Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Billy Joel

Bill and I went to see Billy Joel in concert last night. The last time I went to one of his concerts was in 1982. I enjoyed this one just as much. The light show was spectacular, although I don't very often go to rock concerts, so maybe they're all like that. His piano elevated through the stage while the lights were out, and the second song he sang was My Life, my favourite song since my ex-boyfriend introduced me to the music of Billy Joel about 27 years ago (thanks Dan!). Then he turned to the audience and said, "Hi, I'm Billy's dad. Billy couldn't be here tonight. He's home combing his hair."
The song that almost brought the house down - billed by Billy as a religious song that we would remember long after the concert was over - was actually Highway to Hell sung by Chainsaw, a member of his road crew. We were sitting in the nosebleed seats, and everybody in the stadium stomping in unison shook the whole building. I was just hoping that it didn't set up some sort of oscillation and literally bring the house down.

I knew all the songs by heart except one, and he sang most of his hits. I had a blast! At least the drummer didn't moon the audience this time. He finished his encore with, of course, Piano Man and amazed me again with the ability to sing, play the piano, and play the harmonica simultaneously.And, here's some trivia: Billy Joel is on the Celebrity Atheist list.

Monday, February 25, 2008


They had a segment on NPR’s Morning Edition this morning about how the conservative Republicans don’t think that John McCain is conservative enough. He has to "prove" himself to the conservatives to win their vote/hearts/whatever. Since McCain is currently winning the Republican nomination by a landslide, maybe Republicans in general are not as conservative as the conservatives would like to think.

Or maybe they're just worried because he's a closet Pastafarian.

Photo found on
Arrrgh and RAmen.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Blog name change

In case you didn't notice, I changed the name of the blog. I like the name Chimaera (or chimera) because it refers to Greek mythology, genetics, or a fish. For you non-fishy people, Chimaeras are a very interesting (to me, anyway) Chondrichthyan fish - the same class as sharks, rays, and skates. Their common names are ratfish, rabbitfish, and ghost sharks. They have cartilaginous skeletons, lack scales and have internal fertilization, and I've always been partial to rats and mythical beasts, so I took an immediate liking to them in my first ichthyology class in college.

The fish, of course, was named after the Greek monster. The Chimaera was a fearsome fire-breathing creature with the front part of a lion, the middle part goat and the hind part serpent, sometimes depicted with the heads of all three. It was terrorizing the Lycian countryside, and was killed by Bellerophon with the help of Pegasus. Alternately, it can mean any similarly grotesque monster having disparate parts, or a horrible or unreal creature of the imagination.

A genetic chimera is an organism, organ, or part consisting of two or more genetically distinct tissues. This can occur naturally, or as the result of organ transplant, grafting, or genetic engineering. Human chimeras were first discovered when it was found that some people had more than one blood type. Most of them were "blood chimeras" -- non-identical twins who shared a blood supply in the uterus. Another example of a chimera is something I have on the windowsill at work. A variegated plant.

Synonyms for chimera include: dream, fantasy, and delusion. It can also mean a fanciful mental illusion or fabrication or a fabulous and fantastic - but completely mixed-up - idea. Like homeopathy, ghosts, astrology, acupuncture, bigfoot, alien visitations (other than the resident and illegal kind), feng shui, or the idea that the universe was created and is being run by some supernatural all-knowing being.

Atheist Blogroll

I've been added to the Atheist Blogroll, a service provided for atheistic and agnostic bloggers. If you're interested in this sort of thing, the link is on the bottom left side of my blog.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Illustration by Luci Betti-Nash / Associated Press
I love that name. Really cool name for the worlds largest known toad. Unfortunately it's extinct, because I agree with PZ Meyers, I want one as a pet. Probably just as well. Fang, Attack Rabbit is probably just the right size for a nice snack. The females got up to 10 lbs and 16 inches long. They are related to the currently popular Pac-Man frog, and Kenneth Chang of the New York Times quoted discoverer Dr. David Krause as saying that the female Beelzebufos were “lady Pac-Man frogs, on steroids.”

I read several articles about it, but this quote from a story in the Los Angeles Times caught my eye:

“Krause, along with Susan Evans and Marc Jones of the research department of cell and developmental biology at University College in London, painstakingly removed Beelzebufo's fossilized parts, like an ancient jigsaw puzzle, from deep sediment that dates to the late Cretaceous period, 65 million to 70 million years ago.

That was the time of the dinosaurs, and Earth was a young -- and very different -- place.”

The Earth was young?? The Earth is about 4.54 billion years old plus or minus 1%. Seventy million years ago, it was still ~4,470,000,000 ± 45,000,000. In other words, the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old now, and 70 million years ago, the Earth was about...4.5 billion years old. Sixty-five or 70 million years is a drop in the bucket, geologically speaking. I’ll give them “very different.”

As one of my coworkers said when I pointed this out, "Another confirmation that our science education in the US sucks..."

This blog post was continually interrupted by a total eclipse of the moon! I had to run outside every five minutes. Unfortunately, I don't own a camera that could take a picture of it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Historic Sugar Bowl

Yesterday, I went to Sugar Bowl ski resort for the first time. This is a view of Donner Lake from the top of one of the mountains. As in Donner Pass, and the Donner Party. This place has a history of getting a lot of snow. I've skied at four or five ski resorts and never seen this sign on a building before:In case you can't read it, here's a close-up: Then I noticed this at the lift:You don't have to tell ME more than once. I hated Danger UXB (I had to watch it because I had a crush on Anthony Andrews - I just hid in the hall whenever he was defusing a bomb). After seeing these signs I don't know whether I felt safer or not. On one hand they're doing avalanche control. On the other...they have avalanches??

I got to the top of the lift, and this caught my eye: I got closer and found that this was the site of the California's first chairlift. Then just a little way down the slope I saw that they actually still use one of these: Yes, that is a huge chunk-O-concrete counterweight. This lift wasn't running today, but obviously still does.

Partway up the lift I also saw this: It was on a black diamond (expert) slope, and I don't generally go down those on purpose, so I couldn't see what it's plaque said.

They also had an example of a much newer lift that is still fairly common at many resorts: But they are generally being replaced by these high speed lifts: The chairs actually come off the high speed cable, slow down so they don't whack you in the back of the knees (like some of the older ones do), and then reattach to whisk you up (or down in some instances) the mountain. I've always thought riding these big lifts is like riding a ride at Disneyland, and just as fun. And looky here at the name on this lift: Yes, Walt Disney was one of Sugar Bowl's founding fathers mentioned in the above plaque.

A day just isn't complete without an Elvis sighting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fang, Attack Rabbit

This is Fang, attack rabbit or rabit as my son used to spell it before his girlfriend found him the sign, because apparently you can get into COLLEGE in this country without knowing how to spell. Fang (no relation to Phyllis Diller) is also known as Bun Bun, Mr. Bunny, and sometimes Mr. Evil Bunny, but he probably thinks his name is, "No, he is NOT a rodent!" because my husband knows how to push my buttons. He's half English Spot and half Norwegian Dwarf, so he's not very big.Smokey doesn't look too concerned.

Fang currently resides in the kitchen, because my son went off to college, and we were afraid he would die of starvation or thirst if we left him back in my son's bedroom. He has my husband wrapped around all of his lucky little feet. All Fang has to do is balance on his hind legs and roll his eyes pathetically at Bill, and Bill says,"Look! He's hungry. Poor little rodent" (actually he says poor widdle wodent) And while I'm saying, "He is NOT a rodent, he's a lagomorph" Bill is getting a treat out of the fridge, and Fang is racing happily around his cage. He doesn't even try it with me because he knows he won't get anywhere. My son recently found a rabbit toy ball with a bell, so now he also can be really annoying and ring his ball when he thinks we're not paying him enough attention. The ball takes the place of his favourite chew toy - electrical cords. No cord is safe if Fang can get to it. My son either had them strung up on the wall, or behind the bed. I think he likes the mild electric zap he must get as he chews through. Many of the cords in the house now look like this:

I say. Do you mind getting that camera out of my face?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

You voted for who?

Yesterday morning my friend M (one of them. I have three friends M) called and wanted to go and get a bagel, so I went and met her. She immediately said, "You voted for Obama, right? Right?"

“I’m not saying who I voted for,” I eqivocated because I don't like lying.

She shrieked, “YOU VOTED FOR HILLARY???” Then she hit me with her handbag. Which was apparently full of ROCKS! Ouch.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I've been Touched by His Noodly Appendage!

Well, I've been toying with the idea of joining a religion for some time now. I just have this hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I looked at Christianity. Nope. Too many reasons to list. Very anti-women for one thing. And there's no evidence that Jesus actually existed. Original sin? Whatever.

Judaism. Nope. My mother isn't a Jew, and they discourage converts (not a bad thing!). Also, it's too barbaric. I would never circumcise my son for any reason. I think he might object now, anyway.

Hinduism. Nope. Too many deities to keep track of.

Islam. Nope. Although I don't normally show a lot of flesh, covering everything all the time just sounds too hot. And as for the circumcision thing, in certain parts of the world they often even circumcise girls - otherwise known as female genital mutilation. Talk about barbaric. I thought Christianity is anti-women... Actually, in Northern Africa, parts of Asia, and the Middle East, female genital mutilation is practiced by other religions, too. Including Christians.

Rastafarianism. Nope. I'm not black or a vegetarian (I'm actually not sure that you have to be either). Although I don't mind reggae music and could probably get into that "holy herb" thing, especially since they frown on drinking alcohol.

All of these rely on blind faith. Being a scientist, I have to have some evidence.

. I finally found one that I think can really satisfy my hunger! The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! There are millions if not thousands of believers around the world! This is what finally convinced me:The statistically significant inverse relationship between the number of pirates and the average global temperature over the last 200 years.

The Church of the FSM is a tolerant and peaceful religion. No Pastafarian has ever killed anyone over their religious beliefs. Just think to yourself WWFSMD.

The only thing I wasn't too hot on was the beer volcanoes and stripper factories in heaven. Then I read The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and found that there "[are probably] male strippers (whew!), but they are invisible to the non-homo guys." Maybe there's a Long Island Iced Tea* or Gin and Tonic volcano thrown in somewhere. I can always hope. By the way, The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster only took about three hours to read as opposed to some other religious texts like the bible that I won't name.

Even the fundamentalist Christians have accepted that the Pastafarian god has bigger balls than theirs. His noodly goodness is just one delicious god! I'm logging off now. I have to go out and get my full pirate regalia. Aaarrrrrrr and RAmen.*For my British readers reader, Long Island Iced Teas are the nectar of the gods FSM. On two trips to England, I've only found one bartender who knew how to make one, and definitely not for lack of trying. He worked at Finnegans Wake in Ealing.