### Report from the voting lines

This morning after meeting with some of my students, I grabbed my voter guide and headed down to my local voting place, the Marlinda Convalescent home. In the era of Obamacare, you can imagine how crowded that place was, what with all the death panelists hovering around. After wading my way through the mobs of black and brown people committing in-person voter fraud (CA has no voter ID initiative! You can imagine the chaos.), I grabbed a stack of ballots and went to my booth.

First up: CA has two propositions for funding state public education. Being a conservative, and a fairly well paid one at that, this was an easy call. No more welfare-addicted, single moms mooching on my tax dollars. NO and NO.

Next: Repeal of the state death penalty. Um, no thanks. My policy is to execute 'em all and let Peter sort  'em out at the pearly gates.

I didn't really understand the other ones. Nothing about gun rights, abortion or stopping teh gays, so I didn't have any horses left in the CA proposition races. So it was off to the senate. More easy votes: let's support the job creators by keeping taxes low. R, R, R...

Finally, the Big One. However, this wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. As I tried to push the bubble for Romney, my hand jerked over to Obama. I just couldn't help it. I guess John Sununu was right about how Colin Powell only endorsed Obama because he's black. Just as I can't resist fried chicken and talking out loud in movie theaters, I just couldn't help but vote for Obama. Weird. Fortunately, I live in one of the 49 states that doesn't matter for the presidential election. That would have been a disaster if I lived in Ohio.

Well, I have once again put in my time as a citizen. It feels good. Here's hoping that places like D.C. and Minnesota don't force us all to gay-marry, and instead succeed in protecting our democracy by suppressing the minority vot---I mean, suppressing voter fraud. As for the presidential race, it was an interesting ride. I thought that people were going to get distracted by the issues, like health care and stuff. Fortunately, the debates helped sort things out and caused us to come together as a nation to judge the candidates not on their ideas, but on the content of their pandering. The only challenge left is to see if I can get any work done today as I busily ignore the polling numbers so I can pretend to be surprised by tonight's outcome. Remember, if Romney fails, blame it on Sandy!

### 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…

### Finding Blissful Clarity by Tuning Out

It's been a minute since I've posted here. My last post was back in April, so it has actually been something like 193,000 minutes, but I like how the kids say "it's been a minute," so I'll stick with that.
As I've said before, I use this space to work out the truths in my life. Writing is a valuable way of taking the non-linear jumble of thoughts in my head and linearizing them by putting them down on the page. In short, writing helps me figure things out. However, logical thinking is not the only way of knowing the world. Another way is to recognize, listen to, and trust one's emotions. Yes, emotions are important for figuring things out.
Back in April, when I last posted here, my emotions were largely characterized by fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and despair. I say largely, because this is what I was feeling on large scales; the world outside of my immediate influence. On smaller scales, where my wife, children and friends reside, I…

### 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…