### Hang up and drive

You wanna know who I can't stand? Who really get's my blood boiling? People who text or talk on their cell phones while driving. I mean, the nerve! Is your phone call or text message more important than my safety? Do you know how many people die on the road each day because of people getting distracted by their little electronic toys? I don't know the exact numbers, but it must be, like, a lot people a year. A lot of blood spilled because you are stupid enough to check your incoming text message while driving.

Ugh! Look at you, sitting there at the light that turned green, like, 1.5 seconds ago. 1.5 seconds? Frickin, jeez. This guy!

That said, you know one situation in which I don't mind use of a cell phone while driving? When it's me driving and it's my cell phone. Texting while I'm driving is the exception to the rule I laid out above. When it's my cell phone, it belongs to me and it is therefor far more important than the safety of others. Why? Because when it comes to others, they aren't me! Duh.

To help you in your decision-making, here's a useful flow chart for deciding whether it's okay for an individual to use a cell phone while driving:

Figure 1: You cannot deny this is true.

So unless you'd like to feel the wrath of my horn honking in your general direction, Put. Your. Phone. Down. Now, sir.

And while you're hanging up and driving the way you're supposed to, I'm gonna look away from the road and finish writing this blog post on my cell phone.

### 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…