the competition is; it's an escape routine. The teammates are tied at the waist with a knotted rope. The first team to untangle the knots in the center and extend their rope unknotted will be the winner. The Orange team will have three extra knots in their rope. The competition was close between Red and Blue, but the Blue team won. They have the entire afternoon to make their decision. We heard from the teams what they thought of the game which was a game of logic. Christian thought Aaron of the Blue team would be good because he is always making necklaces. Trevor seemed to annoying the other kids on the beach, so it seems that is making the Green team a huge target. What makes it worse for the team is that Lana and Trevor really can't stand each other. Aaron seems like such a nice kid and he is getting really manipulated by Sabrina. It seems that Jonna of the Blue team has a plan to get rid of Green. She wants to send a strong team to the Temple with the Green team to make sure that the Green team leaves. Aaron thinks that Max and Jenna would beat Green and that they should be sent to the Temple. Joann likes the team, and doesn't want to do that, so she recommends that Orange and Green go up. In the end, Aaron's suggestion wins out and the Grey and Green teams are sent to the Temple of Fate. There is alot of crying among the various kids and we find out how hard this is for the Blue team. Aaron explains to Grey that the reason they are being sent is to get rid of Green. Jonna gives Max a hat for good luck, and he wants to give it back. However, she wants Max to keep the hat because it will bring him luck. Aaron says that he wants to be rid of Green team because Trevor gets on his nerves. We do see Jonna putting the blame for the decision on Aaron. No one knows what is at the Temple of Fate--it could be any sort of challenge. It turns out to be a guessing game where each team has to pick between water, fire and wood. The premise is that fire burns the wood, wood floats on water, and water puts out the fire. Each team has to write down one of the three on a rock. JD Roth then puts the rocks in a cauldron of fire, and the answers are displayed. The first team to win 2 games goes back to the others and eliminates the opposing team. In the first game, Grey picks wood and Green picks fire. Green has one win. In the second game, Grey picks fire and Green picks water. Green wins and is still in the game. The Grey team is being sent home. Their pieces and their trip will be the prize for the next Endurance mission. We see the shock on everyone's faces when they learn that Lana and Trevor have won, and that's how the show ends.

The next episode is called Plant the Flag. The mission in this game will get the winner the two pyramid pieces that the Grey team had, and the option to switch trips to take the one that the Grey team had. JD Roth shows up to bring a letter from the Grey team. Max left the hat behind for Joann with a note. The note said to "give this to the next team you want to betray". We see Aaron's face and it is very set and stern. Poor chelsea was crying because she was in love with Max, and he's gone. Aaron seems really hurt because he thought that Max knew why Blue was sending up Grey. Aaron also said that Joann agreed to send the tema up to the Temple. It's always hard when a team leaves. Green is already saying they will give the Samati to the Blue team if Green wins. What is the Endurance mission? The players are going to be on a pulley. The one on the ground has to plant the flag, by running and pulling the other teammate up on a pulley to grab the flag. The teammate on the ground has to plant four flags to win. This time Lana from the Green team did the running because she is bigger than her teammate. The Yellow team won the competition. The Red team had abit of a controversy because Christian said that the girls should stop eating so much if the guys are going to be expected to pull the girls around the beach. Yellow team gets the Trust and Heart pieces that the Grey team left behind. Yellow and Blue are tied with three pyramid pieces each. Yellow keeps Belize and turns down the Grey team's Gallapogos Islands. Ashley and Sabrina bribed Trevor and found out what happened at the Temple of Fate. The word quickly spread, and Lana got ticked because that was the Green teams advantage. Lana tried to cover it by telling everyone that Trevor lied and that you had to put your hand on something really hot for a long time and then something cold for a long time. Sabrina admits that she likes having folks sucking up to her because Yellow has the power of the Samati. We now go to the Rock to find out who is being given the Samati. JD then finds out that everyone on the beach knows what happens at the Temple. Everyone is then given a survey to fill out. The questions: Which team is in charge? Which team is the most honest? Which team never shuts up? Which team would change partners if they could? and Which team would be next to leave? After the survey, Yellow gives the Samati to the Purple team. what's in the Samati? We find out that the Purple team can't compete in the Temple Mission. That means that whoever wins (and it definitely won't be Purple) can send two teams to the Temple, and one of the teams could be the Purple team.

Sunday, May 29, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

It was a thrilling race and although Danica Patrick led for a few laps at the end, she didn't have enough fuel to hold off the others. She wound up fourth which is a really good showing for a 23 year old rookie who also just happens to be a woman. Dan Wheldon won the race, the first Englishman to do so since Graham Hill in 1966.

Sunday, May 29, 2005 -- Afternoon

There was a huge crash on the track and we are now under a caution flag. Bruno Junqueira was lapping AJ Foyt IV came down behind him and clipped him. It looks like a serious accident, and there is no word yet on how Bruno is doing. Danica Patrick also had some problems with her car restarting in a pit stop, and they will have to check it out in the next pit stop. It did cause Danica 10 seconds. The problem with that is that she is now in 16th place. They are now theorizing that the problem may have been due to an error on Danica's part. Bruno Junqueria is doing okay though. He is now in the emergency facility and is alert and only has lower back pain.

I am watching the Indy 500 right now, and Danica Patrick is in fourth place. They just had an announcement that due to pit stops, Danica held first place for one lap --lap 56--which is the first time in the history of the Indy 500 that a woman has held that position. It's only lap 68 of 200 right now (2 p.m.), so there is still alot of race to go. Danica Patrick has had a very good showing for herself so far, and whatever may come in the rest of the race, she still has plenty to be proud of. ESPN has been updating the results if you can't watch it on television.

The Penn Hills' girl 400 meter relay team that created controversy over making it to the PIAA championship won the silver medal in the statewide championship. Should the girls have been there? No, so the fact that they won to me demeans the whole championship.

Saturday, May 28, 2005 -- Evening

Tomorrow is the Indy 500, and there is a controversy brewing. A woman, Danica Patrick, is in the race this year as a rookie, and she has been getting times that are as fast or faster than the men. So far, she has been clocked at 229 mph, and she has the number four pole position in the race. So what's the controversy? Well, some men are complaining because Danica is 5 feet 1 inch and weights 100 pounds. They say that this gives her an unfair advantage and enables her car to get faster speeds. The rules say that the car must weight 1,525 pounds without the fuel or driver, so it's not that any rules are being broken. I think that the problem is that the masculinity of the men is being challenged and threatened because this little tiny wisp of a girl is competing and showing herself to be better than them. Racing has always been a male dominated sport, and I think that they just don't like the fact that someone with a non-butch frame is doing well. I think that in the scheme of things it's not going to make alot of difference. After all, not all the drivers weight the same amount. The difference between Danica at 100 pounds and a 160 pound driver is 3.6 percent. But then if you have a 200 pound driver and a 140 pound driver, you get the same differential. Since we don't know the weight of all the other drivers in the race--because it really isn't important in the scheme of things--then we don't know who has the advantage. I'm telling you, it's just because she is a tiny wisp of a girl. With racing, it's the driving skill that is really going to matter, and since everything for all racers is equal, that will be what will make the difference. That and the usual racing luck of not having a car that gets in an accident or has mechanical failure.

Last night, I saw Team America: World Police. It's a movie made by the guys who made South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Team America is a group of international police officers who go around the world to fight terrorism. Basically the movie makes fun of the gung-ho American "let's shoot 'em up" mentality and the liberal movie stars who would want to stop such activity. There are funny moments and sections in the movie, but I think that the show could have been just as funny at half an hour or 45 minute length as opposed to the 98 minutes that it ran. The sex scene--yes there is one, even though the show is full of puppets--was sort of graphic, gross, and extended. Yeah, it was funny at for the first minute, but after a couple of minutes, you just wanted to move on. After all, they were only puppets! The movie pokes fun at Arab terrorists, Kim Jong Il, jingoist Americans and the liberal artists (who were all members of FAG, Film Actors Guild). The movie opens with Team America blowing up the Eiffel Tower and the Lourve. As I said, there were funny moments, and it really reminded me alot of the South Park type of humor. The funniest moment for me had more to do with an inside joke that my boyfriend and I have about secret signals. I always come up with these very obvious secret signals that he should give me to alert me to things in public, like wiggling your fingers behind your head and walking funny. Well, in the movie, they have a similar "secret" signal that was so obvious and silly. It was such a Bongo move. Would I recommend the movie to others? Sure, although I think that your feelings towards South Park will be similar to your feelings for this movie. It is rated R because of the graphic and crude nature of the sex and violence, and for the foul language.

Plaxico Burress's agent is saying that Burress does not owe any back taxes in the Pittsburgh area. His claim is that Burress was a Florida resident since he has been Steelers drafted him in 2000. The tax claim goes back supposedly to 1998. I don't know how this all works because Burress owns the property in Moon Township, but he won't have to pay taxes because he was a resident in Florida which makes him a non-resident here, and he paid taxes in the city of Pittsburgh because that's where he worked. I have to admit that I am confused about it. I mean, I thought that if you owned property, you still had to pay the appropriate taxes regardless of where you resided because you still own the property. Moon Township authorities, however, say that if Burress proves that he was a resident of another area, they will waive the charges. So, as of now, it seems as if Burress is in the clear.

Big Ben in London stopped working for 90 minutes on Friday. As far as folks can figure out right now, the problem may have been caused by the hot weather in England. Believe it or not, it was 90° F in London. That's pretty warm for this time of year. Big Ben is now working just fine. Check out the Big Ben webcam

Friday, May 27, 2005 -- Evening

I'm not the only one who has cut down on the amount of movie going that I do. we have a 27 inch flat screen television with a nice sound system, a Comcast DVR and Netflix. In the past, my boyfriend and I would go out to a movie with friends a couple of times a month. The thing that we noticed is that we were spending alot of money on movies that were mediocre at best. I would rather spend the money on buying a DVD that I can watch multiple times at my own leisure. What the movie theaters and studios should learn from this is that folks don't want to spend alot of money for an evening's entertainment, and if you are going to go out, it's going to be for something that you can't get at home, and that is the big theater experience or the immediacy of seeing a new movie.

Friday, May 27, 2005 -- Afternoon

So what do you think of the Paris Hilton commercial? It seems that everyone has been talking about the commercial that Paris made for Carl's JR burger joint. It's a fast food chain that you find in California. It seems that the PTC (Parents Television Council) in particular is up in arms because the commercial is racy, and according to the PTC, an example of corporate irresponsibility. It seems that Carl's JR tries to present itself as family oriented, but the marketing scheme of late has been to target the young male audience. I watched the ad on the Carl's JR website, and all I have to say is that it is not as soft porn as folks would like to make it out to be. Yeah, we do have a scantly clad Paris Hilton washing down a car and herself while also trying to eat a Carl's JR burger. If anything, I would say that it is stylishly filmed, and I was quite impressed with the size of the Carl's JR burger. It made me wish that there were one here in Pittsburgh so I could try it out. I think that sometimes folks lose their sense of humor and proportion. All of Paris' body parts are covered, and you would think that Paris would have been moves after all the experience she has had filming herself having sex. The only folks who are getting excited over this commercial are prepubescent boys and the PTC. It's understandable for the boys, but the PTC should get a life.

It seems that Plaxico Burress may owe some back taxes to the local municipality that he lived in while here in Pittsburgh. It seems that an arrest warrant has been issued for Burress after he failed to attend a deliquent tax hearing. It seems that Burress could be arrested when he next steps foot in Pennsylvania, and will even have to pay a $2500 fine. So far, there has been no comment from Burress about the issue.

It is now official. Kellen Winslow will miss the entire season due to his injury. I saw some video on one of the news shows this morning where they showed Winslow attempting wheelies in a parking lot. They didn't show the accident, just prior attempts. It looked scary. Why someone would do something that stupid is beyond my understanding. The Browns are seeking an adjustment to his salary as they should since Winslow won't be playing for them.

Thursday, May 26, 2005 -- Evening

Tonight is Championship night on one of my new favorite shows Stump the Schwab. I love the show. Howie Schwab really has a ton of sports trivia in his head. I really admire him. There's something about that show that just fascinates me. Whenever it is on, I just find myself fixating on it. I think it's because of the types of questions, and because of the Schwab. I am a Schwabantic!

Tomorrow is Lag B'Omer. Basically on the second day of Passover, you count the days until Shavu'ot. Shavu'ot is a holiday to commemorate the giving of the Torah. ON Shavu'ot, you are supposed to spend the day reading the Torah. It's seven weeks between Passover and Shavu'ot, and the time between the two holidays is a mourning period that is counted off daily, and is called the counting of the Omer. The only break from the mourning is on the 33rd day of the Omer which is Lag B'Omer. The Hebrew letters lamed, aleph, and daled are used to represent the number 33. On Lag B'Omer, you can get your haircut and have weddings. In fact, with Orthodox Jews, the boy's first haircut is not done until the age of three years, and he won't get his hair cut until Lag B'Omer when he is three. The tradition is also to light bonfires for Lag B'Omer, and that usually translates into a barbeque in the US.

Thursday, May 26, 2005 -- Afternoon

Hines Ward is still discussing his contract extension with the Steelers. So far, there are six other players who also need contract extensions, but the Steelers are only talking to Ward right now. The others will have to wait until a deal is made with Ward, and then their contracts will be discussed. The others on the block are Casey Hampton, Deshea Townsend, Antwaan Randle El, Kimo von Oelhoffen, Jerame Tuman, and Chris Hope.

Do you know that folks consider the VCR a difficult item to install. It ranks right up there with a child's car seat and a digital television installation. The problem according to those surveyed by User Vision in Great Britain, is that manufacturers try to put in all these functions that just complicate the use of the item. Another thing that is mentioned is the packaging. I know that sometimes it more difficult to get the hard plastic covering off of the item than in actually using the item! I usually hand those to my boyfriend and tell him to go at it with a pair of scissors or a knive. The top 10 items on the usability list (or lack thereof) are (in order from 1 to 10) video recorder, child car seats, digital tv systems, digital cameras, washing machines/dishwashers, can openers, packaging, central heating systems (furnaces), handheld computers, and finally non-disposable diapers. I don't know how someone can find diapers difficult but maybe they have different diapers or nappies in Britain. Granted, the list was biased because those surveyed had to pick from a list of 40 items. I would put the packaging as number 1 though!

Thursday, May 26, 2005 -- Morning

Of course now we have all the analysis of last night's selection of Carrie Underwood as the new American Idol. I should say that it should have been obvious to us because I did hear that the song that the winner would record as the first single was Inside Your Heaven which was obviously more of a country type song than a rocker one. I have to agree that Carrie did fit the role of American Idol more than Bo did. For the majority of Americans, a sweet, pretty blonde girl fits the image of a pop singer more than a guy with long hair and a gruff demeanor. It's not that Bo didn't seem to be a sweetie in personality, but his look was gruff. Also, I think that there are more fans of country music in Middle American than for southern rock.

Now that American Idol is over, it's time to move onto Big Brother 6, and there is news on the Big Brother front. The season will start on Thursday, July 7 at 8 pm. The house will be a new one. It is currently being reconstructed and will be a two story building. This will probably give the contestants more places to hide away and scheme. Also there are supposed to be more contestants this year. The rumor mill (and Joker's Updates) says that there will be 10 new contestants and 10 returning contestants. I'll keep my eyes and ears open for more news. Julie Chen is going to return as the host again this year.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 -- Evening

Carrie Underwood is this year's American Idol

The final show of American Idol is on. The show started with the voted off contestants singing a collection of oldies. It was one of the worst experiences with alot of out of tune singing. Boy, I hope that the whole show isn't a collection of bad singing. I thought that we were rid of Mikalah Gordon's awful voice. I did like Constantine singing Get Around by the Beach Boys. It was a return of the old showman Constantine. I would imagine this is how their tour will be, and I don't know why anyone would buy tickets to it. The show picked obnoxious Mikalah Gordon as a host on the red carpet. It was annoying, just as she was. Then we had a recap of the season. I can see that the show is doing its ernest best to drag out the show. We saw folks in Bo's hometown cheering him on, then Bo went on stage to sing Vehicle. Then we got to see fans in Carrie's home town. From that we went to Carrie singing Angels Brought Me Here. One thing that I have been noticing in this first half hour of the show is that the sound quality sucks. It's either Fox in general, or my local station because the sound just randomly cuts out. After the commercial break, Ryan took us into Randy Jackson's dressing room. Randy said that after watching the show again last night, he thought that Carrie won the night. Then we got a whole comedy skit and rehash of the love/hate relationship of Paula and Simon. Only 37 minutes of the show have passed. How will they possibly drag this out for another hour!?! We saw a new Ford commercial, and then went to Simon in the dressing room. Simon said his opinion didn't change after watching the show, and he still believes that Carrie will win the competition. This show is really getting on my nerves because it is really stupid and annoying.

The second hour started with Carrie and Bo singing Up Where We Belong together. They did sing the song well together. It actually was a very nice touch, and they did a nice job. After the song, we found out that both Carrie and Bo were given a new car each. They seemed very shocked. Yet another recap of Bo and Carrie's seasons was shown. There were more recaps of the auditions. Then there was another comedy sketch putting Simon in a Paula Abdul role. The best part was having the contestants singing a duet with their idols. So we had Carrie singing with Rascal Flatts. Carrie did a great job with Rascal. Then we had Anthony and Anwar singing with Kenny G. They sang I Believe I Can Fly. Then Constantine, Jessica, and Nadia sang Walk this Way with Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Scott and Nikko sang Broadway with George Benson. Vonzell sang I'm Born Again with Billy Preston. Babyface sang with Lindsay and Mikalah. And believe me, Mikalah still sounds like crap. Finally we had Bo singing Sweet Home Alabama with Lynard Skynard. Bo did a great job singing with them--his voice is a perfect fit for the group. Finally after a long, long evening, we are at the end of the show, and we can find out who is the next American Idol. The results are in, and we find out that Carrie Underwood is the winner. The show closed with Carrie singing Inside Your Heaven which is the single that she will be releasing on June 14.

I just finished watching the recording that I made of Murder at the Gallop with Margaret Rutherford. This is the second movie that Dame Margaret made as Miss Marple. The movie is based on the Agatha Christie book After the Funeral. The book wasn't a Miss Marple novel, but a Hercule Poirot novel. At the beginning of the movie, Miss Marple and Mr. Stringer find Mr. Enderby dead. Was it a heart attack, or was Mr. Enderby frightened to death by someone? When Mr. Enderby's sister winds up stabbed to death, Miss Marple begins her investigation in ernest. With the assistance of Inspector Craddock, Miss Marple does indeed catch the murderer. I love Dame Margaret in this movie. One of my favorite moments is in this movie. Miss Marple is at a dance in a long gown, and she dances the twist with Mr. Stringer. The mystery is a decent one, and the humor is very enjoyable. I love the energetic, eccentric Dame Margaret as Miss Marple.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 -- Morning

I put in my votes for Carrie Underwood last night. I'm not sure how she did because I was able to connect quickly a few times in a row on and off. I have to admit that I just tried on and off for the first two hours of the voting period. So if she loses, it is because I didn't make the good old college try. MSNBC has a nice review of the show. They say that even though Bo is the better performer, Carrie has a strong fan base, and she has a likeability factor that Bo lacks. The roundtable group gives Carrie a win with three votes to one. I think that it will be interesting to see how the votes actually did pan out.

Scientists are now agreeing that Voyager is indeed exiting the solar system. Scientists are now pretty sure that Voyager is 8.7 billion miles from the sun, and that it has entered the heliosheath. The heliosheath is the area where the solar winds means interstellar space, and the area is basically hotter and denser than the space before it. Why do scientists believe that Voyager is in this area? Because the magnetic field that Voyager is registering has increased in strength over in November of 2003, and then increased again in December of 2004 and is now holding steady.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 -- Evening

Of course, tonight is final competition night on American Idol and it is being broadcast from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. There are going to be three songs each, three phone numbers each, and four hours of voting. A coin was flipped and Carrie Underwood got to choose who went first, and she opted to go second. So Bo Bice was up first and sang The Long, Long Road. It was a ballad song, and I was quite surprised because his voice sounded really weak for a good portion of the song. I think that it was a very bad choice for his voice, especially at the beginning, and towards the end these other voices drowning his out. Maybe the problem was that it was a bad arrangement. Needless to say, I was underimpressed. Randy said that he didn't love the song, but the great news was that he thought Bo sang it well, even though it was pitchy at the beginning. Paula congratulated Bo, and said that she told him she would see him in the finals. She also said it was difficult singing a song no one knows. Simon said that it was probably the closest final, and that Bo looked like his chemistry teacher, and it was a very dreary song. I have to agree with Simon.

Carrie was up with Inside Your Heaven. The song was also a ballad, but Carrie did a good job with it. She was really able to carry it off. She has a very nice voice, and this song did a good job of showing off the country aspect of her voice. Carrie is also a pretty girl, and I think that she should have a career in country music. Carrie definitely did a much better job with the first song than Bo did with his song. Will the judges agree with me? Randy said wow--that it was a wow night. The bad news from Randy is that he didn't love the song either, and he thought the first half was pitchy (I don't agree). Randy said that in the end, Carrie brought it home, and she can really sing. Paula again congratulated Carrie. Paula thought she sang the song beautifully with a few problem notes. Simon said that he could see that Carrie was nervous and thought that Carrie was better than Bo. He told Carrie to pace herself because her vocal was on the edge there, but that round one went to Carrie. As Ryan Seacrest talked to her after the judges, Carrie's voice had alot of emotion and sounded close to tears. It is a hard night.

The second part is the favorite song of the season for the competitors. Bo sang Vehicle. Again, I don't think his voice was at its best, and I'm not sure what the issue is. I wonder if it is a case of nerves or the fact that he is in a much larger auditorium and that his voice is being drowned out. Also, there are bits of it that just sound abit pitchy. He looks good though. Randy thought that it was a great song and great vocals. In Randy's opinion it was hot. Paula thought he couldn't have performed it better. Simon said "welcome back, now we have a competition". I still think that it might be abit iffy.

Carrie sang Independence Day. It was another country choice. I think that they are really playing up the whole rock versus country difference between the singers. I think that Carrie did a great job with the song. You can just see that she is really putting her all into her songs, and I am hoping that it works for her. Randy said "Welcome back Carrie"--that's the Carrie I love, you worked it out and that was hot. Paula said it was brilliant and a great vocal. Simon didn't think that it was a great vocal, and thought that it sounded strained. Simon claims that round two went to Bo, but Randy Jackson said no. I think so far that it is 2-0 for Carrie.

In the final round, Bo sang Carrie's song from the first round Inside Your Heaven. Again, I thought that his voice was weak and pitchy. These slow ballads with low notes just aren't suited to his voice, at least the two songs that we had tonight weren't good for his voice. I don't think that he sang the song anywhere near as well as Carrie did. Everytime there are backup singers, they just seem to drown out his voice. Again, in my opinion, not his best performance. What do the judges say? Randy said it was amazing and that Bo made him love the song. Paula agreed that Bo gave his all on the song. Simon said that this was the first time he saw nerves in Bo. Simon said that he thought Bo outsang Carrie, which I think is wrong, and that it has been great just having an opportunity to listen to Bo this season. Bo said that it has been a surreal experience.

So Carrie did not sing Bo's song from the first round. Instead, she sang Angels Brought Me Here. Her voice was too low at the beginning, and it was hard to hear what she was singing. I'm not sure that I would have gone with this song. I think that she should have gone with something that was more rocking and would give her a chance to move around more. Carrie did look nice in a nice black dress. I think that she has a very nice voice, and I think that in the end she did a good job. As Randy would say, I think she brought it home. The other thing is that I think her song choices will really appeal to her fans. Carrie's voice did crack on the last note, and she did start tearing up. Randy gave her the "dog standing ovation" and just kept on saying wow. Paula said that Carrie has faced a lifetime of achievements in the last six months. Simon said that Carrie has alot of guts, competing against someone older than her, and Simon said that he felt Carrie did enough to win this competition. Carrie said that it's nice to see the end in sight, and to look forward to the tour tomorrow. I know that Carrie has my vote. I think she did a much better job than Bo did. Regardless of which one wins, I think that both deserve recording contracts, because both are good.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 -- Afternoon

There has been a huge controversy in Israel lately over the actions of the current foreign minister, Silvan Shalom. It seems that Mr. Shalom's wife was miffed that the Israeli Ambassador to Washington did not arrange a meeting with Madonna on Madonna's recent trip to Israel. It seems that the Ambassador, Danny Ayalon, has made allegations that Mr. Shalom and wife have been interfering in Embassy business, chiefly by having the assistant to the ambassador fired for the Madonna incident. Now there are stories that Mr. Shalom is not renewing Mr. Ayalon's term of office and Mr. Shalom is being asked to resign his position. To think that all of this is because of Madonna!

This story sounds like something out of a mystery or espionage story. A corporation finds that all of its data files have become encrypted, and on the server is a text file telling them to email an address to get more information. They do so, and are told that in order to get the password to unlock the files, they will have to pay $200. The corporation, though the assistance of some security companies, manages to regain control over its files without paying the ransom. The company was not named, but supposedly the story is true. I would think we would see more things like this happening. Data is where the money is, and no one ever backs up their information.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 -- Morning

This morning before I came to work, I finished reading Sick of Shadows by Marion Chesney. This is the third in the series of the Edwardian mysteries that I have been reading that included Snobbery with Violence and Hasty Death. Although this series was entertaining and quick to read, the books were light on the mystery, and I think that Sick of Shadows was the lightest of the three. We return to the adventures of Lady Rose Summer and her new fiance, Captain Harry Cathcart. Daisy and Beckett also return as the sidekicks. We get more of the same misunderstandings between Rose and Harry, who can't see that they are made for each other even though it is quite obvious to all of their non-society friends. The book goes from one misunderstanding to another, and almost reached a point where I wanted to wring both of their necks. However, in the end, all works out. I don't think that I will be reading another of these books just because it was so light on the mystery, and the writing was so terse and staccato in nature. I'm sure that the next book (which will probably be out in the fall or next spring) will put another impediment into the path of happiness for Rose and Harry. There will be more misunderstandings and threats of being sent to India. The only aspect of the books that I do find interesting is Ms. Chesney's excellent grasp of the Edwardian time period. You can almost feel the stays in the women's clothes, and she paints a very good picture of the culture and society at that time with the many class restrictions and snobberies.

Monday, May 23, 2005 -- Afternoon

Afleet Alex is doing well after his near fall and win in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. It seems that the injury he has is a slightly scraped left ankle. It seems that the trainer, Tim Ritchey is a Steelers fan, and he wondered the following: “The Steelers had the Immaculate Reception,” Ritchey said. “What do you call this? The Immaculate Recovery?” It's good to know that Afleet Alex is doing a-okay. So far, he is my early favorite for the Belmont Stakes.

According to Ian Pearson, the head of British Telecom's futurology department, we are going to be able to download the contents of our brain to a computer. Mr. Pearson's claim is that rich people will be able to do brain downloads by 2050 and poor folks will be able to do it by 2075 or 2080. Why does Mr. Pearson believe this will be the case? Because the new Playstation 3 is a sign of the times to come. It's supposed to be 35 times more powerful that its predecesor, and the Playstation 3 is one percent as powerful as the human brain. This seems like a pretty major leap in logic in my opinion, but I supopse that Mr. Pearson's job is to imagine things that might be. NOw, I'm not sure if he actually does any work in making the things happen or if he is just a theoritician who speculates on what might be while someone else has the onerous task of making it so. I suppose the whole thing makes for a good sci-fi story, but I don't think we really understand how the human brain works yet to make such a claim. Forty five years is not that far away.

Sunday, May 22, 2005 -- Evening

I watched the second episode of What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw. I am really going to have to reread the book because I think that the script writers did take alot of liberties with the story. I don't think that it took away from the show however. I did enjoy it, and I thought that the ending where the murderer was identified was quite ingenious. Far fetched, yes, but still ingenious. I enjoyed the acting jobs in this show by all the concerned. There was one part that disappointed me, and that was the love story aspect. It was quite different from the book. In the show, Lucy Eyelesbarrow falls for Miss Marple's acquaintance, the police inspector, Tom Campbell, while in the book, she goes for Bryan Eastley. In fact, I don't think that Inspector Campbell exists in the book. I really need to get the four books that were made into the new shows and read them to see what was changed. All in all, though, I do think that most will enjoy this version of the story.

My boyfriend and I have decided to start a new tradition, going out to get breakfast on a Sunday morning. We'll probably keep to it as long as the weather is nice. The place that we settled on was the Bagel Factory on Forbes Ave. here in Squirrel Hill. It is a nice little stroll from our apartment. The Bagel Factory shares its facilities with Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. The food at the Bagel Factory is just like what you would find at an old traditional deli. They have sandwiches, different types of salads, baked goods, and breakfast food. The prices are reasonable, especially considering the fact that they bring the food to you after you order at the counter. This morning, I had egg, cheddar, and bacon on a toasted garlic bagel (for only $2.95) while my boyfriend had Challah french toast (around $4). The food was hot when we got it. In fact, my bagel was so hot, I almost burned my lips on it. The Bagel Factory has seating both inside and on the sidewalk. I think we will be going there for quite a few Sundays.

Saturday, May 21, 2005 -- Evening

There is a sports controversy in the Pittsburgh area. It seems that a high school girl's 400 relay team from Penn Hills dropped the baton during their competition, and didn't make it to the PIAA championship because they weren't in the top eight. In fact, the team wound up finishing 11th. Well, the three teams that finished ahead of the Penn Hills team decided to drop out, so the Penn Hills team would "finish" in 8th place, even though they didn't. Why did the three teams do this? Because they felt sorry for the Penn Hills team because they had a better record for the season, and the other teams felt that the Penn Hills team deserved to go to the PIAA championship. Well, geeze, isn't that special? I remember the last summer Olympics when the US 400 meter relay team had baton problems, and didn't wind up winning any medal, even though they were favored to the gold. Now shouldn't the teams that won the gold, silver and bronze have stepped aside because the US team really was the best and deserved to win? That's not how it works. You either win by not dropping the baton, or you lose. The Penn Hills team 400 meter team lost, and they shouldn't be going to the championship. It's sad that they had such a great record for the season and then screwed up, but that's how competition works. Why even have a competition? Let's just let all the teams go, and give everyone a medal. That's what they do in grade school--let's just live life like that.

I just finished watching the Preakness Stakes, and Afleet Alex won. It was a nail biting moment because the horse who wound up finishing second, Scrappy T, was leading into the final turn. His jockey decided to whip the horse on the left hand side, so the horse moved out to the right hand side, right into Afleet Alex. Afleet Alex stumbled badly, but he kept his footing somehow, and went on to just fly past Scrappy T to win the race by 4 1/2 lengths. Giacomo was third, back around 9 lengths. A length is one horse length.

The Eurovision competition was held in Kiev today, and the singer from Greece won. The winning singer was Helena Paparizou. Second place went to Malta, third to Romania, and Israel finished in fourth place.

There may be some movement in the NHL situation. Negotiators are saying that they are making some progress, but this doesn't mean that any agreement is in sight. I am not holding my breath anymore. I gave up on hockey in March.

Oddsmakers have Bo Bice winning American Idol. It seems that originally on some of the online betting places that Carrie Underwood was the favorite. That changed with the competition last week.

Friday, May 20, 2005 -- Afternoon

Batya Gur died yesterday from cancer. She is the author of mysteries written in Hebrew and set in Israel. The books have been translated into English, and have actually met with a good response. The books have a more psychological overtone to them. The latest is Bethlehem Road Murder, and you can read the first chapter. Batya was only 57, and had just found out last year that she had cancer.

Kellen Winslow may have torn his ACL in his motorcycle accident from a couple of weeks ago. The story is not being reported by Winslow or the team, but it is the strong rumor. What does that mean for Kellen? An extended recovery period. Not only will he be out for the next season with a 10 to 12 month recovery period, but he is also going to be charged with disregarding safety. The police are going to issue a citation which has a fine of $150. The Cleveland Browns may be looking into trying to recover some of the money that they put into Kellen, but are proceeding with caution until the official word is out on his injury.

If you are interested in working at Heinz Field during some of the events, such as Steelers or Pitt football games, there will be a job fair there next Tuesday. Of course, you won't be watching the games, but you might get a chance if you are a seat attendant. It is something to consider, isn't it?

Tomorrow is the Preakness Stakes, the second leg in the Triple Crown. Anyone who thinks that Giacomo is going to win must be dreaming. Of course, with horse racing anything can happen. The race looks like it is filled with a bunch of duds, and the only one that I think stands out is Afleet Alex so my money will be on him. I like Afleet Alex for the Derby, and he finished third. The Preakness is a shorter race, but I like his chances.

Thursday, May 19, 2005 -- Evening

Vonzell is gone now, but the competition goes on. I don't think that it was undeserved in the sense that Carrie and Bo both were pretty good. I do believe that nerves were really getting to Vonzell and it was showing in the quality of her singing. In fact, I think that she was superb when she was singing after she was voted off last night. Maybe she should have put that much enthusiasm and soul into her earlier performances. Now the question is who will win the competition? I think that Bo is a better singer, but I don't know if he has the callers that Carrie has. If they released the actual number of votes that each person got, we might have a better idea where Carrie and Bo stood. Something interesting to note, however, is that Constantine shows up as number 10 in the top ten performances ever on American Idol--and yet he was voted off. Hmmm! It does make one wonder. Here is the roundtable discussion of this week's show. Tonight we can watch the worst auditions for the show for this season. That's always entertaining.

I just finished reading Hasty Death by Marion Chesney. Although I have grown interested in the characters, I have to admit that this book was not as good as the first Snobbery With Violence. We have the return of Captain Harry Cathcart and Lady Rose Summer (along with Daisy and Beckett). Why didn't I enjoy it that much? Because the whole story seemed very rushed. Ms. Chesney (or Ms. Beaton) writes in a very terse, staccato way, but it just seemed to be extremely exaggerated in this particular book. There is one more in the series, Sick of Shadows which just came out in April. I just got it from the library, and I plan on reading it even though I was not excited with this story. We still have Lady Rose in Hasty Death trying to find her role in life. She starts the story getting permission from her family to take on a typing job with Daisy, little realizing that it is a job that has been setup by Harry at a friend's bank. Murder entertains the picture, and a society person who may have been blackmailing other nob types winds up dead. Lady Rose uses her detective skills at the bank to get information on money that has been put in the murdered Freddy's bank account. Before we know it, Lady Rose and Harry are in the thick of things. A slight diversion into an asylum for Rose heightens the suspense, but doesn't deter Rose from her goal, to show up Harry Cathcart. It's obvious to everyone buy Harry and Rose that they are perfect for each other. The reason that I am going to continue with the next book, is that I think they finally realize it for themselves in that one.

Ten countries have made it into the Eurovision song contest, and Israel is one of the final ten. The song for the Israel is Hasheket Shenish'ar, and the artist is Shiri Maimon. The finale is this Saturday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 -- Evening

The vote off show is now on. It seems that last night after the show, the audience and contestants got a sneak preview of the new Star Wars. After that news, we got to see Vonzell Solomon's home coming. We saw her do radio shows, then go to see her former co-workers, then a signing event, and finally a ride on a yacht with her family. Then she had more fan meetings and got the key to Fort Myers from the mayor. The day ended with a dinner at home with her family. Vonzell then got to sing Chain of Fools for us again. After the commercial, we had the Ford commercial where the three sang One Way or Another. The song was good, the commercial was boring. Now it was Bo Bice's home visit. He was greeted by two members of Lynnard Skynard, then went on the radio station tour and the store signing. Then he got the key to Helena, Alabama from the mayor. Bo then had a parade through the city, and a crowd of 8,000 folks at the local Ampitheater where Bo sang for the crowd with help from the guys from Lynnard Skynard. Bo's song this evening was Without a Dream, the acoustic number from last night. Last up was a look at Carrie Underwood's visit home. Carrie went home to Oaklahoma. As with the others, she did the radio interviews, and had a parade though the town. She sang the national anthem, then got the key to the city, had the day named "Carrie Underwood Day" by the governor, and an honorary degree. Then she went to the local school for an autograph signing session. The day ended with a trip home and visits with the family and pets. Carrie sang Crying. The final commercial break came on, and then we finally got to learn who was voted off the show. There were 37 million votes last night. Vonzell was voted off. It's as we have been hearing from the beginning of the season that Carrie and Bo would be in the final. The show closed with all three singing United we Stand, Divided We Fall. It did not sound very good, but it was an emotional time.

Folks think that Vonzell is going to be voted off tonight. I would agree with that, but then sometimes you just can't tell whether folks voted or not. Tonight will be the vote off show, and we will get to see some video of the contestants in their home towns.

Bob O'Connor won the Democratic nomination for mayor of Pittsburgh. O'Connor managed to gather half of the votes while both Peduto and Lamb split the other half. This evening on the way home from work, O'Connor was on the street corner where Scheneley Park leads into Squirrel Hill. He had given a thank you picnic for his supporters, and was at the corner with a sign and waving a thanks to voters. That's the thing that I like about O'Connor. I don't know if that will make him a good mayor, but he does niceness about him that is very endearing. Also, he is very dedicated to his community, and that's just what Pittsburgh needs.

Ben Roethlisberger isn't the only Steeler quarterback who rides a motorcycle without a helmet. It appears that Tommy Maddox has been riding a motorcycle for the past four years without a helmet. It appears that it wasn't such a big deal until Kellen Winslow had his motorcycle accident.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 -- Evening

American Idol is on now. They will be singing three songs each tonight. The songs will include one that the contestants choose, then one the judges choose, and then one that Clive Davis chooses. Vonzell Solomon went first and Clive chose I Know I'll Never Love This Way Again. I don't think that Vonzell did well with the song. Her voice sounded rough to me in spots and "pitchy". The end was good and robust though. Clive Davis thought she hit the notes right, but that the smile was out of place in the song. Randy thought that it was pitchy throughout. He thought the end was good, but pitchy. Even Paula thought that it probably wasn't the right key to start in, and was pitchy. Simon said that there were bum notes throughout and she was obviously nervous. Bo Bice was second and Clive picked Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me. All I have to say is that Clive is not very good at picking songs for folks. I don't think that Bo did well with this one at the beginning. It got better at the end, but it wasn't a Bo song. Clive thought that Bo captured the song, and that it was heartfelt and passionate. Randy liked it, and said that Bo is forever in the dog pound. Paula said that it was pure brilliance and magnificent. Simon said that it was really great, and prefers this time of song to the rock songs. Carrie Underwood is last this evening. Clive picked Crying by Ray Orbison for Carrie. The song was perfect for Carrie, and I really enjoyed it. I thinking that she performed the best song in this set. Clive thought that she did a real strong job with the song. Randy thought it was perfect and one of Carrie's best. Paula thought it was a subdued, nice, nice, poignant version. Simon thought that it was a good job, but maybe a bit wooden. Simon would have given the first round to Bo.

The second round of the competition was on, and it was the contestant's own pick. Vonzell picked Chain of Fools She did a nice job with the song. The thing that Clive said about her is true. In every song, she smiles alot and tries to give a Whitney Houston-ish laugh. She did a decent job with the song though. Clive said that she gave the song a pop feel, but missed the soulful essence of the song. Randy thought it was a perfect song choice, and sang it well, and that it was her best performance. Paula said that no one who performed the song in the past nailed it like Vonzell did. Simon said that Vonzell has the likeable factor just as Clive said, then he reiterated that it was a competition tonight. Bo said Without a Dream, and did it a cappella. He did a beautiful job. It was extremely good, and just based on this performance, I would give him the win for the season. It was extremely impressive!! Clive said that Bo took a real risk and pulled it off, and said that he was going to make a prediction that they would have a great time making an album together. Randy loved that he returned to the a cappella and that Bo was the bomb and great. Paula said that Bo truly was a gift, and that he is also a gift on the inside too, and a wonderful soul. Simon said that Bo may have just put 34 million musicians out of work. Carrie chose Making Love out of Nothing at All from Air Supply. It was a nice job, but it was abit of a let down coming after Bo. Carrie did a nice job with the song, and I think that the final two will be Carrie and Bo. She held one note forever, and it was an impressive job. Clive said the song choice was special to him, and loved how Carrie threw herself into it and it was a great job. Randy said that Carrie can definitely, definitely sing. Paula said that it was a great choice of song, and she sang it effortlessly, and it was unbelieveable. Simon said that she had a good night tonight, and it was hard to follow Bo, and that she was straining abit in the middle.

The third set was the judges' pick. Simon picked On the Radio, a Donna Summer song, for Vonzell. The song was perfect for Vonzell. Her voice was abit shaky at the beginning. I think that it is nerves. She has to know that she probably isn't going to make it past tonight, and she ended with another Whitney laugh. Clive said that Simon picked a good song for her and she did well. Randy said that he enjoyed it and Paula agreed and said that Vonzell is enjoying herself. Simon said that he agrees 100 percent with Clive. Now for Bo, Paula picked I Can't Get No Satisfaction. Bo came leaping out, and put alot of energy into the song. Bo did a great job with it, and even put abit of the Constantine swagger into it. I think that Bo is definitely going to make a selling album. Clive said he really nailed and took three different songs and made them his own. It was his night. Randy even said that it was like being at the Bo concert tonight, and he rocked the house. Paula said that everyone's going to get one more free week, and will have pay to see him. Simon said that he loved the first two songs, but the third was abit of light fluff "like you" Simon said to Paula. Paula and Simon do have a chemistry together. Randy picked I Feel Like a Woman for Carrie. I didn't like the beginning very much, but then she picked it up during the chorus part. It was the right song for her. Clive said that country pop is her element, and radiates from her voice and look. Randy loved it, and thought that Carrie did her thing. Paula said that she loves with Carrie having fun and she was in her element. Simon said that the first part of the song, Carrie didn't sound comfortable, but she picked it up in the second half. Simon thinks Carrie would make it to the final two.

I think that Vonzell was definitely the weakest of the three, and we should be seeing Carrie and Bo performing next week with Bo winning it all.

The Wall Street Journal released its 2004 Technology Innovation Awards. There were winners in a variety of technology genres, but the one of interest to me were the overall winners. The gold medal winner was Sun Microsystems because of the innovations in increasing the speed of data transfers. Silver medalist was Given Imaging from Israel for their pill shaped camera that can be swallowed and used to check out problems in the esophagus. Bronze went to another Israeli company, InSightec Image Guided Treatment Ltd for a device that destroys tumors using a combination of ultrasound and MRI. Israel is obviously the hotbed for innovative technology.

Monday, May 16, 2005 -- Evening

I just finished watching What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw. It was my favorite of the new Miss Marple series. There was a definite atmosphere of suspense throughout the first episode. Since I just saw Murder She Said, I was able to do a good comparison to it. The humor was obviously missing, but the show tonight seemed to be more true to the story that I remember. The only thing that does make me curious is that I don't remember Miss Marple knowing the police inspector in the village near Rutherford Hall from when he was a child in St. Mary's Mead. There appears to be a romantic tension between Lucy, the girl that Miss Marple sends into Rutherford Hall, and the police inspector. The actor who plays the inspector also played the brother in The Mummy Returns. From what I remember of the book, I thought that Lucy formed an attachment with Bryan, the widowed father. We'll have to see how it develops. I have to admit that Geraldine McEwan is going on me as Miss Marple. Ms. McEwan just glows with enthusiasm for life in the role. She plays Miss Marple as a kindly, happy, and inquisitive sort. There is such a twinkle of joie de'vivre that is a joy to behold. I can't wait for the next episode next week.

An "outplacement consultancy" says that Star Wars movie will cost US employers up to $627 million dollars. The thought is that half of the folks who show up to see the movie in its first two days will be calling off from work, and the cost of their time would equal the $627 million dollar mark.

I just finished reading Snobbery With Violence by Marion Chesney. It was an entertaining book and a quick read. I have a more detailed review.

Monday, May 16, 2005 -- Morning

The Czech hockey team won the World Ice Hockey Championship in Vienna yesterday. They beat the Canadian team which was trying for a third straight world championship. Russia won the bronze by beating Sweden 6-3. The final score in the Czech/Canada game was 3-0, and Jaromir Jagr was one of the stars.

George Lucas is saying that there are analogies between the new Stars Wars: Revenge of the Sith and the evil that is the United States. According to Lucas, we can see from the movie how a democracy turns into a dictatorship, and how good people turn to evil. I just find it disgusting the United States and its government is always given the tag of evil. The guys who flew the planes into the World Trade Center were just oppressed beings who didn't have any other way to call attention to the evil that is the US, and any response that we have to such acts of terrorism are just signs of dictatorship. Where was the outrage of George Lucas when Saddam Hussein was gassing the Kurds in Iraq, or torturing and killing people who disagreed with him? That's not evil or a dictatorship. It's only the US that is evil. That is such a bunch of bull! I think Mr. Lucas doesn't know what it is like to live in an evil and repressive dictatorship. Maybe if he did, he might not be comparing the US to those entities.

Sunday, May 15, 2005 -- Evening

I have just been watching the rerun of the very first season of Endurance that is on Discovery Kids. The shows are from 2002 and two episodes are being shown each week. JD Roth is the host of the show, and the goal is to team up the kids (a boy with a girl), and to put them through a series of physical and intellectual challenges. There are two types of competitions: Endurance missions where the winning team gets a pyramid piece (all ten are needed to win the game) and a samati which is given to a team that the winner wants to lose the Temple mission, and the Temple mission where the winner sends two teams to the Temple from which only one will return. The winning team gets a trip to the location of their choice. This week, we have the first episode Right to Stay. They start with 10 boys and 10 girls aged 13 to 14 who are sent to an island in the Pacific, and on the first day, they eliminate three of each. It's done by having a feat of strength. In this case, the kids have to hold onto a pair of rings over the ocean, and their feet are raised. It's basically a waiting game then at that point to see who has the strength to hold on. The neat thing about the show is that both boys and girls are put to the same test. It's interesting to watch the first season again because I have seen the shows before. All the guys thought that Chelsea would be the first girl to be eliminated in this competition, but she wound up making it through the first competition. The second episode, Partner Game shows the competition to pick a partner. In the first season, the competitors had to battle to catch a ball. The person who did catch the ball was then able to put a boy and a girl together to make a team. Jonna came up with a list that everyone appeared to agree with, and they were supposed to stick to the list. Well, the thing that I like about the show is the scheming, and things didn't work out the way it was planned. Before the teams are setup, we see Sabrina, Ashley, Jon and Christian going around and making an alliance and scheming to get put together. The teams are formed. The first team is Jonna catches the first ball, yellow, and teams Jon and Sabrina. Ashley catches the blue ball, and teams Aaron and Jonna. Layla caught the red ball, and teamed Christian and Ashley. Sabrina was in the background whispering to Layla and putting the pressure on to create the team, and Layla gave in to it. Max catches the green ball, and he puts the monkey wrench into the team plan. He pairs Trevor and Lana. Now, Trevor was supposed to be paired with Chelsea. Jenna caught the purple ball, and she paired Brandon and Layla. Max caught the orange ball which got him two pyramid pieces because it was the last ball. Max paired Skylar and Chelsea which left Jenna as Max's partner and they became the grey team. The teams picked the following pieces: Yellow picked Perseverance, Blue picked Courage, Red picked Leadership, Green picked Commitment, Purple picked Strength, Orange picked Luck, and Grey picked Heart and Trust. Then they picked the trips. Yellow picked first and took Belize. Blue took Africa. Red took Australia. Green took Amazon. Purple took Costa Rica. Orange took Bali. Grey was left with Galapagos Islands. The first mission will be in the next show.

I just finished watching the recording that I made of Murder She Said starring Margaret Rutherford. The movie is based on the Agatha Christie book, 4:50 from Paddington. It's also known as What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw. What is ironic is that the new Miss Marple this evening on Masterpiece Theatre is What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw. I am going to try to watch this show this evening so I can comment on it. Anyway, I enjoyed the Rutherford version of the story. There were changes made to the Christie story. In Murder She Said, Miss Marple is the person who views the murder while traveling on a train. She is looking out the window of the train, and sees a woman being strangled to death. When she tells the conductor on the train, he believes that she is mistaken, and unfortunately, no body is found on the other train. Miss Marple figures that the location where she saw the strangling was near Rutherford Hall, and then she becomes the person who goes to the Hall to look for the body that had to be dumped from the train. There is a great deal of humor in the movie, and this increases in the subsequent movies. The Miss Marple in the Rutherford movies is a very active person with a very sharp, witty tongue. The real liberty that is taken with the movie is the addition of Mr. Stringer, who plays Miss Marple's male friend/boyfriend, and was Margaret Rutherford's husband in real life (Stringer Davis). I really do love the theme music for the movies. It has a very peppy, sixties sound to it which I think gives a very good description of what the movie is like.

The primary election for Pennsylvania is going to be held this coming Tuesday. The election for mayor is going to be basically decided then. Why? Because the city is basically a Democratic place, and there isn't much of a chance for a Republican to win in the general election in November. so, whoever wins the Democratic nomination will probably become mayor. Although I like some of the things that Michael Peduto says, I think that I have to give my vote (if I were a Democrat) to Bob O'Connor. Basically, Mr. O'Connor says that the force of his personality will make things better in this city because he will develop relationships with the state and business that will be to the city's benefit. The thing that I have to say is that I have seen Mr. O'Connor in action, and I think he is basically a nice guy. He is always wandering around the Squirrel Hill area, and has always been nice to everyone he sees. Two years ago, my boyfriend was becoming an American citizen, and had some questions about the voting process. He approached Mr. O'Connor in a local coffee shop, and had a lengthy talk about the process. For the past three years that I have lived in Squirrel Hill, I frequently see Mr. O'Connor patronizing local businesses, and being very involved in the community. That's why he would get my vote.

Saturday, May 14 2005 -- Evening

Clive Davis is going to appear on American Idol this coming Tuesday. Mr. Davis is going to give his opinion of the remaining three finalists just as he did last year.

If you want to know what Bo Bice did during his trip home this week, you'll be happy to know that he performed with his band. Some of the guys from Lynnard Skynard were in the audience, so Bo sang Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird in their honor.

70 lucky kids are going to get to hear JK Rowling read from her new book one minute after the start of the sell of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The 70 children will be winners of a variety of competitions that are going to be held. They will then travel Edinburgh Castle, and that's where JK Rowling will do her reading. The event should be broadcast live worldwide. It will be interesting to see. I haven't yet put my order in for the book. I like to live dangerously and wait for the last minute.

Friday, May 13, 2005 -- Evening

Today is Friday the 13th. This is the only Friday the 13th for this year. When I was a kid, I was always superstitious over this day, but now I realize that it silly. The thought that Friday the 13th was an unlucky day comes from Christianity. The thought is that Jesus died on a Friday and there were 13 people at the Passover sedar held before Jesus died, so therefore, a combination of the two items would be very bad.

Friday the 13th in 2029 might be an unlucky one for Earth. An asteroid should make a close pass to Earth on that date, but it is not supposed to hit us. Theoretically, it is possible that there might be a collision, but scientists aren't worried. That's scientists for you. The asteroid was only discovered in June of 2004, and there isn't alot of data on it. The thing is that from the information they have been able to gatherAsteroid 2004 MN4 crosses Earth's orbit twice. On April 13, 2029, the asteroid should be only 18,600 miles from Earth's surface. Some satelites are 22,300 miles from Earth, so it is pretty darned close! We should be able to see the asteroid with the naked eye. The asteroid is 320 meters wide, and if it did impact with Earth it could take out land the size of Texas.

Thursday, May 12, 2005 -- Evening

Today is Yom HaAtzmaut or Israel's Independence Day. In honor of the event, listen to Hatikva the Israeli National Anthem. Ha'aretz had a list of ten who made Israel what it is. The issue that I had with the list is that they left one of the key people who made Israel what it is: Moshe Dayan. Independence Day is also the start of the barbeque season or mangal.

People are still talking about Ben Roethlisberger and the motorcycle. Today we heard from Drew Brees who cautioned players against doing things that are risky. Brees, for example, does some things like diving off the Great Barrier Reef, but he doesn't sky dive or do any downhill skiing. It seems those two items are on Drew Brees' wish list of things to do, but he thinks they are too liable to injure him. I know that walking for me can be risk inducing. Ever since I tripped over uneven pavement two months ago, I have had a sore foot. So, I can just imagine the type of recovery time if you hurt yourself sky diving! Brees and Roethlisberger were both in south Florida for the NFL annual Quarterback Challenge.

There will likely be a resolution in Allegheny County that will require libraries to issue annual reports on incidents involving pornography or obscence materials on library computers. Part of the uproar has been caused by a 12 year old girl who saw a guy looking at nude females on a library computer at the Bethel Park Library. The only question that I have is what will be deemed obscence. That's where things like this can be a slippery slope. Right now, everyone would probably be in agreement that nude people or sex scenes might be obscene, but isn't obscene in the eye of the beholder? Obscene basically means that something is disgusting to the senses. (That is courtesey of Merriam-Webster Dictionary. What I think is funny about this issue is that librarians have always been on the side against censorship, and yet they fall into it here. Yes, I can understand not wanting your child to access certain materials, but who decides what those materials are? The libraries block access to some web sites now because of the Children's Internet Protection Act.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 -- Evening

Tonight was elimination night on American Idol. The first thing up was a recap of last night. We had the usual group sing with all of them singing Islands in the Stream. It wasn't that bad actually, although Bo really can't sing country songs. The Ford commmercial this evening was stupid. Bo has a messed up hairstyle, and the remaining three ask how he got his hair like that. Then they all go in the car and go on this roller coaster ride that gives them all messed up hair. After the commercial break, we got to see the auditions of the four finalists. Vonzell looks more polished now than then. Anthony, however, looks like he has too much makeup on now. I liked the old look better. Carrie looked just like she does now. Even with the hair straightened, she's still herself. We also go to see the Bo audition which was never on tv before. He didn't have the same amount of face hair, and the hair seemed shorter and curlier on the ends. Then we got to the part we have been waiting for. There are three marquee tickets that will be given to the three who continue so they can fly home, spend the week with family, and then come back for the next competition. There is also one coach ticket to send the loser home. Who will get what? We find out after the commercial break. So they started with Bo who was safe. Then they went to Carrie and she was safe. Vonzell was also safe. Poor Anthony is leaving tonight, but he had to know that was a strong possibilty for him because he was in the bottom three alot this season. It's ironic that Anthony did not give the worst performance last night, and he winds up being the one who goes home. We leave with Anthony singing If You Don't Know Me By Now. Carrie was crying alot and mimed to Anthony that she loves him. That was very touching. I did wonder how well the contestants get along with each other, and I suppose that some of them do develop friendships. Anthony and Carrie both seem like pleasant people who would be easy to get along with.

Margaret Rutherford was born on this day in 1892. TCM had a showing of all four of the Miss Marple movies that Dame Margaret starred in. I managed to record them today, and will be watching them this weekend.

Speaking of birthdays, Leslie Charteris was born on May 12, 1907. Mr. Charteris was the author of the Saint novels and stories. The stories are written in that straight forward style that was used with detective fiction in the 1930s. If you haven't read them, you should give them a shot. Also, keep an eye open for The Saint television series. I think that Roger Moore did an excellent job as the Saint.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 -- Morning

I checked out MSNBC for their analysis of last night's American Idol, and it seems that they are giving equal percentages on Vonzell and Anthony advancing to next week. I also checked out the roundtable, and the consensus appears to be that although Anthony had one of his best weeks, he may be the one to leave. Vonzell's performance leaves her abit vulnerable, and I was suprised to see that in the roundtable, Molly seemed to think that both Vonzell and Carrie were the vulnerable ones. It will be interesting to see what happens tonight!

I finally found a site that has a picture of King Tut that was created by the CT scan. I am still planning on watching King Tut's Final Secrets so I can see how they did it.

Scientists have found a new moon that is in one of the gaps of Saturn's rings. It seems that the moon's gravitational pull is also creating ripples in the rings. There is only one other moon that is found in a gap in Saturn's rings.

Astronomers have also detected the birth of a black hole. It seems that the black hole is being formed by the merger of two dense neutron stars. This is one of the possible end results of a star--to become a neutron star. It's gamma rays were detected by the Swift telescope a couple of days ago.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 -- Evening

Tonight is competition night on American Idol. Paula got a big round of applause from the audience and kudos from Randy and Simon. The theme tonight is alittle bit of country (songs of Nashville) and a little bit of city (songs from Philadelphia and song writers Gamble and Huff). Carrie Underwood was up first and they showed a clip of her two sisters wishing her well. Carrie sang a Dixie Chicks song, and it sounded really bad. Now I'm not familiar with the song so I don't know if it was supposed to sound bad on the voice. Now Carrie did put alot of energy in the song, and it was good performance-wise--hard on my ears though. Randy said it was the perfect song for her to sing and that Carrie is ready for the record charts because he would buy it. Paula said that Randy said it all. Simon said that it was the equivalent of her singing in the shower and she did it effortlessly. simon also mentioned how we got to see her personality too. Next up was Bo Bice. We got to see Bo's parents wishing him well. His mother looks very young. Bo did a good job with his song. I was thinking that he might not do well with this genre, but I think that the choice of song really suited his voice. He has that raspy sound that goes well with country. Randy thought it was another great performance and that Bo did his thing. Paula said that we say we love you and they do. What was surprising is the Paula said that he needs to pick more challenging songs. Simon said, "What Paula is trying to say is that it is boring". He said it was a lazy and uninspiring performance and like a jam in a local club, and that it wasn't great. Then we got the humor of seeing Bo's grandma joking mime that she was going to pound Simon. Next up was Vonzell Solomon. How will she do with country? We got to see her brothers urging her on. She sang one of my favorite songs How do I live. Leigh Ann Rimes did a cover of it. vonzell's voice was extremely shaky throughout the song. It was one of the worst vocal performances that she has given in my opinion. She ruined the song in my opinion. I can't wait to hear what the judges say to see if they say the truth. Randy was up first. Randy claimed it started rough in the first few bars. He said that it was slow, but somehow she did her thing in the end. Miss Positive, Paula, asked how she was feeling, and vonzell said that she was choked up seeing her dad. Paula said that she's a beautiful performance. Simon said that she looked and sounded incredibly nervous this evening, and he was just going to leave it at that. I think that the judges weren't very positive because she really sounded BAD! Last up was Anthony Fedorov. The only thing that could be worse after Vonzell's performance was Anthony. And he shocked me. The start was really rough, but then he started getting better. He sang I'm Already there by Lonestar, and I was impressed with him. I would have thought it would have been truly awful, and it wasn't. Randy said it was good--and it was! Paula said that it was a good performance, and she wants to see him stretch more. Simon said on a positive note that Anthony did sing it well. Simon did not like the song and thought it was gooey and syrupy. The thing is that he did sing it well--surprisingly. I think in the first grouping of songs, Vonzell did an incredibly bad job. She better pick up her act for the second set!

The second set of songs started out with Carrie singing If You Don't Know Me By Now. We first saw a tape of Carrie saying who she missed the most from home. I liked the song. I don't think the song was the best for Carrie. She didn't do a bad job, but the song just didn't seem to suit her. She threw in some good, long held notes at the end, but I just didn't like the song. I expected more from Carrie. Randy said that the song didn't work for him. He didn't feel that it got on track pitch-wise. Paula said that it just wasn't the right song for her. Simon thought that it was a bad arrangement and blamed the band. Simon continued to say that it was boring and lethargic and a really awful song. Bo sang For the Love of Money, and he sent out a video thanks to his parents, and said he wouldn't be the man he is today without the support and love of his parents. Bo had the whole look going for the song, down to shades and no shirt under his jacket. The guy has a good voice. He can pull off any song that he sings pretty much. Paula stood up to applaud him, and the audience was going crazy. Randy couldn't even get a word in because they were going crazy. Randy said he loved it, and he hoped that when his record came out, it was on it. Paula loved it--as usual. Simon said terrible image, but fantastic performance. Next up was Vonzell. She thanked her parents via video. vonzell sang Don't Leave Me this Way. It was better than the first song, but it wasn't up to what I would expect from Vonzell. While I was listening the thing that I kept on thinking is that it's going to be what she sings on the show tomorrow when she gets booted off. There were good parts in it though, and the end was better. Randy said that it was an excellent job. Randy said that America knows now that Vonzell could sing. Paula said that Vonzell takes risks, and did her personal best on that song. Simon said that she pulled all the stops out on the song, and alot better than the first song. For a first, Anthony did the same song as Carrie. He gave a thanks to his parents too via video. He sang If You Don't Know Me By Now, and I think he did a much better job than Carrie did with the song. He really didn't do bad this time. Randy said that it was a much better version of the song, and it was good. Paula said that he came out with conviction. Simon said that it was a better arrangement. Simon also said you need soul to sing--it's like having Woody Allen play Shaft.

Based on tonight's performance, I would say that Vonzell should go this week. If Anthony goes though, he gave a good showing of himself this evening.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 -- Afternoon

Tomorrow is Yom Hazikaron Lechalelei Ma'arachot Yisrael or IDF Memorial Day in Israel. It is identical to the US Memorial Day and is meant to honor all of those who haved died while serving Israel. Coming up on May 12 is Yom HaAtzmaut or Israel's Independence Day. The state of Israel was declared on May 14, 1948, but the thing that confuses everyone is that the holidays are celebrated based on the Hebrew calendar. So Independence Day is celebrated on the fifth day of the month of Iyar. This year it is on the third of Iyar probably because the fifth falls on Shabbat (Saturday).

Corey Clark claims now that he has explicit evidence of his affair with Paula. He is not planning on voluntary revealing this evidence, so I don't know why he says that he has it. Either he wants to show it or he doesn't. If he didn't, then he wouldn't say he has it. This guy is really a piece of work.

A CT scan has provided us with images of what King Tutankhamun looked like. This is the first time facial reconstructions have been done with CT scan, and what the scientists at the Cairo Museum are hoping to do is display the mummies with a CT scan image of what he/she would have looked like in life. That would be really cool. I haven't found any pictures on the web yet, but the images should be shown on the National Geographic Channel's King Tut's Final Secrets on May 15th at 9 PM EST.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 -- Morning

Last night, I watched the final part of A Murder is Announced. As I said before, I have been enjoying the series so far. That said, I can understand some viewers complaints with the show. One comment that was made on a mailing list to which I subscribe was that Miss Marple goes through this whole Poirot type scene where the suspects are gathered, and she goes through how the murder was committed and who was the murderer. I have to admit that Miss Marple's behavior in this part of the episode was abrasive because she seemed to be bossing the police inspector around (at one point, she pushes him behind her as she is confronting the murderer). Another issue that folks had with A Murder is Announced as a whole was the depiction of the lesbian couple. In the book and in other incarnations of the novel, the lesbian couple is there. Admittedly, in this version, the couple is very stereotypically shown with one of them dressing like a man, and the other acting the feminine, ditzy role. It is jarring in that respect, but the couple did exist in the book. Also folks didn't like that Miss Marple appeared to acknowledge the relationship, but that's what happens when things are modernized. The last issue that folks had was that some of the characters were dropped from the book. I think that this was done just to keep the show under two hours without becoming too confusing. I did find the show enjoyable, and I will be watching What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw next week. This is another of my favorites, and I have seen all versions of it. The one with Margaret Rutherford (called Murder She Said) was abit campy, but did get the basic plot of the story right. I look forward to see the new version next week.

I found an article on Vonzell Solomon. It mentions how she used to be a mail carrier and how her father is a martial arts instructor. On American Idol they have shown footage of Vonzell doing some martial arts. Basically the article just says that Vonzell is a nice person. The only funny part is when it is mentioned (twice) how when Vonzell sings, it brings tears to people's eyes. I thought that could go either way. It could bring tears to the eyes because it hurts your ears too. Vonzell can sing though, so I will assume it means that her voice is so beautiful it makes you want to cry. I don't know that I would go that far in describing it personally. I also found an article on Carrie Underwood that doesn't give alot of new information. We do find out that if Carrie makes it to the final three, she will be returning to her hometown next week for some filming of the town's reception of her on American Idol.

I just found an article on Anthony Fedorov. This article talks about how Anthony had a growth in his throat at four months of age that required several surgeries to fix. He is now the contestant who is supported by Since it finally dawned on me that there are articles for each of the contestants today, I looked for one about Bo Bice and found it. It seems that his friends say that he is pretty much as he seems on the show. It seems he hasn't given in to any attempts to change his looks, and is pretty much staying true to the image that he wants to project. The surprising thing that I found out in this article is that Bo is a mama's boy.

Monday, May 9, 2005 -- Afternoon

Now I have to admit that this particular news story bugs me because I see so many holes in the logic that is used to draw a conclusion. Some Canadian researchers did some observations in supermarkets and determined that parents take better care of pretty children. Basically, they were observing adults with children, and noted if the adult strapped the child into the grocery cart with those seat belts they have now, and whether the adult kept a close eye on the child as they went around the store. Then the observers rated the child's attractiveness on a ten point scale. The researchers determined from their observations that the adult was more likely to strap in the pretty child (only 4% of the uglies were strapped in compared to 13.3% of the handsome) and to keep a better eye on the pretty child and didn't let it run around. So what problem do I have with this? Let me list them. 1) How do they know the adult is the parent? Maybe the adult wasn't a parent, but an friend/relative/babysitter. 2) Did the adult have a pretty and ugly child which were treated differently so we can see if the issue is that the adult is just not attentive? 3) What's pretty? I know that I see alot of average/cute kids out there, not ugly or very pretty. 4) How do they know that the problem just isn't a parent who is overly protective and strapping the kid in, or just thinking of other issues at work or home and forgetting to do it. Personally I wouldn't be strapping my kid into a shopping cart. How fast are you pushing the shopping cart, and are you expecting a collision? Please! The researchers did find that older adults were less attentive to the children than younger ones. Probably because they are just tired out. Anyway, I don't think that the observations prove anything.

NASA scientists have been simulating the trapped condition of the Mars Rover, Opportunity, and should have some steps to take in make the great escape from the sand trap Opportunity is in. They don't want to make matters worse, and think that they should have something ready for action in a few days.

Sunday, May 8, 2005 -- Late Afternoon

Paula Abdul has a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live last night, and made fun of the allegations that have been made against her. I didn't see if because I usually don't watch SNL, but it appears to have been funny. Two of the cast members were Paula and Corey Clark. Then Paula came out and critiqued them on how to be "sexier so contestants will sleep with you".

I just finished reading an older library book. It's Columbo: the Hoover Files by William Harrington. The book was reminiscent of the television show in that we know whodunit, and see how Columbo figures it out. I'd have to read another one to see how I feel about it. The problem with this book is that Columbo spends the majority of his time interacting with someone who is NOT the killer. I think in total, he only talks with the killer two times. The thing that was also disconcerting about this book is that it didn't jive well with the television Columbo. The accent in the book was very jarring. I kept on trying to put Peter Falk's voice into the scene, but it just didn't ring true. The other thing that I didn't like is that Columbo appeared to be abit of chick magnet in the book. There was the women police officers and the news reporter who seemed to want to get in his pants. It just didn't ring true. The book was quick to read, and I did get a second Columbo book from the library at the same time The Game Show Killer. I'll have to see if it is better.

Sunday, May 8, 2005 -- Afternoon

Maccabi Tel Aviv won the Euroleague final just now. The final score was 90-78. Towards the end of the game, the NBATV signal was crappy, and we missed the Maccabi Tel Aviv final score from the half way mark on the court. It was a good game, and close at points. Tau Ceramica put up a fight, but it didn't get them anywhere. My guy, Sarunas Jasievicius did an excellent job in the game, and really was the spirit in the team that lead them to a win. The Maccabi co-owner is Ra'anan Katz who is also the original partner of the Miami Heat. Mazel Tov Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Was it or wasn't it? The question on everyone's mind is whether or not Google was hacked last night. I know that I was doing some blogging at the time, and was trying to go to Google to look up some information, but couldn't. I missed the whole bit where SoGoSearch was displayed instead of Google's page. Right now Google is claiming that there was just a DNS problem. It does look suspicious though.

This is the Twilight Zone news. Nope, not the television show. Three royal couples are expecting babies in the October/December time period. First up was the Danish Crown Princess Mary with an October due date. Then Norway's Mette-Marit with a December due date. Today, we had an announcement from Spain's Princess Letizia with a November due date. All three are going to be future queens of their countries, and for all three it will be the first child of the marriage (Mette-Marit has a child from an earlier relationship). So we will have the births of three future heads of state in a matter of weeks. There is also a fourth member of royalty to be born in October, and that is for the Belgian crown Princess Mathilde. It will be the third child for the couple.

Prince Harry has shown up at Sandhurst to begin his army training. He will have to pass a four day long assessment for his physical abilities before he receives his actual placement.

Saturday, May 7, 2005 -- Evening

My boyfriend and I went to Fuel & Fuddle this evening for dinner. It was a mediocre meal at the best. He loves the nachos that they have there, and they were okay. The problem was with the main portion of the meal. I ordered the Left Coast Pasta which is described on the menu as follows: "Penne tossed with White Wine, Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Sundried Tomatoes, Shitake and Portobello Mushrooms, Pinenuts and finished with fresh grated Asiago". What I didn't realize is that a more accurate description of the dish would have been "mediocre, tasteless tomato goop trying to pretend to be a sauce". Maybe if the dish had been something other than just warm, it might have been better, but the "sauce" was really tasteless. My boyfriend was smart--or at least he thought he was. He had a burger and fries. There is nothing worse then fries that are served cold. So, yeah, you get sweet potato fries mixed in with regular fries, but cold is cold. So if the only thing you want is an okay appetizer--not great, but not bad--Fuel & Fuddle is the place for you. They also have alot of different types of beer there. That's probably why they don't put the effort into the food. They obviously expect people to eat the food with beer goggle tongues. The other peeve that I had with the place is that folks were allowed to smoke in the non-smoking section. The only section where true non-smoking seemed to happen was in one corner against the wall. For all intents and purposes, that means that there is no non-smoking section. All in all, it was a disappointing outing, and I am going to put the boycott on the place.

The Kentucky Derby just finished, and the winner was the 50-1 Giacomo. Bellamy Road just fell apart and really wasn't in contention. Second was Closing Argument, and third was my favorite, Afleet Alex. As soon as the complete results are posted somewhere on the web, I'll link to them. It seems that Bellamy Road wound up finishing seventh, which is really shocking to alot of folks. The thing with Bellamy Road was that he only had two races under his belt, and running a mile and a quarter after that is alot to ask of a three year old.

The big controversy here in Pittsburgh is about Ben Roethlisberger driving a motorcycle. It seems that he was called into Bill Cowher's office yesterday to get a lecture about riding the bike without a helmet. Now, personally, I think that riding a motorcycle is not the best idea, especially without a helmet. That's just plain suicidal, and definitely not something that I would be doing. with that said, it is Ben's decision. I mean, he could seriously injury himself in any number of ways. Do we wrap him up in cotton except when he is on the playing field? And what if he gets injured during practice or on the field? Ben has to live his life the way he sees fit.

The results are posted for the Derby.

Friday, May 6, 2005 -- Evening

Today in the Euroleague basketball championship, Maccabi Tel Aviv won the semi-final game against the Greek Panaithinaikos to advance to the Euroleague finals in Moscow. Last year, Maccabi Tel Aviv won the Euroleague championship. My favorite player is on the Maccabi team. Sarunas Jasikevicius also played for the Lithuanian team in the last summer Olympics.

Scott Savol gave an interview to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It seems he wasn't too surprised at leaving American Idol, and he seemed to be taking it well. Scott should be back in Cleveland next week.

Tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby, and it seems that some think the field is open. The two that I think might do well in the race are Bellamy Road who is owned by George Steinbrenner, and Afleet Alex. Most favor Bellamy Road because he won the Wood Memorial while Afleet Alex won the Arkansas Derby. I think that I am leaning towards Afleet Alex.

It seems that scientists have found the Mars Polar Lander. A scientist found it by studying pictures from the Mars Orbiter Camera. It seems after information was gathered by the Mars Rovers, the scientist went back and looked at some images from the Orbiter, and thought that on a second look that he could identify a parachute. The Mars Global Surveyor will give the area a better check on its next pass over it.

Friday, May 6, 2005 -- Morning

I found a neat roundtable discussion of the last episode of American Idol. It seems that they have four people who get together and do a critique on the songs that are sung on the show, and then give their suggestions on who should go that week. I plan on checking them out next week. They have links to the earlier shows this season too. They all seemed to think that Anthony Fedorov should go. He'll probably be out next week unless one of the other three wind up doing a horrible job. I would say that next week is a given just because Anthony has been in the bottom three so consistently this season. It would be funny though if he proves to be always the bridesmaid and never the bride, and some how manages to squeek through.

So know we know why Corey Clark came forward with his allegations against Paula Abdul. He says it is because the folks at Amercian Idol have been putting road blocks in his path to stardom. According to Clark, the reason that he didn't mention any of this crap before was because he has been trying to move on with his life. It's just the mean old American Idol folks who won't let that happen. Clark says that the producers of American Idol have been spreading lies about him in the industry, and that has led to him having difficulty in succeeding. Boy, I always find it amusing how folks without talent always want to blame someone else for their lack of success. So Clark gets his 15 minutes of additional fame now, but it won't lead to anything else. Who will he blame then?

It seems that Phoebe, a moon that orbits Saturn, may actually have been a comet that was captured by Saturn. The Cassini mission has data that implies that Phoebe came from the Kuiper Belt which is the area that marks the outer reaches of the solar system.

Thursday, May 5, 2005 -- Afternoon

A co-worker just stopped at a local Chinese food placed called Lu-Lu's and got a bubble drink. She didn't like it, but I have to admit that I LOVE the drinks. My favorite is the honey dew version, and I love the tapioca beads in it.

A former stewardess (excuse me, flight attendant) is saying that she gave birth two years ago to Prince Albert of Monaco's son. There is a huge spread about the story in Paris Match. Albert is supposedly consulting his lawyers on how to handle the issue. This is really something because popular rumor has it that Albert is gay and just hangs around with supermodels to make it seem like he isn't gay.

Thursday, May 5, 2005 -- Morning

I always like to check out the assessments by others the morning after the American Idol elimination. As can be expected, the only thing that is shocking is that Scott managed to last this long on the show.

The big story was the Primetime Live show last night. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thought the show was just a big bunch of nothing. In fact, as the article at MSNBC comments, if Paula is able to influence any of the call-in voters with her syrupy sweetness that person should have his/her phone taken away for him/her. You really have to agree with that one. The most annoying thing for me about Paula is that she has something good to say about everyone everytime. I think that the only time this past season when I heard her say anything even remotely negative was when Paula said that she didn't like Scott's song choice during the April 26 competition. corey Clark even admitted during the show last night that Paula did nothing to help him make it through the competition. Her only help was in making suggestions about clothes and song selections. Boy! I have to admit that this whole situation has made me feel sorry for Paula. Even the writer at MSNBC thought that Corey Clark was his own worse witness! Corey Clark is a very lucky person because he got ABC to do a one hour promotion of his upcoming book and cd. What really makes the whole thing suspect for me is the fact that Clark is saying that he won't assist Fox in any investigation. Sounds like his claims won't hold water with an investigation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 -- Evening

I watched the first half of Primetime Live, and it was just a rehash of all the information that we have already heard on the web. Paula Abdul approaches Corey Clark after he sings a song to her in one of the early elimination shows. She has someone give him her number; she gives him money for clothes, buys him stuff, gives him her cough medicine, and gives him tips on what he needs to do to improve himself. The relationship becomes a sexual one, according to Corey. He gets booted off the show for his police record that dealt with his violence towards his sister and some bounced checks. The thing is that we have his word for it that this happens, and then he proceeds to show how he is recording an album and the book deal. So if this is the truth, why did it take two years to come out? Because for him, the story is worth something now. Is the whole thing true or only parts of it? Even if it is true, what does it mean because he didn't win anything, and whether he stays or leaves is totally dependent on viewers calls. It might show poor judgement on Paula's part, but I don't think that it shows that the show is fixed. That's the part that is left out of all this. How did this relationship fix the show?

American Idol is on now. It is elimination time. How will they drag it out for half an hour tonight? Of course, we had the review of last night's show. The group sang Bridge over Troubled Water. That's one of my boyfriend's favorite songs, and he thought that the groups' rendition was awful. It was. The problem is that they can't all sing, and they definitely don't know how to sing together as a group. When they sing together, they always try to out sing each other--or sing as individuals instead of as a group, and it just leads to sore ears on our part. I can't wait for the group sings to be over. Then the contestants gave Paula two bouquets of flowers. I suppose it is because poor Paula has been under attack with the expose. The thing is that I would believe that Paula is nice to all the contestants. The Ford commercial was a cute one. A dog named Rudy was locked in the car with the keys, and the contestants do all sorts of things to have the dog give them the keys. We found out that today is Anthony Fedorov's birthday. We then had Anthony go to the couch, Vonzell Solomon stay on stage and then Scott Savol go to the couch. Then Bo Bice was told to stay on the stage with Vonzell. Carrie Underwood was also told to stay on the stage. Of course, we then found out that the guys on the stage were safe. I think it's funny because when Scott heard that he was going to the couch, he acted like he was safe. So now we are going to hear both Scott and Anthony sing for us after the commercial break. Scott sang first, and did a bad job. I hope that he isn't singing first because he is going to be safe. Randy commented that the right three people were on the couch. He's right because Scott is not a good singer, and Bo, Carrie, and Vonzell are the cream of the crop right now. No comment was made on whether Scott was safe. Then we had Anthony sing. I think that he did a better job singing this evening than Scott did, but that doesn't mean anything. Randy said that every week, you have to act like it is your last week--pick the right song and be on pitch. Of course, we had a commercial break before the announcement. Thank goodness! Scott Savol is finally off the show! Scott wanted to be remembered as the guy that everybody loved. Unfortunately, I think he was the guy who hurt everyone's ears.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 -- Afternoon

The funniest thing that I heard today was a co-worker who greeted me with "May the 4th be with you".

I just finished reading Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin by Nancy Atherton last night. The book definitely falls into the catagory of cozy books that I love to read so much. I think that life is stressful enough. Why should I read something that just increases my stress load?

Corey Clark gave details of his relationship with Paula Abdul to ABC's Primetime Live. Supposedly, he told his parents and friends about the relationship at the time it happened. The show is on tonight at 10 pm EST. The thing is that even if Paula did have an affair what was the conflict in interest?

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 -- Morning

It seems that everyone is in agreement that Bo and Carrie are the two to beat in this year's American Idol. I think the biggest question on my mind today is who will go out tonight? Last week's experience shows me that nothing is safe. I put in some votes for Anthony Fedorov last night because I really do not want Scott to continue. Yep, I was making the anti-Scott vote, and I hope it works.

Scientists have twelve new moons orbiting Saturn. The moons are basically small in size--anywhere from 3 to 7 kilometers. This now brings Saturn to a total of 46 objects orbiting the planet. Saturn is still number two in the natural satelite contest. Jupiter leads with 63 satelites. It also seems that all but one of the new moons go around Saturn in the opposite direction of Saturn's larger moons, which it typical for bodies that are captured by plantary gravitation.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005 -- Evening

Tonight is competition night on American Idol. I don't know who I will be voting for now that Constantine is gone. There are two themes for tonight is Lieber and Stoller who did songs like Stand By Me and Jailhouse Rock. The other is any song from this week's Billboard charts, and it can be any Billboard chart. So there will be two songs from each. That explains how they come up with an hour of show. The first theme is Lieber and Stoller. First up was Anthony Fedorov and he sang Poison Ivy by Lieber and Stoller. I never heard of that song. Anthony's voice is definitely weak, but he was doing his best to get some rocking going on. He pretty much sings as well as I do, and that ain't saying much. Randy thought it was out of tune at the beginning, and not a winning performance. Paula said that it was nice to see him having fun, but she is looking forward to the next song. That lead Simon to say, "so you don't like it". Simon said that this one was an insipid and amateurish performance. Next up was Scott Savol. Scott sang On Broadway. At time, Scott's voice sounds weak. He did something funky with his hair, and it looks darker. I think that he does not look like star material. He didn't do a bad job with the song, but there were parts where it was "pitchy", in my opinion. Randy said there were definitely some bad notes and pitch problems, but he thought Scott had enough of the right vocals to pull it out. Paula said that Scott has alot of moxy. Of course, Paula loved it. simon said that Scott has more escapes than Houdini, and even though there were bum notes, it was Scott's best performance. Then we had Vonzell Solomon who sang Treat Me Nice which was an Elvis song. I don't think the song really suited her vocals. In fact, she seemed to be having some pitch problems in the song. It was a disappointing performance. Randy said it was one of the best vocals for a song that he didn't know. He said that Vonzell got him to like a song he didn't know, and that's the way to win the performance. Paula said that a producer would snatch her up in a minute to go on Broadway. Simon thought there were good elements, but thought that the whole performance was abit of a mess. As usual, I seem to agree with Simon. Number four was Bo Bice. He sang Stand by Me. It was a rocking song, but I think it was the best of the evening so far. My boyfriend said that he missed the emotion to really put the reviberation into the song--he thought it was mediocre. Randy said that what he loves about Bo is that he picks the right song for him, and Bo knows exactly who he is. Randy thinks Bo is going to make it. Paula said there is no reason to critique Bo, just to enjoy him. Simon also said that Bo picked the best song by a mile. Last in the group was Carrie Underwood singing Trouble. I think that she did the best job. Her voice was iffy at the beginning, but there was alot of emotion in the voice. Randy said that Carrie also knows exactly who she is too, and she did a great job. Paula said that it was her favorite Carrie performance. Simon said that Carrie gave her fans exactly what they want, and that's what you need to do at this stage in the competition.
The second part of the show had the Billboard hits. Again, Anthony was the first one up. He sang a slow, ballady type song, and I think he did a very nice job with it. I think that ballads are more his style. Randy said it five out of ten compared to Backstreet Boys. Paula said that although there were off notes, he is suited to these songs. Simon said that he had a disasterious start, but thought he did a good job overall. Then we had Scott. I didn't recognize the song (it was Everytime You Go Away), but I don't think it suited scott's voice at all, and I think that it was not a good job at all. They showed his "fans" in the audience, but they didn't seem excited. Randy thought he pulled it out. It was a Brian McKnight song. Paula said it was Scott's best night, and that Scott owns the stage. Simon said that Scott was more flat than in tune. Scott said though that he is planning his song for next week. I really don't like Scott. He makes my eyes and ears hurt. I don't think I can take many more weeks of watching him. What's bad is that Scott sucks, but he's thinking that he doesn't because he somehow keeps on winning. After Scott came Vonzell. She seemed to be having a few issues hitting some of the notes. She sang You Tell Me That You Love Me. She got better towards the end. Not bad I suppose. Randy and Paula stood to applaud her. Randy thought it was a perfect vocal. Paula thought it was beautiful. Simon thought that it wasn't a perfect vocal, and thinks that Vonzell had a very off night, and thinks that her fans better call in. Then came Bo. I didn't think that the second song was so good. It really didn't grab me. Granted, I think that Bo has the best voice of all of them, but the song, Heaven Loves Lonely Boys, really didn't do anything for me. Randy said that Bo solidified his place in the dogpound. He's the captain. Paula said that tonight Bo Rules. Simon said that Bo had a good night tonight. He said that Bo is making some of the other singers look like amateurs. The last person up was Carrie. She sang a country song, and it really suited her voice. Carrie really has this country sound to her voice. I don't think she should be singing pop songs because she just does such a nice job with country. I think this song and performance was truly the best of all ten performances that we saw this evening. Randy said it was another great, perfect vocal performance. Paula said that it was perfect, eloquent, and beautiful. Simon said that it was very good, and although the performance was robotic, the vocal was perfect.
So what did I think overall? I would imagine that Anthony, Scott, and Vonzell will be competing for the bottom. I hate to say though, that I think it will be between Anthony and Vonzell. Scott just has too many folks voting for him because they want the worst person to win, and have the American Idol producers stuck with having to push the worst person.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005 -- Afternoon

Tomorrow is the day that ABC will be releasing its expose on American Idol. Basically the revelations are going to be that there is impropriety because Paula Abdul had a relationship with one of the contestants in the second season of the show. The questions, of course, are whether the accuser, Corey Clark, is to be believed, and if he is, what matters about it. After all, the only thing that Paula does on the show is gush over every single contestant as if that contestant were the best thing since sliced bread. It's not as if her opinion does anything other than assist in assisting in the selection of the top 24 contestants. After that, it's all up to the audience votes. Everyone is making a big deal about Paula's impropriety in the whole business without really knowing the details of the whole thing, and that means getting both sides of the story. I can imagine that Corey Clark is trying to sell a story at any cost to others. What does it really say about American Idol? Not much in my opinion.

The newest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will be released in IMAX theaters at the same time that it is released in regular theaters. In the past, an IMAX version was released after the regular theater release. The movie should be out on November 18. The new book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be out July 16.

Monday, May 2, 2005 -- Evening

I must be one of the few folks who happens to like the new Miss Marple. Last night was the first episode of the new two part episode of A Murder is Announced. I didn't have a chance to watch it then, but with the beauty of the DVR, I was able to watch it this evening. This particular story is one of my favorites, and I already know whodunit because I have watched the older version, and have read the book. Why do I like this version? I think that it's because I like the spunkier Miss Marple. Whether it is like the Miss Marple of the books is questionable, but I don't have any issue with envisioning this twinkly eyed, active, spunky, cheery woman as Miss Marple. I give kudos to Geraldine McEwan, and I have to admit the next time I read a Miss Marple mystery, I'll be picturing Geraldine in the role. As for the story itself. I was not disappointed. I have read some other reviews where folks thought that the music over powered the dialogue, but I did not find that to be the case at all. The music is lively, but it didn't intrude. To my memory, the plot of the story is true to the original. The story starts with a black and white video clip of the death of a weathly financier. We then go the village of Chipping Cleghorn where we are introduced to some of the characters. A murder is announced in the local newspaper. There is to be a murder at Little Paddocks at 7:30 that evening and only friends need attend. The owner of Little Paddocks is Lettica Blacklock. She has rents out rooms in Little Paddocks to a variety of people: Patrick Simmons and his sister Julia, a friend Dora Bunner, and a war widow who's son is away at school. There's also a maid, Mitzi, who is a disgruntled employee. She's a refugee from Germany (Jewish), and had been going to school for a law degree. Right before 7:30, the villagers troupe in. There's Colonel Easterbrook, Then Sadie Swettenham and her grown son, Edmund. When Mitzi brings them in, she says, "this is Mrs. Swettenham, and her son who's name I don't care to remember". Finally come two neighboring women, who are obvious lesbians. In the book and other versions of the show, the lesbian bit wasn't so much in your face as this version. One of the women dresses very manly while the other is very feminine. Anyway, they wait for 7:30. The lights go out, a man appears in the doorway, shots are fired, the lights come on, and we find Lettia with a cut ear bleeding alot, and the man shot dead in the hallway. What happened? Well, it turns out that the man is a desk clerk at a nearby hotel where Miss Marple is staying. It seems he indulges in petty crime--changing the amount on checks and stealing the money, etc. Miss Marple thinks he was part of an act, and did not mean to rob or murder anyone at the house. So who hired the hotel desk clerk? Miss Marple joins into the mystery by joining her friend's daughter (one of the lesbians), and gives a helping hand to Inspector Craddock. The only thing that I wonder about is that not alot of stuff occurred in first episode, and there are still a few more murders left. I'm wondering if the next episode is going to be abit rushed.

Monday, May 2, 2005 -- Afternoon

I don't know how many of you have seen it, but Laura Bush did a great job at the Washington Correspondents Dinner. This is a yearly event that the President attends and makes fun of himself. Well, this year Laura took over. The entire thing was just hilarious. Her speech writer did a great job, and Laura had good deliver. My favorite comment was when Laura was talking about the differences between her and George, and she said, "But George and I are complete opposites — I'm quiet, he's talkative, I'm introverted, he's extroverted, I can pronounce nuclear — ". That's funny stuff! Here's the complete transcript of the speech, and here's a link to the video of the dinner. The video is almost two hours in length, but it does give the entire event from C-Span.

Monday, May 2, 2005 -- Morning

I understand that Carl Krauser was at the graduation ceremony yesterday for the University of Pittsburgh. I heard from one of the folks who was working at the event that Krauser was there as part of the CGS (College of General Studies) contingent. I didn't see him, and I was right by the CGS group, but then I wasn't looking for him. I asked how Krauser could play for Pitt next year if he has already graduated. It seems that since he is eligible to play, all he has to do is register for a class, and he will be able to be part of the team. Strange, isn't it? Well, at least Krauser is part of the 15% of Pitt's athletes who actually get a degree!

Sunday, May 1, 2005 -- Evening

Today was the University of Pittsburgh graduation ceremony. I went to the ceremony for my boyfriend's sister was graduating this year. Although the ceremony didn't start until 1 pm, family and friends were told to arrive at 11 am. We did, and after checking with an usher, we got really good seats in the best area to take pictures. I have to admit that the ceremony did drag abit. chancellor Nordenberg is the worst public speaker that I have ever heard. Listening to his voice is soporific. Nordenberg has this weird pausing, monotone type voice that sounds like one of those bad computer generated voices from ten years ago. His speeches tend to drag on with no humor and nothing to grab the attention. I have to admit that as soon as words starting coming out of Nordenberg's mouth, I had difficulty following what he said for any length of time. My recommendation to Chancellor Nordenberg, whoever writes your speeches should be fired. If it's you, hire someone quick who knows what they are doing. Also, please just stop talking because your voice is awful! The rest of the ceremony was good. The other speakers were brief, to the point, and even funny at times. At the end of the ceremony, they did a neat job of sending off confetti out of these cannons that were setup all over the auditorium that gave an appearance of an explosion of fireworks all over the auditorium. For those of you who are interested, here are pages one and two of the program and some pictures of the event. Congratulations Naama!

In the past, when the Seinfeld show was still on, folks would go to New York city, and take the Seinfeld tour that would take them to a variety of different locations that were on the show. Well, one of the stops on the tour was for the Soup Nazi. This was a guy who had a soup restaurant in New York City which had really fabulous soups made from super secret recipes. The issue was that the guy would make strict guidelines on the type of behavior that was acceptable in his store. For example, you had to have your money ready when you got to the checkout, and you had to move to the extreme left after ordering. Now, if you can't make it to New York, you can get some Soup Nazi soup. There is a move afoot to open up chains all over the US. I hope that one comes to Pittsburgh. The Soup Nazi is working with Rutgers University to make soup that can be made in such massive quantities and be shipped in large numbers. It will be interesting to see how this all works out.

Next Saturday is the Kentucky Derby. When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of horse racing, and would try to watch as many races as possible (that were televised). This year, there isn't a really strong favorite for the race so that tends to lead to a large field. So far, this year, there are 20 horses entered. Bellamy Road is the favorite, but that doesn't mean much because there are a few other horses that are equally strong. The interesting thing about Bellamy Road is that he is owned by George Steinbrenner.