Try This at Home: Variations on Rihanna’s “Umbrella”

I love live music, and I also like listening to or watching recordings of people performing. It’s nice to hear them play either original compositions or popular music, and sometimes the alternate, simplified versions can be quite good! In fact there are times I prefer listening to a simple piano rendition of a song over the full recording. I’m also impressed by the skill and creativity amateur musicians may possess, and now, with the Internet, they can make their performances available for all. It’s interesting to see in how many different styles a song can be played.

To demonstrate this, I’d like to showcase a song and then show a number of performances of a “cover” of the song. The song I’ve selected is “Umbrella” by the artist Rihanna. There are actually a number of major artists covering the song; I’ve omitted any well-known performers.

To begin with, here is the original song:

This young woman, Marie Digby, plays in a sweeter, less intense style.

Next is a young man named Ben Deignan who has performed at a coffee shop my friend frequents. It’s jazzier version, not so much like the other renditions. (thanks Jux2p0ze!)

These two harmonize quite well. An electric keyboard provides the percussion.

The next artist doesn’t allow her videos to be embedded in other sites, so I can’t show it here. She uses a ukelele instead of a guitar—it’s a refreshing bit of variation—so you can see the video at YouTube.

And finally, probably my favorite: though having hair that long would certainly annoy me, it’s a good cover and I was especially amused by the cardboard box percussion.

Please feel free to share any finds of your own!

This post is dedicated to Skim.


Snow and Darkness

As snow is falling over much of the United States and we face the beginning of another work week, I thought I would leave you with one of my favorite poems, the ever-popular “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I suppose everyone draws his own meaning from poetry; I find the imagery to be so powerful and he conveys such emotion that this is one of the few (or only) poems I have memorized

Everyone should memorize at least one poem.

Search Terms

I always find it interesting to see how people end up at my weblog. One nice feature of WordPress is that they list the search terms people use to find this site (if those keywords are contained within the URL). Don’t worry: there isn’t any identifying information attached to them. I have no idea if the user using a particular search viewed more than one page, what pages he viewed, where he is located, and so forth. I just get a list of search terms.

Here are some of the more interesting terms people have used to find my weblog:

Continue reading “Search Terms”

Zero Divided by Zero

I was quite disappointed to read a BBC news story about the a new “theory” that supposedly solves the difficulty of dividing zero by zero (thanks to the blog “Web Pruned by Dawdling Monkeys” for pointing it out). The article discusses a Dr. James Anderson from the United Kingdom who has declared that this value should be called “nullity” and that with this definition, he has solved a “1,200-year-old problem.” While I was annoyed enough to write about it myself, I would actually recommend you read more about this incident at “Good Math, Bad Math,” which is much better written than what I could do.

First, some background. In mathematics zero divided by zero is considered indeterminate (and is undefined, as well). In approximate lay terms, this is because if we try to evaluate it in different ways, we get different results. In general, division by zero is not defined in mathematics. One way to look at this is to think of division as the inverse of multiplication. When we ask what twelve divided by three is, another way to word it would be to ask what number, when multiplied by three, gives twelve.

Continue reading “Zero Divided by Zero”

Test post—please disregard

Please disregard this test post.

If you feel let down at the lack of a new entry here, please read about the plight of the six health care workers in Libya. They are accused of deliberately infecting children with HIV and are facing the death penalty despite a wealth of evidence pointing to their innocence. Nature has an article on the most recent evidence.

“Displaced Katrina Couple” Asks For New Home, Then Sells It

I was rather taken aback to read this story in today’s Chicago Tribune: A Memphis church, in addition to performing other charitable acts, decided to donate a home to one family displaced by Hurricane Katrina. After conducting dozens of interviews, they selected Joshua Thompson and his (questionable) wife, Delores. Woody Baird of the Associated Press writes the following, published in the Chicago Tribune:

MEMPHIS — A church that wanted to do something special for Hurricane Katrina victims gave a $75,000 house to a couple who said they were left homeless by the storm.

But the couple sold the place without ever moving in and went back to New Orleans.

The shocking thing, though, is how little their behavior seems to bother the couple. Interviewed by WHBQ-TV, they make no effort to tell their side or offer any explanation; the show no shame and treat the incident with contempt. The Tribune story continues

“Take it up with God,” an unrepentant Joshua Thompson told a TV reporter after it was learned that he and the woman he identified as his wife had flipped the home for $88,000.

“Our hearts went out to them,” said Jean Phillips, a real estate agent and member of the Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ. “They actually begged for the home.”

The church was also shocked by an ungrateful interview the couple gave with WHBQ-TV in Memphis.

Words can’t properly convey the couple’s attitude; you must watch the interview to see their behavior. You may see it at CNN’s web site.

Unfortunately, incidents like these lead to a lack of desire to donate to victims of natural disasters or others in need. It’s sad when people take advantage of others’ generosity.