The dog days of summer bring more nerdiness. Eric Simons tells us why we root, root, root for the home team; Consuelo Crosby reveals some of the incredible things that structural engineers are able to get away with, and Savino Sguera shares the labwork he does for one of California’s marijuana testing faciltiies.

DJ Citizen Zain, Rick, and Rebecca help you slide into summer. Be there and be square!

Monday 7/29
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
The New Parkway, 474 24th St, Oakland
(less than half-a-mile from the 19th St BART)
All Ages
FB event
g+ event


If you’re a sports fan like me, or you’ve ever just sat, like Jane Goodall, and observed a sports fan in its natural habitat, you can be forgiven for thinking that this is probably the stupidest, most irrational thing that human beings do. And that several billion people do it, with such enthusiasm, is all the more puzzling. But it’s not so irrational as it looks on the surface, which is what we’re going to talk about. We’ll start with the basics: what happens in a sports fan’s brain and body when they watch other people playing a game? Like what, for example, is happening to the testosterone of those young men setting city buses on fire following a game their team won. (Won! Seriously!) Then we’ll talk about some of the ways we control and interpret those reflexes — the way we use the newer parts of the brain to tell the reptile parts to fall in line, the way our apparent lack of free will in following the Cleveland Indians through misery and more misery is in fact not so pre-determined (or irrational) after all. And then we’ll talk about all the ways our high, refined culture influences our biology, with illustrative pictures of a dude who has worn a gorilla suit to every Oakland Raiders games for the last sixteen years. Perhaps, after seeing this guy’s wedding march, you will have some questions. I’ll leave a little extra time.

Eric Simons is a San Francisco based writer, the author of The Secret Lives of Sports Fans: The Science of Sports Obsession, and co-host of the Field Trip Podcast. He’s taught reporting at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and written a previous book, Darwin Slept Here, about Charles Darwin’s four years on mainland South America. He is a sports fan, much to his own consternation, and considers that maybe if any of the teams he likes ever won anything, even once, he could just quit and happily devote his life to gardening.

THAT SHOULD FALL DOWN… by Consuelo Crosby

90% of your daily existence relies on a built structure, yet no one knows what a structural engineer does. In reply, I say I design buildings. Oh, like an architect. No. Contractor? No, I defy gravity. Oh, you’re a plastic surgeon. Not to be defeated, we engineers go where no man, er, woman, has gone before in creating structures that defy the Forces of Nature. At times, the systems we design mimic the impossibility of science fiction and the courage of superheroes. And then there ones that seem dreamed up over too many shots of tequila. From cantilevers dangling 4000 feet above ground to a 1600 foot tall building relying on giant steel balls, the structures on this planet are testament to the wackiness of humans with too much freedom to complete their science projects. I will take you through the structures that have stood the test of time but really, should fall down.

After her idea of becoming a record album cover artist was dismantled by unapproving parents, Consuelo Crosby went on to use both sides of her brain as an engineer with creative aesthetic and sexy boots. She has worked over 25 years in the industry regardless of the hazing of being the first female hired by a large S.F. firm at the tender age of 21. Some of her handiwork can be seen in Oracle Headquarters in Redwood City and the highrise at the corner of 8th and Figueroa in L.A. Consuelo’s efforts at infusing the structural engineering profession with femininity are evident in a collaborative website, Nerdynista.com.


What are YOU smoking? The director of the nation’s largest cannabis analysis laboratory guides us through the scientific secrets behind cannabis and its effects on people. What begins as a plant defense against invaders turns out to be a powerful medicinal tool for the human body (with the help of an entourage of terpenoid sidekicks). Whether a smoke, vapor, spray, capsule, tincture, cream, or suppository, these compositions have the potential to be controlled from growth through extraction and processing to achieve customized medicines directed at particular ailments. None of this can be achieved without studying cannabis in agonizing detail through the eye of modern technology and the edges scientific thought.

Savino Sguera has been the Laboratory Director and Chemist of Steep Hill Labs in Oakland, CA for the past two years. His time spent there has seen the lab grow from a small room to a large facility in East Oakland conducting analytical tests for potency, fungus, and residual chemicals using gas and liquid chromatography as well as mass spectrometry and near-infrared spectroscopy. Savino earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University in 2008 specializing in cell and tissue culture, drug delivery, and biomedical devices. Since then he has worked to fabricate composite prosthetics, orthotics, and medical devices as well as compounding pharmaceuticals.