Friday, September 28, 2007

Arsenic and Old Space Debris

Scientists say the fumes from the big boiling crater in the Peruvian town of Carangas are not making people sick.

The culprit? Good ole mass hysteria.

Six hundred Peruvians claim to have suffered from headaches, nausea and sore throats after visiting the suspected meteorite impact site.

But scientists have not found any evidence of toxic fumes at the site. If there were fumes emitting from the hole, they wouldn't have come from the meteorite -- they would have leaked from the Carangas subsoil, which contains high amounts of arsenic.

Furthermore, there is no conclusive evidence that the hole was caused by a meteorite -- it is more likely that it was a hydrothermal explosion.

So no super space bacteria yet. *Whew*

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The crater.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cocks and Capons

Tonight, a classmate mentioned that humans typically don't eat roosters because their meat is too tough.

I decided to investigate.

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And I found this interesting tidbit of information from an anonymous user on the now (it seems) defunct

"Rooster meat is by far tougher than hen's meat, but it is edible. It's the hormones in the meat that makes the difference. Just like with beef, for instance. A yearling steer (Castrated male, castrated while young) makes the best beef available. Cow meat isn't nearly as nice, and is often sold as 'budget' beef. It's still fairly edible, but has a little different flavour and is a little tougher, because of the estrogen that goes through their system. And bull meat is quite tough and stringy, and has a very strong flavour to it, because of the testosterone in it. Hope this helps!"

So great steak is from Mars, shitty flank is from Venus.

It never occurred to me that male muscle and female muscle would have different tastes and consistencies. If hormones have such an impact on the structure of our meat, do they also affect the structure of our brains? Of course, hormones affect the chemical composition of our brains - they affect emotion. But is the actual architecure of neural tissue different for men and women?

Would a male human taste different than a female human?


Some interesting rooster facts (courtesy of Wikipedia):

  • A rooster pecks with the force of 15 pounds
  • Castrated roosters are called "capons." They're tastier than other chickens because they grow more slowly and accumulate more fat.
  • The Dutch translation of "cock-a-doodle-doo" is "kukeleku"
  • Chicken feet are popular in Chinese cuisine

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger SPACE BACTERIA

Noel Murphy says that bacteria like salmonella grow stronger in Space:

"Arizona State University's Centre for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology has found space salmonella, after 12 days, killed mice more swiftly and exhibited genetic variations. Space evidently triggers a different response in the bacterium even if scientists insist it's nothing it can't do on earth given the right circumstances."

He then wonders if our bacteria-infested space junk might fall back to Earth and plague us with super diseases.

Must investigate....

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happy Fall Equinox

Our Planet has reached that point in its orbit where the celestial equator merges with the ecliptic and daytime and nighttime are more or less equal to one another. Yes, it's the Fall Equinox, folks. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the days will only get shorter from here.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

FOUND: Chihuahua mix in Exposition Park, near USC Coliseum

Howdy, internets:

If you lost an extremely well-behaved, cream/tan-colored chihuahua mix near Exposition Park (between the Natural History Museum and the USC Coliseum) right after the 4th quarter of the USC / Washington State game, you can find him here:

South Los Angeles Animal Services Care Center
3612 11th Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

We found the dog wandering Exposition Blvd. (near Vermont Ave.) and took him in. He's extremly docile and quiet, and loves car rides and tailgate leftovers. He's already neutered and seems housebroken.

If no one claims him, we may keep him and name him "Reggie."

PS: USC DPS is so fucking lazy and worthless they not only refused to call animal control on our behalf, but couldn't even look up the number for us. Consider yourself warned, Sorority Row - if your little snoogle wanders off, it's up to God and the streets.

Friday, September 21, 2007

GBD's Exclusive 25th Birthday Bonanza

Both of my roommates turned 25 last weekend, and I was faced with the challenge of making two VIPs in my life feel very special, instead of that-much-closer-to-30.

It was a daunting task, but a task accomplished by delighting them with the most exclusive clubs in Los Angeles!

Because what eases the transition into your late 20s better than partying in places inaccessible to the general public?

So, without further ado . . .

Les Deux

After watching a herd of paparazzi sprint toward its general direction, I expected the worst from Les Deux, but it turned out to be quite enjoyable.

It wasn't a stuffy, minimalistic dance club like I'd expected but a small, Victorian house with one large first-floor lounge, a roomy second-floor VIP balcony, and a large cobblestone courtyard lined with chocolate-leather booths. The DJ spun a nice mix of Top 40 and 80s dance music underneath a projection of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet.

The atmosphere was relaxed and chill, and the bartender gave us two-for-one Patron shots. After all, how can you resist these faces:

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Les Douche.

We talked our way up to the VIP room, which was occupied by a group of disability insurance salesmen from Boston and a couple of Marines. One of the Marines was the PR Director for the Marine Corp - the person responsible for convincing journalists to come to Iraq and write about all of the good and reprehensible things going on there. She was revealing all sorts of fascinating things about Iraq that I was trying very hard to retain but promptly forgot a few moments (and sips of vodka soda) later. I think she described Iraq as "four times worse than Tijuana" but that, of course, sounded absurd in the morning. At any rate, after admitting, "we never should have gone in there in the first place, but since we did . . ." she shifted to more Les Deux-appropriate topics such as her childhood aspirations (acting) and the brand of my dress (Free People). She was a fascinating person, and I wish I was sober enough to remember our conversation (yay, America). Her male companion gave me a flashing Pentagon keychain.

After we left, we bought two of the best bacon-wrapped hot dogs EVAH! I think they were actually bacon-wrapped spicy sausages, not hot dogs, which brought the experience to a whole new level. The sausages were wrapped in toasty, grease-soaked buns and topped with veritable mounds of onions, peppers, mustard and ketchup. As Sarah and I devoured them under a nearby awning, men kept approaching us and asking us where we were from. No one believed us when we said "LA." (Dunno why, I mean, wtf, right?)

The Magic Castle

On Friday night, Sarah and I got all dolled up and went to The Magic Castle, the private members-only magician's club on Franklin and Hollywood.

It was just as awesome as you might imagine. I won't spoil the mystery for you, but let me just say that the place has five bars full of aging magicians eager to perform tricks and buy drinks for pretty ladies.

We weren't allowed to take pictures, so think of a Hogwarts full of strange uncles.

Club 33

I thought Disneyland's Club 33 was a nightclub. It's not. It's a very expensive French restaurant with antique furniture, crimson walls and gold-embroidered drapes. It's like eating inside of a Louis Vutton bag. Seth and I got the five course Prix Fixe menu - quite tasty. The toilets are rather peculiar:

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"I've got the guts to die. What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live?"

Once inside, you travel to the dining area via elevator:

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Pretty cool, huh?

Pirates of the Caribbean is even better after five glasses of wine.

But do not go on the Finding Nemo submarines until you've completely sobered up.

(Or ever, if you're afraid of being submerged in water, like I am.)


Now, you might be wondering how you can befriend someone like me; someone who has the know-how to get you into these wonderfully exclusive Southern Californian establishments.

(Lots and lots of cash.)

No, seriously, the truth is that I owe it all to Sarah, Becky and Barb G. Thanks, ladies.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Feathery Velociraptors

Scientists have discovered quill knobs on the forearm of a Mongolian Velociraptor, which indicates the dinosaur had feathers.

I can't decide if I'm disappointed or freaked out by this.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Forgotten (Pirate) Prisoner

A very *exclusive* post is coming soon . . .

But until then, be delighted that it's International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Not "national." International.


In other pirate-related news, I went to Disneyland over the weekend and realized, during my second trip through Pirates of the Caribbean, that my dad's 1966 Forgotten Prisoner model kit could very well be based on the first diorama of the ride. The Forgotten Prisoner is a skeleton dressed as a pirate and chained to a wall with a sword through his chest. Very similar to Pirates' first corpse.

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(The model, without the sword.)

But then I discovered that the ride didn't open until 1967. So was the figure in the ride based on the model? Is it just a coincidence? Is the image of a skeleton pirate chained to a slab of concrete with a sword through his chest such a common element of the American psyche that it sprung up simultaneously in various incarnations in the 1960's?

Did it have anything to do with this? (I mean, I guess there were no pirates in that, but there were skeletons.)

At any rate, it's comforting to know that although the Forgotten Prisoner is 41 years old, he's adapted very well to modern times -- he has his own MySpace page.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

When Galaxies Collide

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Galaxies. Trillions of them. With trillions of stars. Whoa.

If humans manage to escape Earth before the Sun turns into a Red Giant and boils away the planet's atmosphere, we'll have another astrological obstacle to overcome:

The collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies.

Sure, it will take a few billion years, but it's inevitable -- the gravity of the two galaxies is pushing them toward each other at a rate of several hundred kilometers per second. Eventually, they will collide, and the combined gravity will scatter their stars into new galactical formations. Our night skies would be forever changed - if, somehow, we're still around to observe it.

The Andromeda Galaxy is visible to the naked eye. We see it as it was 2.5 million years ago, since it's 2.5 million light years away, and its light takes 2.5 million years to travel to Earth.

With the proper equipment (i.e, deep space telescopes such as Hubble), we can see galaxies as far as 13 billion light years away. These galaxies are almost as old as the Universe itself, and predate the existence of Earth. So, when we look at pictures of these galaxies, we're viewing space as it was before the Earth even existed!

Consider, for a second, the distance implied by 13 billion light years. A light year is the distance light can travel through a vacuum in one year -- 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles. Multiply that by 13 billion . . . my calculator broke.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Now Showing at the Observatory: Jupiter and the Galilean moons

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I had the pleasure of visiting the Griffith Observatory last night, which had its 72 year old 12" Zeiss telescope pointed toward Jupiter.

I got to see the Jovian planet and four of its moons - Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. The sight looked a lot like this:

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Except that I could actually see the creme and orange colored bands of Jupiter's cloud layers, which was pretty cool. (The Great Red Spot, unfortunately, had already rotated out of view.)

The image I saw through the telescope was not how Jupiter would have looked (from close range in space) at that moment, but how it would have looked (from close range in space) 45 minutes earlier, since its light takes 45 minutes to reach Earth.

Some other fun facts about Jupiter:

* Jupiter is two and a half times as massive as all of the other planets combined.

* Jupiter has a very faint planetary ring system.

* The orange and creme colored bands are cloud layers in Jupiter's atmosphere. They rotate in opposite directions; the resulting turbulence creates great storms (such as the Great Red Spot).

* Its largest moon, Ganymede, is bigger than the planet Mercury.

* Its fourth largest moon, Europa, may have oceans of water underneath its icy surface (and, therefore, may have extraterrestrial life as well). (Like Saturn's moon Enceladus.)

* Galileo discovered Jupiter's four largest moons in 1610, via his new and improved telescope. This was the first time anyone had actually observed satellites orbiting anything other than Earth, and his discovery cast major doubt on idea of an Earth-centered universe.

(He also used his telescope to discover that Venus went through phases, which proved Copernicus' earlier hypothesis that Venus, and the other planets, orbited the Sun. This observation got Galileo in trouble with the good ole Church and he was put under house arrest outside of Florence for the remaining years of his life.)

Last night was my first visit to the Observatory and it did not disappoint. If you live in So Cal, check it out. They're going to point that telescope toward Mars in a couple of months.

Friday, September 7, 2007

This is Why I Drink Starbucks

According to Energy Fiend, there's so much caffeine in Starbucks coffee that it would only take 27 Grande cups of it to kill you.

Comparatively, it would take 71 cans of Full Throttle to kill you.

Or 296 cans of Coke Zero.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mogoi (Yeti) National Park

Documentarian Les Guthman came to class last night to speak about his documentary “Churning the Sea of Time: A Journey Up the Mekong to Angkor" (which was a really beautiful look at the Mekong River, which runs through Vietnam and Cambodia). He mentioned another documentary he had worked on, "Into the Thunder Dragon," about two unicyclists who had cruised through Bhutan in search of the Yeti, the mythological giant Himalayan snow monster.

They had wanted to travel through Bhutan's Sakteng Wildlife Park , which is dedicated to protecting the natural habitat of the Yeti. But they couldn't. Because it's so dedicated to protecting the habitat of the Yeti that humans are not allowed there.


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I pointed out that you can also find the Yeti at the Matterhorn in Anaheim, but I don't think he was listening.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

R.I.P. Steve Irwin

Today marks the one year anniversary of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin's death. I remember the night he died -- Seth and I were in Las Vegas, drinking some cheap beers at the Stardust (now defunct as well). We read the news from the muted television behind the bar. I didn't follow his career very closely, but I was sad to see him go -- it's rare to find a person who lived life so passionately, and with such dedication to a worthwhile cause .

In memoriam, Animal Planet is airing some classic croc specials this week, now through Thursday.


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Monday, September 3, 2007

The Most Dangerous Roads in the World

Over the weekend, I read Paul Theroux's account of driving through Tibet and was reminded of an interesting post on about the Most Dangerous Roads in the World.

Check 'em out.

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