Friday, July 30, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

Is Saudi Arabia running out of oil?

Is Saudi Arabia running out of oil? - An interesting read!

Chelsea defeats Roma at Heinz Field

Heather and I were able to attend the big Chelsea-Roma soccer match at Heinz Field here in Pittsburgh last night as they continued their tour through the US. Chelsea won 3-0. See also Top-caliber soccer a kick for 25,000 at Heinz Field.

Heather and I enjoyed going to see soccer games in Columbus, where the Columbus Crew have a nice soccer stadium and tickets for MLS games are only 20-22$ each. The ticket prices for the Chelsea-Roma game were much more expensive, at 60$ each. Although we enjoyed the matchup, we kindof felt that it wasn't worth the $60 price to watch the game. The cheapest tickets to this game were $37.50, still almost twice what it would cost to see a Columbus Crew game!

Nevertheless, we DID enjoy watching the game and would be interested in attending other soccer games here in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh does have a soccer team called the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. We've yet to see them play because it's really inconvenient for us to go to the games. They moved their games to Moon Area High School's stadium which is out near the airport, a good 30 minute drive away. In the meantime, Heinz Field is mostly empty for the entire summer. I realize that additional costs come with running an event at Heinz Field, but I would rather have the Riverhounds play there and generate SOME income for the city, no matter how minute, then let the thing not be used at all...

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Bar Exam is over!

It's done! I just finished the Pennsylvania bar exam. If you're not familiar with the bar exam, in Pennsylvania it's a two day exam, half multiple choice and half essays. The first day is six essays and a "performance test" over six hours. The second day is a 200-question multiple choice exam concentrating on Contracts, Criminal, Constitutional, Property, Torts, and Evidence. On the essay exams you have to learn to spot issues and argue both sides to a particular topic. The multiple choice is the opposite, where you have to spot minutiae and apply it conclusively to determine the outcome. It's kindof a "both sides of the brain" affair if you ask me, and it is extremely tiring. My classmates and I have been studying for the last two months for the exam. However, I think waiting is the worst part as we won't find out the results until mid-October!

Anyway, I feel like sleeping for a week...

Gmail account taken

Congtratulations to Jay Knight, the winner of my gmail "contest". He narrowly beat out another entrant by mere hours! Even though Jay attends Ole Miss (at least he has an address), this MSU bulldog fan sent him his free gmail invitation.

If/When I get another gmail invite to give away, I'll post it on here. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Email filters and spam

Ok, I don't understand spammers. I really don't! If I go through the trouble of setting up an email filter which blocks the word mortgage or loan or viagra, etc. then I think it's obvious that I don't want to see the email. But spammers come up with m0rtgage and L0an and V1GRA, or or other stupid stuff which convey's their message quite clearly. BUT I DON'T WANT IT! If I went though the trouble of setting up a filter, then I'm not going to buy the spam's products (or even read it) when it comes in the mailbox. I'm going to delete it immediately.

I understand that the spammers are trying to sell their products. I don't see why they don't get the clue that I shouldn't have to deal with their emails. Besides... Selling something like vîåg®ä just makes you look stupid to the point of me not possibly wanting to do business with you...

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Free Google gmail account

I have no idea who's reading my blog, so I'm going to try a test. I have a google "gmail" invitation which I'm ready to give away to the first person who writes me and asks for it. I'm serious here! If you're not familiar with google gmail, it's the new email service which boasts 1 GB of email storage space. Essentially, your mailbox should never fill up again! You can find out more about gmail at

Anyway, the first person to write me at and request the gmail account will get it. Good luck!

Matthew's Quote for the Day

We come into this world crying while all around us are smiling. May we so live that we go out of this world smiling while everybody around us is weeping.
- - Persian proverb

Monday, July 19, 2004

'06 All-Star Game to be at PNC Park

'06 All-Star Game to be at PNC Park

I'm not a big baseball fan, but surely this will be a boon to the Pittsburgh economy. I might even try to buy tickets for the game!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Is America winning the war on terrorism? regularly breaks down the important points of notable books of the day. This particular one prevents a rather disturbing view on how America is not winning the war on terrorism, and we don't even realize it. Check out
The Misunderstood Osama - How to read Imperial Hubris. By Bryan Curtis

Pitt tuition jump lowest in 4 years

Pitt tuition jump lowest in 4 years

My favorite quote is "At a news conference following yesterday's vote, Pitt officials, including Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, said they had done everything they could to control spending."

This from the man who received a 3% raise last year to $401,500.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Pittsburgh's "Belt" System

Pittsburgh has a set of concentric "belts" which surround the city to provide easy access from one area of the city to another without having to travel downtown. I'm not quite sure how well this works, but it sounds like it would be a good way to sight-see in the Pittsburgh area. Maybe Heather and I will take a Sunday drive one day after the bar.
Incidentely, the blue belt passes down Shady Avenue, a mere half-mile from our home in Squirrel Hill. Check out Rainbow Connections

Friday, July 09, 2004

Cassini Images Density Waves in Saturn's Rings

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Cassini Images Density Waves in Saturn's Rings
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA

Explanation: What causes the patterns in Saturn's rings? The Cassini spacecraft just entering orbit around Saturn has started sending back spectacular images of Saturn's immense ring system in unprecedented detail. The physical cause for many of newly resolved ring structures is not always understood. The cause for the beautifully geometric type of ring structure shown above in Saturn's A ring, however, is hypothesized to be a spiral density wave. A small moon systematically perturbing the orbits of ring particles orbiting at slightly different distances causes such a density wave bunching. Also visible on the image right is a bending wave, a vertical wave in ring particles also caused by the gravity of a nearby moon. This close-up spans about 220 kilometers. Cassini is scheduled to take and send back images of the distant ringed Saturn and its unusual moons for the next four years.


New Abay restaurant review

Here's another review of the Abay restaurant that Heather and I went to last week.

Solar flare images

Perhaps the most extreme flare ever seen erupted on Nov. 4 ...

... and then this coronal mass ejection was hurled into space.


If you want to see what the sun looks like during a "normal" period, check out for images of the sun over the last several days.

Fastest Space Storm on Record Reaches Edge of Solar System

Fastest Space Storm on Record Reaches Edge of Solar System

Do you remember the big solar storms last year? They didn't impact Earth TOO much, but people were afraid that it might. We're talking about solar activity which was off the scale. Never before had such intensity been measured. Anyway, the solar particles are still out there, and moving. Quite fast it seems... They've almost caught up with Voyager 1 (launched from Earch in 1977) and will be at the "edge" of the solar system by the end of the year. Read the article for more info!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

After the bar

After the bar, I think I'll write a book while looking for a job. I've never written a book before. Heck, I've never written much of anything serious before. However, I have this feeling that I need to write something down, at least for posterity sake. Because of this, the idea that I have for a book will be written from that perspective.

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live back in the 1700s? The 800s? Earlier? That's exactly what I want to convey to an audience that could be our children, grandchildren, or further down the line. Tell those people what life was like way back in 2004. Tell them about my memories and takes of the past; reflect on events as they happen and what I do in my day to day lives. Let them see, through my words, what life was like "back then".

I just hope I get a chance to write it!

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Abay Ethiopian Restaurant

Abay Ethiopian Restaurant
A new Ethiopian restaurant opened here in Pittsburgh, and Heather and I decided to give it a go. Abay is located on S. Highland Avenue in East Liberty over near the Whole Foods Market. We had heard that there were sometimes large crowds at dinner, so we tried to make it early, arriving at 5:15.

The service was good and not nearly as slow as we had heard. Heather and I ordered Sambussa as an appetizer and a bowl of Shorba. For our meal, we had the two person combination platter with Kay Wat, Doro Tibs, Doro Minchet Abish, and Shiro Wat. For an explanation of what these things are, check out their menu at To drink, I had a delicious Yekemem Shai tea which tasted a lot like cinnamon tea.

The food was, well, different. The order comes out on a very large piece of thin flat bread, kind of like a crepe. Our four selections were placed on the bread with a spicy paste in the middle. The idea is to eat with your hands... You tear off a piece of bread, "pinch" up a piece of food with the bread, and eat it. Although forks are available, this style is the preferred Ethiopian style, so of course we tried it.

The food was good, but not exactly excellent. There was nothing that stood out on my plate, but nothing was really bad either. We had ordered some of the spicier dishes, but they weren't really spicy at all. The spice paste in the middle helped in this regard, but there really wasn't enough of it to use for the entire meal. We probably could have gotten more if we had wanted it though.

There was also enough food that you probably didn't need the soup or appetizer. The soup was a rather tasteless bean soup which tasted much better after I added a lot of pepper. The appetizer was kindof eggroll-ish. Neither were bad, but both can be skipped in the future. The meal for two could probably feed three people if they weren't huge eaters. I made a Herculean effort to finish off the chicken and meat dishes, but was quite full at the end of the meal. The price was very good too. Our appetizer, soup, tea, and platter of four entrees was about $30 before tip. It's even cheaper if you go at lunch.

Considering the horror stories we had heard about long wait times for simple things (like the check) we were prepared for a long trip to the restaurant, but we were in and out in 50 minutes. Not bad at all. All in all, I'd recommend this place to people who are adventuresome in their food tastes and are looking for some place new.

You can also read a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or a Pittsburgh City Paper review of Abay.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Cassini at Saturn

By the way, I haven't forgotten about the wonderful Cassini probe's arrival at Saturn last evening. The pictures of the ring systems are quite amazing. I'm waiting for them all to be released before showing one on the blog.

The Terminal

'The Terminal'

Tonight's entertainment was "The Terminal" starring Tom Hanks. Heather and I thought this movie was very good. It had a nice since of humor about the whole situation, and was an interesting view on the whole American airport security situation. The movie is based loosely on the story of Merhan Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian man who has been "trapped" in the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France since 26 August 1988.

Overall, Heather and I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to others. We were actually somewhat surprised that the movie hasn't received the publicity it should be getting; the problem with having a non-action movie being released in June.

Spirit Rover Reaches the Columbia Hills on Mars

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Spirit Rover Reaches the Columbia Hills on Mars
Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, JPL, NASA

Explanation: The Spirit robotic rover on Mars has now reached the Columbia Hills on Mars. Two of the hills are shown on approach near the beginning of June. The above true-color picture shows very nearly what a human would see from Spirit's vantage point. The red color of the rocks, hills, and even the sky is caused by pervasive rusting sand. Spirit has now traveled over 3 kilometers since it bounced down onto the red planet in January. The robotic explorer, controlled and programmed remotely from Earth, is now investigating a rock called Pot of Gold. On the other side of Mars, Spirit's twin Opportunity is now inspecting unusual rocks inside a pit dubbed Endurance crater.