The Daily Bongo

October 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

Today is my favorite day of the year, Halloween. When I was a child, I loved the holiday because it was my opportunity to roam the entire neighborhood collecting goodies. I would drag my poor mother for blocks looking for the one elusive light that was still on just down there. In my neighborhood, there were also quite a few bars, and I would make her take me to each. The nice thing about bars was that the bartender would give you a whole bag of chips, and the patrons would be so amused by a child who had the chutzpah to go into a bar that I would get several rounds of coins and dollar bills. That wasn't the only thing that I loved about Halloween. Scary stories filled the airwaves and print material. There was nothing like a little spine tingling before you go to bed. I would wrap myself in a blanket, back to the wall, with my feet pulled up from the edge of the bed, and a cross around my neck to ward off the vampires.

The Hubble Telescope is going to get some much needed upgrades and repairs during the Discover space shuttle mission. The batteries and gyroscopes will be replaced and two new instruments will be installed--the Wide Field Camera (WFC3) and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS). The work should be in 2008. That seems like a long time to wait, but it's better than no repair at all. Originally the discussion was that Hubble would just be left as it and that its usefulness would come to an end. One of my former professors told me a couple of weeks ago that she thought nothing would be done for Hubble and that we would all have to watch the skies and wait for it to come crashing to Earth. That sounds like a great plot for a sci-fi story.

Monday, October 30, 2006 -- Evening

The Pens have decided to keep Jordan Staal on the roster. This was a move that the team had to make because Staal is producing and is very popular with the fans. I heard a clip from a press conference with Michel Therrien where he said that he would not have kept Staal if he was only going to play him for four or five minutes. As Therrien said, he is going to make sure that Staal plays 10 to 12 minutes in a game. You have to feel to sorry for Jordan's older, Marc. He was drafted by the New York Rangers and still hasn't played in the NHL. The Pens' other young recruit, Kristopher Letang, is going back to the Juniors.

Dave Nonis, the general manager for the Vancouver Canucks has some interesting remarks about the state of the NHL free agency. As he said, with the way things are now, by the time players like Sidney Crosby or Staal hit their prime (around 25 years of age), the team that has put so much into their development will probably lose the player when he goes for the money with another team. That is the thing that really sucks, and it was one of the considerations in the Staal situation. The team has to wonder if they should play the kid because that will make the clock tick down on free agency. Another comment that Nonis said that I agree with 100% is that every team should play every other team in the NHL at least once during the year. It would be great to see some of the teams and players that we don't get a chance to see because they don't come to our area. We didn't play the Phoenix Coyotes last season, and are playing them in an away game this year (in January). I would LOVE to see the Coyotes. Even though I"m a Pens fan, I would love to do the Coyote howl if they score. I would love to see Wayne Gretzky. Hasn't happened because of the NHL's unbalanced schedule. That's what Nonis said--the people of Vancouver would love to see Crosby. They can't because of the schedule.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 -- Evening

The Steelers played the Oakland Raiders today. The game was moved from its 1 p.m. time to 4:15 p.m. The Steelers really are playing very poorly. Today, they lose to the Raiders who are the worst team in the league. Right now, I can't imagine that the Steelers have it in them to win any games. Ben Roethlisberger can't throw the ball worth a darn with four interceptions in the game. We can't make a touchdown from a first down on the one yard line. The runners suck, and the receivers have fingers like jello. We can't return the ball, and the defense throws away yards with personal fouls. The team is a mess. Read the game recap for all the highlights.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 -- Early Afternoon

The Philadelphia Flyers are really playing so far this season like the Pens of last season. It was rather interesting to read the commentary from the Philadelphia papers. I mean, the Flyers have their own players running into each other, and Derian Hatcher taking a penalty that lead to the goal by Evgeni Malkin and elbowing Sidney Crosby and giving up the puck that lead to Crosby's goal. As Hatcher says: "I don't even feel bad out there. Defense is a team concept. Six of those goals were on odd-man rushes. I know what the (plus-minus) numbers are, but I don't feel bad on the ice." It's nice that Hatcher doesn't feel bad when he's not performing up to par for the team. The comment that really riled my goat was by Peter Forsberg. He said: "ItŐs probably the worst (home) loss I ever had. We do have a young team but you canŐt blame it on that." Excuse me? A team that has 70% of its players (16 born before 1980 and only 7 after 1980), you don't have a "young" team unless you are deluding yourself about what young is. The Pens have a young team. The Flyers have a team full of geriatrics who are feeling the heat of having to perform in the fast paced world of the new rules in hockey. I am very glad that the Pens won. It appears that the Flyers fans were booing and taunting Crosby all evening. I would imagine that Crosby showed them what he's really made of when he scored his first ever career hat trick.

Saturday, October 28, 2006 -- Evening

Today is my favorite day of the year. Why? Because tonight, the clocks go back an hour, and we all gain an hour. Yeah, we really don't "gain" an hour because we lost one in the spring, but there is just something about the concept of getting to relive an hour or having an extra. Now, I should use that as an idea for a book or story. The atmosphere in the story should match the weather that we are having here in Pittsburgh this evening--cold, rainy, and extremely windy. The wind actually rushes throught the trees near the apartment building with eerie sounds.

The Pens are playing the Philadelphia Flyers. People are still talking about the goal that Evgeni Malkin made a few nights ago. I have to admit that I can't get enough of the goal. Beautiful, and as I've said, I love the passionate bear hug that Malkin and Sidney Crosby give each other. The game was a wonderful one for the Pens' fans because the team won with a final score of 8-2. Read the game recap for the highlights.

it seems that Ben Roethlisberger will be starting in tomorrow's game against the Oakland Raiders. The game has been moved from its 1 p.m. time to 4:15 p.m. It seems that Roethlisberger has been doing fine since the concussion on Sunday.

Another new episode of Endurance: High Sierras this evening. Tonight's episode was the team picking episode. They have changed up some of the rules of the game. One of the teams was elimated by coming in last in the color picking competition. Then there is a golden triangle of immunity, and a change to a Samadhi. This should be a very interesting season. Read the recap for all the details.

Thursday, October 26, 2006 -- Evening

Tonight's episode of Survivor: Cook Islands is a recap episode titled A Closer Look. The show is a recap of the past few weeks. I'm not a huge fan of shows like that, so I didn't watch it.

Colby Armstrong and Ryan Whitney were on the Stan Savran show on the local Fox Sports TV station. They were talking about how nice it is to be on a team that is actually winning now. My favorite part of the interview was when Savran asked them about Evgeni Malkin (btw, it's pronounced Mol-kin not Mal-kin). Savrin was trying to find out what sort of person Malkin is, and they both agreed that he seems to be a really cool guy. It seems that he smiles and laughs alot. Also, Malkin is really enthusiastic about playing, and as Colby said, Malkin acts as if every goal is the first one. That explains the emotional bear hug that Malkin gave to Sidney Crosby. As both said, the enthusiasm and joy that Malkin has just rubs off on all of them. it also seems that both Colby and Ryan, along with Andre Roy, give Malkin a hard time, talking to him in English as if he understand them. As Ryan said, Malkin just talks back to them in Russian. It seems that Malkin is really fitting in well with his teammates.

In other Pens news, Barry Melrose was saying on one of the ESPN radio shows that Jordan Staal should be sent back to the Juniors. As Melrose puts it, being in the Juniors for another year will allow Staal to mature and develop. According to Melrose, young people are being ruined by playing too young. I don't know whether I buy that theory. After all, Crosby was 18 and playing in the NHL. If Staal plays more than nine games in the NHL, it starts to count againt his three year entry level contract. However, the Pens can keep from losing a year to free agency by playing him in less than 40 games. In that case, he would still have seven years before free agency.

Wednesday, October 25, 3006 -- Evening

Everyone has been talking about the beautiful goal that Evgeni Malkin made yesterday. It seems that the folks on VS made alot of references between the goal that Malkin made and one that Mario Lemieux made in 1984. Some have been getting upset because as they say, Malkin isn't a Lemieux. I'm not saying that Malkin is Lemieux. I'm saying that he is Malkin, a very young, gifted hockey play with excellent puck handling skills and the ability to see how a play will unfold. The games this season are exciting. It doesn't matter if we wind the Stanley Cup or not. What matters is that when I go to a game this season, I know that I'm going to have an enjoyable time, win or lose. Yeah, wins are better, but it's great when you go to a game and know there might be a chance for a win. My favorite part of the clip that shows the goal is the bear hug that Malkin and Sidney Crosby gave to each other right after the goal.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 -- Evening

It was a special evening in the Igloo, as the Mellon Arena is affectionately known by Pens' fans. Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Jordan Staal put on quite a show before the 13,190 folks in a 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils. I was surprised that there were so few fans at the game, but what do you expect for a Tuesday evening. The game was also earlier than usual because it was also being shown on VS. The Devils scored first, but Nils Ekman scored for the Pens. The first period ended with a score of 1-1. The second period was exciting. The Pens scored twice with a goal by Crosby with an assist by Malkin, then a goal by Staal with an assist by Ekman. The Devils came on in the second period to score another goal which put abit of pressure on the Pens. That's when the beautiful goal happened. Crosby made a long pass to Malkin who beat two Devil players and left Martin Brodeur in the dust. It was a beautiful goal, and the highlight of every sports radio show and the television shows when I got home. Believe it or not, for the first time in years, the Pens are in first place in the Atlantic division! Check out my pictures of the game.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 -- Afternoon

Maxime Talbot was called up from the Baby Pens this afternoon. He might be playing this evening against the New Jersey Devils. I'll be at the game tonight and should have details on the game later this evening.

Monday, October 23, 2006 -- Evening

I heard this on the Mark Madden show on my way home from work. The Pens are going to have Evgeni Malkin as a left wing on the Sidney Crosby line. The plan is to have Jordan Staal be the center on the second line and get some ice time with Mark Recchi and Nils Ekman. The Pens have also recalled Noah Welsh from the Baby Pens.

There won't be any official comment from the Steelers about Ben Roethlisberger's condition. The story that folks are coming up with is that Roethlisberger had a minor concussion and will be checked by a neurosurgeon here in Pittsburgh. If it has been more serious, they would have had him checked out in Atlanta. Bill Cowher should give us the update on Roethlisberger's condition in his press conference tomorrow. Supposedly, the rumor is that Roethlisberger will be playing on Sunday.

Monday, October 23, 2006 -- Early Afternoon

Shocking news on the hockey front! Ken Hitchcock, the Stanley Cup winning coach of the Philadelphia Flyers was fired last night after GM Bob Clarke resigned. Yeah, we all know that the Flyers have taken the Pens position as the worst team in hockey this season, and that they only have one win in eight games. Heck, I was calling for Eddie O's head around this time last year too. But Hitchcock is no Eddie O. I think that the problems that the Flyers are experiencing are still part of the change in the game since the lockout. Some of the older players still haven't rebounded from being off for a year, and loading up your roster in the age of new rules that call for a faster game really can put a geriatric team at a disadvantage. 16 of their current players were born in 1980 or earlier which means that most are 26/27 years of age or older. Only seven are younger than 26. Yeah, they have some big names, but obviously it is more than that. It's the way the team plays together. With all that said, it's not that the Flyers sucked last year. They finished second in the Atlantic Division with 101 points and 45 wins out of 82 games.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

The Steelers played the Atlanta Falcons this afternoon. The Steelers have a serious case of fumble-itis that cost them with scoring. The game was tied after reglation and went into overtime. The Falcons had the ball first and got down the field within field goal range. They won the game 41-38 Read the game recap on the Steelers page.

There was another episode of Endurance: High Sierras on last night. I wasn't able to watch it because I was at the Pens game. However, I watched the recording after the Steeler game today. Read the recap for all the details about the episode.

It seems that Ryan Malone broke his arm in the game yesterday and should be out for four to six weeks. That really sucks then because it means that while Malone was getting in his stupid fight, he broke his arm.

Saturday, October 21, 2006 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was a game that I thought we should win, and the Pens did manage to win in the end. The game was an exciting one because the Pens took an early lead to lose it, and then to come back. The number of penalities was extreme. The Pens had 15 penalities for the evening and the Blue Jackets had 12. Yep, there were constant power plays. In fact, all but two of the goals were powerplay goals, and the two that weren't were short handed goals. First up was the goal in the first two minutes of the first period by Michel Ouellet that was originally credited to Sergei Gonchar. Gonchar came back five minutes later to score his second goal of the season. The next goal was a short handed goal in the second period by the King of our short handed goals, Jordan Staal. I relaly don't see hwo they can send the kid to the Junior Leagues when he is such a performer. Evgeni Malkin was a powerhouse, scoring yet another goal in the third period. The exciting moment though in the third period was when Jordan Staal was hooked from behind and had a penalty shot. He made the goal. Because of his performance, Staal was made the first star of the game. Gonchar was the second star, and Malkin was the third star. Penalities were a real problem and could have led to a loss for the team. There was a few roughing and fighting penalties and Ryan Malone didn't help the team out by getting a two minute instigation penalty with five minutes for fighting and ten minutes misconduct that threw him out of the game. The final score for the game was Pens 5 and Blue Jackets 3. Check out my photos from the game.

Friday, October 20, 2006 -- Evening

Boy, do I feel for Sidney Crosby. The guy is getting dragged down, tripped, and banged around by players on other teams left and right, and Ted Nolan of the New York Islanders accuses Crosby of diving. I think that this is just a sorry ass excuse by a coach who is disgruntled that his players are getting caught knocking Crosby around. Crosby isn't letting it bother him. As he says, just look at what you see on the ice, and you have to admit that he isn't diving. I just think some of the diving calls are stupid. I think it is ridiculous to see someone with the stick twisted between his legs getting called for diving. It doesn't matter what team the guy is on--it's bogus. It's even worse when they call one guy for tripping, and then the guy who was tripped for diving. What's up with that!?

Thursday, October 19, 2006 -- Evening

The Pens played an away game against the New York Islanders this evening. Michel Ouellet socred the first goal for the Pens during a power play opportunity. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were the credited with assists on the shot. I am really impressed with Malkin's play making ability. In the second period, the Pens score another power play goal. This time it was Nils Ekman who scores with an assist from Crosby. The Islanders come back within five minutes with three goals to take the lead. Crosby is really getting banged up on the ice, but he was banging away and fed a puck to Malkin in front of the net. Malkin scored to tie the game: 3-3. Regulation time ended with the score tied, and the Pens had their first overtime game. The Islanders took a penalty for rough treatment of Crosby shortly after the overtime started. The Pens had only one second left in the power play when Sergei Gonchar scored the winning goal. The Pens win 4-3.

Also this evening, a href="" target="_blank">Survivor: Cook Islands was on. In tonight's episode a member of each tribe was voted out at tribal council. The vote wasn't surprising. The Hispanic team is almost gone with Cristina voted out. Cao Boi also joined her from the Aitu tribe. Read the recap for all the details.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 -- Evening

The Pens played the New Jersey Devils this evening in a home game that was attended by a standing room only crowd of 17,030. The arena was packing and rocking to welcome Evgeni Malkin to his NHLNHL debut. Malkin did not disappoint, putting some nice shots on goal and scoring his first goal in the second period with an assist from Ryan Whitney and the geriatric Mark Recchi. The Pens wound up losing the game with a final score of 2-1. There weren't alot of penalties in this game so it's not that we were having a problem with the power play. In fact, the Devils' goals were all even handed. It wasn't the shots on goal because higher than other games with the Pens getting in a total of 38 shots. The problems just seem to be a general inability for the guys to gel well together. That may be due to the fact that we have some much older players on the team along with the very young. We shouldn't be too concerned though because the games are close and we are playing teams that are good. As a side note, Malkin was named the third star of the night. As he was leaving the ice, Malkin went past Brodeur who reached out and tapped him on the leg with his stick. I thought it was a very nice gesture, and wish I photographed it. Although I missed that, I did get other pictures of the game, including some shots of one of the panes of glass being broken near my seat.

I wasn't expected the Pens to win today, because I was sure that Martin Brodeur would have an outstanding game. Why? Because Brodeur was booed at a home game yesterday for letting in five goals in the second period of a 7-6 loss. Brodeur handled the boos with class saying that folks who pay $90 a ticket are allowed to boo him if they want. Besides, Brodeur is Brodeur. He may have an off period, but the guy is great.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 -- Evening

I just saw this interesting article about hockey on MSNBC. The interesting thing about it was that the geist was that the normal media outlets were giving less space to hockey while bloggers and others online were beefing up the information. I know that I try to make my small effort with the Pens page, but time is a limitation. I only wish that I had the time to do as mnay things that I would like. The other problem that I have if you have looked around The Daily Bongo is that I tend to be all over the place. Reality shows, sports, books, science, sometimes you name it and i have the interest. I should focus on one topic, like the Pens and just concentrate on that.

I have been watching the new season of Doctor Who. At least, I have been watching the new series that started on the SciFi Channel. I believe that there is a later series on the BBC. I thought at first that I wouldn't like David Tennet as the new Doctor, but he has that humorous, smart, sexy aura about him. I haven't been giving a synopsis of the individual episodes because I've just been watching and enjoying the show. So far, the episodes have had interesting plots and great dialogue. The theme of Torchwood goes through all the episodes so far just as Bad Wolf went through the 2005 episodes.

Monday, October 16, 2006 -- Evening

Great news from the Pens today! Evgeni Malkin will be playing in Wednesday's game against the New Jersey Devils. It will be interesting to see how much Malkin can energize the team. The problem is getting shots on goal and making soemthing of the power plays. So far, the Pens are 2-2-0 this season which is 100% better than last season, but there is still a ways to go. The biggest issue that I see is that some of the bad behaviors of past seasons haven't been fixed.

I have a new favorite web site. My boyfriend told me about the Center for Consumer Freedom It's an organization that tries to get some of the truth out there about how smoking laws and claims that eating cheesecake will kill you are ways to control consumer freedoms. If I want to kill myself by eating cheesecake then that's my perogative. I really dislike the claims that being abit fat is going to kill you. Guess what? Life is going to kill you! None of us is going to get out of this world alive, and even if we have the best eating habits, don't smoke, and exercise all the time, we can still be run over by a bus. Will having a slice of cheesecake every now and again hurt you. NO! Will having nothing but a diet of cheeseecake hurt you? Probably. I just hate those folks who think that they know better than I what is good for me. Take care of your own life and get out of mine. So I definitely love the Center for Consumer Freedom. I signed up for their newsletter and have found the information very enlightening.

Along the same line, scientists are saying that overweight people have a lower IQ. This is a European study and the claim is that people with a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 30 could only recall 44% of the words from a vocabulary list while those under 20% could recall 56%. After five years, the 30 BMI group's recall dropped to 37.5% while the 20% group stayed the same. So my question is if the 30 BMI group lost weight, did their memory get better? And if the 20% group ate a good meal every now and again, would they recall less? My BMI is 23%. In the past, I was under 20%. I don't think that I have become more stupid just because I lost the anorexic look. It really makes me wonder if they just picked stupid fat people in the first place and brainy skinny people. You can never tell how these studies get biased either intentionally or unintentionally.

Sunday, October 15, 2006 -- Early Evening

The Steelers played the Kansas City Chiefs late this afternoon.
First Half
The Steelers had the ball first and they came out fighting. Ben Roethlisberger threw a pass to Santonio Holmes that Holmes got down to the 25 yard line before he tripped on his big, old feet. Another pass to Cedric Wilson got the ball to the three yard line. After a few stumbling attempts, Willie Parker ran the ball in for a touchdown. The Chiefs got the ball and didn't get anywhere. Then the Steelers weren't getting anywhere. With less than a minute in the quarter, Roethlisberger threw the ball down the field to Nate Washington who ran the ball in for Roethlisberger's first touchdown pass of the season. At the end of the first period, the Steelers lead with a score of 14-0. The second quarter starts with more Steelers players slipping and falling. I'm not sure what the deal is because it hasn't been raining here in Pittsburgh since earlier in the week. Maybe it is a shoe problem. Finally, Hines Ward earns his salary by catching a ball farther down the field. The Steelers are close to getting the ball into the red zone. Ward gets a second pass that gets the Steelers down to the 17 yard line. Parker gets another run in for a touchdown. Jeff Reed makes another extra point kick, and the Steelers are leading by a score of 21-0. The Steeler defense is really shutting down the Chiefs. They are looking like a pretty good team today. Boy, the Steelers just can't be stopped! Najeh Davenport ran the ball 48 yards down the field, but got caught because he's abit on the heavier side. The ball was down in the red zone, and Roethlisberger threw the ball into the end zone, right into Ward's hands. The Steelers now lead by a score of 28-0. This has to be great for the Steelers' psyche. They need a good win to get back into the winning rhythm. And it is good for my Beat Bob competition because I picked the Steelers to win this game. The Steelers got the ball down the field and Jeff Reed go his 32 yard field goal with 1 second left in the half. The first half ends with a score of 31-0.
Second half
Holmes fumbled the ball on a punt return, but fortunately, Bryant McFadden recovered the ball. Holmes has fumblitis. That's not good for a punt returner. Darn! Then Parker had the ball and had the ball knocked loose. The Chiefs recover around their 20 yard line. Troy Polamalu intercepted the ball, and was running it down the field when he got pulled down by his hair. Larry Johnson was the culprit, who grabbed a hunk of Polamalu's hair, held on, and dragged Polamalu down, jerking him around by his hair. The announcers are shocked by it, because larry Johnson got hurt last week by someone grabbing and pulling him down by his face mask. Johnson got an unsportsmanlike penalty. We weren't able to do anything with the interception and the ball went back to the Chiefs. They finally score a touchdown. The Steelers get the ball back, and it looked like the team is going to shoot itself in the foot when Parker fumbles the ball. Fortunately, the Steelers recover, and start marching down the field with help from Parker, Davenport, and Ward. Heath Miller does a good job with blocking to allow the ball to get down the field. The fourth quarter starts. The ball is now on the four yard line. Damn! Then the Steelers get to the end zone, and it looked like the Chiefs has recovered the ball, but they didn't. It is now third and one on the goal line. Roethlisberger tried a quarterback sneak and didn't get anywhere. It is now fourth and goal at the one and they are going to go for it. Davenport tried to get it into the end zone and failed. So now it is first down going the other way. From the replay, it looks like he reached the ball across the line. Bill Cowher challenges the call, and it seems that Davenport did break the plane. Cowher threw the flag very theaterically the announcers say. The extra point is good, and the Steelers lead 38 - 7. With six minutes left in the game, both teams are playing backup quarterbacks. I think that the Chiefs have admitted to the fact that the Steelers are going to win. Chad Brown who just came back to the team this week after being gone for years (10 I believe) just got a sack to get the most sacks of any Steeler. The Chiefs had the ball, and Rian Wallace of the Steelers intercepted the ball and ran it in for a touchdown. Score is now 45 - 7. The Chiefs get intercepted yet again with a little over a minute left in the game. This time it was McFadden grabbing it in the end zone. The game is over for all intents and purposes. The Steelers win 45-7.

I haven't been doing too well with the other NFL games in my Beat Bob competition. So far, I only have two games right. Every team seemed to conspire against me winning the McDonald's gift card that is the first prize for the weekly winners. Steve McNair was injured on a play and pulled from the game and Baltimore Ravens lost their game to the Carolina Panthers 23-21. The Cincinnati Bengals also surprisingly lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a score fo 14-13. Needless to say, I'm not very happy, but there is always next week.

There was a very nice interview with Jim Balsillie. That's the guy who has agreed to buy the Pens. The deal has yet to be approved by the NHL board of governors. Balsillie seems to be a man of action, and I'm not sure that he is just going to wait around for something to happen in the city in regards to an arena. I really like his comment that he doesn't want to move the team to uncharted waters like Kansas City because there isn't a history of hockey doing well in the area. Also, he said that the Toronoto Maple Leafs probably wouldn't like him moving a competing team to Hamilton which is really close to Toronto. The question is what will happen with the team next year because I don't see an arena on the horizon.

Sunday, October 15, 2006 -- Afternoon

I was catching up on some of the things that I didnt' get around to yesterday evening, and top on the list was watching the first episode of this season's Endurance: High Sierras. This is the kids' Survivor type show where a group of 20 kids go to a cmap where they don't have any of the luxuries of home. They then wliminate a few right at the beginning. The ones who remain pick partners (boy and girl as a team) and then they compete in challenges to see who has the power of the Samadhi to disadvantage another team, and who wins a Temple mission which will send two teams to the Temple of Fate--only one team will return to the camp. JD Roth is the host of the show, and they do a great job with picking locations for the kids that are picturesque. The challenges are both physical and intellectual (puzzles forming the intellectual ones). At the end of this week's episode, we leave the girls in the middle of their elimination. Four remain, and of that number, two will leave. Read the recap for more details.

Sunday, October 15, 2006 -- Late Morning

I was busy practically all day yesterday and didn't get a chance to post information about the Pittsburgh Penguins game from last evening. The Pens played the Carolina Hurricanes last night. Everyone was looking forward to the game because it was the meeting of the brothers: Jordan Staal and Eric Staal. The Pens did not play a good game last night, and the crowd around me was definitely testy with the fact that we didn't seem to be able to get any shots on goal even when we had a five on three advantage! The first period saw the Hurricanes go up with a two goal to none advantage with Eric Staal getting the first goal for the Hurricanes. There was a scary moment though when Trevor Letowski had a hit from Colby Armstrong. It looked bad to me, especially from the opposite end of the ice because Letowski was not moving, and it looked like he went down pretty hard. He was surrounded by the Pens team doctor and other assistants and was taken off the ice with a stretcher. There was alot of bleeding, and no word on what had happened. It wasn't until I got home that I found out what happened, and it appears that it was only a concussion. Letowski was still groggy when he got to the hospital, but it appears he will be okay. In the second period, Marc-Andre Fleury got knocked around at the net and was pulled from the game with a gash to his head. Jocelyn Thibault came into the game. The Hurricanes were ahead 3-0 at that time, and Fleury coming out at 10:20 in the second period gave the Pens a slight bit of energy, and Kris Letang scored his second goal of the season. The Hurricanes were pulling down lots of penalties, but the Pens seemed unable to even get shots on gaal when they had a man advantage. The Hurricanes had 11 penalities to the Pens six. Shots on goal for the game were 34 for the Hurricanes and 26 for the Pens. The majority of the shots of goal for the Pens came in the second period when they had 12. The final score for the game was Hurricanes 5 and Pens 1. It was a disappointing loss. Take a look at my pictures from the game.

Friday, October 13, 2006 -- Evening

As you can obviously tell from the date, it is Friday the Thirteenth. I remember watching the tv series Friday the 13th. It was a hilariously campy scary show, if that is possible. The plot was basically that Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the Devil and cursed the objects in his store. Ryan and Micki (she's Lewis' niece and Jack is her cousin) inherit the shop when Lewis dies and sell off the objects. This guy, Jack, who was the nemisis of Lewis, tells Micki and Ryan about the curse, and they hunt down the objects. The evil spirit of Lewis shows up periodically, and there is alot of blood and gore. Very enjoyable show, and I wish that it were available on DVD. TCM is showing a collection of spooky movies this evening. Since I am staying in the house this evening while my boyfriend is at his parents' house, I'm watching them. He doesn't like spooky movies.

Evgeni Malkin is healing well and practiced with contact today. The word is that he might be playing with the Pens in a matter of days. It would be great if he is playing for next Wednesday's game which is a home game and a Sidney Crosby bobblehead promotion night.

Thursday, October 12, 2006 -- Evening

The Pens played the New York Rangers this evening. The first period went by without any score without either side taking advantage of opportunities. In the second period, Jordan Staal scored his first NHL goal--a short-handed goal 3:23 into the period! Staal was on the power play, and just had a breakaway. It was a beautiful goal. A little over a minute later, Jaromir Jagr scored. The second period is a scoring fest with Matt Cullen scoring for the Rangers next. In the spirit of fairness, the Pens score less than three minutes later with a goal by Kristopher Letang scoring with assists from Sidney Crosby and Sergei Gonchar. The Rangers score again to pull ahead 3-2, but less than 50 seconds later, Michel Ouellet scoring with an assist from Mark Recchi and Crosby. The first Pens goal in the period was short handed while the last two were power play goals. In the third period, the Pens came out flying with Ryan Whitney scoring a goal a minute into the period with again an assist from Crosby. Crosby has three assists so far in the game. Five minutes later, the Rangers tie things up yet again. The Pens are not to be denied and less than a minute later, Whitney scores again. Score so far is Pens 5, Rangers 4. This game has too much back and forthing. The Rangers score yet! Jagr dumps the puck in front of the net, and Brendan Shanahan scores. Tied again at 5-5. Wow--can my heart stand it?! The Pens get a power play with a hooking penalty by Jagr with a minute left in the game. Recchi shoots the puck over to Crosby, and he scores with 3.3 seconds left in the game. The Pens win with a score of 6-5! shots on goal though tell a very different story, with the Pens have 20 shots on goal to the Rangers 39. This has to stop and we have to stop having Marc-Andre Fleury being a punching bag. Four points in the game from Crosby--six for the season so far.

Tonight was also the latest episode of Survivor: Cook Islands. My favorite tribe is the Aitu tribe, and I think that Ozzy is a cutie. Stephannie gets voted out from the losing Raro tribe. It seems that next week, each tribe will have to vote off a member. Read my recap for tonight's episode.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 -- Evening

Sidney Crosby bruised his hand yesterday in practice. It seemed he wanted to glove the puck, and when he reached up to stop the puck and bring it back down to the ice, he bruised the hand. There was some concern that the hand might be broken, but it isn't. A bruised hand is much better than a broken one. I'm imagining that Crosby will be playing tomorrow against the New York Rangers.

The Steelers had some injuries from practice today. Both Joey Porter and Deshea Townsend both had to leave practice today with hamstring injuries. This is not looking too good for the Steelers. I'm not sure that I would pick them to beat the Kansas City Chiefs this coming Sunday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 -- Evening

Barbaro is continuing to do well. Dr. Dean Richardson changed the cast on Barbaro's right leg, and was very happy with the progress that the leg is making. There is still the issue of the left hind leg. As we keep on hearing, there is growth in the hoof, but it will be months before we know if the hoof has grown back enough. That has to make it hard for everyone because if the hoof does not grow back properly, there is still the issue of what they should do, and Barbaro still might not make it. The reason it is hard is because you see the horse doing well, and things just not working out. For the cast change today, Barbaro had general anesthesia and had his hooves trimmed. A new shoe was placed on the right hind leg and was out grazing and using both hind legs in the afternoon. There are some sores on his leg from wearing a cast for such a long time, but it isn't anything that the doctors are concerned about, and there are no signs of infection.

Monday, October 9, 2006 -- Evening

The talk around town all day has been the meltdown of the Steelers. Everyone has been playing Monday morning quarterback. Alot of people are finding fault especially with Ben Roethlisberger. I'm not saying that he did an outstanding job yesterday, but I think that the problem is greater then him. I can think of at least two occasions yesterday were Roethlisberger got the ball to the receiver to only have the receiver muff the play. The first was with Hines Ward where the ball got into Ward's hands to only bounce right back out. My understanding is that if the quarterback gets the ball that close to the receiver, it should be a completion. Nate Washington was another example. He let the ball slip through his fingers instead of grabbing on. We don't have any capable receivers--sure, yeah, blame double and triple coverage on Ward's problems. He needs some excuses. Also, the defense isn't stopping the other team from moving the ball. We couldn't have no punt or kick-off return capabilities. The team is just sucking and not playing well as a whole. Paul Zeise, one of the sports reporters here in Pittsburgh, thinks that the team is going to win most of their remaining games. I doubt it. According to the players, all is not lost because when they are the underdogs, they get it altogether. We shall see.

Google has bought YouTube for $1.65 billion dollars. That's an amazing prize. It seems that Google has realized the power of YouTube and hasn't been doing so well with Google Video. According to Google, the two will remain separate for now. Who knows what the future will bring? I think that streaming video and sharing of video content is definitely what people want. You want to be able to just see the show or watch the event in your own time. I don't know what this would mean for television. Maybe they will learn that they just need to offer shows through an On Demand service.

Sunday, October 8, 2006 -- Evening

It's a shame that Barbaro and Bernardini didn't get a chance to actually race against each other in a race that didn't end with Barbaro being injured. Bernardini ran in the Jockey Club Gold Cup yesterday at Belmont Park. The mile and a quarter race was for horses three years old and up, and Bernardini showed that he has the stuff of greatness when he won by 6 and 3/4 lengths in a time of two minutes and one second. Wanderin Boy finished second. There wasn't any betting allowed for show because there were only four horses in the race. Andromeda's Hero finished third and Dylan Thomas was fourth.

The Steelers are playing an away game against the San Diego Chargers. My boyfriend has picked the Steelers to win the game, but I don't have that faith. I have used all of his picks in my Beat Bob competition this week, and he has done an excellent job. So far, out of 12 games, I have 11 wins!
First half
The Steelers weren't very productive in their first series with the ball, but then Ryan Clark intercepted the ball so the Steelers got it right back. YOu can't blame Ben Roethlisberger for all their offensive woes. He threw the ball right into Hines Ward's hand, but it bounced out of Ward's grasp. Then the Steelers tried a trick move by pretending to punt, but actually running with the ball. It didn't work, however, and the Chargers got the ball at the 50 yard line. So the announcers are now talking about how Roethlisberger was rubbing his right elbow in the warm-ups. They are wondering if he has a problem with the arm that accounts for the poor performance so far. They asked the coachs who have denied that there is a problem. Boy, I know the problem--it's Roethlisberger pretending there is an issue so he can use it as an excuse. Hence the 102 temperature when it was 100.2 and the broken toes that Coach Cowher denied existed in the 2004 season AFC Championship. I have to say that I don't think the reception problem is Roethlisberger's fault. He is practically putting the ball in the receiver's hands, but they just aren't holding on to it. Nate Washington is a good example--he just had the ball on his fingertips and let it seep through this fingers like water through a sieve. The Steeler defense has Philip Rivers number and have gotten a few sacks in. For our side, Najeh Davenport had a good run for a first down. Willie Parker just played full body pingpong to get to the 9 yard line. Will the Steelers be the first to score? Yep, they do, and Willie Parker is the person who gets the ball into the endzone. In the second quarter, Roethlisberger gets sacked four minutes into the quarter, and there was some question about whether the ball was fumbled, but it wasn't a play that was challengeable. Now Roethlisberger is finding every receiver. The first good throw went to Santonio Holmes, then Ward, and finally Heath Miller. The offense couldn't get the ball into the endzone, but they called on Jeff Reed for a field goal. The Chargers now have teh ball on the nine yard line and Rivers throws it to Malcolm Floyd who catches the ball in the endzone for a touchdown with less than two minutes left in the half (1.11 to be exact.) The referee has to review it, and there is a problem with the video display device that the referee has to use. So we are waiting, and waiting, and waiting for something to happen and the crowd is booing. Finally he is saying that the video display is malfunctioning, and he had to wait two minutes before saying there is a malfunction. The ruling stands. The score is now Steelers 10--Chargers 7. The Steelers quickly get the ball down the field, and Reed kicks in another field goal. Score is 13-7.
Second half
The Chargers come out fighting, but they are only able to get a field goal. The ball goes to the Steelers. Roethlisberger was flinging the ball all the way down the field to Santonio Holmes and the ball gets intercepted all the way down near the endzone. The Chargers now have the ball close to the midfield point. Cowher challenges the play because Holmes' arm hits the leg of the interceptor, Drayton Florence and that means that Florence would be down by contact at the 10 yard line. Cowher was correct, and the ball is moved back to the 10 yard line which is a 29 yard difference. Rivers gets the ball down the field and throws a touchdown pass to Antonio Gates. The Chargers now lead with a score of 17-14. Ward makes a catch and runs the ball down almost to the 50 yard line. Roethlisberger gets sacked right after that play, and there was some hope by the Chargers that there was a fumble. However, the refs said that Roethlisberger was down by contact. The Chargers really have rhythm on their side right now, and LaDainian Tomlinson has been getting some good yardage. Rivers is also handling the situation with aplomb. The Chargers are now down by the 10 yard line and close to another touchdown. Finally Larry Foote gets a sack, and the Chargers have to settle for a field goal. Score is now 20-13. The Steelers were doing good, making some nice first down moves. Then Roethlisberger threw the ball right into an area where there were only Chargers, and the ball was intercepted yet again, this time by Marlon McCree. Only 5:53 remains in the game. It's not looking good for the Steelers--or my Beat Bob football pool. So far in the season, Roethlisberger has thrown nine interceptions--two from this game. Meanwhile Philip Rivers is doing a great job. The Steelers use a time out at the 3;43 time. The Steelers are taking another time out just a few seconds later because the Chargers are moving the ball too well and eating up the clock. The Chargers now have the ball at the 7 yard line with 2;37 left in the game. Two minute warning. The Chargers can't score a touchdown and have to settle for a field goal to give themselves a 10 point lead. The Steelers now have 65 seconds to score twice. For some reason, I don't think it will happen. In seven minutes, only one minute of the game has been played. During the kick-off, the Steelers get a holding penalty and lose ten yards on the return. In the first play, Roethlisberger gets sacked. Cowher is just watching the play in shock. With 32 seconds left, Cedrick Wilson goes out of bounds. Then the Steelers get a false start and are on a third down. Roethlisberger then has to throw the ball away, and the game is over for all intents and purposes. The Steelers lose. Score is 23-13.

Saturday, October 7, 2006 -- Late Evening

Tonight was the second game for the Pens. They played the Detroit Red Wings. I was excited about this game because I am a fan of Dominik Hasek, and even took some pictures of him warming up before the game. The Dominator was under alot of pressure this evening because he really didn't have a very good showing in the Red Wings opening game. However, he really didn't have much to worry about this evening. For some reason, the Pens were exceptionally lackluster today. In fact the Pens had only one shot on goal in the second period. Yes, you heard me right--one shot. The total shots for the game were 13. Now the Red Wings lost their last game 3-1 with the Vancouver Canucks scoring three goals on 14 shots. The Pens weren't so lucky because their shots on goal weren't of a very high quality. Marc-Andre Fleury did a beautiful job in goal, and stopped 24 of the 26 shots. The Red Wings won by a final score of 2-0 disappointing the crowd of 15,318. It was a very sad display, and lots of the people around me were commenting on how boring the game was and how the Pens were just playing with no energy. The one improvement is that the Pens didn't get as many penalties with only three in the game. However, there were no shots on goal during the power plays and with a feeling of deja vu, it looked as if the Red Wings had the power play instead of trying to kill the penalty minutes. The one moment of excitement was the fight between Andre Roy and Brad Norton. Kudos to Fleury who was named the third star of the game. Check out my pictures from the game.

Friday, October 6, 2006 -- Evening

Today is Erev Sukkot, which is the evening before the first day of Sukkot. Sukkot is the harvest holiday that last eight days here in the US (seven in Israel). You build a hut in your yard (or go to a communal hut) and eat your meals there for the span of the holiday and just relax and entertain. This is the holiday of the four species: palm frond, myrtle, and willow bound together, and the citron, which looks sort of like a lumpy lemon--with more green in it.

Jaromir Jagr finally decided to accept the offer of captain of the New York Rangers and led them to a win against Jagr's former team, the Washington Capitals with a score of 5-2.

Dominik Hasek did not have a very good start yesterday. One of the sports reporters that I heard referred to Hasek as the goalie formerly known as the Dominator. I love Hasek. I suppose that I usually have a weak spot in my heart for goalies, but he is getting up there. He's 42. Yesterday he let in three goals off of 14 shots. Not very good at all. The Detroit Red Wings wound up losing 3-1. Anyway the Red Wings will be here in Pittsburgh tomorrow, and I hope to get some pictures of the Dominator.

The Mars Rovers are going to get a smart upgrade which will enable them to better study the clouds and dust storms on Mars. The upgrade will allow the rovers to search through their databanks for pictures that match the feature of these phenomena and then just send the most important items back to Earth. NASA has really gotten bang for its buck with the rovers. Spirit and Opportunity are like the Energizer Bunny who keeps going and going. In fact, I think they outdo the Energizer Bunny!

I wasn't home last night because I was at the Pens game. So I had to catch up on Survivor: Cook Islands. The shocker is that the Raro team got rid of one of their strongest members. Read the recap.

Thursday, October 5, 2006 -- Late Evening

I went to the Pens home opener tonight. It was really a great game--one of the best Pens games that I have gone to in recent years. I'm telling you, it's really amazing what results you get when you have a real coach instead of a color analyst. The game started with the usual video montage and special thanks to Mario Lemieux for all that he has done. Lemieux did not want a big deal made of retiring his number, and just wanted the number already in position near the roof at the start of the season. The team did that, but also made a special note of the retirement. Lemieux was there watching the game, and unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a good picture of him from the stands because of my location in relation to his. The first period started with a goal from Michel Ouellet with an assist from Jarkko Ruutu at 6:46. Less than three minutes later at 9:34, the duo traded off with Ruutu scoring the goal with an assist from Ouellet. The period ended with a score of 2-0. In the second period, Sidney Crosby scored a goal and an assist on a Josef Melichar. There were alot of suspicious penalities called against the Pens in the game. For example, Ruutu was called for diving because he fell while a Flyer's stick was tangled in his legs to trip him up. How the heck do you dive when you have a stick being twisted between your legs? As one of the fans in my section screamed to the refs, "Read the rule book! It's available in Braille." Ruutu did a great job blocking goals and making plays. Mark Recchi was his usual geriatric self. I hate Recchi because of the fact that he is a cancer in the locker room, and booed him every chance I got. It really sucked when Recchi got two penalities in a row that were totally pointless. Jerk! Marc-Andre Fleury had a great game and was named star of the game after blocking 40 shots on goal for the shutout. It was a really great game, and the team was playing well with lots of energy, and killed 19 minutes of penalties. It is so wonderful to start the season with a win. Take a look at some of the pictures that I took at the game.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006 -- Evening

Tonight is the start of the NHL season. There was just a news story on the local sports show that the Pens might have a buyer. It seems that the rumor about Jim Balsillie, the Canadian fellow who is a CEO of the company that makes the BlackBerry may indeed be buying the team. The rumor is that the deal will be announced tomorrow before the home opener. In other Pens news, Brooks Orpik is going to miss tomorrow's game because of an injured right hand that might need surgery. Finally, things are looking good for the team staying in Pittsburgh because of Gary Bettman's comments that the city is a good hockey city. According to NHL statistics, the Pens were number 1 of all of the NHL teams in arenas which exceeded 90% of capacity. The Pens has a 2005-2006 attendance of 647,975 which was a 33.07% change from 2003-2004. Second was Carolina (31.34% change), followed by Calgary (19.10% change), Tampa Bay (15.09% change), Boston (13.09% change), Buffalo (12.97% change), Nashville (12.23% change), New York Rangers (11.23% change), Phoenix (10.74% change), and Ottawa (9.66% change) rounding out the top ten. The teams with a negative change in the past season were Dallas (-0.41% change), Edmonton (-2.51% change), New York Islanders (-3.78% change), Washington (-5.54% change), and rock bottom St. Louis with a -23.42% change!

Tuesday, October 3, 2006 -- Evening

Poor Ricardo Colclough! He seems to have injured his neck in some fashion and is questionable for the upcoming game this Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. You have to wonder how much of the injury is because Bill Cowher doesn't want Colclough to play and doesn't want to admit that it is because the guy probably shouldn't have been playing for the team. Some of the local sports reporters are getting worried because they think that the Steelers might be in a losing mindset. Even worse, they surmise that the team might think that they can come back at anytime and win it all because they came back at the end of last season to win eight games in a row. I don't think that the Steelers are going to do that well this year because I think that they lost some important players over the past year that caused the team to gel as well as it did. The players individually weren't much but together Chris Hope, Jerome Bettis, Antwaan Randle-El, and Kimo von Oelhoffen just broke the chemistry of a winning team. I'm going to be surprised if the team has a winning record this year.

The Pens have sent down Dany Sabourin to the Baby Pens and announced their 23 man lineup. As I noted yesterday, Jordan Staal made the team which was abit unexpected. However, if the kid plays and deserves the opportunity, great.

Monday, October 2, 2006 -- Evening

Marc-Andre Fleury will be starting in goal for the Pens on their home opener on Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers. In other surprising, or not so surprising news depending on your outlook, Jordan Staal also made the team. It will be interesting to see how long Staal remains with the team considering that most thought that he would be spending time in the junior leagues since he just turned 18 a month ago.

Because it was Yom Kippur, I had plenty of free time on my hands to read, and I wound up reading two books in the past 25 hours. First up was Daniel Silva's book, A Death in Vienna. This was the fourth Gabriel Allon book and the third in the series within a series that dealt with matters pertaining to World War II. In this novel, Eli Lavon is the head of the Wartime Claims and Inquires office stationed in Vienna, Austria. A bombing in the office kills Lavon's two assistants and severely wounds Lavon. Ari Shamron sets Gabriel on the track of the killer. The path takes Allon on a search for an SS officier, Erich Radek, who was responsible for hiding the evidence of the Holocaust. Radek's speciality was engineering, and he came up with a way to dispose of the dead bodies, while also lending his hand to mass murder. Radek's path intertwines with that of Gabriel's mother, Irene, who spent time in Auschwitz and was a member of the Death March. The guilt that Irene experienced is transferred to her son, and he makes it a personal quest to bring Radek to justice. Along the way, the way in which those who perpetrated the Holocaust were able to escape justice is brought to light with the Vatician again playing a role in how it would assist with money and transportation out of the country. Would Radek escape his final justice? The book flows from one event to the next. I found myself so engrossed in the book that I had trouble putting it down. Silva does a great job of making the reader feel an investment in the story. The characters come alive, and you feel the pain of those who suffered at the hands of Radek and his ilk. A great book, entertaining, exciting, abit of history, and a satisfying finish. I did feel some disappointment at the end because I have no new Gabriel Allon adventures to read and will have to wait for the author to release a new one, hopefully next year.

The other book that I read was a very quick read. This one was the five people you meet in heaven. It's written by Mitch Albom. I just find it amazing that Albom writes the books that he does because I always think of his as the guy with the funny haircut and humungous ears from the ESPN's Sports Reporters. The book is a short one, 196 pages, and it is the story of a old man, Eddie, who is the maintenance man at a small amusement park called Ruby Pier. Eddie is killed at the beginning of the book saving the life of a little girl from a falling amusement ride. Eddie then goes to heaven where he learns that he will meet five people who have either influenced or been influenced by his life. My boyfriend suggested that I read the book because he heard about it from his boss' wife, and I have to admit that it was a very moving experience. Life is what you make of it, and sometimes the most important lesson that can be learned is that sometimes something bad may happen to a person which is actually for the best or in the best interests of another person. Life is a balance sheet where loss of life for one person might mean the extension of life for someone else. The book has really made me think, and I think that I need more time to actually absorb the story so I can comment on it more fully. I would definitely recommend the book, and am going to look up the others that Albom wrote: Tuesdays with Morrie and the newest that just came out in the past week, for one more day.

Sunday, October 1, 2006 -- Early Afternoon

The Pens lost again to the Buffalo Sabres last night in the final pre-season game. The Pens had a second place ranking in the Atlantic division with their pre-season stats. They had 2 wins, 2 loses, and three overtime loses for a total of 7 points. Not great, but also not bad. It will be interesting to see how the season progresses. The start of the season starts with the home opener on Thursday, Oct. 5 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Tonight is the start of Yom Kippur. It is the day of atonement when one is supposed to repent for things that one has done over the past year that have not been good. Even Jews who don't follow the religion strictly, will attend synagogue and fast on Yom Kippur. The fast starts half an hour before sundown tonight and continues through the day to a half an hour after sundown on Monday.