giraffe.heliacal.net is also known as irc.lfnet.org
PING giraffe.heliacal.net (22.214.171.124): 56 data bytes
PING irc.lfnet.org (126.96.36.199): 56 data bytes
Laszlo runs that IRC chat server, and bitcoin uses it to "bootstrap" to find other machines running bitcoin.
Unless you run with the -noirc switch, in which case it won't -- it will try to connect via a list of compiled-in 'seed nodes' (which I'll try really hard to remember to recruit somebody to update for the next release).
After you've run bitcoin once, it stores nodes you were able to connect with in the addr.dat file, so you can run -noirc just fine. But if everybody did that, newbies who just downloaded bitcoin would have a hard time finding people to connect with.