Saturday Concert Series #12: Dropkick Murphys

1280px-Dropkick_Murphys_Bluesfest

Earlier this week, the Dropkick Murphys sent a message to Wisconsin’s anti-union governor Scott Walker to “please stop using our music in any way.” The band has long given active support to workers’ rights while Walker, who inexplicably used “Shipping Up to Boston” to make his entrance at a speech in Iowa last week, has spent most of his tenure as governor squelching collective bargaining, pruning pensions, and slashing the education budget.

It’s not the first time left-leaning musicians have had to tell politicians with opposing ideologies to stop using their music. We can only guess that being politically conservative renders one unable to do research or discern the meaning of lyrics.

But enough about politics. We’d been scouting around since we began the Saturday Concert Series for a good full-length Dropkick Murphys show, and this week’s news prompted us back to the search. The video is from an outdoor festival in Germany; the sound is fantastic, the band gives a spirited performance, and the jigging crowd is exuberant. Set list includes “Going Out In Style,” “Wild Irish Rover,” union anthem “Whose Side Are You On,” and “Shipping Up to Boston,” among other favorites. We hope you enjoy it.

Dropkick Murphys: Hurricane Festival 2014, Germany

Photo by ceedub13 (Dropkick Murphys @ Bluesfest) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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The Falling and The Springing

Dewy Maple Leaf by P.L. Miller

from:: P.L. Miller’s Photoblog

“And some day there will be nothing left of everything that has twisted my life and grieved it and filled me so often with such anguish. Some day, with the last exhaustion, peace will come and the motherly earth will gather me back home. It won’t be the end of things, only a way of being born again, a bathing and a slumbering where the old and the withered sink down, where the young and new begin to breathe. Then, with other thoughts, I will walk along streets like these, and listen to streams, and overhear what the sky says in the evening, over and over and over.”

― Hermann Hesse

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Poll: Your Thoughts on the Super Bowl

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Math in Real Life

math

by Rob Colfax, Patrick Redding & P.L. Miller

Maybe it’s different now, but when many of us were in school, math was a terribly boring subject. If you weren’t good at math, you were bored because doing something for an hour each day that you don’t understand isn’t very interesting. On the other hand, if you were good at math, it was boring because you couldn’t imagine when you’d ever use it outside the classroom.

You probably had “story problems” where Joe leaves Austin on a train traveling 50 mph while Alex leaves Dallas in his car traveling 60 mph, and you try to figure out who’ll get to Waco first. And this probably meant very little, because will you ever want to go to Waco badly enough to figure out the fastest way to get there? Besides, you can look it up on Google now.

Math was not presented as something useful. Oh, sure, occasionally a teacher would try to muster up some enthusiasm and assure you that there were all sorts of real-life uses for what you were struggling to learn. You could tell, though. They didn’t believe it. They were teaching it because it was required.

What you need… what students need anytime, with any subject… is a way to relate it to life outside the classroom.

Who cares about the two-dimensional problems of a couple of guys on a Texas road trip?

You need practical applications.

Like these.

Math in Your Workplace

A group of coworkers are going on a trip out of town for training at another branch of your company. You’re the one who has to make the hotel arrangements. You want to get the most people into the fewest rooms, but there are some personal quirks that make this tricky.

Jack smokes and drinks and has bad personal hygiene. Brad spends his spare time reading religious literature – often aloud. Anna is a party girl. Cherie is a relatively easy-going mother of three. Marcus is a young 20-something, and you think he’s probably gay but he’s never said so “officially.” Harry is an older fellow, set in his ways and completely unenthusiastic about this whole trip. Nina is an anxiety-ridden perfectionist. Rumor has it that Anna and Jack are sleeping together, but you can’t ask them if it’s true, and anyway, HR will get their panties in a bunch if you assign opposite sexes to the same room. HR will also not appreciate it if your room assignments result in someone lodging a complaint about Brad’s evangelizing because that will prompt him to complain about having his religious freedoms curtailed. Draw a Venn diagram to indicate your possible room assignments.

Math and the Social Sciences

You go out drinking with your friends every Friday night at a bar where the cover charge is $5, draft beer is $1 per drink, and mixed drinks range from $4 margaritas to $9.50 martinis. One of your friends is very attractive and flirtatious and men often buy drinks for your whole table, but she usually leaves after a couple of hours. If you drink only margaritas and tip the bartender $2 for each drink, how long can you drink on $20? Bonus: how long before your blood alcohol content makes you forget that you set a $20 limit for yourself?

Math and Pet Economics

You have 4 cats who eat half a can of food each per day, and you’re trying to get the best deal on food that they actually like. Bitsy is allergic to salmon, Winky won’t eat beef, Lawrence will eat any flavor but only a few bites of it, and Gingersnap will eat as much as he can get of any flavor ever made, but he won’t eat the same flavor two days in a row. Also: you must get flavors with extra gravy for Winky because he’s on a medication that you have to hide in his food and you can only pull it off with the extra-gravy kind. The local pet supply store has individual cans of every flavor available for 60 cents per can. You can get the same food through a monthly service online for 50 cents per can (with free shipping) but you can’t buy single cans, only cases of 24. Fortunately, you can order variety packs where the case has 8 cans each of 3 different flavors. Unfortunately, the regular variety packs have both salmon and beef. Winky loves salmon, but it’s not the extra-gravy kind. The extra-gravy variety packs have beef, but no salmon. Without getting any kinds of food that no one will eat, how much will you spend each month to accommodate the special needs of your furry children?

Math and Music

You and your friends have a garage band, and you’ve put together a CD of your best material. Your bassist works as a graphic artist, so she designed the cover; her employer lets her burn your CDs on one of the workplace computers, as long as you buy your own materials. Your drummer works at an electronics discount store, where he uses his employee discount to purchase the blank CDs at $15 for a spindle of 100. You work at a copy shop where you can print the cover sheets free after hours as long as you buy your own paper, which you get for $4 per ream (500 sheets). Fans can buy the CD on your website or at your shows for $20. They can also download it instantly on your website for $10 or buy individual tracks online for $1 each. If you sell 500 copies of your CD at shows, 150 downloads of the CD online, and 750 single-track downloads, how many of you can quit your day jobs? Bonus question: how many of those “free” cover sheets can you print before the manager checks the counter on the machine and fires you?

Math in Weights and Measures

You weigh 180 lbs and your spouse weighs 250 lbs. You have a 95-lb dog, who likes to ride in the back area of your 2-door hatchback. If the space in the parking lot of the pet store is 9 feet wide and there are minivans parked on both sides of you, how many of you will have to climb out the hatchback to keep from dinging the vehicles on either side of your car?

Math and Medicine

Your doctor has written you a prescription for a medication, 4 tablets a day as needed, refillable for 3 months. For a 30-day supply, you’re charged a $15 copay. On about 1 day out of 3, you find that you only need to take 2 tablets. Your insurance company has notified you that in 6 months, it will no longer cover this medication, which means that you’ll pay the full price of $125 for a 30-day supply. You learn that if your doctor writes your prescription for a 90-day supply, you can save $16. What is your best course of action?

a) Consult with the pharmacist and your doctor to see if your insurance covers a reasonable substitute
b) Ask your doctor to begin writing your prescriptions for a 90-day supply
c) Sell your extra tablets to the local drug dealer for $1 per tablet
d) Stop taking this medication altogether, which is likely to result in hospitalization for you

Math and Risk Management

You are paid $25 per hour before taxes at your marketing agency job, and you typically work 8 hours each day. It snowed last night and the roads are very icy. You do not own a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, and your auto insurance deductible is $1000. Should your idiot boss realistically expect you to come in today?

Household Budgeting Math

Your rent each month is $700, which includes water but no other utilities. Your electric bill runs about $200 each month. Your phone service is $75 each month, internet is $75, and your car payment is $200. You have two children, Jake and Cody; Jake is an honor student who often goes on parent-funded school trips, and Cody is an average student who spends most of his time watching TV or playing games online. You spend about $750 each month on groceries, gas and incidentals. Your job pays you $15 per hour and you work 40 hours per week; you clear about $500 per week after taxes and insurance. However, you get a notice that your rent is going up $25 per month and will no longer include water, which the landlord estimates will cost you around $50 per month. On top of this, your supervisor is told to cut everyone’s hours by 10%. How much in the hole will you be after one month of this, and which of the children do you consider selling first?

Math and Chemistry

Chuck drops 1 package of Mentos into a 2-ltr bottle of Coke. Caitlyn uses 2 packages of Mentos for a 1-ltr bottle of Coke, and dances around in her bikini while her cat plays the piano. Who gets the most hits on YouTube?

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And Make Up Stories

Tree Over Books

by Patrick Redding

I wake at six o’clock, too early to get up, too dark. My head aches, wakes up the little bird who reminds me to take some more pills. They never run out all at the same time. Always I’m left with one lingering symptom or another, nothing ever coming out even. Everything coming out odd. I take more pills to complement the ones still in my system, go back to bed and hope everything comes out right the next time I wake. It doesn’t; the ones I took merely slowed down the release of the others, so I wake up stoned.

We talk about the movie we saw yesterday, a surreal wash of free-associating forms that slipped from one reality to another as easily as a dream. A shared vision, a way of seeing invisible things, a lucid dream extending beyond the rectangle of canvas, encroaching so subtly that my own reality shifts and becomes questionable. Hubcaps become dinner plates. A birthday candle, cloned and copied, becomes a torchlight parade. The boundaries of reality are mostly imaginary anyway, cosmic longitude and latitude lines. We keep them there for comfort.

Suppose everyone is an artist, capable of altering the focus, shifting the view, in such a way that the viewer will question their own perceptions for months, years, afterward. Suppose we are all simultaneously artist and viewer, audience and participant.

Not everyone would be cut out for such an art show, of course; some would go mad, blathering on about angels and fire, having to be sedated, medicated, quarantined before they infected the others. Some would be disappointed because they expected a picture of melting watches and instead got their own house full of clocks mangled into shapes so bizarre they’ll never be able to explain to the cleaning lady. They’ll require plastic surgery to remove the dripping Timex from their arm. None of them will ever be able to tell time again, and why would they want to?

I have no idea what time it is. Time for breakfast, she says, listening to the yowling of my stomach. Wasn’t it sick last night? Was that where all this started? It’s empty now. The sun is out, and I’m warm, and there is a sparrow nesting in the bed beside me but we must get up, get dressed. Was I supposed to be at work today? No? No school either? Then let us nest, let us rest awhile longer. Let us lie among the fresh white sheets and make up stories and flirt with words.

But the growling drives us out, and she forages in the kitchen and comes flittering through the hallway with bottles of juice and cherry cheese bear claws. She comments on a preview we saw at the movies, something with Donald Sutherland. She isn’t talking about the preview itself so much as about Donald Sutherland, who, she informs me, is incredibly hot, now that he’s old enough to be interesting. She isn’t old enough to have seen him when he was younger except in late-night movies rerun on Channel 17 when she was in grade school. This is how she entertains me while I brush my teeth and take inventory of my bones and do a system check to see which joints might function properly today and which ones won’t.

I’m stuck at the sink; my head feels fine but my back feels twice its age (done got old, can’t do the things I used to do, at least not without help straightening out the next morning) so she slathers it in menthol and pops it back into a standing position so I don’t feel quite so much like Darwin’s unmentioned ape-cousin. It will stick again when I sit down in the study, but as the day grows older my bones grow younger and by late afternoon I’ll be doing things I ought to know better than doing again.

She reads my scribbled notes from a dream in the middle of the night and promptly diagnoses it as unresolved frustration with my mother. “How very Freudian,” I remark, watching her drain the last drop of juice from my bottle. She shrugs, grins, elaborates as she reads my notes aloud: I received a text message on my phone but it was in the form of a crossword puzzle; it was from Mrs. Pitts, an elderly lady who lived across the way when I lived on the other side of town, and Mrs. Pitts wanted me to call so she could tell me all about the terrible things going on in the neighborhood.

Cross words from an old lady, the little bird chirps, perching on the arm of my chair. She dissects the pun of Mrs. Pitts; her name a sardonic metaphor for a peach of a woman, the hard, bitter, poisonous core hidden under fuzzy, saccharine platitudes. My mother always calls to tell me who’s sick or dying or dead back home, bless their hearts. I don’t know most of them; I moved away more than half a lifetime ago. The roll call of the dead never ends. It’s a small town; you’d think they’d eventually run out of people. The implication is that it’s all my fault, that none of these terrible things would ever have happened if I hadn’t left.

Displaced guilt, the little bird coos, grooming my disheveled hair. Don’t let them impose their reality on yours. The sun is out and the sky is blue – let us lie in the cool green grass and burrow in the colored leaves and formulate a theory of clouds as continents in some other more mutable reality. Let us adopt some acorns as our children and give them the names of gods and watch them grow and stretch their roots in the good, dark earth and wave their branches in the air – conductors of a magnificent neo-transcendental symphony.

The little bird flits away and I hear her tinkering with the stereo, putting on a Randy Newman song I haven’t heard in years, “In Germany Before the War.” I don’t have this on disc – or on tape or vinyl or anything, for that matter; I lost it years ago and never got around to replacing it. But realities blur and bend and fold themselves over, sometimes they do, and she plays the song straight from the memory in my head (an unreliable media, to be sure – not nearly as secure as a CD and far less convenient than a USB drive). “We lie beneath the autumn sky, my little golden girl and I.” Forlorn piano, haunting voice. “I’m looking at the river but I’m thinking of the sea.” Thinking of the sea. Thinking of the sea. Thinking I can see.

I close my eyes and we are lying on the crunchy frost-bitten heather of the bald on Ragged Mountain, underneath the wide open sky. A huge white bird circles overhead, sweeping spirals as its feathers catch the sunlight, shifting from white to silver and gray, back to white. It circles, predatory, waiting. Could it pick me up, bear me away like so much carrion? I feel her clasp my hand. No – it couldn’t. It doesn’t even look real, I think. As I watch, it flies higher and higher until it disappears. Out of sight, out of mind. Out of mind, out of being. What is real? The afternoon sun is warm, and my bones breathe fire and drink electricity. That is real. I half-close my eyes and drift into shimmering dreams of golden birds. I am born again, a new man. Let us lie here awhile and make up stories.

© Copyright 2005 by Patrick Redding. Republished 2011, 2015.

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Sahara Sex

Sahara Sex by Zengael

“Sahara Sex” by Zengael. Mixed media on canvas.

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Weekend Wrap-Up Meta-Blog: An Experiment

by Rob Colfax

We thought we’d try something a little different for us this weekend. Johanna says she’s “sick enough of TV to throw it out the window” and doesn’t want to write about TV for a good long while. I try to support our writers (and I certainly agree that no one should have to watch TV if they don’t want to), so when we all sat down this week for staff meeting, someone suggested a weekend wrap-up sort of thing “only with dogs in party hats, or maybe polar bears.” My dog doesn’t want to wear a party hat, and I’m pretty sure my wife would cut off something vital if I brought home a polar bear, so I guess this will be the “lite” version.

Here’s what happened this week at Gatewood:

On Sunday, Johanna gave us “Sunday Night Fantasy Time with Galavant and the Librarians,” a quick review of what she’s been watching while her normal Sunday night TV is overrun with football.

Monday’s featured art was the very surreal “Salt & Pepper Shakers at Sunset” from photographer R. Nial Bradshaw.

Tuesday’s poetry was “Heartless Mindless,” a short but thought-provoking piece from Hugh Mitchell, with equally unsettling artwork from Tom Banwell.

Wednesday we had a bit of humor with “21 (Other) Uses for a Box of Condoms” from Patrick Redding and “Queen Z.” (Don’t ask me who “Queen Z” is; I don’t know, have never met her, but apparently she’s quite the character.)

Thursday’s poll involved a “Bizarre Endgame Scenario” and if you haven’t voted yet, you definitely should. Current vote stands at 33% for polar ice cap meltdown, 33% for robot rebellion/AI takeover, and 33% for WW III complete annihilation.

Friday’s featured photography, “String Theory” from P.L. Miller, combined a musical theme with a physics pun.

The Saturday Concert Series (#11) featured The Dirty Dozen Brass Band in a rousing show at the Tourcoing Jazz Festival.

If you missed anything, here’s a chance to get caught up; as always, give a shout to our Special Editors’ Assistant @docnicholas to let us know what you liked. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and thanks for spending some time with us. See you again soon!

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