### Stuck in my head: The Thermals

On a chilly June evening in San Francisco, way back in ought 1 (or was is ought 2?), I stood in line at the Bottom of the Hill with a group of friends waiting to see one of my favorite bands, Rainer Maria. As was our custom, we showed up an hour and a half after the doors opened so we wouldn't have to endure the first opening act. Some anonymous band was finishing up their set and we grabbed some cheap beers and chatted. Then something amazing happened on stage. The second band marched up, announced tersely "We're the Thermals" and proceeded to explode in a brilliant, white-hot flash of awesomeness.

And that was my introduction to the pseudo-punk trio from Portland, Oregon, and I've been in rock-love ever since. I'm sure Rainer Maria was great, but I can't say I remember much from the headliners that fateful evening. I've seen The Thermals live three times and their energy is infectious enough to get even the emo-est of emo kids to throw off their patch-covered backpacks and nod their bespectacled heads to the beat (or just slightly off beat, as is their emo way of doing things). Don't believe me? Check out the video below.

If you liked that, you'll love their newest album. Here's a more recent video.

Update: Oh, oh, oh! I totally forgot to mention why I am on a The Thermals kick lately. The other night Erin and I were watching an episode of Weeds--downloaded in a perfectly legal fashion using modern TECHNOLOGY--and the end credits rolled along with a Thermals song. I just love it when two of my favorite things come together like that. I have a secret fantasy involving Les Savy Fav doing a cover of the Battlestar Galactica opening theme song.

erinjohn said…
i remember not being able to take my eyes off their bassist for their entire performance. she may yet be my biggest girl-crush :) oh how i miss drinking way too much budweiser and staying up way too late on a weeknight, hearing great live music.

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

### The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…

### The Long Con

Hiding in Plain Sight

ESPN has a series of sports documentaries called 30 For 30. One of my favorites is called Broke which is about how professional athletes often make tens of millions of dollars in their careers yet retire with nothing. One of the major "leaks" turns out to be con artists, who lure athletes into elaborate real estate schemes or business ventures. This naturally raises the question: In a tightly-knit social structure that is a sports team, how can con artists operate so effectively and extensively? The answer is quite simple: very few people taken in by con artists ever tell anyone what happened. Thus, con artists can operate out in the open with little fear of consequences because they are shielded by the collective silence of their victims.
I can empathize with this. I've lost money in two different con schemes. One was when I was in college, and I received a phone call that I had won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas. All I needed to do was p…