Hello, you beautiful minds. Let’s take some brain candy, shall we? So put down your game controls for a brief yet splendid moment, and stuff your brain with tasty tidbits of information.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sorry For the Delay

You may (or may not) have noticed my lack of activities on here lately. Well, I've moved to another state and it will take me a while to get settled in my new abode. It may still be a little while before my next post.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Than Just Buboes!

The illness caused by Yersinia pestis has had a few names, the Black Death, the Bubonic Plague, the End of the World. We all know the signs – painful pustules (buboes) near the lymph nodes, fever, chills, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and often death. But let’s not forget the other forms of plague. I’m speaking, of course, about septicemic plague and pneumonic plague.

When the bubonic plague invades the bloodstream, things go septic. Septicemic plague is even more deadly than the bubonic version. Victims can become delirious and their other symptoms are even more acute.

Ten to twenty percent of bubonic plague cases reach the lungs to become pneumonic plague. This is one of the deadliest and most easily transmitted forms of plague. Even with treatment, pneumonic plague kills about seventy five percent of its victims. Sufferers cough up blood, have difficulty breathing, and often develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

And now we know! Hooray!
Always Prepared!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Where Did Science Go?

Warning: This post is a rant.

I was in Barnes and Noble the other day when I happened upon a rather worrisome sight. My first stop at any book store is usually the popular science section, so I sauntered toward the giant "science" sign. There, I found biography, social science, and current events, but no actual science. This bothered me. Why was there no science in the science section? I didn't panic. I just asked one of the employees where the real science was. It was at the opposite end of the store...near the children's books and the sex books (tee hee). I'm hoping this was just a solitary case of mistaken sign placement (although it did bother me that they put science toward the end of the store, like they were ashamed of it. Poor science, I still love you.). Then, as I finished browsing, I noticed something else that was amiss. The entire science section was less than half the size of the teen paranormal area. Now that really bothers me. Books about teens who have paranormal crushes are fine and all, but since when is this subject trump ALL OF SCIENCE? Forgive me my bold capital letters. Surely this situation is a lone, silly mishap. If not, and it acts as a harbinger of where society is headed, then stock up on dry goods.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sexy Studs of Science: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Who’s sexier than Brad Pitt in his Thelma and Louise days? The answer is Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist extraordinaire. A graduate of Harvard and Columbia, Tyson is the current Director of the Hayden Planetarium. He is also a prolific science writer and has appeared on Nova, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and numerous television interviews. He was appointed by former President Bush to serve on two science committees and has won the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal – the highest award NASA grants to civilians. On top of all this, Tyson is also a wine expert and wonderful public speaker. And he has super powers. He destroyed Pluto. Seriously, look it up, Pluto is no longer a planet. This guy didn’t even need the Death Star to accomplish that. It is my theory that his power comes from his amazingly aristocratic mustache. Science should back me up on this.

Look into those eyes. You will get lost in those eyes. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dinosaur Victims

According to Hollywood and popular dinosaur reenactment shows, herbivores such as Protoceratops and Edmontosaurus existed for the sole purpose of being hunted and eaten in an entertaining manner. This is hardly fair. I mean, who wants their legacy to be “victim of awesome T-Rex.” And it’s not like these herbivores only died by getting hunted. They died in other ways too! They died from disease and mudslides and falls of moderate distances. The methodology of dinosaur death is a topic far too varied and exciting to confine. So I shall list a few herbivores often victimized by the media and provide an alternative death sequence for each. Enjoy!

Edmontosaurus: Often called the “Cattle of the Cretaceous,” these duckbills were rather numerous. They are often depicted being torn apart by Tyrannosaurus or a group of raptors. But picture this: An elderly male Edmontosaurus has lost the safety of the herd after being injured in a fight with another male. The injury has turned septic. So far, this story is predictable. But, instead our old pal getting torn apart by ninja raptors, he simply dies of infection. That’s right, infection. It happens.

Protoceratops: Protoceratops is constantly getting owned by Velociraptor. Ever since that discovery of a Protoceratops and Velociraptor fossilized mid-fight, these two dinos are almost always together in the public’s mind. And that’s fine. I mean, Velociraptor had to eat something. But Protoceratops were killed in other ways too. Imagine a nest full of cute little Protoceratops eggs. Now picture a rainstorm. Picture that rainstorm creating a torrent of muddy water washing away all those eggs. Boom. They never even get to hatch.
I'm not going to lie, these guys do look tasty.

Triceratops: Okay, we can be reasonably sure that Tyrannosaurus took down a Triceratops a time or two. But Triceratops was a tough-looking tank of a dinosaur, so T-Rex would have had its tiny hands full. I mean, if I were a predator, the Triceratops would have to be pretty sick or wounded for me to risk attacking it. So here is another scenario: A juvenile Triceratops is frolicking with its herd when a scary noise is heard. The herd panics and makes a run for it…in the juvenile’s direction. The young dino tries to keep ahead but lags a bit, trips, and gets crushed to death by its family.

So there we have it, three scenarios in which herbivores died in a manner not involving predators. Now, these dead hypothetical dinos were probably later torn apart and eaten by predators and scavengers, but that doesn’t count. Of course, I still love dino hunting scenes. I’d really appreciate one where any sort of Pachycephalosaurus gets torn apart. For some reason, I don’t really like the bone-heads. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Seals vs. Sea Lions

Although they both look like overweight dogs with flippers, seals and sea lions are a bit different from one another. Both are classified in the superfamily of Pinnipeds. But then they break into three groups; Phocidae (true seals), Otariidae (sea lions and fur seals), and Odobenidae (walruses).

(True) Seals: Animals belonging to the Phodicae branch are considered "true" seals. They have ear holes (no external ears), furry front flippers, and use their back flippers to power themselves through the water. Members of this group include; harp seals, harbor seals, hooded seals, monk seals, and leopard seals. They are cute, blubbery, and dislike club-wielding Canadians.
Save me from Canadians
I eat penguins

Sea Lions (and Fur Seals): These guys are Otariids. This group has external ears, hairless flippers, and propel themselves using their foreflippers. They can also maneuver better on land using their large foreflippers. Sea Lions include: the California and Stellar sea lion. Fur Seals include; the Galapagos fur seal, the Antarctic fur seal, and the Northern fur seal. Otariids enjoy ballancing balls on the ends of their noses, and jumping into expensive yachts in the Newport Beach Harbor.
A common sea lion task

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show

As we all know, the Arabian horse is the greatest breed of horse ever to grace humanity with its presence. This is a fact proven by science* and I love science. As a fangirl of the Arabian, the Scottsdale show was my Comicon. This is perhaps the largest Arabian horse show in the world, and it was full of the good, the bad, and the … well, Arabians are never ugly. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Arabian horses (and I pity your sad, sad souls), the Arabian is the oldest breed of horse (the breed goes back nearly 4,000 years). Originally bred by the Bedouins, these horses are known for their stamina, heat tolerance, intelligence, beauty, and loyalty to people. The Arabian is also one of the most easily identifiable horses with its high-set tail, dished head, large nostrils, arched neck, and short back. Their faces are expressive; their eyes are large and dark. Because the Arabian horse was so important to Bedouin war and life, it was regarded with the highest honor and respect. With the arrival of Islam, the Arabian horse gained status as a gift from God.

Now back to Scottsdale. Some of the classes I got to watch were Reining, English Pleasure, Hunter, Native Costume, Halter, Liberty, Dressage, and Sport Horse in Hand. Because I was only there for two days, I missed a lot (the show lasts for two weeks). Nevertheless, I learned a lot.

General Observations: Overall, I had a great time. The horses were gorgeous and in wonderful condition. Westworld, where the show was held, was spectacular. It is a HUGE facility. Even so, the show was crowded. It was nice to see so many non-Arabian horse people too. The competitors and barn representatives were a tight-lipped group that didn’t exude hospitality (the exception was Sheila Varian, of Varian Arabians, who is an equestrian Saint and High Priestess of Awesome). I was a bit disappointed that people weren’t as warm to visitors. I can’t really blame these people though, I mean, showing horses is stressful. On a philosophical note, I’m worried that the breed is getting too niche-oriented; halter horses only do halter, western horses only do western, etc. We are starting to see a major phenotypical divergence between say, park horses (who are starting to resemble Saddlebreds) and halter horses (who look like the offspring of angels and swans). One of the reasons I love the Arabian breed so much is that it can rock the performance world while still looking good. I just hope we can keep that up. A halter horse that can’t be ridden is almost useless; a park horse that moves, acts, and looks like a Saddlebred is…a Saddlebred with an Arabian pedigree.

Halter stance...but I liked this stallion. He didn't win...
Individual Classes: I didn’t get to see much dressage, reining or hunter, but what I did see was enjoyable. I found the English pleasure and park type classes to be fascinating, but I’m not too familiar with this style of riding to pass any judgments. It looked like people in tuxedos and bowler hats were riding horse-shaped rockets. Native costume was super fun to watch, definitely a crowd-pleaser. Liberty (where they let the horse loose in the arena for two minutes and watch it run around to music) was also popular, although I think the wrong horse won. Sport horse in-hand was really neat. I got to see the purebred gelding class compete and I found these horses to be of very high caliber. This class is a bit like halter, but focuses more on traditional sport horse movement (hunter, dressage, etc.) and sound conformation. The horses are presented in English bridles with their manes and tails braided. It is lower-energy than the “regular” halter classes, but I was impressed by the horses. Overall, they were solid, athletic horses who managed to keep Arabian “type.” The Sport horse handlers were also a bit more conversational. As for “regular” halter, I have a love/hate relationship with the event. I love how much energy and exuberance it exhibits. I hate how much rough handling went on and how much politics played a role in the rankings. By “rough handling,” I mean constant yanking on the lead rope and threatening with the whip. A number of the horses (yearlings especially) looked tense and frightened. Any incorrect movement, such as breaking into a canter or having the incorrect stance during lineup, would bring a crank on the lead and a snap on the back legs with the whip. I do not think this shows the breed in the best light. Outsiders don’t understand what’s going on or what the judges are looking for. A number of spectators asked me about judging criteria because they had NO IDEA based on what they were watching. And this is where politics comes in. To be fair, I can understand that the Big Name Trainers are going to get the Big Name Horses. This makes sense. But there is something amiss when I can name the top three places in any halter class based solely on who holds the lead line. Give me a list of the handlers/trainers and I’ll tell you which horses are going to place…I don’t need to see the horses. Okay, rant from the peanut gallery is over, time for pictures!
Native Costume
I could'a been a contender.
Halter Action
The crowd favorite.
Won his class and got Reserve Champion for Junior  Stallions. 

Nothing says "Arabian Horse Show" like an owl.
Yearling Halter


The Boggs himself. One of the top 3 halter trainers

Sport Horse. This handler lady was nice to me.
Half-Arab Native Costume