Monday, December 26, 2005


A big THANK YOU to NoPT4Lent and Phinky who heard my Holiday Season plea for a videocodezone monitor that plays Jimmy Buffett..!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Pandas...

Could we get any cuter on Christmas than to show some pandas? I don’t think so...
There are now giant pandas on exhibit in four US Zoos; Washington DC, Atlanta, Memphis and San Diego. The Washington and San Diego Zoos both had panda births this past year bringing the total of giant pandas in the US to 11.
It is estimated that there are approximately 1600 pandas living wild in China. The pandas in US Zoos are mostly on loan from that country and the cubs that are born will eventually be taken back to China.
Pandas love to eat bamboo so you probably wouldn’t want them around your wicker or rattan furniture as cute as they are.
If you would like to see some pandas LIVE click on the title of this post which links to the streaming web cam in the panda habitat at the San Diego Zoo. It shows best during the daytime.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ben's Thumb...

There has been only one thing on the collective of mind of Pittsburghers for the past four weeks. Is it the annual appearance of the Christmas Season or the unusually cold weather? No, it’s the current state of Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s right THUMB..
“Big Ben” as he is known around here injured the thumb while playing against the Indianapolis Colts (a loss) on Monday Night November 28. He subsequently gutted out game appearances against Cincinnati (another loss), Chicago (a win) and Minnesota (another win).
Is the thumb broken, chipped or tendon torn or all three? No one is quite sure and Ben and the Steelers are not saying. The controversy even resulted in the public humiliation of local KDKA TV news reporter John Shumway who dared to press Coach Cowher on the subject at a press conference ten days ago. The one thing we do know is that when the current football season ends for the black and gold is that Big Ben will be having surgery to fix it.
The Steelers record is 20 and 4 in games in which Roethlisberger has started. He currently has a quarterback rating of 102.00 which is barely surpassed by rival quarterbacks Peyton Manning 104.3 and Carson Palmer 102.6.
The Steelers must win both of their last two regular season games against Cleveland and Detroit to appear in the playoffs so the riddle will continue until they lose again or Ben becomes sidelined with another injury.
One thing is for certain. People around here love their Steelers and Big Ben.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bush Pardons Moonshiners...

President Bush has pardoned two persons convicted for breaking the Nation’s moonshine laws. The President signed 11 pardons on December 20 including one for Charles McKinley of Pall Mall, Tennessee and one for Carl Cantrell of Monteagle, Tennessee.
McKinley said he was driving a friend around in 1949 and they stopped at his friend's still to get something to drink. Driving away, they were arrested. McKinley was convicted of IRS liquor law violations and given two years probation.
He said he never intended to sell moonshine, only drink it. "I just got in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.
In Cantrell’s case he and some friends had set up a still on a
Tennessee mountaintop in 1966 “to make some extra money”. They were caught by Federal agents, convicted and sentenced to three years probation.
Several years ago Cantrell attempted to buy a deer rifle for his grandson. His purchase was rejected because he had been convicted of a felony. As a result he sought the Presidential pardon to clear his record.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Diamonds are Forever...

Imagine you’re employed by Harry Winston (a worldwide jewelry concern) in its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. You’ve just hiked five miles to get to work this morning because the Transit Union has gone on strike and just before the store opens news breaks that the GIA may be under investigation by the Federal Government for fraud. All those diamonds under the counter you were hoping to sell at the last minute between now and Saturday are suddenly looking like the lumps of coal they originally were.
The GIA (short for Gemological Institute for America) certifies the quality of approximately 98 % of the World’s diamonds owing to its monopoly in the gem lab business. All jewels are graded for carat, clarity, color and cut. Those things add up to the perceived value of gems being traded.
The scandal began when a Saudi family purchased two diamonds ... one a 103.78-carat pear-shaped pendant, and the other a 37-carat ring ... that were supposed to be "flawless," the top of the chart on the clarity scale, and were given a top-rated color "D." Both received an institute certificate guaranteeing their quality. Having paid a whopping $ 15 million for the gems the new owner took them to an independent appraiser who found them to be of inferior quality and worth much less than the purchase price. The Saudis then demanded their money back from the seller Max Pincione who used to be the manager of the diamond room at Harry Winston Fifth Avenue. Mr. Pincione then sued the GIA.
As a result of the raucous the GIA conducted an internal investigation looking at transactions going back as many as 10 years ago and found that a supervisor and four employees had been accepting bribes to inflate the grades of diamonds from "a small community of dealers." This was out of a total of approximately 200 employees at the GIA’ s Manhattan lab. The employees were fired, and the results of the investigation have been turned over to prosecutors and a public announcement was made today.
Do you think Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa is getting her $ 7 million ring reappraised tomorrow. Probably… and our hypothetical Harry Winston employee is looking for a friend who drives to work…

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mission Impossible for the Rest of Us...

It was announced today that a British Company, Staellium UK has begun offering a service whereupon text messages will self destruct themselves soon after being read by their intended recipients.
The service is initially aimed at firms seeking greater security and celebrities who are aggravated at having their private messages suddenly appear in the tabloids because of their technical paper trail.
The new service for the moment is being called “StealthText". Both parties involved, the sender and the receiver must sign up for the service. The receiver of the communication connects with a third party link which contains the message and erases the text within 40 seconds of it being read.
As good as it sounds there is still a catch. To comply with legal requirements, the 'paper trail' and message log stays on a protected, secure server for a period of time before being completely deleted.
Still users won’t have to contend with the ensuing smoke coming out of their equipment like Mr. Phelps...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sean Casey Returns...

Western Pennsylvania suddenly had a feel good sports story emerge this evening when it was learned that Major League first baseman Sean Casey is coming home to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Casey, 31 was traded this evening by the Cincinnati Reds to the Pirates for lefthanded pitcher Dave Williams. Both players must pass physicals before the trade is complete. Casey suffered a season ending concussion on September 16, 2005 at PNC Park.
Casey started professional baseball in the Cleveland Indians organization playing six games of one season with the Indians before being traded to Cincinnati in 1998. He has played fulltime at first base for the Reds since then. He was selected to the National League All Star Team three times in the last eight years and has a career batting average of .305.
It is rumored that Cincinnati is picking up part of Casey’s 8.5 million dollar salary for 2006 as part of the deal. He becomes a free agent at the end of the 2006 season.
Sean was raised in the nearby suburb of Upper St. Clair. We are excited that he is coming home for at least one and hopefully many more seasons...

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