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"Mathematics in History"

October 30, 2006

From Ben Rushing, Professor of Mathematics.

I'm a mathematics professor at a publicly funded school in Louisiana. I have a passion for great music, for teaching, and for aviation.

Here's a bonus assignment I gave my students.


"Mathematics In History"

There was a tragedy.
There was a discovery of a new process.
There was mathematics.
There was an airplane.
There is music.

Answer the questions based on your research.

What tragedy occurred? Give a brief review of the events of the tragedy.

What new process was discovered? Give a brief review of what was discovered and by whom.

Outline and explain the mathematics that was involved in the analysis of the tragedy. Include information about how velocity was an important aspect of the analysis. Summarize the mathematics involved.

What airplane was involved? Outline how it was used and provide any pertinent information about the airplane. Be brief.

What about the music? Author? Lyrics? Recorded by?

Offer any additional thoughts or comments about what you discovered.

Hint: "Cold Missouri Waters"

The quality of your report will be reflected in the quantity of your bonus.


So far, one student has turned in their work. It was outstanding, by the way.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 5:15 PM | Comments (13)

Sam Pacetti Shines - Check out "Union"

October 29, 2006

Ten Years ago Sam Pacetti released "Solitary Travel." He won "Best New Artist" at Falcon Ridge. He was 22. Unfortunately, over the past decade he's been hanging more drywall than playing music. The other day while working on future playlists, I put on "Union," the new one with partner Gabriel Valla. Whoa. One song after another, I could not concentrate on my computer screen.

Sam's delivery is passionate, confident, and as attention grabbing as Mark O'Connor's playing. His own compositions are full of metaphor and imagery, and the songs chosen by other writers seem made for him.

The guitar leads provided by Gabriel Valla embellish Sam's delivery. Gabe won the Merlfest flatpicking prize - also about 10 years ago. He played some with the late Larry Rice, but otherwise he seems to have been in hiding too.

This CD simply will not let them disappear any longer.

Here'a line from Sam's "Augustine," a passionate rekindling of an old love:

"You are the moon that shines upon my dream in wakefulness,
I am the sorcerer that casts the spell to calm your seas.
And on your beach I run, and on your waves I play
I take flight with the gulls, I am changin' everyday"

They also chose Verlon Thompson's "Christians and Outlaws," a moving reflection on reincarnation, focusing on the poetry of the concept:

"Last time I came through here I was the summer wind,
I whispered on your wheat fields, and called in the cool rain.
I carried all your laughter, and your sweet old fiddle too,
Right up through the rafters, as I sang 'em to the harvest moon."

All of this verse comes alive when it flows through the music - please listen to these two songs - and the rest of the album for that matter. The more Folk Alley grows, the more CDs I receive that I can't get to. My gosh, I almost missed "Union." Don't you.

Jim Blum

Posted by Jim Blum at 9:31 PM | Comments (4)

Life (and Near Death) on the Road

October 24, 2006

There are many things that give us a common thread here at FA and help make us the "community" that we are.

Without a doubt, right after the music itself, are the "Road Stories" that everyone can relate to (and hopefully laugh at). It was this idea that prompted me to email Ann and Linda to see if they would be interested in starting a blog of them. I said that the only possible drawback would be the quite REAL potential of being the longest (and possibly the funniest) blog in FA's history!

In my years as a working musician, I was actually only On-The-Road for only one short year. Actually I should say one LONG year as I hated every minute of it. There are some people who love it and some who don't. Traveling wipes me out, and I was VERY happy to settle down and to do film scores and studio engineering (and sleep in the same bed every night). Even with my short stint, I managed to have a few stories, but there is one that always makes me laugh out loud to this day. So here goes..

My friend John and I were a short-lived folk duo, with me playing the guitar and he singing. We were booked along with four other acts at a large auditorium in the middle of New York State just over the Massachusetts border. We both lived in Cambridge, MA (Boston) so it was going to be a somewhat long drive.

It was November, and we had heard of the possibility of snow, but in the Northeast US, it was basically a daily possibility. So, we did not bring any real 'winter' coats, etc. with us as we figured it would just be a quick run from the can into the auditorium.

Well, it turned into a major blizzard WHILE we were on the road. We still weren't really nervous about anything with the weather, but the fact that we were FIRST up to play that night made us drive a little faster than we should have, given the conditions.

We were about a mile away from the place with now JUST enough time to get there, run up on stage and begin playing, when we slid off the road. We both tried to push/pull the car free, but could not, and the fact that we had not seen another car for at least five miles told us we had better walk it.

So, dressed in only our sport coats, with no boots or gloves, we started the mile long walk in almost white-out conditions. I had the guitar case handle tightly gripped with my right hand and was trying to hold the top of my sport coat together at the top with the other, as the wind was constantly whipping us as we tried to walk. I wasn't worrying about myself so much, but John had just gotten over the WORST, and LONGEST case of laryngitis I had ever witnessed, and this frigid air was not doing him ANY good at all!

Anyway, we get there just in time to be LAST up instead of first. The MC is furious with us and yells that we have less than 60 seconds to get up on stage!!!

Well, I put the guitar case down and I then realize that my hand has literally frozen itself around the handle and I am not able to move or straighten out ANY of my fingers to let it go. I 'peel' each finger loose, get the guitar out, hope that is still more or less in tune (and has not broken a string), and run up to meet John on stage.

The MC (still very outwardly upset) doesn't even introduce us - he just points his finger at where we should be, and we begin our first song - a Spanish song that required me to do a continuous flamenco roil while John sang a melody line over it.

I sit down to play. Since my hand is still a frozen 'claw', I immediately get two frozen fingers deeply imbedded under the third and fifth strings and cannot get them out because I still can't straighten my fingers out yet. So, in one HARD spastic/jerking motion, I pull my ENTIRE arm straight out away from my body so my hand is now as now level with my face. Of course, the non-musical noise that emanates from the guitar is almost as scary as my body language!

It is then that I look up at John. He is standing there, his mouth IS moving, but there are NO words coming out of it!

The MC quickly ran up on stage, and with a really angry delivery, said..
"And finally, I like to thank our last act of the night.... "POLIO and MUTE"!!!

TOOOOOO FUNNY!!! (Of course, it wasn't then).

Anyway, I can't WAIT to hear some of yours.

Paul Marks

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 2:26 PM | Comments (30)

The First Song in My iPod

October 23, 2006

I finally finished paying off my student loans from grad school (and, yes, 10 years is a very long time) so I bought myself a little prezie - a new iPod. I debated whether I was going to take it back until I couldn't any longer and opened the box. Then, Linda said, "What's going to be the first thing you put on it?" Up until that point, probably Asylum Street Spankers (since I have the CDs filed alphabetically). But, then, the decision seemed suddenly more important and deliberate. So, after much hard thinking, the entry order went: 1. Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, Drum Hat Buddha; 2. REM, Life's Rich Pageant; 3. Barenaked Ladies, Gordon (and so on, it's going to take me a few month to get everything loaded). Three albums that I just really love listening to, and do so often. If you found yourself in possession of an iPod (or similar, less sexy, Mp3 device), what would be the first three things you uploaded?

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 5:14 PM | Comments (27)

On Getting Skunked

October 18, 2006

A friend was telling me how his neighbor's dog had gotten "skunked", recently, while they were out for a bike ride. Usually, his friend is able to reign in the leash in time, but this time the little dog was too quick to lunge and startled the little beastie, and got skunked...royally.

I was thinking about how interesting relationships can go south on the rare occasion, and how one party usually gets 'skunked' in the process of the parting. Trouble is, sometimes you never know quite what spooked the stinky little seemed so pleasant and beautiful and easy going until that fateful moment. And sometimes you never see what hits you until you have a face full of stink, and then when you finally crack open an eye to look, the critter is *poof* gone!

Now, the hard part isn't getting over the incident, you can mostly easily forgive the shooter its "oops!"...the hard part is to get the stink off of you, and for this I have no good solution. In a way, if you're still in love with the stinker, you really don't smell the stink after a while, but others sure can!

I've looked to different songs to help give relief for this wretched condition, and the only one I can come up with is, "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" from the Rogers & Hammerstein musical, "South Pacific". But we all know how that shampooing never worked for Nelly Forbush, who overcame her fears and went right back to her exotic fella, that example really never washes in my book.

What songs have you found of help to get over a lost or missing love? I'm not into revenge songs, so leave those out please, although I'm quite certain they might be cathartic!

Posted by JoLynn Braswell at 12:10 PM | Comments (86)

It's a CD opener!

October 17, 2006

Everyone who became a Folk Alley member in the recent fund drive should be getting their thank you gifts in the mail right about now. Part of your "fan kit" is a keychain with a CD opener attached. Slide a plastic-wrapped CD through the channel and a small blade magically slices through the packaging so that you can get to the CD. Once you've used it, you'll never jab at a CD with car keys, a ballpoint pen, your thumbnail, a paperclip or anything else that kinda looks sharp ever again. But don't run your finger through the channel - just trust me, it's slicey.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 9:21 AM | Comments (8)

Sting Plays Lute on TV

October 10, 2006

And... it's on purpose. As '80s rockers age, they're getting mighty inventive. Sting, formerly of The Police and the man who wailed "Roxanne," is out with an album of lute music that sounds, pretty much, like a cross between '80s pop and the Renaissance - and he's performing everywhere, from the Today Show to late night. Songs from the Labyrinth is out on Deutsche Grammophon - a hardcore classical label - and Sting is joined by Edin Karamazov, a bonafide lute virtuoso. What's up with that? Sting singing Latin with his lute?

What's next, Anonymous 4 singing bluegrass? Well, yes. The female quartet known for their a capella renditions of medieval music have teamed up with Darol Anger and Scott Nygaard for a tour roughly around Gloryland, the Harmonia Mundi CD the group recorded with Anger and Mike Marshall that concentrates on spirituals.

The strangest pairing I've heard about recently, though, may be Cindy Cashdollar and Rod Stewart. No, they're not dating (although with Rod, anything is possible), but she is out on tour with him following the release of Still the Same today, a collection of (wait for it) classic rock hits of the mostly '80s that obviously benefit from Cashdollar's stellar steel guitar work.

So, who's next? I have calls into Bono and Joshua Bell - they seem likely candidates.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 9:36 AM | Comments (23)

The Kent State Folk Festival - Who Wants a T-shirt?

October 8, 2006

The line-up for the 40th Kent State Folk Fest has finally been announced (and not a minute too soon - it's only 6 weeks away!). It's a great collection of concerts that really runs the gamut of what goes into Folk Alley's stew pot - from David Wilcox on Nov. 8 and a legendary group of performers that includes Odetta, Tom Paxton and Loudon Wainwright III on Nov. 18 to conclude the shindig. In between there's Asleep at the Wheel (11/11), Donna the Buffalo (11/15), The Avett Bros. (11/16), and a very special concert with Abigail Washburn and her Sparrow Quartet (Casey Driessen, Ben Sollee and the unmatched talent of Bela Fleck) on Nov. 17. Tickets for all of these are on sale now.

If you want to catch me, there's a good chance that I'll be at the shows selling T-shirts and/or CDs (for sure, I'll be at the Kent Stage for Stacy Mitchhart on Folk Alley 'Round Town night on Nov. 10 and the free workshops on Nov. 18 from noon to 5 p.m.). And, if you're lucky (?), I'll have my ukulele along as well.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 9:35 PM | Comments (11)


October 6, 2006

We've had several calls and E-mails about the Christmas music playing in the stream today. Trust me, I really love holiday music, and even I wouldn't play it this early (actually, that's a lie. I thought about putting a CD on this morning, but didn't because I fear the stoning that would follow). Chris is on vacation, but Linda is on the case. We should be back to normal, fall music soon. Thanks to everyone who let us know!

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 3:12 PM | Comments (11)

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