Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Day After Tomorrow

What does global warming have in store for the US?

Massive storms in the Midwest!
Hail the size of baseballs!
More lightning in the West . . . and more fires!

This forecast is brought to you by NASA.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Countdown: Halloween

My favorite holiday, Halloween, is only two months away!

I wanted to apply to be a Knott's Halloween Haunt Monster, but I have class on Wednesday nights. Oh well - maybe next year.

As for the costume, I'm going to attempt to pull off Trixie from Deadwood. If anyone knows where I can find 19th century whore garb, let me know.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Photos of the August 28, 2007 Lunar Eclipse

Some blurry photos from my Sony Cybershot:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Unfortunately, my camera couldn't pick up the red hue of the moon once it was fully obscured by the earth's shadow. But if you're reading this, oh, now (as in 3:10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 28th) you still have about an hour to check it out for yourself.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Reminder: Total Lunar Eclipse TONIGHT!

All right, kids, now that you're all bogged down with homework, it's time to stay up all night to watch the moon pass through the Earth's shadow!

Between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on the West Coast!!

Back to School

You know how the first day of school smells differently than any other day? What is that? Is it the scent of over-ripened summer? The perfume of burgeoning opportunity?

I think it's a combination of waking up way earlier than you usually do and breathing in the post-dawn air (before it's sullied by rush hour commute traffic and roasted by sunlight) . . .

. . . and office supplies. Mass quantities of office supplies. Paper. Glue. Plastic packaging.

That's it.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Yeah, it's pretty awesome.

It's like an underwater, art deco Resident Evil. And it really made me nostalgic for the Queen Mary.

I was a little hesistant to pick it up at first because I'm terrible at shooters. (I can never keep track of where I'm going, or what I'm pointing at. Truth is, I'm just really uncoordinated. I can't whistle, nor snap. So moving my virtual head with one toggle switch and my virtual legs with another is a little much to ask. To me, it's like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time. Which I can pull off, if I think about it hard enough, but I gotta admit, it's pretty jerky.)

Luckily, BioShock is civil enough to offer an easy mode for those who are "new to shooters."

How euphemistic.

And fortunate, because I'd hate to miss out on this game for lack of skill. It's creepy - not just in a "Surprise! A genetically mutated psychopath!" sort of way, but in an unsettling, morally ambiguous sort of way. It's cerebral - the story draws on both Ayn Rand and George Orwell to tell the tale of a laissez-faire capitalist utopia gone wrong. It's gorgeous - breathtaking, really. And it's really fucking fun.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

M-Theory: Shizzam!

The Science Channel’s documentary "Parallel Universe" fucked my brain beyond repair.

It began with string theory. Which states that the smallest bits of matter are not zero-dimensional particles, but one-dimensional strings. If everything is made of strings, and we can figure out how these strings behave, then we could theoretically figure out the way everything behaves and sum it up in one neat Theory of Everything. Too bad five different string theories emerged . . .

Each of the five string theories accounted for 10 dimensions of space, since the strings would vibrate in 10 dimensions. Eventually, scientists realized that if they incorporated a newfangled 11th dimension called "supergravity" into their theories, then all five string theories would be compatible. In this 11th dimension, all the strings would be woven together into the "membrane" of our universe (hence: M-Theory). Which would mean that everything is connected. (Of course, a good dose of shrooms will precipitate the same conclusion.)

What will really fuck with your soul, though, is this: the eleventh dimension would contain not only the membrane of our universe, but also the membranes of an infinite number of universes. Universes where there may be life; universes where there may not be life. Universes where there may be civilizations of human beings; universes where there may be civilizations of unicorns. Universes where Paula Abdul responded to your fan letter; universes where Paula Abdul did not respond to your fan letter. You get the idea.

The existence of parallel universes is one possible explanation for the weakness of gravity (relative to the other forces). Consider this: when you take a magnet to a paperclip, that paperclip overcomes gravity to jump to the magnet. And we can overcome gravity ourselves by climbing up a cliff; you have to be in shape, of course, but it’s possible. So why is gravity so lame? Perhaps it "leaked" into our universe from another universe? Hmm?

The existence of parallel universes would also explain the Big Bang theory – new universes are formed when membranes collide. Physics combine, explode, burst forth. Etc.

Are you lost? Yeah, me too at this point. I’m only beginning to comprehend this. Further investigation is necessary - and assured.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The Hawking Paradox

Few men affect me like Stephen Hawking.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The smile has a lot to do with it. Hawking let it shine a number of times during "The Hawking Paradox," the BBC documentary about his work on black holes. In 1970, Hawking combined the theories of quantum mechanics and general relativity into one neat equation that described the mechanics of black holes:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The equation suggested something controversial -- that black holes would emit radiation. Radiation that would eventually cause a black hole to evaporate and disappear.

Along with everything inside of it.

The idea of information disappearing into a black hole did not sit well with other scientists. It violated a fundamental tenet of physics: that information cannot be destroyed; it may be altered, but it can never disappear. Regardless, Hawking stood firmly by his theory and insisted that information must disappear; after all, that's what his equation suggested, and he knew his equation was right.

*Cue grin*

The argument over the disappearance versus the preservation of information entering black holes became known as the Information Paradox, or the Hawking Paradox. While many scientists refused to believe that information disappeared after entering a black hole, they also remained enamored with the beauty of Hawking's equation and began to explore how both outcomes could coexist. Eventually, an Argentenian physicist named Juan Maldacena crafted an equation that explained how information behaved once it entered black holes -- and the equation showed that information was not lost.

Hawking was not convinced. But before he could dissect Maldacena's paper, he fell gravely ill with pneumonia, and was hospitalized for three months.

During this time, he developed his own answer to the Paradox.

At a conference in 2004, Hawking conceded his earlier argument and presented his modified theory: that black holes emit the information they swallow (extremely altered, of course).

Though many attendees were excited to hear Hawking's announcement, most found the new theory lackluster at best. To this day, he is still working to complete the proof that would prove this theory.

But it's getting harder. By the conclusion of the documentary, Hawking was beginning to lose the ability to manipulate his speaking device with his hand and had to rely on making facial expressions to communicate ideas to his research assistant. When his assistant interpreted incorrectly, Hawking would wince. When he got something right, Hawking would smile.

Today, Hawking operates his speaking device with a muscle under his right eye.

Can you imagine? Sitting there with nothing to do but think, knowing that many of your colleagues think you're wrong, that many of your colleagues think you're crazy, yet still going, continuing to thrive 40 years after they said you would die, never letting up even as you lose control of everything around you - even your ability to communicate?

"I want to understand the Universe, and answer all the big questions. That's what keeps me going."

-Stephen Hawking, 2004

Hawking is preparing to go into space in 2009 and is currently writing a children's book that is "like Harry Potter - without the magic."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Toe Jam and Earl: There's no place like Funkotron

This evening, on the 25th level of Planet Earth, Toe Jam found the 10th piece to his spaceship and sailed home to Planet Funkotron . . .

. . . where the grass is fuchsia, the streets are paved in gold, and the doormats say "yo."

This is only the second time I've beaten Toe Jam and Earl, the quirky Sega game about two funk-loving aliens who must piece their spaceship back together after crash-landing on Earth.

I was inspired by this weekend's viewing of King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters to commemorate the moment with digital photography:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

You can move your character through Planet Funkotron after you beat the game.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The homecoming parade.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Toe Jam and Earl, reunited with their families.

Ain't that a happy ending?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blinding You With Science: MEGAMOUTH!!

In LA County's National History Museum, between the water fountains and the mesozoic fossils, Megamouth, a 15 foot long, 1550 lb. shark, sits bloated and yellow in his display case.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The first Megamouth was discovered in 1976, when it was captured off the coast of Hawaii. The second Megamouth - the one on display at the museum - was found near Catalina Island in 1984. Only 37 other Megamouths have ever been found; most of them were captured in the Pacific, off the coast of Japan.

The Megamouth shark sports an unusually large mouth with "a bathtub-shaped lower jaw and an enormous short-snouted head with small, pointed teeth." It has a reflective lining inside its mouth that is thought to attract prey.

Little else is known about the shark, but scientists are currently testing tissue samples from the specimen at the museum in hopes of learning more about it.

We Have Broken the Speed of Light

A pair of German physicists claim to have broken the speed of light.

Does this mean we'll have time-travel figured out before hoverboards?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Well . . . I'll take it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

MC Skat Kat: Original Bad Boy

It's said that at some point in her burgeoning adulthood, every young girl will go through a phase where she will desire and covet nothing but complete assholes.

Is this learned behaviour? Genetic? Biologically predetermined?

Perhaps. But I'd like to present another theory for your consideration:

The corrupting influence of MC Skat Kat

In her seminal hit "Opposites Attract," Paula Abdul tells us that her lover, MC Skat Kat, parties all night, moves fast, shouts, smokes, steals the covers, gets obsessed and is always broke.

Yet, Paula still loves him, still desires him, and when they get together they have "nothing but fun."

Well, shit.

What young girl doesn't want to have "nothing but fun?" And apparently, as Paula has stated, she can only do so with her complete opposite -- a possessive, free-loading cigarette-smoking loser like MC Skat Kat.

You owe me extra now, Paula!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

PS - Straight up! Paula Abdul's Greatest Hits is only $7.99 at Amoeba.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vegas: A Retrospective

I've returned from Las Vegas.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


About 10 miles past the abandoned waterpark, my alternator conked out and I had to be towed to Barstow.

Luckily, the mechanic there was open late and kind enough to fix me up. But we still didn't make it in time for Rock the Bells.


Regardless, as this concluded my fifth trip to Vegas in the past year, I thought it appropriate to do a little Best-Of as reference for the less-seasoned.

Best way to spend the day

First, head over to the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. There's something for everybody -- from $500 corsets at Agent Provocateur to Pete Rose at Field of Dreams. But my favorite will always be FAO Schwartz. I'm a sucker for giant stuffed animals.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Christy meets Octopus.

After you've had your fill, make your way over to the Mirage for Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sure, you have to pay $15 to get in, but once you're there, you can chill by the dolphin pool and drink $7 32 oz. Sin City Amber Lagers. It's the best deal in town. And they've got a baby dolphin, too!

Just watch out for Montecore.

Best novelty drink

The BeatleJuice at the Mirage's Beatles-inspired Revolution Lounge is a slightly sweet and very strong blueberry martini that is actually worth the $12.

Best novelty diner

Dine among Klingons at Quark's Bar and Restaurant at Star Trek: The Experience in the Las Vegas Hilton. Actors dress up as Star Trek characters and roam the restaurant while you eat; if you order a salad, they may even harass you for being a leaf-eating Earthling. I recommend a Hamborger and giant cauldron of smoking mixed drink (thanks, dry ice!)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
That is not a statue.

Best bulk booze

Forget the sugared-up yard-long margaritas and get a boot full of mango daquiri at Coyote Ugly. It actually tastes good. You can refill the boot for cheap and for a small fee, you can add a double shot of 151.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Best hotel room

The Venetian. Every standard room has a sunken living room! It was hard to leave.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Worst hotel room

The Tropicana. Stains, hard mattresses, ugh. Cuervo margaritas help.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Most surprisingly enjoyable stay

Hooters Hotel and Casino. Clean rooms in Spring Break decor and poolside chicken wings. It started off as a joke (let's see Morrissey and stay at Hooters! Meat is murder! Bah!) but I gotta say, I'd be happy to stay here again.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Best thing you will ever see in your life

I saw a lot of great shows in the past year - Massive Attack, Bjork, Christina Aguilera, Modest Mouse, Girls Against Boys, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Slint, Morrissey, Amy Winehouse, Jarvis Cocker, El-P, The National, The Decemberists, Andrew Bird. But nothing even came close to Elton John and the Red Piano.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Not only do you get Sir Elton and giant inflatable legs, but you also get an amazing video accompaniment directed by David LaChappelle. A white trash ballet brawl? Set in a trailer park? Inspired by Tennessee Williams? Yes, please. More more more.

Most surprisingly awesome show

The now defunct We Will Rock You, the futuristic rock opera set to the music of Queen at the Paris Hotel and Casino, brought grown men to tears. The performances, sets and costumes were great, and the story instills the viewer with the importance of Rock in a way that School of Rock never could.

Most surprisingly offensive show

I suppose I was drunk, but during the course of LOVE I did a 180 from thinking it was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen to the most exploitative thing I'd ever seen. I left the theater murmuring curses at Paul McCartney under my breath. The Beatles is pure, man!

Most surprising moment during a show

Being pulled up on stage by Penn to throw knives at Teller -- after a Witch Doctor and a shot of Patron (see "Best Meal as of February 2007" below).

Most disappointing show

Folies Bergere at Tropicana. What with this dude MC? What's with the dude dancers? What's with the dude comedian? I paid for tits and feathers. Which comprised only about 7% of the show.

Speaking of that . . .

Most off-the-hook strip club

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket



Worst strip club

Anything all nude, sans liquor. Make sure you know where you are before you drop that cover.

Most Overrated Nightclub

Tryst. Do you like three minutes of Michael Jackson inexplicably mixed with three minutes of Nirvana, transitioned into 45 seconds of Journey? Then this lame-ass DJ is for you.

Best bar to score a Jack and Coke and some old science textbooks

To the right of the Tropicana's Tuscany Italian Cafe, there's a tiny little bar with an even tinier little room with a leather couch, a couple of chairs, a flat screen TV, and two built-in-the-wall bookcases full of your parents' old science textbooks. If you ask the bartender, he'll let you take one home. But hurry fast -- it's getting the bomb in November.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Blinding myself with science.

Best meal as of February 2007

Before it became the Voodoo Steak House and completely changed the menu, the Rio's Voodoo Lounge had not only the tastiest entree in town ("Chicken Some Street in New Orleans") but also the best drink -- a smoking cauldron of "Witch Doctor," ten shots of rum topped with a little plastic ghost.

Best meal as of August 2007

Japonais at the Mirage. Sensual ambiance, solid food.

Best dessert

Banana Cream Pie at Emeril's at the MGM Grand. It's as big as a cat.

Best display item

Christina Aguilera's chaps from the Dirrty Video at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Maybe it's just me.

Most annoying surcharge

$20 for picking up the "Pleasure Box" off the Caesars Palace amenity tray and laughing at it.

Most triumphant moment

Winning $80 on the Big Six at Treasure Island.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

YESSSSSS. Finally, a hotel in space!

The "Galactic Suite" will open in 2012 and will take guests around the world in 80 minutes!

For 4 million dollars, you get three nights in the hotel and an eight week training course at a "James Bond-style space camp on a tropical island."

Then, you get to fly up to the hotel and spend three days watching the sun rise 15 times and manuevering around your room in a velcro suit.

They haven't figured out the toilet situation yet, but you'll be able to bathe yourself by floating through a chamber of water bubbles.

It is going to ROCK! I can't wait!

(PS Please send all donations to Melody Lutz @ Please Send Me to Space Blvd. I have $0123 dollars in Los Angeles, CA 90089 kthxbye.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Vivo el waterpark abandonado fuera de Las Vegas.

GoBeDelighted will be on hiatus for a few days while Christine and I travel to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.

Yes, I'm looking forward bronzing my skin in the 108 degree F air and stealing more old science textbooks from the Tropicana, but I'm also looking forward to showing Christy the abandoned waterpark that sits on 1-15, halfway to Vegas.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The former Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark was opened near man-made Lake Dolores in Newberry, California in 1962. According to this long-winded Wikipedia entry, it was one of the earliest waterparks in the United States, and its adjacent resort was popular with the motocross and water sports crowd. The park closed in the late 1980s after bad management, and what's left of it is scheduled to be torn down and replaced by homes in the very near future.

Apparently, if you actually get off I-15 to check out the park, you will be greeted by a cranky old man in a truck and/or a pack of dogs who will shoo you away from the "private property." As one survivor reports:"it was like a horror movie - or at least an episode of Scooby-Doo."

Blinding You With Science: Gravity Kills

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Last night's episode of "The Universe" -- you know, the History Channel show and primary source of my astronomical knowledge -- was about the life and death of stars.

Stars are born when gravity pulls a cloud of hydrogen together into a ball. Gravity would immediately collapse this ball of hydrogen together into an extremely dense nugget of matter; however, the very act of gravity pulling hydrogen together into a ball creates heat that synthesizes hydrogen into helium molecules. This synthesis (aka "nuclear fusion") creates an "outward" force to balance the "inward" force of gravity so that the star ceases to contract. (Imagine arm wrestling someone of equal strength: both of you are applying great force, but no one's arm is going anywhere.) This period of stasis in a star's life is called the "main sequence" -- our own sun is currently in the "main sequence" phase of its life.

Eventually, though, all of the hydrogen molecules in the core of the star are turned into helium, and then things get crazy. If the star is quite large (nine solar masses or more), then there is enough energy for its new helium core to fuse, which creates carbon, which fuses together to create oxygen, which fuses together to create neon, and then silicon and sulfur and iron. At this point, the star is at the end of its red giant phase, and no more elements can be synthesized because, unlike the lighter elements preceding it, iron does not produce energy when it fuses together. Rather, iron consumes energy when it fuses together, and at a certain size the iron core can no longer support its own mass and collapses from the size of our Sun to the size of Manhattan in half a second. This sudden collapse creates a massive shockwave that explodes the rest of the star's material into space -- a supernova. The energy released during a supernova synthesizes the heaviest element of the former star -- iron -- into all of the remaining heavier elements in the universe.

That means calcium, silver, gold, everything. Everything heavier than iron in all of existence was synthesized from the material of an exploding star.

Deal with that.

So, in sum:

1. Everything around us is a product of gravity's force on hydrogen.

2. No finite amount of hydrogen can withstand the force of gravity.

3. Gravity always wins, and produces a lot of cool stuff.

So where did gravity come from?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Gifts from the Land of the Rising Sun

BFF Christine has returned from Japan with a bevy of treasures for watashi:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Curry-flavored Pringles.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Awamori - snake sake.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Unagi pie - a cookie-type thing made from crushed dried eel. AKA a "snack for nights."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

"Men's Style" - chewing gum for men.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

"Hope" mini-cigs.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Cell phone bear, penguin cookie cutter, paper frog.

Arigato gozaimashita, Christine!

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Power of Love

As you transition into your wonderful August weekend, remember that love is beautiful, love is strange . . .

One fateful morning, after a night out with the bros, 24 year old Brit David Brown woke up with a slight hangover and a telephone number running through his head. Puzzled, David sent a text message to the number, asking "Did I meet you last night?"

Michelle Kitson had not met David the night before, but when she received the text, she responded, and the two began exchanging messages.

They decided to meet.

They fell in love.

They honeymooned in the Indian resort of Goa.


Don't need no credit card to ride this train.

Have a good one.

(Reuters, April 2007)