The Daily Bongo

January 2006

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 -- Evening

Another episode of American Idol this evening. The auditions were in Las Vegas, and only 11 people wound up moving on to the next round. Read the recap.

I'm not a big Pitt basketball fan, so I was glad to see that they lost to UConn. The final score was a close one: 80-76.

Monday, January 30, 2006 -- Afternoon

On a personal note, I am starting the fourth week of my Introduction to Journalism class. I am still hoping that the class will help me to write blog entries that are more terse and to the point. It would be nice to get rid of fluff or verbosity. Unfortunately, verbosity comes naturally to me, so I'm having trouble limiting myself. However, so far in this class, we really haven't talked about the writing part of journalism. The only writing assignment in the past month has been to use active instead of passive verbs in 10 homework sentences. The only thing that we have done is waste time by talking about the teacher's personal life--how she got into journalism, how she encourages us to follow our heart instead of our pockets when considering a career, what her husband did (he is deceased), blah, blah. The other thing that we do each week is have a news quiz and discussion of the news from the past week. I have always been "into" the news and subscribe to Time, Newsweek, and the Jerusalem Post. Plus I read the news on the web via FOXNews, BBC, and MSNBC. Did I forget my addiction to the free Trib PM. Needless to say, rehashing the news in class is not stimulating me intellectually. Especially since the teacher seems to have a limited grasp of the news. As she told us, her work experience was in the area of soft news--human interest stories. I think that the news quizzes are just a way to boost the coffers of the Post-Gazette since we now have to read the week-day print newspaper. Someone here at Pitt's English Dept. must have stock in the Post-Gazette because that is the paper that we are told to read. It's an interesting choice because it has a more liberal slant to the news than the Trib.

I just heard on the local ESPN radio that Maxime Talbot has been sent back down to the Baby Pens. The Baby Pens are still doing well and lead their division with a 34-6-3-2 record.

I am listening to the Mark Madden show on ESPN radio. Madden, however, isn't on the show because he has a heart attack this past weekend. He was feeling nauseated all day long and finally drove himself to the hospital Saturday evening. Some sort of surgery was performed this afternoon to help with the problem. Nothing is being mentioned about what the surgery is. Madden is feeling fine and hopes to be back to work soon.

Monday, January 30, 2006 -- Early Morning

Derrell and Terrell Brittenum were booted from American Idol before they could make the trip out to Hollywood. The twins had run into trouble with the law over identity theft. The twins used the identity to buy a car. Supposedly record companies are showing an interest in the twins.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 -- Afternoon

Today is the start of the Chinese Year of the Dog. In the Chinese calendar, this is year 4704.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 -- Morning

I watched the eighth episode of Endurance: Tehachapi this morning. Emotions were running high in this episode because Purple is guaranteed to go to Temple if they do not win the competition. Read the recap.

Sidney Crosby earned a $250,000 bonus for scoring his 60th point yesterday, and he got another $250,000 on Thursday for his 35th assist. Crosby said that he isn't as concerned about the money as he is with making wins. Marc-Andre Fleury is also being commended for the spectucular save against Jaromir Jagr yesterday. Fleury made 44 saves which in a normal game would be excellent. Now if only Fleury played for a team that could make shots and be a competitor.

Roger Federer won yet another tournament. This time it is the Australian Open. Federer won 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 against Marcos Baghdatis, who was unseeded. It's not very often that an unseeded player makes it to the finals, so Baghdatis has much of which to be proud.

Saturday, January 28, 2006 -- Afternoon

The Pens are playing the New York Rangers. I was abit late in watching the game because it is a gorgeous afternoon. Sunny skies and warm weather are not conducive to sitting inside and watching television. The first period was a flip flop. The Rangers started out making a ton of shots on goal (with 11 minutes left in the game it was 12 shots to 3). By the end of the period, it was 14 shots to 5. However, the score is tied: 1-1. Marc-Andre Fleury made some really nice saves, especially a leaping, mid-air snatch that stole a goal from Jaromir Jagr. Sidney Crosby scored the Pens' goal. The second period of the game became one of the worst Penguins periods that I have seen. Shots on goals totalled 16 for the Rangers and two, yes TWO, for the Pens. The Rangers made two goals in the second period. So far, the third period is shaping up as more of the same. Jagr just made his 31st goal of the season, and the Rangers are leading by a score of 4-1. The game is so bad that I haven't even been paying attention. I have been catching up on my newspaper reading since I have to read the local daily newspaper for my journalism class. Meanwhile with the third period now more than half over, the commentators are talking about how the Pens look like an exhausted team. The game is really getting pitiful. I'm thinking of turning off the game and taking a nap because it is so bad. Right now with 2:31 left in the game, the Rangers have 50 shots on goal and now have seven goals. The Pens have 12 shots on goal for the entire game. Final tally is 51 shots for the Rangers and 13 for the Pens. Two goals for Jagr, and another loss for the Pens.

Michelle Kwan has been given the green light to perform in the Turin Olympics in a few weeks. Kwan had to give a performance before officials from the U.S. Figure Skating Association yesterday, and did four triple jumps. None of her combination jumps were triple-triple, although she did do a triple-double right after a fall on a double axel. In order to be in competition for the gold, however, Kwan is going to have to complete a combination triple jump.

Friday, January 27, 2006 -- Evening

I'm at home right now, but 20,000 to 30,000 people are at Heinz Field for a Super Bowl rally. The city has been going crazy with Super Bowl fever. Parties are being scheduled everywhere. At work, I have two separate parties that I am invited to at work on Friday. There are tons of songs out there too. My favorite is Puhlamahlu. It is very catchy, and I find myself playing it over and over again and singing it when I'm not playing it. Listen closely and see how many Steelers names you hear. The group who wrote and performs the song is Mr. Devious. and Steelers in Hoboken are two sites that have collections of Steeler songs. One mother even named her son, who was born in Oct. 2004, Seven. Of course, she says that it isn't in honor of Ben Roethlisberger, but now Seven is a huge Steeler fan.

Max Starks gave four Super Bowl tickets to a West Virginia family that was affected by the Sago mine disaster, which I thought was a very nice gesture. Starks didn't want to make a big deal of it, and just wanted to help out the family which has not been identified.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 -- Evening

I finally got to watch American Idol and it was an entertaining show. 18 people moved on to Hollywood from San Francisco, and Simon stormed off. Not to worry, he does return next week. Read the recap.

Busy night tonight, because the Pens are playing again tonight. This time it is the Islanders. Sebastien Caron is in goal tonight. News this evening for the Pens is that Dick Tarnstrom has been traded to the Edmonton Oilers for two players. So we picked up a new geriatric defenseman who seems to have problems being healthy enough to play, Cory Cross, and a young guy, Jani Rita, who hasn't been amounting to much.I missed a good portion of the first period but it was not good for the Pens. The Pens had only four shots on goal in the first period. The Islanders had 15 and managed to get a goal on one of the shots, so they are leading 1-0 as the second period starts. The Islanders score another in the second period with a goal by Miroslav Satan. The Pens came back with an answering goal by Eric Cairns with assists by Mark Recchi and Sidney Crosby. Score is 2-1. A few minutes into the third period, the Islands score again to pull ahead 3-1. Less than two minutes later, Sergei Gonchar shot one into the net. Crosby has the assist. There is some controversy on the local broadcast of the game because they are saying that Recchi is getting credit for the goal because he must have touched it or breathed on it at some point before it went into the net. I hate the way the officials will give the goal to a person who really didn't do anything to get the puck into the net. Sometimes the guy just swings his stick in that direction and they get the credit for "redirection". In the end, Recchi does get credit for the goal. With less than a minute in the game, the Pens pull the goalie, and shorthanded, John LeClair, scored a goal to tie the game. It was his first career shorthanded goal. We are going into overtime. Nothing is scored in overtime, so it is shootout time! First up is Michel Ouellet who doesn't score. Satan goes for the Islanders and he scores a goal. Then Crosby misses his chance. Next up is Trent Hunter. He misses. Now it is all up to Ryan Malone who misses, so the Islanders win in a shoot out.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 -- Afternoon

Ryan Whitney got a $1500 fine for spearing Alexander Ovechkin in the groin. That explains why Ovechkin was on the ice for so long last night. Whitney says that he wasn't trying to spear Ovechkin, just trip him up by putting the stick between his legs. That's what happens with the improperly placed stick!

Thursday, January 26, 2006 -- Morning

Because I got home late last night, I didn't get a chance to watch American Idol last night. I have it recorded on my DVR and will give a recap of the show this evening. News is that Simon Cowell actually walked off the set in the episode. We all should know that it's just dramatics and that Simon will be back. However, Idol producers would probably like us to think otherwise. It's just a way to boost ratings through drama. I have to admit that I'm a sucker for human drama. The fracas appears to be over the appearance of one of the singers. Simon said that he would have to hear her sing with his eyes closed to make a good decision, and Paula Abdul threw her usual hissy fit. More to follow tonight when I watch the show.

One of the items that I forgot to mention yesterday was that when Sidney Crosby was announced as the first star in the game, he came out waving a Terrible Towel. The crowd loved it. It's nice to see support between the two teams with the Steelers attending the Pens games, and the Pens giving moral support to the Steelers.

Hamas has won the majority of support in the Palestinian elections that took place yesterday. This has caused some consternation in the international arena because Hamas has publicly called for the annihilation of Israel, and make it part of the party's political platform. I think that part of the picture that people are missing is that there are only two differences between Hamas and the Fatah party. Fatah tends to have a more elderly leadership and Hamas is more open about wanting the annihilation of Israel. Both are groups stained by terrorists, and both are unwilling to accept the continued existence of Israel.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 -- Late Evening

What a hockey night in Pittsburgh! The Pens were playing the Washington Capitals. Originally the game was being advertised as the showdown between the two young guns, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. However, after the retirement announcement by Mario Lemieux, the game became a memorial to Lemieux's career. Clips were shown throughout the evening of memoriable Lemieux plays. The team also stepped up their level of play by actually being energetic and putting on a great show. It was great to be in the arena to see the game. I think that I was the good luck charm that led to the Pens win. I wore the Crosby t-shirt that I wore to the win on New Year's Eve. Twice worn and two wins. I am making sure to wear that shirt every time I go to the game now!

First up, I'll give some of the highlights of the game. John LeClair and Mark Recchi turned in some stellar performances. Both almost had hat tricks in the game, with Recchi almost being credited with a natural hat trick. First up, was LeClair. He scored the only goal in the first period. The Capitals came back to score an answering goal in the second period on the stick of Ovechkin. It was not looking good at that point, and some tension rose in the audience. However, luckily for the Pens, Olaf Kolzig was in goal for the Capitals, and the Pens knew his number. Recchi came on to score the next two goals with the assistance both times by Crosby and Sergei Gonchar. The third period was a scoring explosion starting with the second goal of Recchi's, closely followed by a third that was later credited to LeClair. Folks were throwing hats onto the ice though, because it was looking like a Recchi goal. Tomas Surovy got into the act and scored a goal, followed by a real beauty by Crosby. Crosby had gotten a pass from Colby Armstrong. He kicked the puck behind him, and then grabbed it with the puck and threw it into the net. Eric Boguniecki scored his second goal of the season. Finally, Ryan Malone, who was doing an awful job in front of the net and letting shots go by as if he was just there to watch the game instead of partcipating, came out of the penalty box, grabbed the puck to make a breakaway, was tripped by a Capital, and was awarded a penalty shot. Malone stepped up and made the goal. Final tally was Pens 8, Capitals 1. It was a great game with Crosby getting the first star due to his one goal and three assists, while LeClair and Recchi got two and three stars respectively. One of the low points of the game is when Ovechkin got tripped or speared as the penalty was called. Ovechkin was on the ice for a few minutes at the end of the second period before he was helped into the locker room by a few teammates. Ryan whitney was the culprit and was taken to task by a Capital. It resulted in Whitney getting a five minute spearing, five minute fighing and game misconduct penalities. He may also be suspended for his actions. Ovechkin was well enough to come back to play in the third period.

There was plenty of action off the ice. Mario Lemieux was in the owner's box watching the game, and during the first tv time, a little film honoring Lemieux was shown. The crowd got to its feet, cheering and applauding. Then video of Lemieux at the game went up on the jumbotron. Everyone turned to the owner's box and continued with the cheers and applause. Just when it seemed like it was ending, it would relaunch. They finally started playing other music over the loudspeakers to get the crowd to sit down and let the game continue. Shortly after this incident, another video clip was shown on the jumbotron, and this time it was Lemieux with Ben Roethlisberger beside him. More cheers. Jeff Reed was also at the game. However, he just had an igloo seat, not an owner's box seat. Non celebrity news: a woman, Greta, was chosen to participate in the Name that Tune game. She had to identity I'm All Shook Up. The correct answer was given by her boyfriend on a video clip in which he asked Greta to marry him. She said yes, and the audience cheered it on. Finally, a girl seated several rows down from my seat in C32, had a sign that she was waving around. I could a glimpse of her sign which said "Put it in my five hole Sidney." She waved the sign around for a period and a half before an usher saw it and took it from her. And thus ended a wonderful hockey night in Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

Bill Cowher cares more about maintaining momentum than following tradition. The Steelers will be wearing their away uniforms even though the AFC Champions are considered the home team in this year's Super Bowl. Since the team has been winning in the playoffs with the white jerseys, it would be a smack in the face of superstition to move to the black, home jerseys. Cowher's comment was "We're not playing at Heinz Field so, in my mind, it's an away game."

Scientists have found the smallest Earth like planet outside of our solar system. The planet has five times the Earth's mass and is orbiting a red dwarf about 25,000 light years away. The scientists found the planet by using microlensing. The way it works is that when a planet passes between us and the star in question, the light from the star is bent by the gravity of the planet. This causes the light to appear brighter. The brightness lasts for the amount of time that it takes the planet to orbit so scientists have to keep a close eye on the star to notice the effect.

Some surprising news, Disney purchased Pixar yesterday for $7.4 billion. The deal will also put Steve Jobs on the Board of Directors for Disney. What will happen to Disney feature animation with this move? Some of the rumors are that the division will be swallowed up by Pixar. This news is surprising because earlier Pixar was talking of breaking away from Disney and going out on its own.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 -- Evening

Another episode of American Idol this evening. This time it was in Greensboro, North Carolina. The good singers weren't plentiful and only nine people managed to make it to Hollywood. There were some real highlights and lowlights in the two hour show. Here's the recap.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 -- Late Morning

American Idol is on tonight, and I'm guessing that future shows won't show comments about men singing/looking like women. It seems that the show with the guy that looked like a girl got some folks knickers in a twist. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation took exception to the remarks that were made by Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson. Yeah, people are cruel and make jokes about folks who are different. Yeah, so it hurts their fragile, little egos. As my father always used to tell me when I was a child and cried because someone called me skinny, "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you." Now adays it's more like "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but if done by a terrorist, it might be because he is disadvantaged. Names will be handled by a lawsuit."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 -- Morning

Well, it was bound to happen. Mario Lemieux is expected to announce his retirement today. He hasn't played since December 16 because of his problem with the irregular heartbeat. Prior to that, the season wasn't a good one for him. He seemed slower and not able to keep up with the younger players. Yes, Lemieux was a great player, but this season, he had more moments of just being average. It's difficult to admit that the body just doesn't respond as it did in its younger days. Lemieux has had to accept that now, it seems. There will be a press conference this afternoon at Mellon Arena for the announcement.

Monday, January 23, 2006 -- Evening

The Pens are playing the Flyers this evening.
First period: After a fairly routine period where the only excitement was with a few hooking and tripping penalties, the Flyers come on in the last 46 seconds of the period to score. Basically Michal Handzus was in the crease, standing there unchallenged by any Pens defenseman, and was able to toss the puck into the net. Well, come to think of it there was another item of note was the extremely long shift of Konstantin Koltsov because the Penguins couldn't get the puck out of their end. score is 1-0.
Second period: This period, the Flyers came out flying and got a score in abit over five minutes. Petr Nedved got his first goal as a Flyer during the power play. There was talk earlier that the Pens might get Nedved, but obviously, we didn't. I notice that the Pens seem to move in slow motion when there are attacks on their goal. They don't seem to do a very good job of clearing the puck after Marc-Andre Fleury stops the puck. Hey, the Pens score! Mark Recchi gets the goal while Sidney Crosby is in the box for hooking Sami Kapanen is in the box for diving. Now how someone can be in the box for hooking someone who dives or be accused of diving if you were hooked, I don't know. Obviously the officials use a different sort of logic and read a different rule book than anyone else on this planet. The period ends with five shots on goals for the Pens compared to 12 by the Flyers. A little pushing match broke out. It's so funny seeing Colby Armstrong swinging punches. The kid looks like a pencil-neck geek who sits at a computer with pallor induced by florescent lighting.
Third period: The Pens have scored during a powerplay. Crosby tossed the puck to Michel Ouellet who got the puck into the net. The score is now tied: 2-2. Three minutes left in the game. Darn! And at 2:05, the Flyers score on a face-off. Score is now 3-2. Less than a minute and Fleury is off the ice. The Pens have also taken a time out since the puck is in the other end of the ice. with five seconds left in the game, the Flyers win the face off and then get an empty net. Game is over now with a score of 4-2. Right after the buzzer sounded, Shane Endicott got into a fistfight with a Flyer. He fell on the ice, and the Flyers won.

Monday, January 23, 2006 -- Afternoon

With a smidge over 9500 votes cast, Troy Polamalu was voted the hottiest Steeler. Polamalu had 36% of the vote. Hines Ward was second with 20% of the vote and Ben Roethlisberger was third with 19% of the vote. I think that women really like Polamalu's hair and think that his hippy demeanor off the field/killer on the field is attractive.

Across the city yesterday evening, fans went crazy. People were crowding in the street, and on the local news last night, a film clip was shown of the students from Pitt crowding Forbes Ave. in Oakland. It was so bad that police were called to the scene and the street had to be closed. Just imagine what this city will be like if the team actually wins the Super Bowl!

Craig Patrick does not believe the changes at the Penguins organization will affect his job. Patrick stated his interest in continuing in the job. Meanwhile the Pens fans and sports announcers are saying that it is Patrick's time to go. The team sucks right now, and some of the credit for that situation is laid at Patrick's door. He is the one who made the deals to bring the geriatrics in this past season and has put together a team with zero chemistry.

It seems that Sirius Radio may be getting someone to act in the role of censor for Howard Stern. I have to admit that this move is beyond my understanding. Everyone knows what you get when you tune into Stern. If you don't want to listen to some talk about or simulate sex acts on the radio, then don't tune into Stern. I heard one news commentator say that if you were in the car with your children, you couldn't listen to the Stern show without filth reaching the ears of the young'uns. Why are you putting the Stern show on if you have children in the car? Tune to Disney radio or some other program. It really irritates me no end that all programs have to be acceptable for children. That's what the knob or scan button is for--switching the channel to something that you like and find acceptable. Hiring Stern to make him act non-Sternish is like marrying Joe Schmoe and expecting him to be Brad Pitt.

Sunday, January 22, 2006 -- Evening

I went to a friend's house to watch the AFC Championship game, and boy was it a thrilling one! As you probably already know, the Steelers won! This is the first time that a sixth seed has made it to the Super Bowl. It was really a great game with only a few tense seconds. The Steelers took the early lead and kept it. Jake Plummer just choked. Everyone on the Steeler team did a great job, and now we can say "Pittsburgh's going to the Super Bowl! Here we go!" Read the recap of the game.

Sunday, January 22, 2006 -- Morning

There hasn't been a consistent showing of new episodes of Endurance: Tehachapi since the season started in October, but there was finally a new episode yesterday. I just had a chance to watch it this morning. In this episode, the mission was to not lose. The loser of the mission was definitely going to the Temple the next day. It was a real race in the end between Purple and Orange, and Purple lost. The only chance for Purple to NOT go to Temple is to win the next mission. Green, the winner of the mission, decided to help out Purple by giving the Samati to handicap Red. The notion is that Red is strong and needs to go. Of course, this is going to make Red fight harder to win the next mission. Meanwhile, everyone considers Mike of the Orange team to be a rat. Read the complete recap of the show.

The AFC Championship is this afternoon. The Steelers will be competing for the title against the Denver Broncos. I think that the game is going to be a toss up. Both teams were doing well at the end of the year. It will be close and stressful.

Saturday, January 22, 2006 -- Late Evening

I am behind in my news reading. With the class, hockey games, and the recurring headache, I just have been lagging behind, so I missed the news that Terrell and Derrell Brittenum, the twins who auditioned for American Idol's current show have been arrested. It seems that the pair used someone else's identity to buy a car which was later reported as stolen. Derrell was arrested in October when stopped for a traffic violation, and a warrant was put out for his brother at that time also. Terrell has been in jail since January 10, and Derrell is expected to turn himself in shortly.

Saturday, January 22, 2006 -- Evening

I forgot to mention my restaurant experience recently at Sweetbasil and La Filipiniana. This is a Thai and Filipino restaurant that has opened a second location here in Squirrel Hill. The restaurant is split into two rooms, so there is plenty of seating and space. The food was very tasty but not as hot as I expected for the levels requested. We started the meal with the Sa-Tay Chicken and Crispy Curry Puffs. The puffs were exceptionally good with a light pastry dough filled with a curry chicken and potato stuffing. The puffs were bite size and we had one for each person. So the second appetizer wasa a needed. The Sa-Tay chicken was typical of others of its kind. For the main course, I had the Mussamen Curry with chicken which was the monthly special. The curry was made over a 24 hour period and it was equal in taste to the place with the best curry, Bangkok Balcony. The only problem that I had with the food was that the spicy level seemed extremely bland. The curry was supposed to be at level 5, but it tasted like a level 0. My boyfriend's sister had the ginger chicken and asked for level 5 and that also was not hot at all. I filled out a survey card and expressed by displeasure with the spice level. Other than that the food was very good and tasty. Be forewarned, if you go there, you might want to try a level 10, and hopefully you might get something that in actually is a level 2.

The whale in the Thames died during a rescue attempt today. They located the whale and managed to get him on a whale mattress and then onto a barge. The goal was to take the whale out to deep water and release him. However, there were concerns that even if they did that, the whale might be disoriented and unable to survive in deep water. If that were the case, the rescue team was considering euthaniasia options. However, while on the transport barge, the whale went into convulsions and died. It's a sad end to a story that caught the attention of so many. The whale rescue was even been shown live on the news stations here in the US.

The Pitt basketball team is no longer undefeated. They lost today to St. John's with a score of 55-50. Pitt wasn't alone in its loss today. Duke and Florida, the other undeated teams, also lost today.

Saturday, January 21, 2006 -- Afternoon

It's a hockey afternoon in Pittsburgh. The Pens are playing the Flyers. They are putting an announcer on the ice between the benches again, just as they did in the local game last week with Bob Errey.
First period: NBC appears to be keeping running counts of the amount of ice time on each shift for Sidney Crosby and Simon Gagne of the Flyers. They also put cameras on the goalies. All that crap is very distracting. The Flyers are the first to score with a powerplay goal. Mark Recchi and Derian Hatcher get into a bit of a shoving match, and both are sent to the box for a penalty. Hatcher gets a four minute while Recchi gets two so the Pens have a powerplay. Then there is another Flyer penalty so the Pens have a 5 on 3 situation for 1:41. The Pens put up a valient fight there for a while, but the Flyers manage to kill the penalty. Period ends with a score of 1-0 in favor of the Flyers. The Pens had 14 shots on goal and the Flyers had six.
Second period: During the break, Eddie O did some commentating on how to play the game from the New York set. Two minutes into the period, and there is a fight with the new guy, Eric Cairns. Cairns looks like a monster. He's 6'6" and weighs 232. Big guy! The Pens have a powerplay in the final two minutes of the period. Can they capitalize? Nope. It seems that the players kept on missing the net. All six shots were wide of the net. Recchi is interviewed and says that he thinks players are trying to finesse the puck as opposed to shooting on the net. Shots on goal for the period: 12 for the Flyers, nine for the Pens.
Third period: So far, this game hasn't been the most exciting. Halfway through the third period, the Flyers have a 5 on 3 advantage. Marc-Andre Fleury has made some nice safes. The Pens manage to kill off the penalty. Maybe it's just me, but I never seem to find a 1-0 game very exciting. There is alot of passing, but so far, the Pens with 7:30 left in the game only have two shots on goal. Of course, it probably doesn't help that I have one of those killer headaches that makes it hard to concentrate on a game with so little exciting action. The Flyers had a 5 on 3 advantage, and they were able to capitalize with a goal. Meanwhile, a fight broke out shortly after it with Dick Tarnstrom getting some punches in. Finally, the Pens have scored. It looks like it was deflection off of Crosby into the net. I think that the credit is going to Colby Armstrong with assists from Sergei Gonchar and Tomas Surovy. There is three minutes left in the game for the Pens to tie it up. One minute remaining in the period, and NOW the Pens start playing with some energy and excitement. Michel Therrien has called a timeout with 55 seconds left. Empty net for the last minute, but the Pens aren't able to do much. The last three minutes of the game were the most exciting of the entire game.

Friday, January 20, 2006 -- Late Evening

Rumors have been swirling about what Eddie Olczyk will be doing. There were rumors that he might become the head coach of the New Jersey Devils. The Devils couldn't be silly enough to hire someone as head coach with Eddie O's experience and record. Eddie O is still under contract to the Pens and he should be continuing to work for them as a scout. Eddie O will also return to the thing that he does best, hockey commentator. Eddie O will be joining OLN as a broadcaster and will also be announcing for NBC for some of their hockey games. Rumor has it that he will be announcing tomorrow's game between the Pens and the Flyers.

A northern bottle-nosed whale was sighted swimming in the Thames today. It's not something that one expects to see in a river, especially a whale that is a deep ocean whale. Concerns abound that the whale is going to die in the river and not find his way out to the ocean. Divers are looking for him now to confirm where he is and if he is headed back to the ocean.

Friday, January 20, 2006 -- Afternoon

The NCAA released graduation rate statistics for college athletes, and as you know from reading The Daily Bongo, the news is not good for Pitt. Pitt, however, is contesting the news by stating that the near 0% graduation rate for basketball players is from an earlier era that ended in 1999. Since then the University says that the graduation rate has been close to 90%. Out of the 10 players since the freshman year in 1999, nine have graduated and one is pending graduation. I don't know about you, but something smells rotten in Denmark with those statistics of Pitt's. 10 players since 1999--nine of which have graduated. I suppose that the others are still playing? I would just think that since 1999, there should have been more than 10 players who would have graduated, but maybe it is only a player or two a year.

There are some new shows on tonight that I will be recording and watching. First up is the Dog Whisperer. Cesar Millan is a dog psychologist who helps owners understand and fix the misbehavior of their dogs. The problem usually lies in the fact that the owner lets the dog take a dominant role in the family. Dogs don't have emotions or memories as humans do. That will be anathema to folks who want to humanize animals. The fact of the matter is that dogs aren't touchy feely, and when the dog see the owner acting submissive, the dog steps up to thank the leadership role, to the consternation of the owner. It's a great show, and it's amazing to see how even the dog from Hell falls into submission at Cesar's feet. The other show is My Hero. This British comedy delves into the lifes of Thermoman, a superhero from the planet Ultron, and his adventures with his girlfriend/wife, Janet. The show is quite funny, and I love the scenes where British behavior is explained to Thermoman. Ardal O'Hanlon is hilarious and so is the show.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 -- Late Evening

Pens played the Rangers this evening. I have to admit that for the first two periods of the game it was the most boring game that I ever saw. In the first period, there was only one goal and that was from the Rangers. There were also only four penalties in the first two periods between both teams with the Pens having only one. The third period was the most exciting with two Pens goals and three Rangers goals. Yep, the Rangers won in the end with a score of 4-2. There was a good deal of poor play. For example, at one point in the second period, Sergei Gonchar almost kicked the puck into the Pens goal after taking a pass from Marc-Andre Fleury during a power play. Pitiful! Sidney Crosby did get a goal and an assist which means that he had a hand in both goals tonight. He even wound up getting the third star in the game. The highlights of the game had nothing to do with hockey. The first was when they showed one of those "Here's a fan who looks like a celebrity" and it was actually Hines Ward in both halves of the pictures. He was at the game again this evening and had on his Crosby shirt. This inspired a slew of fans to start a "Here We Go Steelers" chant. Surprisingly quite a few fans were there with Steeler shirts and Terrible Towels. Shortly after that, Jeff Reed's picture was on the jumbotron because he was at the game too. The lowlight of the game was the performance of the live band, Blue Line Band, that played before the game and for a few songs during the game. It was overly loud, and the woman couldn't sing.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 -- Early Evening

New Horizons launched this afternoon. That means that the spacecraft will be able to use Jupiter's gravity to hasten the trip to Pluto.

Joey Porter did not get fined by the NFL for his comments about the officials cheating for the Colts. Obviously, it was a case of the truth being told, and the NFL couldn't fine someone who had a point.

Mario Lemieux announced that the Pens are up for sale. Lemieux has said that the prospective owner will promise to keep the Pens in the city if a new arena is built. Lemieux is also stepping down as CEO of the Pens and will be replaced by the current president, Ken Sawyer. So far, there are no firm offers for the Pens, but Lemieux is opening up the bids for people or groups who are interested in purchasing the team. The Pens are playing the New York Rangers this evening, and I'm headed to the game now. Results when I get home.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 -- Evening

More news from the Pens. They gave the Florida Panthers a sixth round choice in the 2006 NHL draft for Eric Cairns. I don't know much about Cairns, but it appears that he is ranked 198 out of 268 NHL players. That's not that great. I don't think that Craig Patrick is doing a good job of putting this team together.

Tonight was the second audition night for American Idol. There were some really funny moments, and I have to admit that Flawless was my favorite bad artist. I really did like Lisa Tucker. It will be interesting to who winds up making it through the season. Read more here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 -- Afternoon

Two interesting stories out of the Pens today. The biggest and most shocking in my mind is that Ziggy Palffy is retiring. The reason supposedly is his shoulder. It was injured in 2004, and Palffy has had two surgeries on it. I guess that he feels it isn't getting better. What is shocking to me is that I thought that he was still performing fairly well this season. Sure it wasn't stellar, but still the guy was putting points on the board and seemed to have a nice chemistry with the younger guys. The other news is that Marc-Andre Fleury will be staying on the major league roster. Both announcements might go hand in hand. The Palffy announcement came out first, and his salary this year was going to be $3.5 million, $5.5 million next year and $4.5 million in the third and final year. I'm not sure how much of that he $3.5 million he will get this year, but I imagine that Fleury's bonuses might benefit.

New Horizons has been delayed until Thursday after a storm in Maryland caused a power outage at the spacecraft's operations center which is located in the area.

I just started an introduction to journalism class last night. I am hoping that it will help me with my writing for the blog and maybe cut down on my verbosity. We shall see!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 -- Evening

American Idol started tonight. The auditions this year are starting in Chicago. There were some really awful singers and some real characters. I thought that the big surprise of the evening was when Paula and Randy gave the nod to David Hoover from Wexford. The guy was a crazy maniac who claimed to talk to animals and who sang an original song. The total of contestants picked from Chicago were 34 with only 15 picked on the second day. Tomorrow it is on to Denver. Read my synopsis of the show.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

New Horizons launch was cancelled for today due to gusty winds. The launch is scheduled again for tomorrow afternoon between 1:16 and 3:15.

More data on exercise and Alzheimer's. It seems that researchers at the University of Washington have found that regular exercise reduced the risk of Alzheimer's by 40%. As they said even gentle exercise was helpful for the participants. In fact, the more frail a person was, the more the person benefitted from regular exercise. I think that the key words here are regular exercise. Sometimes people think that if they don't run five miles a day, it isn't exercise. Because they don't have time or can't run that far, they just give up on the idea of exercise altogether. That thinking is wrong. Just get out there and do something. Park your car farther away from the door in the parking lot. Walk up two of the seventeen flight of stairs to the office before getting on the elevator. All the bits and bobs over the day add up to better health in the long run.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 -- Afternoon

I am not a big fan of college basketball, so I usually don't watch the games until March Madness. Also, I am not a huge fan of Pitt basketball. Usually I cheer them on to lose as opposed to winning. Anyway, there is some news about the Pitt basketball team. So far this season, they are undefeated and today they were ranked as number 9 in the country. Not bad. I think that as the season progresses, they will have a harder time but that's probably the anti-Pitt basketball person in me.

The Pluto mission, New Horizons, is scheduled for liftoff today at 2:30 pm. That's less then 20 minutes away as I write this. The mission is to send a spacecraft to Pluto that will pass by the planet and its moon, Charon, at a fairly close distance. It should be pass within 6000 miles of the planet at its closest pass, and that is closer to the planet than our moon is to us (the moon is 238,857 miles away). We are hoping to gather data about Pluto and the evolution of our Solar System with this mission. After the craft passes Pluto, it will continue on to the Kuiper Belt. If all goes as planned and the spacecraft gets off before February 3, it can pass by Jupiter and use its gravitational force to push the craft on to Pluto. We would then reach Pluto by July of 2015. Otherwise the craft won't get there until 2018. So the couple of weeks difference in time at launch will result in three years difference in arrival. The amount of time that it should take the signal to reach Earth from the craft as it nears Pluto should be around 4.5 hours.

I have always been interested in puzzles and mysteries and it seems that be the ticket for keeping my brain functions continuing at present level for as many years as possible. Research has been saying that one of the ways to keep the aging brain healthy and to possibly ward off Alzheimer's Disease is through brain calisthenics. There were several interesting articles about brain function in last week's issue of Time. The geist of the articles is that if you want to maintain mental functions well into your golden years, the things to do are to eat well, get plenty of exercise, and challenge your brain with a variety of activities like reading, word and math puzzles, and Sudoku.

Monday, January 16, 2006 -- Evening

The Pens are playing the Vancouver Canucks.
First period: Not alot going on in the first six minutes of the game. Vancouver gets the first penalty of the game at that point. Then Henrik Sedin hooked Sidney Crosby giving the Pens a 5-3 advantage. The Pens were banging away and Crosby managed to come away with a goal after standing on the doorstep and pushing the puck into the goal after John LeClair got it behind the goalie. By the way, Marc-Andre Fleury is in goal. The Canucks get a 5 on 3 opportunity, but the Pens are able to kill the time without letting the Canucks score. Right as the penalties ended, Fleury made some great saves. The kid is really on top of his game! Darn! Right after those great saves, the Canucks come up with a great slap shot. Score is now tied 1-1. The biggest problem is that we seem to be unable to get the puck out of our end. With abit over two minutes, the Pens get a power play and try to get a lead before the intermission, but they don't have any luck. The period ends with a tie of 1-1.
Second period: Colby Armstrong got into a fight soon after the start of the period, throwing off helmet and gloves. The Pens managed to get an advantage because the Canuck player, Alex Burrows got an additional two minutes for roughing. The Pens weren't able to do anything with the advantage, and the Canucks came back shortly after the penalty to score. The Canucks lead now: 2-1. Darn! The Pens had a two on one going at the Canuck goal and made a bad pass and didn't even get the puck on the net. Pitiful! The criminal who shouldn't be on the ice, Todd Bertuzzi just scored a goal to give the Canucks a 3-1 lead. Fight again. This time with Crosby. It seems that since the Therrien call out last week, everytime the Pens are behind, a fight ensues. With 26 seconds left in the period, Mark Recchi scored a goal. Now it's 3-2.
Third period: Bizarre thing happened. Crosby and a Canuck were fighting for the puck. Crosby whacked the Canuck on the legs with the stick, the Canuck was doing some hooking type moves. The ref blows the whistle. A slamming, fight thing happens right next to Crosby and the Canuck, the ref comes flying up, shoves Crosby over (he's just standing there by the way), and then Crosby gets a roughing call. I think the ref should get one because he roughed up an innocent Crosby. The Canucks score on their power play. It's now 4-2. It's because Sedin was in front of the net poaching and our defensive squad did nothing to move him out of the position. He was just calmly standing, unchallenged, right in front of Fleury with no Pen around him, crowding him or anything. Another problem--we have the powerplay, but the puck is mostly in our end. That's not how it should be. What can Therrien do with these guys? One minute left in the game and Fleury is pulled from the net. Sort of pointless when we are two points down, but I guess you can never tell. Canucks win: 4-2.

Monday, January 16, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

Mike Pereira, the NFL senior director of officiating, said that the call made by Pete Morelli in yesterday's game that overturned the Troy Polamalu interception was an error. As one of the announcers said on the NFL Network just now, it would have been a crime if the colts had one the game based on this call. In fact, it is a crime that they were basically given the eight points that made the game so close that a field goal might have tied it. At this point, the NFL isn't commenting on Joey Porter's comments about the refs trying to steal the game for the Colts. I would say at this point, they would have a hard time fining Porter for speaking the truth when even the head of NFL officiating agrees that a grievous error was made.

Monday, January 16, 2006 -- Afternoon

Yes Virgina, there is news other than football and hockey. It's just that at this time of the year, it tends to dominate the hearts and minds of all Pittsburgh fans. Joey Porter might be getting a fine from the NFL because he spoke the truth about the officiating in yesterday's playoff game. It was quite obvious that the refs and officials made several calls in favor of the colts. There were no calls for some obvious passer interferences by the Colts. Then there was a time when the Colts had a false start and the refs so--"oh, um, do over! No penalty!". Finally there was that interception call that was overturned and led Shannon Sharpe to call the official Archie Manning. As the Colts themselves said after the game, they had this game on a platter for them--thanks to the officials, and yet still weren't able to take it. I think if the Colts had won it would have left a very bitter taste in the mouth of everyone except the Colts fans because the game would have gone to them based on thievery.

The Stardust probe has landed safely on Earth after its seven year mission to collect space dust and comet particles. Now scientists will have the opportunity to study these particles to learn more about our Solar System and its evolution.

Another sporting controversy. This time it deals with the Turin Olympics. Michelle Kwan. Here's the controversy. Kwan injured her groin and was unable to compete in the US Championship. The top three finishers in the competition go on to compete in the Olympics. Well Kwan petitioned to get included in the team that would be sent to the Olympics, and she got her wish. The thing is if she is injured what makes her think that she would be able to be competitive in February? Kwan has already been at two Olympics and got the silver in 1998 and the bronze in 2002. Because the Olympics Skating commission is obviously desperate for Kwan to have a chance at gold, they are giving her a position. It is horribly unfair to Emily Hughes who finished third in the US Championship. Kwan will have to prove to the officials by Jan. 27 that she is capable of competing. If for some reason the officials feel that she isn't up to snuff then Hughes will be on the team. It just bothers me to no end that someone who is injured and who can't compete in the trials is just given a spot on the team. It isn't fair. Part of the process is that you should be able to win your place in the pre-Olympic competition. Kwan isn't able to fulfill that part of the bargin and should not be on the US Olympic Skating team.

Sunday, January 15, 2006 -- Evening

The Pens are playing the Nashville Predators this evening.
First period: Sebastien Caron is in goal for the start of this game. The Pens got a powerplay, and for a change, they were really attacking on the net. Ryan Malone makes the first goal of the game for the Pens. Score is 1-0. While on a delayed penalty, the Predators score to even things up. Paul Kariya just scored a goal for the Predators, and they have pulled ahead 2-1. The Pens don't seem to be up to much, and the Predators come on to score another goal to pull ahead 3-1 with two minutes left in the period. Sidney Crosby was hooked while trying to get a shot on goal, and Bob Errey was thinking that it would be a penalty shot, but it isn't. The Predators almost scored a short handed goal, but Caron stopped them. They are playing like the old Pens with more time spent around our own net when we have the power play. 35 seconds of the penalty will carry through to the next period.
Second period: If you are Michel Therrien, you have to feel alot of frustration with this team. Hopefully he gave them some words of wisdom during the intermission that will bring them back swinging. Obviously, he gamve them no words of wisdom because the Predators scored 1:11 into the period. My boyfriend is so disgusted with the poor play of the Pens that he flipped the channel because he couldn't watching anymore. So we started watching a football game review. Flipped back to the Pens game to see a two Predators on one Pen that resulted in another goal. It's now 5-1 2:54 into the period. It seems that Marc-Andre Fleury was brought into the game after the fourth goal. There was not much he could do to block the fifth goal because it was just two on one. This performance is one that makes a coach just start grabbing players and cracking their heads together. I think that I would just tell them all that they are losers who have no interest in winning so let's just give up now. Because the team is rolling over on their backs as it is now and it's does not make for entertaining hockey. Back to football and an interview on the NFL Network with Jerome Bettis. Bettis is quite the stylish dresser and was commenting on how all those who were so sure the Steelers would lose today should be thinking again. Back at the Pens game, it looks like there was another fight again. The game is too pitiful to watch. Such a change from when Therrien first came on board and seemed to inspire the players with some energy. Flipping back to the Pens game just in time to see Michel Ouellet score a goal for the Pens. Score is now 5-2. Fleury appears to have staunched the bleeding of goals. Abit under two minutes left in the game and the Pens do come back to score a third goal. Scorer was Josef Melichar. That was two goals in less than a minute. Period ends with a score of 5-3.
Third period: 9:15 in the third and Colby Armstrong scores. Malone got an assist on the goal. It's funny when you think that the Pens were talking about trading Malone, and in the past few games he has been a consistent scorer. Score is now 5-4. 3:22 left to go in the game, and the Pens are trying hard to tie up the game. Less than a minute in the game, and now they are pulling Fleury and putting on the extra attacker. I wonder what the outcome of this game might have been if Fleury played the entire game. The Pens aren't able to score before the buzzer and the Predators win 5-4.

Sunday, January 15, 2006 -- Afternoon

The Steelers and Colts are playing in a playoff game this afternoon.
First half: I missed the first few minutes of the game because I was out doing some food shopping, so I missed some of the beautiful passes to Heath Miller that got the ball down the field and resulted in a touchdown catch for Antwaan Randle El. Fortunately, I got home in time to see the touchdown. The Steeler defense was able to stop the Colts, but then Ben Roethlisberger got a hit as he was throwing the ball that resulted in an interception. Unfortunately, we had the ball down on the Colt 35 yard line, so we were close to another score. The defense seem to be doing a good job of shutting down Peyton Manning. So far the Colts haven't been able to get a first down offensively. Even the announcers are remarking that the offense seems to have some rust. That's the problem with the slack off that the team did at the end of the regular season and having a bye week. Of course, the announcers are doing the usual job of making statistics say whatever they want. One of the comments that Phil Sims was making was that Roethlisberger has good stats at the beginning of the game that dwindle towards the end. Perhaps that might be due to the fact that when the Steelers have the lead, they spend the end of the game running out the clock and not really trying to score or make the big plays. Statistics can be manipulated to prove any point, and for the most part as I said yesterday, really only tell you how things have played out in the past and have no real bearing on the present. Great play! Roethlisberger threw the ball down to Hines Ward caught the ball and took off. There was some mutual face mask grabbing between Ward and the Colts, but the call went against the Colts defense and the Steelers got the ball half the distance to the goal and a first down. Another touchdown pass to Heath Miller! The Steelers are leading in the first quarter--14-0. As the announcers are saying, Manning has yet to complete a pass. The Steelers are doing good. Let's hope they can keep it up. Sack of Manning! Boy, this is exciting but nerve wracking. I know that the Steelers came into this game on a high while the Colts were on a low and that does have a physical and psychological impact on a team. Manning just made a complete pass. Another sack on Manning. The Colts offense is really having trouble getting their act together. That's the problem when you rest your players for a few weeks. They lose the playing edge. It's a fine line to walk between rest and rust. No scoring in the second quarter, but both defenses have stepped it up. The Colts now have the ball on their two yard line. The Colts finally get a first down running the ball on their second try. Another pass that is complete and the Colts have another first down. Darn, three first downs in a row. This is not good. We have to shut them down. Another first down! The crowd is getting louder. An interception would be good around now. The Colts now have the ball around the 8 yard line. Edgerrin James got the ball to the one yard line. Then the Colts had a false start and are back on the 6 yard line. Now the Steelers went offside. Darn! Two minute warning before the end of the half. Third down and goal. Now it is fourth and goal at the 2 yard line, so they are going to go for the field goal. That has to be hard psychologically--to get the ball so close--on the one yard line and have to settle for a field goal.
Second half: The Colts have come back in the second half making first downs. It looked like Troy Polamalu had the interception, but the refs didn't call that. The Colts aren't able to do anything with the ball and the Steelers get it, and Willie Parker is getting some nice runs. Folks were worried about Roethlisberger being hurt on a hit, and it looks like he got a good whack with a helmet just above his elbow. Hopefully he will be okay. The refs are biased. Manning was tackled in the endzone and that should have been a safety. Now they are saying that Mannings feet were on the line so it is not a safety. The Steelers have the ball again, and folks are worried about Roethlisberger's arm because it supposedly has a welt on it. Roethlisberger is in the game. Parker just got a good 11 yard run, and now Jerome Bettis is getting some runs in. He wasn't able to get a first down and we now have a third down with two yard for a first. Bettis almost got a touchdown, but got tripped on the 3 yard line. The Colts are looking dejected. Bettis took a flying leap and made a touchdown! The score is 21-3 and we are moving into the fourth quarter in a minute. Polamalu almost had another interception. He dived in front of the ball and almost caught it. Peyton Manning wants to go on fourth and 2. He waved the punt team off the field and is going to go for it. Darn! They got first down. The third quarter is over. Darn! The Colts come back with a touchdown to start the fourth quarter. The score is now 21-10. The Steelers need to make an answering score and not give up the ball. It's bad enough that we have let the Colts get into the game with this touchdown. The Steelers have a fourth down and inches. It seems that they are going to go for it. Quarterback sneak and they get it. This is so nerve wracking because I want them to win, and there are so many close calls here. Another fourth down, and they go for it again, and Bettis comes up with another first down. They are eating up the clock, and Manning is on the sideline shaking his head over the Steelers good fortune so far with the fourth down. Manning got the ball, and threw it and it was intercepted by Polamalu. He almost fumbled the ball, but fell on it, and the Steelers have the ball. The Colts are having a review of the play. The announcers say that it clearly looks like an interception and that Polamalu kicked the ball out of this hands with his knee while getting up to make some yardage. Manning just looks sick. Darn! The refs are calling in an incomplete pass. There have been some questionable calls by the ref this week, and even the announcers are questioning this call. It is obvious that the officials are trying everything in their power to help the Colts get back into this game. It is unbelieveable that the play was overturned. It looks like the colts are going to take advantage of it and get a score that they don't deserve. Darn! They scored! There is a question about whether they will go for two points now. It is just shocking that the interception was not called. If only Polamalu stayed down there would have been no question. False start. Five yard penalty for the Colts. Damn--they made the two points. My boyfriend is disgusted because he keeps on saying that the officials gave the game to the Colts. The Steelers can't do anything and have to punt. My boyfriend is pacing and so upset over that call now. This is really going to be bad because if the Steelers lose because of the bad call, it would suck. The Colts have the ball, and Joey Porter sacked Manning. Then Manning over threw the ball. Then on fourth down, they went again, and Porter sacked Manning again. We get the ball at the two yard line. Darn! They don't take the knee, and Bettis fumbles the ball, and the Colts get it and run it down the field. The Colts are on the 42 yard line. Good thing that Roethlisberger sacked him. The Colts have the ball on 37 yard line. 31 seconds left in the game and it looks like the Colts are either going to win or tie the game. The Colts go for a field goal and MISS. Deja vu of the last year's playoff game. Bettis has to be so relieved. The kicker got a penalty for taking off his helmet and slamming it on the ground. Now--take the darn knee!!! Eleven seconds and the Colts take a timeout when the Steelers take the knee. They should just let the clock run out but since the officials have been on their side, they are hoping for the best. The colts us another time out, but we have two more downs so when we take the next knee, the time should run out. The Steelers are going to the AFC championship! Bettis is smiling now because he almost cost us the game. This is the first time that a sixth seed got to the Championship.

Saturday, January 14, 2006 -- Late Evening

One of the rumors that is floating around on the local sports shows is that Eddie Olczyk is on the short list for the coaching position for the New Jersey Devils. I think that this is absolutely amazing news. Yeah, the Pens have problems that extend beyond coaching. A good portion of the problem was due to Eddie O. The man had no coaching and his lack of direction for a good portion of the current season has exaserbated the problem that Pens have with their geriatric squad. I wonder if Craig Patrick didn't make some of the deals based on information from Eddie O. The Pens do continue to have problems, but Eddie O's hand in the mess should not be minimized. I just can't believe that the Devils management would be so stupid as to hire Eddie O for a head coaching position. If anything, I think that the guy should take an assistant position so he could learn his trade before trying to practice it.

Right now I am watching the final three minutes of the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos playoff game. With 3:20 left in the game, Denver is leading with a score of 27-13. In the leadup to this game, the constant theme was how Tom Brady had an undefeated record in the playoffs and how New England is 10-0 in post season games. The thing that irritates me to no end about comments like that is that it tells us about past history, but really has no meaning with the game at hand. See--New England can be defeated in the post season. It's happening right now! All those statistics mean is that the team has a great record. It might mean that they will be a tough team to beat but it doesn't mean that team (or person in the case of individual statistics) is not unbeatable. Granted having these statistics pounded into your head as if they actually mean something might affect the performance of a player, but it is just the psychological effect. To me, all a 10-0 record means is that you are looking at the stat the day before the team goes 10-1. Thanks for proving me correct Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Saturday, January 14, 2006 -- Morning

Survivor: Panama, the twelvth installment of Survivor, will be broadcast starting on February 2. The cast for the new show was recently announced by CBS. It seems that this time around, the participants will first be split into four groups: Old Men, Old Women, Young Men, and Young Women for the first day of competition. These groups will then be merged into two groups. The competition will last 39 days, just as it has been in the past.

Jerome Bettis is on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. Bettis doesn't believe in the SI cover jinx which is that someone who appears on the cover winds up having bad luck afterwards. The thing is that good things and bad things happen all the time. Of course there will be bad things that happen to everyone and the timing is just coincidence. I haven't seen the article yet, and I hope to check it out this afternoon.

Friday, January 13, 2006 -- Evening

Today is Friday the 13th. Every since I was a kid, I liked Friday the 13ths because in my mind the day was supposed to be a spooky one in which any number of things could happen. As a bit of trivia, my mother was born on a Friday the 13th. The children's rhyme says that Friday's child is full of woe, and my mother always seemed to do her best to find the sad side of things. According to her, she was always doomed to having bad luck on Friday the 13ths, and I think she went out of her way to make certain that would be the case.

It's a hockey night in Chicago for the Pens. We are playing the Blackhawks tonight. Because Chicago is an hour behind us, the game started at 8:30 pm ET. Hopefully in this game, we won't get 84 minutes of penalties in a 60 minute game. Matthew Barnaby and Lyle Odelein have had a long standing feud that might lead to some rough housing. I always liked Barnaby. He used to play for the Pens and he was quite an instigator. Just my type of player. My favorite line in the feud is that Barnaby called Odelein Cornelius because he said that Odelein looked like the ape in Planet of the Apes.
First period: It looked like it might be good for the Pens when the Blackhawks got the first penalty, but at 6:40 the Blackhawks scored. Score is 1-0. Marc-Andre Fleury had his mask ripped off by the stick of one of the Blackhawk players. The ref called off the goal that was scored immediately after that because the goalie didn't have his mask. Fleury is now playing without the plastic neck guard because it was cracked in the incident. Fleury keeps on getting shots to his mask. A really bad line change by the Pens lead to another goal by the Blackhawks. One of the Blackhawks dumped the puck into the Pens end of the ice, and the players decided to make a line change. So it was pretty much Fleury against five Blackhawks. As Bob Errey, who is announcing the game, said, if he were Michel Therrien he would be beside himself with anger at such a bad move by the players. I think that this shows just how little they care about playing or winning. The Pens defensemen are doing nothing to clear the puck, and the Blackhawks score yet again. 3-0. At 15:59 the Pens finally take advantage of a power play and Colby Armstrong scores a goal with assists by Sidney Crosby and Ziggy Palffy. Score 3-1. At the end of the period, shots on goal are even with nine each.
Second period: 2:57 into the period, the Pens have a 5 on 3 power play advantage. Well, there is a discussion now because the Blackhawk player batted the puck over the glass with his hand. The refs aren't going to call the penalty so it is still 5 on 4. Finally! A fight between Barnaby and Odelein. Barnaby got some really good shots and the fight went on for almost two minutes. I was cheering on Barnaby I have to admit. The fight really started over Maxime Talbot checking a Blackhawk, and Barnaby instantly came over to deal with Talbot. They were jawing and pawing and that's when Odelein came over. The period ends with no additional scoring.
Third period: Not alot going on in the period, but with abit over ten minutes left in the game, the Blackhawks score again because the Pens defense players were out of position. What is a coach to do with these guys? It's frustrating because they showed some improvement, and just went and slid back into old, bad behavior. This period has been one of the most boring that I have seen. Even the announcers were again talking about other things. Only four shots on goal by the Pens in this period for a total of 23 in the game. In the last ten games, the Blackhawks have a 1-7-2 record, but they get an easy win against the Pens. The Pens now have a five game losing streak.

Thursday, January 12, 2006 -- Evening

I found a place that has the full video of the press conference with Michel Therrien. It is very entertaining to watch, and unfortunately for the Pens has a ring of truth. Some of the local sports announcers were faulting Therrien for calling out his players for their lack of effort. The thing is that the guy gave them a chance to prove themselves, and they only thing that they did prove is that he was right to call them out for not making an effort. Last night's game was a fiasco in my opinion because the fighting seemed to be there just to fight. It was like a little kid trying to show dad that he understood the problem when really it is just the little kid making moves like he is addressing the problem without really doing so. Therrien commended the team on sticking up for each other and hopes to build on that to get a consistently winning team. We shall see.

Meanwhile, alot of folks are questioning Marc-Andre Fleury's future with the Pens. With three goaltenders on the roster, Fleury, Dany Sabourin and Sebastien Caron, most are wondering if this is a sign that the Pens front office plans on sending Fleury down to the minors to save bonus money. It will be interesting to see what happens on that front in the next few weeks.

This weekend is the Steelers versus the Indianapolis Colts playoff game. The Colts are taking a page from the Cincinnati Bengals book, and are telling ticket sellers to not sell tickets to Steelers fans. I think that the rational is sorry. Obviously the Colts can't stand to have some Steeler fans in the arena shouting out for their team. Or maybe it is because they don't want any pesky Steelers fans out there scoping out the arena for microphones that are funneling noise back onto the field in the favor of the Colts. It should be a good game, and I am predicting that the Steelers will win this one. Of course, I could be wrong just as I was wrong that the Steelers would have a losing season this year.

The new episodes of Dr. Who are finally making it to the American shores. It has been announced that the Sci Fi Channel has made a deal with the BBC to air the new episodes. They will start with the episodes that aired in Britain last year. The series should air starting in March.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 -- Evening

Lots of news on the Pens front. The most important dealt with the comments that Michel Therrien made after yesterday's sorry attempt at a game. Therrien called a spade a spade, and he called the defensive squad on the whole a bunch of sorry-assed losers who think that they can get away with playing only 50% of the time. As Therrien said, those players should have a salary cut of 50% since they aren't interested in playing. I wish that I could find an audio of the interview because the emotion that is in it says alot. Therrien is obviously throughly disgusted with his players and with their lack of effort. My favorite quote was: "That defensive squad, I'm really starting to believe their goal is to be the worst defensive squad in the league. They're doing such a great job to be the worst defensive squad in the league. They turn the puck over, they have no vision. They're soft like I've never seen a bunch of defensemen soft like this." Here are some other quotes: "A pathetic performance. Half of the team doesn't care. Will those guys take only 50 percent of their salary because they only play 50 percent of the time?" "Tonight this looked like men against boys." "It's a game of emotion, it's a game of hard work, it's a game of passion," Therrien said. "Kovalchuk, what he did the other day, there was not one guy who was close to doing something. Maybe Maxime Talbot, at the end, with one second left. Did they think that I as a coach had the feeling the team cared for each other? Wow." "I tried to have a good ambience with the team yesterday. I guess we're going to have come back with the old recipe. They make my job miserable, so it's give and take. What can I do?" "I'm so disappointed about lots of guys. Very disappointed because they don't care. There's a lot guys who don't care. They pretend to care, but I know they don't care." I will be keeping my eye open for an audio of the press conference and will include a link to it as soon as I find it.

Jocelyn Thibault is going to have hip surgery on his left hip. Supposedly, he tore the cartiledge in the hip a few weeks ago in Montreal. Abit over two years ago, Thibault had the right hip operated on. Dany Sabourin and Sebastien Caron have been called up from the Baby Pens to replace Thibault who should be out for the season.

The Pens are playing the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. Dany Sabourin is in goal for his first game in the NHL.
First period: The Blue Jackets scored a goal in the first ten seconds of the game. Is this a portent that we will lose the game? Probably because the Pens really don't seem to be that interested in showing Therrien that they do care about each other and about earning their salaries. Andre Roy (I call him Andy Roy--pronounced Roy now Waugh) got into a fight, possibly with the thought that he might help the team show some of the toughness that Therrien pointed out that they didn't have. Four minutes late, they score another goal, just as the Pens were coming off of a power play. This team is pathetic. Ryan Malone came back to score a goal with the assistance of Tomas Surovy and Ziggy Palffy. Not to be outdone, the Blue Jackets came right back to score another. The period ends with a score of 3-1.
Second period: Former Pen, Jan Hrdina, scores a goal 40 seconds into the period and Sabourin is pulled and Marc-Andre Fleury is put in. Boy, that wasn't good. Fleury just got upended by Ryan whitney who lost his legs under him and bowled over Fleury as he was away from the net. I always hate it when the goalie goes roaming far from the net and in this case, Fleury was close to the area where you get a delay of game if you are the goalie and in that area. The Blue Jackets were just coming off a penalty, and Rob Scuderi gave up the puck and Jaroslav Balastik just had a breakaway that Fleury had no chance with. 20 seconds later, Sergei Fedorov scored another goal for the Blue Jackets. It's hard to keep up with the Blue Jackets scoring frenzy. Score now is 6-1. Some of the players start a fight again. I think that it is just to show they care and that they are tough. If that were the case, they would score. Andy Roy is in the box again. Therrien looks very calm. If I were the players, I would be scared because I'm sure that the fury will be breaking out soon and their practice is going to be hell. Funny! Sidney Crosby was getting manhandled, and some seconds after he started shoving back, a barrage of Pens came to his rescue. What a change from the past. But I think that it is just show with no meaning unfortunately. Crosby is in the sin bin now so he now leads the Pens with points and penalties. More phony baloney stuff. Now Ryan Malone got involved in fisticuffs. Gloves off, punching and Malone gets his clock cleaned. He had to do off for a cut over his eye. So obviously the Pens have decided that instead of upping the level of their play for the coach, they need to get involved in more fights. Wow, now three separate fights. Andy Roy is doing some rock'em sock'em robots. Gloves, sticks and helmets litter the ice. This is ridiculous! Score some goals boys--put the fights into offensive play. Obviously it is just more of boys trying to show they are men by showing what boys they are. The period ends with a score of 6-1.
Third period: Not alot going on in this game until a big fight again at 10:40. It seems that someone was after Surovy, and they got into and every charged to make a big clump. You know that the game is sad when the television announcers give the credits during the second period and then spend most of the third period on idle chitchat about a variety of things. Several more fights break out on the ice at 13:51. It's just a free for all. Yeah, it makes for entertainment, but it is poor hockey. I guess they are just trying to show how tough they are. This time it was started by Crosby and Lyle Odelein jumped into it. There is a break in play while the officials try to figure out how to deal with the mess. They are playing Kung Foo Fighting in the background at the arena. Therrien is looking very calm and unemotional. The Pens bench is cleared of more players as some are send off the ice either with injury or game misconducts. Total for the game so far is eight players. There is at least alot of space on the bench to spread out. No scoring in the third period, but plenty of fights. Game is over with a score of 6-1.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 -- Evening

My colonoscopy went well today. I have a clean bill of health for the next five years. If you have colon cancer in your family, you definitely should not hesitate to get yourself checked out. The worst part of the experience is the prep that is done the day before the colonoscopy with the clear fluid diet and the intestinal cleaning. My doctor was Robert E. Schoen. I'll continue to go to him because he was very good. He was very conscious of the pain and discomfort that a person might feel. The thing that I liked about him is that he doesn't overdrug. That means that you are more aware of what is going on, and remember more of the event. Also, he gave me some neat pictures of my colon. Here's an look at my appendix, a spot of diverticulosis (nothing that I need to worry about--just to eat more fiber), and a picture or two of colon.

Mario Lemieux practiced with the Pens today. He won't be playing just yet. It depends on how his practices go and how he feels. At this time, the hope is to get him into good enough condition to actually be competitive without being an embarrassing geriatric. An interesting side effect of the medication that Lemieux has been taking is that he can't take his food or drink. That's not a very good thing. It's the taste of the food that gives you the enjoyment of it.

News on changes on the Pens line up. First thing to comment on is that Eric Christensen has been sent down to the Baby Pens and Konstantin Koltsov has come up. A rumor that the announcers made before the game is that the Philadelphia Flyers are interested in reacquiring Mark Recchi, but Recchi said that he hadn't heard anything about the deal. I haven't found any articles about it, so we will just have to wait and see what happens.

The Pens are playing the Edmonton Oilers tonight. I had tickets to the game, but didn't think I would be up to going tonight. So I am at home watching and recording the game.
First period: Crosby is making some nice moves, but no scoring has happened yet. First penalty goes to Dick Tarnstrom for hooking at 8:14. The Pens are doing a good job of clearing the puck. Second penalty of the period again goes to Tarnstrom for hooking. I'm sure that he will be hearing about it from Michel Therrien. Darn! The Oilers have a penalty, and somehow manage to make a short handed goal by getting the puck between Marc-Andre Fleury's legs. 3:20 left in the period. The Oilers are flying on the ice. They are a fast moving team. Score at the end of the period is 1-0.
Second period: This is a pretty boring game. Fleury has made a few nice saves, but for the most part, it has been boring. With ten minutes gone in the period, the Pens have only made two shots on goal. Only six shots on goals were made by the Pens in the first period. Fleury was just under attack, and none of the Pens defensemen were clearing the darn puck. Fortunately, Fleury was able to hold it off. Fleury just keeps on making great saves, but there is only so much that he can do.
Third period: 44 seconds into the period and the Oilers score again. It seems that the guy (Shawn Horcoff) who scored wasn't trying to score, but was trying to pass the puck and viola--it went into the net. Horcoff has scored both goals for the Oilers this evening. The game is a boring one and really hard to pay attention to. Even the announcers are having a desultory conversation. The Pens have scored! It seems that Ryan Malone is going to get credit for the goal because his stick happened to be in the path of the puck that was shot by Josef Melichar. Last six minutes of the game, and now the Pens are starting to get into the game with some energy. As Bob Errey is saying from his vantage point between the two benches, the players on the benches are standing which is a sign that the teams are realy into the game. They are doing something new, and have put Errey who does the color commentary for the television announcing in a little separated section on the bench. The players have been going to him and asking if he shouldn't have a helmet. 2:26 left in the game, and the Pens have a penalty against them. This is an ongoing problem where the Pens get a penalty at the end. This is the first penalty of the third period. Michel Ouellet is the sinner. With seconds left in the penalty, Horcoff got a hat trick. All three goals in the game are scored by the same person. He would have to be the star of the game. Score is 3-1.

Monday, January 9, 2006 -- Early Evening

Sidney Crosby has been getting a reputation as a yakker at the refs. The problem is that this is leading him to be the second most penalized player on the Pens team. So far, Crosby has 60 minutes of penalty time compared to Brooks Orpik who has 61. Older players think the reason is because Crosby jaws alot and irritates the refs. Crosby says that he's going to work on it because he can see how it is affecting his game. One of the reasons may be that Crosby is a very emotional player, and usually the really good ones manage to keep the emotions under control. Speaking as an emotional person myself, I can understand how it is difficult for Crosby to control.

Marcus Vick really seems to know how to get into trouble. He has a long string of legal woes from marijuana use, driving with a suspended license, speeding, and then last week, he was caught stomping on the opposing player's calf during the Gator Bowl. Vick has been kicked off the Virginia Tech football team. Now, he has been arrested for brandishing a gun in a McDonald's parking lot. It is such a shame to see someone who might have some talent to totally throw it all away.

I have a colonoscopy scheduled for tomorrow morning. That means that I have been on clear fluid diet today. There is nothing that makes you as hungry as a clear fluid diet for a day. I am looking forward to the opportunity to get some solid food tomorrow.

Sunday, January 8, 2006 -- Late Afternoon/Early Evening

Steelers - Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC Wildcard playoff game.
First half: The Steelers received the first kickoff. Not much happened in the first possession by the Steelers except for possession of the ball for four and a half minutes. The Bengals had a great second play. Carson Palmer threw the ball 66 yards to Chris Henry. Bad thing is that Palmer was hurt on the play and had to be carted off the field for further evaluation. It looked like Kimo von Oelhoffen was blocked into Palmer and caught him around the ankle/knee of his left foot. Let's hope that Palmer is okay. Right now Jon Kitna is in for Palmer. There is alot of pushing and shoving going on with each play now because some of the players think that the Steelers might have purposefully taken out their quarterback. However from the replays, it is very obvious that it was just an accident and that von Oelhoffen was knocked into Palmer by a Bengal. The thing that concerns me from the activity that is going on is that the Bengals might come out to hurt Ben Roethlisberger. The Bengals aren't able to do anything with the ball even though it is in the red zone and have to settle for a field goal. They score first and it's now 3-0. After the commercial break, the footage that we see on television of the Bengals shows us a picture of dispair and heartbreak. They look as if it is the fourth quarter with one minute left and they are twenty points behind. Chris Henry is now also injured and will be out of the game it appears. So far, the Steelers have now had three false starts in seven plays. Bill Cowher is yelling up a storm on the sidelines. So now the Steelers have a first and 20. Meanwhile the team just can't seem to get anything moving. The issue appears to be the high crowd noise. This week, there was a big push by the Bengals ticket sellers to NOT sell tickets to Steeler fans. So if someone called from the 412 area code, you were unable to purchase tickets in Cincinnati. The Steelers have to kick off again. The Bengals have moved the ball down the field and have gotten a touchdown. Even with a backup quarterback, they are whooping out butts. Score now is 10-0. Ike Taylor had a nice punt return, but now we have a third down with five yards. Roethlisberger got us the first down by running the ball himself. The Steelers have gotten the ball down into the red zone and Roethlisberger tossed the ball to Willie Parker who runs the ball in for a touchdown. Score is 10-7. The problem is that the Bengals seem to be doing a good job of getting the ball down the field. Chad Johnson just had a nice catch to move the ball down the field in to the red zone. The Bengals are really close to scoring again. It looked like Troy Polamalu recovered the ball from a fumble, but wasn't given it, and he threw the ball at a Bengal and it cost us an unsportsmanlike penalty. The Bengals are now on third and goal and got the ball down near the goal line. There was a flag though and it was a penalty against the Steelers and an automatic first down. Bengals get a touchdown with a pass from Kitna to TJ Houshmandzadeh. Score is now 17-7. Roethlisberger just threw a 54 yard pass to Cedric Wilson. Now another fifteen yard pass to Antwaan Randle El. Jerome Bettis is in the game, and they tried to do one of those fancy moves from Roethlisberger to Bettis to someone in the end zone. He missed, but the Roethlisberger came back to toss one in to Hines Ward for a touchdown. Now the defense needs to step it up! They do, and the offense gets the ball. Roethlisberger is under attack for all the plays and the half ends with a score of 17-14.
Second half: The Bengals get the ball first and right away, Bill Cowher challenges a call of a completion to Chad Johnson. The ruling on the field that it was complete is overturned and the Steelers don't lose a time out. The Bengals get the ball down the field and then try for a field goal, and botch it. Something bad happens on the snap and the Steelers now have the ball. The Steelers are trying to march the ball down the field and Jerome Bettis got them a first down. They are the 44 yard line. Roethlisberger throws the ball down to Randle El, and he almost had the ball although the Bengal defenseman was all over him. It resulted in a penalty. Woo-hoo! They give the ball to Bettis and he ran it in for a touchdown! Finally! The Steelers have pulled ahead for the first time in the game. Score is now 21-17 in favor of the Steelers. Larry Foote just sacked Kitna. The Steeler defense needs to step it up even more to keep the lead. The Steelers get the ball back. Great play coming up! Randle El gets called over by Roethlisberger. The ball gets snapped to Randle El. He starts running, then throws it to Roethlisberger who then throws it down to Wilson for a touchdown! Score is now 28-17. That play was just great. They keep on showing it over and over. Now for news about Palmer is that he has a torn ligament in his knee and is out for the season. James Farrior just picked off the ball from a Kitna pass. The Steelers have the ball again on the Cincinnati 40 yard line. Willie Parker almost got a first down on the next play. Then the ball was given to Bettis, and he just dragged three Bengals down the field with him to the five yard line. Now we are third and goal and on the three yard line. The Steelers try another trick play that doesn't work, and have to settle for a field goal. Score is now 31-17. The Steelers have 24 unanswered points. The Bengals couldn't do anything with the ball, and the Steelers have it back. The Steelers are basically runing the ball now because it will run down the clock. Polamalu intercepted Kitna and started running. As he was getting tackled, he threw the ball back to Chris Hope who ran the ball somewhat farther down the field. The throw was a stupid move because what if the ball had gone back to the Bengals with a fumble? Cowher talked to Polamalu for abit on the sidelines, then smiled and whacked him on the head with some papers. It doesn't even look like the Steelers are going to try for a touchdown. They have the ball on the 20 yard line and are just taking the knee. I guess that they are just going to run down the clock and then the game will be over. Final score is 31-17.

Sunday, January 8, 2006 -- Afternoon

Surprisingly, Don Cherry is speaking up in support of Sidney Crosby in the incident with Ilya Kovlachuk on Friday. Kovalchuk had shoved Crosby around, and when Crosby retaliated, Crosby wound up in the box. Kovalchuk then scored on that penalty and pointed at Crosby in the box. As Cherry said, someone on the team should have broken Kovalchuk's arm. I don't think he really means that--just that someone else on the team needs to give Crosby some support as he is being abused by the other team. On his show, Cherry showed clips of the Thrashers getting away with murder in regards to Crosby and commented on how there should be someone on the team who takes the enforcer role to protect Crosby. Now for the surprising Cherry remark: "I'm starting to like Crosby more and more because he doesn't back down. They (Pittsburgh) absolutely have to get somebody to ride shotgun with him. He's an 18-year-old kid. ... This is ridiculous." You go, Don Cherry!

The Pens have been doing well with attendance this season. For the most part, the games have been filling the arena on average to 96% capacity. I think that a good portion of that had to do with season ticket sales because of Crosby. I know that's why my boyfriend and I got the half season plan. At the time that we went to get it there were only single seats available in the south end of the arena (where we shoot twice). I know that in the section that I am in now, I see alot of repeat faces. There is one seat next to me that has a rotating person--one of those single seats that no one wants for a season ticket because it can't be paired up. The Pens don't release information on the season ticket sales, but that my theory.

In little more than an hour, the Steelers will be playing the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC playoff game. Update on the game to follow.

Saturday, January 7, 2006 -- Evening

It's a hockey night in Pittsburgh. The Pens played the Atlanta Thrashers last night in Atlanta and tonight here in Pittsburgh.
First period: Just as he did last night, Ilya Kovlachuk made the first goal of the game tonight. Thrashers take the early lead: 1-0. The Pens seemed a bit depressed by the goal, and weren't putting alot of shots on goal. The Pens got a powerplay, and even though Sidney Crosby was being hooked, he got the puck off to Michel Ouellet who scored a goal. Ouellet is doing a great job, and Crosby has a streak of scoring points in ten consecutive games so far. Score is now tied: 1-1. Marc-Andre Fleury was under attack in the last minute of the period, and the puck rebounded off of him with only ten seconds left to sit in front of the net. Fortunately, one of the Pens cleared it from the area, and even though the attack continued strongly for the remaining few seconds, the Pens held them off. The score remained tied at the end of the period.
Second period: With the start of the period, the Pens and Thrashers are trading penalties. The Pens had a power play, and then Sergei Gonchar took a penalty to even things up. Just a few seconds later, Crosby took a hooking penalty. With a two man advantage, Kovlachuk got his second goal of the evening. The Thrashers have one more penalty to kill now. There is one penalty after another in this period, or at least it seems that way. There is a constant trade of power plays between the two. Ryan Malone is playing in this game, and he managed to get a goal to tie up the game: 2-2. Time of the goal is 12:55. Then at 13:36, Crosby was called for diving and unsportsmanlike conduct. What I don't understand is that Niclas Havelid was called for hooking Crosby which could explain how Crosby wound up falling into the net. But no! The refs called it a dive, and then penalized Crosby for giving them whatfor! At least for now the game is tied, and the Pens just have to do their best to kill this penalty. They successfully killed the penalty. Someone explain to me how you can call one guy for hooking/tripping/whatever. Meanwhile, the Thrashers jump all over Fleury and then the puck went into the net. It was such obvious goalie interference. I mean one of the Thrashers was standing behind Fleury and the net--pushing Fleury down and out of the way so the goal could go in. There are some pitiful calls being made and all against the Pens. As Bob Errey, the announcer, said, the ref was so busy looking at the puck that he didn't look at the activity going on around the net. Someone needs to penalize or reprimand the referees in this game for the bad calls that are being made. It's not right that calls that are affecting the outcome of the game are allowed to go unaddressed. The Pens now have a 5-3 powerplay with one minute left in the period. Ten seconds left in the period and Ouellet and Crosby teamed up yet again for a goal. Ouellet gets the goal with an assist by Crosby. Score is now tied: 3-3. Darn, the first penalty was just expiring as the goal was made so the refs said that the second one would be ended because of the goal. Of course! They are anti Pens for some reason. At least the game is tied at the end of the period.
Third period: Give me a hockey stick to beat some refs. Crosby gets hooked and tripped by two Thrashers while charging the net. No call against the Thrashers and no goal by Crosby. Crosby got called for another interference call at 11:32 right after the face off. This is the fourth penalty for Crosby in this game. 15:11 and Ryan Whitney gets called for holding the stick of a Thrasher. Another penalty to kill late in the game. Unfortunately, we aren't able to stop the Thrashers and they score with only 3:25 left in the game. At the face off, Crosby gets hooked, and a Thrasher is called on it. The Pens now have a powerplay and a chance to tie things up. Nothing done in the powerplay, and the Pens pull Fleury with abit over a minute left. Now the Pens have called a timeout. While the timeout is on, we see a replay of something that happened earlier in the period where one of the Thrashers, Andy Sutton shoved his glove and then had his stick up in Crosby's face. It wasn't called. As Bob Errey was saying, Crosby is getting alot of abuse that isn't being called, and sometimes he is just retaliating. Ouellet just got a penalty with two seconds in the game for interferring with Kovalchuk making a shot on the open net. Sutton got called for a game misconduct and sent off the ice. Maxime Talbot got involved in a war of words with Sutton and got a game misconduct too. The game ends when the puck is dropped and the Thrashers have won 4-3.

Saturday, January 7, 2006 -- Afternoon

The Canadian team won the World Junior Hockey Championship. They defeated the Russian team 5-0 to win the title. Meanwhile Finland defeated the United States team by a score of 4-2 to take third place/bronze. The Pens prospect, Evgeni Malkin had a good showing in the tournament and was named outstanding forward. This is the second year in a row that Canada has won the gold in the World Juniors.

One of my interests is Egyptology. It is something that has fascinated me since I was a child, and I would love to be able to go on an expedition to do some digging in Egypt. Unfortunately, I don't have the qualifications for such a task, but I can participate virtually with Johns Hopkins University expedition to the Temple Precinct of Mut at Karnak. The expedition started on January 3, but we all can follow along with the progress with daily calendar of pictures and text.

There was some talk that Pluto's moon, Charon, might be a twin planet, and that the two planets were twins that were orbiting each other while orbiting the sun. However, in July of this past year, scientists were able to do some observations of the atmosphere of Charon. This was done by watching Charon eclipse a distant star. While the moon appeared to pass in front of the star from our perspective, we could judge the atmosphere because if the star appeared to suddenly disappear from view, that would mean there was no atmosphere. A more gradual disappearance would have been the result of an atmosphere. Well, the star disappeared suddenly which means that Charon does not have an atmosphere. Any atmosphere that the moon would have would be thinner than the Earth's moon. That means that even though Charon is half the size of Pluto, it is not a planetary object.

Friday, January 6, 2006 -- Evening

Obviously I need to stay home more often to watch the Pens. My boyfriend and I had gone to an early dinner at my favorite restaurant, Bangkok Balcony in Squirrel Hill on Forbes Ave. When we got home, the Pens game against the Atlanta Thrashers was in the second intermission. The score was not very promising--5-0 in favor of the Thrashers. The third period started and within five minutes, the Pens scored twice. The first goal was scored by John LeClair and the second was by Michel Ouellet. Score: 5-2. The Pens get a double minor power play, and Colby Armstrong scored his first NHL goal. The Pens are doing well in this third period and showing energy that they haven't in the past during the third period. Score 5-3 with 8:52 left to go in the game. Four minutes later, the Pens have another power play and Mark Recchi has score. Score is 5-4, and the game is heating up. The Thrashers got away with having six men on the ice there for a few seconds. The Pens pulled Marc-Andre Fleury with less than a minute in the game, and Ilya Kovlachuk was cherry picking and managed to score a hat trick with an open net goal. So the valient effort is for naught in the end. Final score is 6-4 with the Thrashers winning. The Pens will be playing the Thrashers again tomorrow night, only this time they will play in Pittsburgh. The big explanation for the loss tonight is the play of Jocelyn Thibault started the game and gave away three goals on six shots. Unbelieveably bad! If Fleury had started the game, this might not have been a loss.

The Ryan Malone story has been getting some media attention. At this point, not much is being made of the fact that the Pens are shopping Malone around the league. What is getting alot of attention is the fact that Malone is not in favor with Michel Therrien. Of course, the one thing that isn't noted is that Eddie O also had some issues with the play of Malone. Therrien said: "He got an opportunity before and I don't believe that he took it. So he's going to have to wait. I like guys working, and I like the lineup right now. We've got guys working really hard, and this is what's important for me. Give what you got and you'll be OK." Malone says that he is trying, but that Therrien wants him to do better. It seems that the Toronto Maple Leafs might be interested in Malone.

The Mayor of Pittsburgh, Bob O'Connor, has made a bet with the Mayor of Cincinnati, Mark Mallory. Depending on who wins the playoff game this Sunday between the Steelers and the Bengals, the losing city's mayor will go to the winning city for a tour of the city.

Ariel Sharon had a turn for the worse today. While getting a catscan this morning, it was found that the bleeding was still happening in his brain. Another operation, this time a five hour operation, was performed on Sharon, and the bleeding was staunched. Sharon is now showing significant improvement in his vital signs. The doctors believe that Sharon has suffered neurological damage. It is just not sure at this point how bad that damage is or if Sharon will even recover. Meanwhile, religious lunatic, Pat Robinson, said that Sharon was struck down by the hand of God. Why? Because God is mad at Sharon for arbitrarily cutting up the Holy Land into pieces and giving away God's land. According to Robinson: "He was dividing God's land, and I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the (European Union), the United Nations or the United States of America. God says, 'This land belongs to me, and you'd better leave it alone,'" Makes me want to ask Mr. Lunatic Robinson if the whole of this planet isn't "God's Land" and we are all in trouble for making arbitrary state/country lines and claiming to own the land. Obviously Robinson loves the old Testament smote 'em down God and not the New Testament benevolent God. Funny, I thought Robinson was a Christian. Perhaps he is, but his viewpoints aren't very Christian in character. Maybe God should smote down Mr. Robinson for misrepresenting him in public.

Thursday, January 5, 2006 -- Evening

Story from the local sports newscasts are that Ryan Malone is being shopped around for a trade by the Pens. It seems that they have been approaching others to find out if there is any interest in Malone. Malone has been a healthy scratch in the past few games. The question will be who will take Malone and what will we get in return?

Sidney Crosby is going to get a $212,000 bonus for reaching 20 goals this season. It seems that Crosby has been getting tons of media attention in Canada and has been handling it with grace. He's a much better person then me by not getting involved in a war of words with Don Cherry. As Crosby said, "Everyone's not going to have a great opinion about you no matter what you do." Good words to remember.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006 -- Evening

Lynn Swann, former wide receiver for the Steelers, has formally announced that he will be running for Governor of Pennsylvania. Swann will be campaigning for the Republican nomination in the primary which will be held on May 16. The question is whether people will vote for Swann because he is a former Steeler or for his political viewpoints. So far, I'm not very clear on where Swann stands on the issues. It appears that he has a plan to cut taxes in the state, but it's not clear where he will cut the money in the budget. I want more information before I make a decision, and so far, there isn't much there besides celebrity. Check out Swann's campaign website.

Michel Therrien was happy to go back to Montreal for a game, and even had the date marked On his calendar. There are some conflicting reports on why he was let go as the coach of the Montreal Canadiens. According to reports, some say that it was because he lacked coaching experience, and others say it is because he is emotional and lets it show. It seems he is very open in expressing his displeasure with players. What other coach would have called out his team for their poor conditioning and subpar play? The players do seem to respect Therrien from the interviews that were given on television, and all of those who played with him on the Baby Pens don't want to do anything that would displease Therrien. I have to admit that I am impressed by the comments of Saku Koivu. He said: "He was a very emotional [coach] and liked an intense, hard-working team. "He coaches his team the way he is. He shows his emotions. One thing he did well was that he really made us play up to our potential. He really got the most out of our team." Therrien's influence is already obvious in the level of play of the recent Pens games.

The Baby Pens have stayed on their winning ways. Their current record is 27-3-2-1. The Baby Pens won on Dec. 31 with a score of 2-1 against the Norfolk Admirals. Next up--the Philadelphia Phantoms on Friday.

Ariel Sharon has suffered a massive stroke today, and the latest news is not looking good. Right now, he is on a respirator, and has needed a lengthy operation to drain blood from his brain. The prognosis is that he will not fully recover, and it is already mentioned that he is paralyzed from the waist down. Ehud Olmert is taking over the duties of Prime Minister. A few weeks ago, Sharon had a minor stroke which did no damage, but doctors determined that he needed a heart operation to prevent further strokes. That operation was not scheduled until tomorrow, and unfortunately, Sharon didn't make it that long. My best wishes are with Sharon and his family. The question now is what will happen with future withdrawals from settlements?

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 -- Evening

It's a hockey night in Montreal. The Penguins are playing the Montreal Canadiens. Michel Therrien has to be looking forward to and dreading the game tonight since he used to be the coach of the Canadiens a few years ago.
First period: The Pens aren't starting out to well. They had a powerplay that almost gave a scoring opportunity to the Canadiens. The Pens seem to be having some issues with puck passing in the first four minutes of the game, and are making some sloppy passes. Sidney Crosby at 4:33 came flying down the ice, and shot a blazing puck at Jose Theodore. It flew past Theodore, and the Pens take the early lead of 1-0. Bob Errey (the color announcer for the local game broadcast) is saying that this is the fourth game in a row in which the Pens have scored first. The Canadiens had a power play and almost scored on the Pens. Marc-Andre Fleury lost his stick, but got it back. Then a beautiful goal. Shane Endicott took a pass from Mark Recchi, and beat Theodore with a beauty--a short handed goal! Fleury is doing a great job too. Hopefully we can keep this up! Whoo-hooo! Maxime Talbot just got in a goal as he was standing in front of the net. Score is now 3-0. This after a few minutes of faulty passing at the beginning of the period. Now Crosby just made another fantastic shot at the net, but missed. The Canadiens came back to answer, but Fleury blocked it beautifully. Crosby just got a tripping penalty although from watching the event it looks like he was the one that was tripped and his stick held by a Canadien. So now the Pens have to kill a power play, and they did it. 1:40 left in the period. Darn! 20 seconds left in the period, and the Canadiens have scored. Jan Bulis of the Canadiens had a two on one, and managed to get it past Fleury. Period is over with a score of 3-1. Shots on goal: 17 for the Canadiens and only 6 for the Pens.
Second period: A little over 2 minutes into the period and the Canadiens have scored. This is not looking so good with their late score in the first and now this score early in the second. Score is now 3-2 in the Pens favor. Darn, and now the Canadiens have tied it up at 5:30. There was a clutter of players around Fleury and there was no way he could see the puck. Therrien called a time out to calm down his players. 3-3. Just abit more than a minute later and the Canadiens have scored again! The Canadiens are now leading, 4-3. Three fast goals in less than six minutes, but it is not Fleury's fault because there are people are cluttering in front of him and preventing him from seeing the action. The Pens are now trying to play catch up and they are putting some pressure on the Theodore. The Pens just got a penalty by Andre Roy, and Therrien was shaking his head over it. I'm sure that the team will be hearing about this pitiful performance in the period intermission. A scrum keeps on forming in front of Fleury every time the Canadiens attack the net. With abit over a minute in the period, the Pens have a power play. Let's hope they can tie things up and go to intermission with a tie. They do! Fourteen seconds into the power play and Michel Ouellet ties it up. As they go to intermission, the score is tied, 4-4. 11 shots on goal for the Canadiens and 17 for the Pens in this period.
There was a very interesting interview with Jocelyn Thibault in the intermission break. His favorite movie is Dumb and Dumber, and he carries a DVD with him whenever he goes on the road. The initials on the back of his helmet are for his kids. My favorite story, however, was how Hockey Night in Canada was a huge event in his family's life. They would go to dinner at his grandparents house, watch a period or two of the game, then head home, watch the final period and be off to bed. It was a nice interview.
Third period: The Pens have scored another goal. It looked like a shot by Matt Murley. It is under review because they wonder if there was a kick in by Crosby. In fact, Crosby gets the credit for the goal because it came off his skate, so it is the second goal of the evening for Crosby. There was alot of activitiy and at 14:55, Ouellet scored his second goal of the game. Score is now 6-4. One thing to note about the game is that there haven't been alot of penalties called, and the few that were called had some questionable calls, like Crosby getting called for tripping when Crosby was the one on the ice and someone else was holding onto his stick. Fleury just made a great save by grabbing the puck before it went over the line and shoving it under him. The Canadiens have pulled the goalie with less than 2 minutes. The Pens can't seem to find the open net. Less than a minute and the Pens are a man down. 30 seconds left, and the crowd is booing because the Canadiens aren't doing anything to score yet. Time has run out and the Pens have won. There's a fight on the boards, but the Pens have won! Both sides had a total of 33 shots on goal for the entire game. Fleury did a great job, and the goals that were made on him were the fault of the scrum going on in front of him that didn't allow him to see the puck.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 -- Late Morning

West Virginia University won the Sugar Bowl last night over Georgia. WVU quickly pulled away to a three touchdown lead, but Georgia came back in the second half to make things abit more even. The final score was 38-35. A closer game is alot more exciting than a blowout.

Monday, January 2, 2006 -- Evening

Tonight the Pens are playing the Toronto Maple Leafs. This will be the first time that Sidney Crosby will be playing an NHL game in Canada. The media is expected to be going crazy over Crosby, and the Pens are making as many accommodations for them as possible. Tomorrow the Pens will be playing the Montreal Canadiens so it will a two game Canada setting. In goal tonight for the Pens will be Jocelyn Thibault.
First period: 36 seconds into the game John LeClair got a penalty called against him. It's never good to start with a penalty. After the LeClair penalty was killed, Ric Jackman decided that he wanted to spend some time in the box. We killed that penalty. Then Crosby did this beautiful behind the back pass that Sergei Gonchar put in the net. The Pens score! 1-0. At 6:46, the Pens got a chance at a powerplay with a Leafs penalty. Although they didn't score on it, the Pens are making some nice shots. The Leafs haven't scored in the period, and the Pens go into the first intermission with the lead. this is something that is so refreshingly different.
Second period: Not alot of scoring opportunities going on in the game. The Leafs have a power play and are putting some pressure on Thibault, and he seems to be holding up. I think that Thibault definitely has something to prove. The Pens just got another penalty because there were too many players on the ice. It seems that the players thought they cleared the blue line, didn't, and
Shane Endicott got caught on the ice. Ryan Whitney appeared to be taking the blame for it because he should have gotten off the ice and didn't make the change. You could see the f word flowing off of Michel Therrien's lips. Rob Scuderi got hit with the puck on his left wrist, and it seems to have broken the skin because there was blood dripping off his wrist. The Pens did manage to kill the 5-3 disadvantage. Thibault is doing a great job of stopping shots. So far with a few minutes left in the period, he has stopped 25 shots. Eddie Belfour is doing a nice job too with some good saves. Score is still 1-0. Alot of the Pens appear to be getting banged up in this period, and a few of them are sitting on the bench with ice bags. The Leafs are trying to put a big push on to score before the end of the period because they have a man advantage due to a penalty on Gonchar. The period ends with no score on either side, and the Gonchar penalty will continue for another 40 seconds in the third period.
Third period: Darn, 1:15 into the third period, and the Leafs have scored the tieing goal. We have some issues with the team because we are down now to five defensemen based on injuries, and it appears that Scuderi has been taken off to hospital. Unfortunately, instead of getting an answering goal, the Leafs scored again. Chad Kilger scored both goals for the Leafs. As the period was winding down, it was starting to look like we might have a loss. But then Michel Ouellet managed to get a powerplay goal. Game is now tied at 2-2. With less than two minutes left in regulation, Tomas Surovy got called for goalie interference. It looked like Belfour dived though. No score by the Leafs, and we go to overtime!
Overtime: We have killed the penalty, and Surovy just missed making a goal when he came back. Then 1:02 into overtime, the puck ricochetted off the body of the one of the Leafs into the net. The Leafs have won the game. The officials looked at the shot to make sure it didn't come off the glove, and the Leafs are credited with the goal. Darn! At least it is an overtime loss and we get a point for it. Granted, we are still in last place, but every point counts.

Sunday, January 1, 2006 -- Evening

I was just watching the Sunday evening football game, a matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Saint Louis Rams. They were talking to some of the players about the possibility that Bill Parcells might retire. Well, they were talking to Spock ears! They were the strangest, ugliest looking ears I've seen--scary even. I'm not sure if it was bad camera angle or what, but his ears even look pointy in this picture.

The New England Patriots lost today, so the Steelers will be playing the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday at 4:30 in the first round of the playoffs.

Sunday, January 1, 2006 -- Afternoon

Steelers versus the Detroit Lions.
First half: The Steelers kick off to the Lions, and they aren't able to do much. When the Lions punt, Antwaan Randle El ran the ball down the field for 80 yards for a touchdown. It was a great run! Randle El is my favorite player because he's always so chipper and happy. Oh, and he's a cutie! Score is 7-0. The Steelers have to win this game to get into the playoffs, so it is looking good so far. The Lions get the ball back, and manage to get the ball down the field enough for a touchdown. The score is now tied 7-7. Now for the first time in the game, the Steeler offense is on the field. Willie Parker did the first run with the ball. I gather that means that even though Jerome Bettis is the starter, Willie Parker can be the first person to run in the game. The Steelers couldn't do much and have to punt. This is not looking good. The Lions got a long throw down the field, and then a penalty in their favor, and they get another touchdown. Score is 14-7. The Steelers get the punt and get another long run of 63 yards, this time from Ricardo Colclough. We have the ball around the 20 yard line, and Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball to Heath Miller on the 10 yard line. Bettis then rund the ball in a few yards but still short of a touchdown. Then Hines Ward misses a throw, and Verron Haynes gets it to the one yard line. It's fourth down. They go for it, and of course, give it to the Bus, and Bettis runs it in for a touchdown. Extra point is good and the score is tied again. First quarter ends with the tie. The Lions aren't able to do much with the ball, and it goes back to the Steelers. So far, there have been several missed interception opportunities on the part of the Steelers. Still not able to do anything and the Steelers have to punt again. There was almost an interception on Roethlisberger. The announcers are commenting on how Ward has not had a catch yet today. Right after that, Roethlisberger trips over his own player and they call it a sack. It's third and thirteen and Roethlisberger is under attack. He manages to throw the ball to Haynes which was risky because two other Lion guys were there. It wasn't enough to get a first down though. We have to punt and the Lions are trying to get up the field when the runner gets tackled, drops the ball, and the Steelers recover. Willie Parker gets a couple of good runs and we are in the red zone at the two minute warning. Parker ran the ball a few more yards. Then they handed the ball to the Bus, and he ran it in for a touchdown. So far in this game, Bettis has three carries for eight yards and two touchdowns. Score is now 21-14. Troy Polamalu manages to strip the ball, and the Steelers recover. Roethlisberger overthrew Ward, and then Randle El couldn't hold onto the next pass and the Lions intercepted, but as the guy was getting tackled, he tried to toss the ball forward which was an illegal move. So the half ended.
Second half: The Steelers get the ball first and Willie Parker ran it a few yards, then Ward got a good catch in his 119th consecutive game. The ball is down on the four yard line, and they gave the ball to the Bus who gets yet another touchdown. Score is 28-14. Unfortunately, the Lions seem to have some answers, and they ran the ball down the field to score a touchdown. Score is now 28-21. So far, the 21 points that the Lions have scored in this game are the most that they have scored on a road game this season. We had a third down and one yard and the announcers were talking about how the Steelers haven't converted on third down alot. So they put in the Bus who got the down. Then they got a nice good throw and run from Heath Miller, and with only a few yards to go, Roethlisberger ran the ball in for a touchdown. Extra point is good and the score is 35-21. We are now in the fourth quarter and there are abit over eleven minutes left in the game. can we hold on to win and get into the playoffs? Bettis just ran the ball for a first down again. He is doing a great job in what may be his last home game. I think that the Steelers are going to try to run the ball now and just run down the clock. Roethlisberger was just intercepted. I think that the Steelers might have been thinking this week that they might easily beat the Lions, even though they kept on claiming that wasn't the case. Fortunately, the Lions don't score and are forced to punt. Time left? 4:56. They did a "Thank You!" for Bettis and ran it on the Jumbo-tron and the crowd went crazy. Less than three minutes now, so I think that it is obvious that we are moving on to the playoffs. The announcers weren't even showing the last few minutes of the game. Instead they were showing their crew because this will be one of the last games televised this season. The Steelers won, and are going on to the Playoffs. Who will they play? That has yet to be determined.

Sunday, January 1, 2006 -- Late Morning

Happy New Year to everyone! The year has gone by so quickly. Usually around this time, people look back at the high and low points of the past year. At the Daily Bongo, the highlight of the past year has to be the Pittsburgh Penguins getting the number one draft pick and selecting Sidney Crosby. Why is this such a big deal? Because without Crosby, there might not be the intensity of interest in hockey which could mean the difference between keeping the team in the city or losing it. Also, Crosby is going to be one of the legends of hockey, and he is here in Pittsburgh. As for the low point of the year, I would have to say that it is the attention that the media pays to death, destruction and human suffering. For example, during the flooding of New Orleans, you would see film of newscasters showing video of folks who didn't have water, food, or were trapped. Did they help? Of course not, because the story was to play up the bad, not to do something to alleviate the problem. The news has gotten out of hand with non-stop glorification of suffering. Do we really need 24 hours of coverage of Katrina when nothing new was being added to the story? Give me breaking news, give me the story, and then move on if you have nothing new to add.

This afternoon's Steelers game against the Detroit Lions might be the last home game for Jerome Bettis. I think that it probably will be. Last night on the Jerome Bettis Show which is shown on KDKA, they presented Bettis with a jacket that had the show logo on it. Even though Bettis isn't officially admitting to it, it seems that this will be the end. Willie Parker went to Bill Cowher and told him that Bettis should be the starter of the game. So when the game starts, Bettis' name will be called and he will come running down the tunnel onto the field probably for the last time. It is sad. If the Steelers win today, they will be one of the wildcard entries to the playoffs.

The BBC has a list of 100 things we didn't know a year ago. My favorite is number 8: "Devout Orthodox Jews are three times as likely to jaywalk as other people, according to an Israeli survey reported in the New Scientist. The researchers say it's possibly because religious people have less fear of death." Of the answer could be that religious people have less willingness to follow stupid laws.