Join Doug on a trip of a lifetime to see the gardens of Paris

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog eiffel towerI shot this from the top of Notre Dame the last time I was in Paris. Photo by Doug Oster

I've been taking gardeners all over the world for the last two years.

London, Italy and the Netherlands were amazing places to see and experience with other gardeners.

In August I'm headed to Paris and would love for you to come along.

This is the first trip I've helped build using what I've learned from the last three.

First off, we're taking Delta's direct flight, that makes life easy. The last time I used it I got from my doorstep to my apartment in Paris in just 12 hours and that's after sitting in traffic once I got there.

We'll see Monet's Garden, the Palace and Gardens of Versailles, Luxembourg Gardens, Notre Dame and even have dinner in the Eiffel Tower. We're also going on a road trip to the Champagne Region. One of the things I've built into the trip is a day to get lost in Paris with me. It's the best way to learn a city and its culture. We're going to have fun!

It will be a small group, I never take more than 32 travelers.

Here are all the details.


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Drone Killings

Written by Rob Rogers on .

President Obama apologized for the two innocent hostages that were accidentally killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. Who is going to apologize for the hundreds of accidental deaths from guns every year? 

042615 Drone Killings

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Empty Netter Assists - Recapping Penguins-Rangers Game 5 - 04-25-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Playoffs Stuff

-The Post-Gazette's recap from last night's game. "As a hockey player, you're never ready to go back home in the summer. It's tough right now." - Maxim Lapierre.

-The New York Daily News' recap. "No one in here wanted to get on a plane and go to Pittsburgh again.” - Rangers defenseman Marc Staal.

-Newsday's recap. "One of the happiest moments of my life." - Rangers forward Carl Hagelin on his overtime goal.

-The Bergen (N.J.) Record's recap. “Usually, we take it to the wire. It’s huge that we got the win tonight to give ourselves a little rest.” - Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi on winning the series in five games.

-The Associated Press' recap. "Small margin for error, so it's hard to really absorb it right now. Tonight we could have easily been going back to Pittsburgh down 3-2, but again we were on the wrong side." - Sidney Crosby.


-Mike Lange's goal calls call.

-The handshake lines:

-Happy times in Manhattan:

-A great look at the goal by Nick Spaling:

-Rangers forward Derek Stepan crashed down on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist while trying to keep this puck out of the net:

-Evgeni Malkin didn't have a lot of support:

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Marc-Andre Fleury speaks:

-Crosby speaks:

-"I thought we hung in there, got some more shots than previous games. I thought it was going to come. Get a good bounce. Never came." - Fleury.

-"He played really well. He kept them in this one." - Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on Fleury.

-"I want to say sorry to the fans, to my teammates. I know I'm a leader on this team." - Malkin.

-"He's been our best player all five games. Unbelievable." - Patric Hornqvist on Fleury.

-Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello left the game in the first period after being struck in the head with a puck.

-The play he was injured on:

Calder Cup

 -Kasperi Kapanen scored two goals for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins who beat the Syracuse Crunch, 5-1, in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Carter Rowney added a goal and two assists for the Penguins while Dominik Uher netted a goal and an assist. Matt Murray made 22 saves in the victory. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton leads the best-of-five series, 1-0.


-“He’s got that special gift, the shot and the quickness. I think it helps us a lot and helps him a lot. I hope it keeps going.” - Uher on Kapanen.

-The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins assigned defenseman Harrison Ruopp to the Wheeling Nailers.

Kelly Cup

-Eric Hartzell made 25 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 4-1 loss to the Toledo Walleye in Game 4 of their North Division semifinals series. The best-of-seven series is tied, 2-2.

-After the Jump: The Senators stay alive.

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Penguins - Rangers - Game 5 postgame - 04-25-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .



"We played a good team and we hung in there. Made it close. At the end of the day … we still lost." - Marc-Andre Fleury.


-There will be days, weeks, months to sort through the big picture of the Pittsburgh Penguins as an organization. For now, we'll primarily look at the 20 players who suited up for this 2-1 overtime loss to the Rangers which ended their season.

-This was the best they could do. These Pittsburgh Penguins put everything they could into this series. They darn near played it perfectly within their limitations. But they were extremely limited. When Taylor Chorney, Brian Dumoulin and Scott Wilson are in the lineup instead of Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff and Pascal Dupuis, the same expectations simply can not be met. Yes, injuries happen to every team. But they simply crippled this team.

-Imagine if Letang dressed tonight. With all the wonderful skills he possesses, he could have won this series. Seriously. This was that close.

-In essence, it came down to goaltending. There weren't many quality scoring chances throughout the game and when there were, Marc-Andre Fleury and New York's Henrik Lundqvist staged a goaltending duel.

-One of the real shames of this brief but fierce five-game battle is that the brilliance of Fleury in this series will nearly be forgotten. He was the main reason this team got into the playoffs and he was the only reason they had a sniff at even beating the Rangers in any of these games. With two consecutive sturdy playoff seasons under his belt, there should be not doubt in his status as THE franchise goaltender for the Pittsburgh Penguins.


-As far as the game itself, the early stages of it followed a familiar script. The Rangers controlled the first period for the most part.

-After Nick Spaling tripped up right winger Martin St. Louis in the Penguins slot at 4:11 of the first, the Rangers cashed in on the ensuing power play.  Defenseman Dan Boyle smacked a slapper from center point. Fleury fought off the puck but allowed a rebound which Derek Stepan batted in.

-Ultimately, the Rangers dominated the period, thanks in part to having two power plays to the Penguins' one. The Rangers led the period in shots, 12-6.


-The second period was really tight and really tentative. Neither team seemed eager to take chances.

-Lundqvist came through with a HUGE save with about 9:09 left in the first period. Sidney Crosby pushed a puck up the left wing, waited for something to develop and chucked a wrister on net which Lundqvist rejected. Chris Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist crashed in. Lunqvist was able to simply rob Hornqvist with a left pad on a rebound. It kept the game 1-0.

-It looked like the Rangers were on the verge going into the second intermission with a 1-0 lead but the Penguins struck with 2:37 left in the period. With a faceoff in the Rangers' left circle, Crosby lined up with Nick Spaling and Steve Downie on the wings. The play moved behind the net where Crosby was able to snap the puck into the crease. Lunqvist made the initial  save but the puck hopped up on him. Spaling crashed in from the left of the caged and basically drove it into the net with his left shoulder. Officials ruled a goal on the ice and reviewed the goal confirming it. Tie game.

-It was a goal typical of this series and it wasn't even scored with a stick.


Things moved to the third period and the Penguins really took over. They kept peppering Lundqvist with shots and he kept spitting them out.

-Just 4:14; into the third, the Penguins had a HUGE chance to take a lead. After Chris Kunitz appeared to get away with a high stick on left winger Rick Nash, defenseman Dan Girardi took out Crosby's leg from his knees and was off for tripping. The Penguins had a power play but did little with it. The Rangers snuffed it out fairly efficiently.

-The Rangers nearly took a 2-1 lead with 11:47 left in regulation. After Evgeni Malkin made a poor touch pass at his blue line, center J.T. Miller raced up the right wing and ripped a wrister off the cross bar.


-Things moved to overtime and they were fairly even. Each team had its chances. The Rangers buried one of theirs.

-After perpetual nemesis Dominic Moore spun off checks from Crosby and Paul Martin in the Penguins' right wing corner, he tapped a pass to left winger Carl Hagelin on the end boards. Hagelin emerged in the left circle, turned and ripped a wrister over Fleury's glove hand on the short side. Game over. Playoffs over. Season over.


-Malkin may have had his best game of the series. He was primarily used on the right wing on a line with Brandon Sutter and Blake Comeau and he skated like the wind. He was free from some of his defensive responsibilities and generated a lot of scoring chances. As it is, he went scoreless. He was shut out this series and went pointless in his final 10 games of the postseason and regular season combined. Additionally, he went 15 games without a goal.

-We've seen some conflicting numbers on Twitter, but Ben Lovejoy was on the ice for most of the Rangers' goals. We have a hard time seeing Simon Despres being in that position that often. It's not fair to pin all this on Lovejoy. He was clearly overused given the injury issues on defense. But it's hard to see how that trade benefited the Penguins short-term and definitely long-term.

-Sutter seemed to benefit quite a bit from being elevated to the second line with Malkin on his wing. He was involved in quite a few scoring chances.

-If this was Chris Kunitz's last game with the Penguins, it was unspectacular. He had no shots on goal. Playing on the team's top line with Crosby as his center, he had no stinking shots.

-Before that becomes rumor, we have nothing to suggest the Penguins are considering it removing Kunitz from the roster. But given how lousy his season went after December, how could they not?

-If there's a silver lining to this, Chorney and Dumoulin handled themselves well in this high pressure situation. Their efforts gave the Penguins ample reason to believe they can be a part of this team next season.

-Maxim Lapierre came through with another annoying, fierce and impactful performance. It's like he hit a switch once the playoffs started. He was a mostly inert player in the regular season. Then the playoffs started and boom. He started.

-Scott Wilson didn't get much playing time in this series but he kept showing signs that he's an NHL player. He should be in the picture next season.

-Paul Martin looked spent. We're not sure he benefitted a great deal from playing with Lovejoy and given all the big-minute situations and abuse he faced, he looked worn down at the end of this series.

-The Penguins' power play was just flat. It had three chances and seemed to have trouble even setting up shop.

-David Perron didn't pose much of a threat in this game. The last two months of his season were horrendous.

-We're not sure what the Penguins plan to do with Rob Scuderi moving forward, but he can't ever be in a situation where he's a top four defenseman. It's asking way too much of his limited skillset.

-Ian Cole is a player. He was huge for this team in recent weeks.

-Alain Vigneault is the coach  of the Rangers, but there are still fingerprints from John Tortorella on this squad. They still block shots collectively like no other team in the league. They constantly found ways to get sticks, bodies, skates, legs, whatever on any puck.

-From a big picture perspective, while this series was intense and compelling, it wasn't terribly entertaining from start to finish. The scoring chances were very limited for both teams. In contrast, it was a snooze-fest compared to the high-scoring Predators-Blackhawks series. This series was really a microcosm of the NHL this past regular season. Hopefully, someone in the NHL offices was paying attention and pushes for some changes and finds a way to loosen the game up again.

-The officiating tonight was pretty fair. It might have been the best game for officials in this series. There were a few missed calls but nothing that drastically changed the game.

-Penalties really killed the Penguins. They had 46 penalties this series while the Rangers only had 30. While the Rangers didn't rip things up on the scoreboard, they were in attacking situation far more often than the Penguins due in part to all the power-play time they had.

-Hagelin described his goal: "Unbelievable feeling. Probably the best feeling I've ever had. "

-The Rangers did not have an update on center Mats Zuccarello who left the game in the first period due to an undisclosed injury.

-The Rangers' depth in this series really gave them an edge. They had Keith Yandle, an all-star, on their third pairing. In contrast, the Penguins had Lovejoy and Scuderi playing top-four minutes.


-The Penguins led in shots, 38-36.

-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 74-65.

-Sutter, Malkin, St.Louis and Miller each led the game with six shots.

-Martin led the game with 28:05 of ice time.

-Ryan McDonagh led the Rangers with 27:17 of ice time.

-The Penguins had a 36-32 lead in faceoffs (53 percent).

-Lapierre was 12 for 16 (75 percent).

-Moore was 9 for 10 (90 percent).

-Girardi and Lovejoy each led the game with six shots.


-The last time the Penguins lost a playoff series on an overtime goal was in Game 6 of the 1999 Eastern Conference semifinals. Former Penguins forward Garry Valk scored:

-Crosby played in his 100th career playoff game.


-Some sights. The ice:

-Rod Gilbert had a fan here:

-Adam Graves:

-Brian Leetch with the 1994 Stanley Cup Final patch:

-Carl Hagelin Michigan:

-Marian Gaborik:

-There was a solid Team USA presence. Leetch:

-Ryan McDonagh:

-We didn't see many Penguins fans. Crosby and Fleury:

-And James Neal (with a jersey foul):

-The pride of East Palestine, Ohio. J.T. Miller:

-Jaromir Jagr:

-Jersey of the Night: Alexei Kovalev:

-Game summary.

-Event summary.



-Finally, if you've clicked on this blog at anytime this season and read it or just came here by accident, even if you loved it or hated it, thank you:

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Notes and quotes from Scott Barnes' introductory press conference

Written by Sam Werner on .

Pitt officially hired Scott Barnes as its new athletic director Friday, ending a four-month search to replace the fired Steve Pederson. Here's my story from today's PG on the impressive resume Barnes brings to Pitt, and here are a few notes from the afternoon...

- As far as the search process goes, interim AD Randy Juhl (who chaired the search committee) said the initial list of candidates was about 15, which got whittled down to around eight for formal interview. From there, the search committee's goal was to come up with three or four names "where if we put their names in a hat and we drew them out, we’d all be happy." That's what they did, and submitted those names to chancellor Patrick Gallagher, who said Barnes' rose to the top.

- One metaphor that Barnes has used a lot (and did again today) is that athletics is the front porch of a university. It's not the most important room in the house, but it is the most visible. With that position, he said, comes both opportunity and responsibility.
"Opportunity to invite all sorts of constituents, fans, alumni — or re-invite them — through the athletic door to different parts of the university and campus," he said. "It also comes with a great responsibility, and that is that we have to make sure those folks that are sitting on the front porch, that are standing on the front porch, are representing this great university in the way that we want."

- Barnes said he met with all of Pitt's varsity coaches today, and was excited about working with football coach Pat Narduzzi. So any theories about a rift because Narduzzi isn't "Barnes' guy" can be put to rest, at least for now.
"He wants excellence, in just the same way that Chancellor Gallagher and I want excellence," Barnes said. "He’s putting a plan together to get that. His expectations are much higher than what maybe has been. He’s going to set the bar at a much higher level, and his student-athletes will reach that because he is a teacher."

- One topic that has been in the news a lot recently is the potential revival of the Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia. Barnes was restrained in his comments on the subject, saying only "I support looking at it," and said the same applies to a long-term series with Penn State.
When it comes to football scheduling as a whole, Barnes said the key is "balance." There's a balance to strike between appeasing fans (i.e. big name opponents) and building program momentum (i.e. FCS and mid-major games). One interesting thing he did note, though, was that he was going to work with Narduzzi to put together future schedules, which was not the normal practice under Pederson. Former football coach Paul Chryst had little to no role in crafting future schedules, other than approving certain ideas like the Florida State opener two years ago.

- Pitt also finds itself in the middle of a bit of a branding crisis. Pederson brought back the beloved script logo in October...sort of. That logo is on the football helmets, some Heinz Field signage and some coaching apparel, but the old block logo is still far more prominent, even around the football facility. I don't think it's a stretch to say that one of Barnes' first goals will be streamlining Pitt's brand (which is something he did very successfully at Utah State). He did note, though, that it could take a little time.
"I think first of all we want to assess where we stand," he said. "We want to take a look at it because it becomes an opportunity. But I do want to say this: That process at Utah State, to rebrand, was a 15-month process. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not just sticking a decal on a helmet. It’s a lengthy, thoughtful process. You want to make sure that you value the history and the heritage of your university while bringing a fresh look to it. There’s not only the branding opportunity, there’s a merchandising opportunity. I look at it as a possible opportunity that we’ll dive into."

- A lot has been made over the last few months about the type of financial support Gallagher has seemingly given to Pitt's athletic program. From things like paying Pederson's buyout to hiring Narduzzi (and increasing his assistant salary pool), he seems financially committed to improving Pitt athletics. But Barnes sees the future of Pitt athletics a little differently. He's ready for the athletic department to start pulling a little more weight, as well.
"The impact on change in terms of financial growth comes from us," he said. "We have got to do a better job of generating external revenue, and I’m excited about that opportunity. We’re not looking for any additional institutional support. We’re looking to get the Pitt nation excited about what we’re doing and invest in that. That’s my focus."

- As far as a big-picture issue, Barnes also said he was in favor of modernizing scholarships to account for things like cost of attendance, but thinks there will be a feeling out process as the conversation on the topic moves along.
"The scholarship model hasn’t changed in decades and it needs to," he said. "We’re absolutely heading in the right direction."

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