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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day Seven is a Prime for Celebrating Square Root Day

It's square root day! Thanks, Carrie, for the info.!
For those of you math-minded friends I have (a surprising number of you, actually), hope you enjoy it!
Have a root beer or something. Or leave a remainder! Whatever it is you kids do.

Warning: Maybe the seventh day is for resting, because I am dead dog tired and I have to admit, I'd rather be in bed than the crockpot at present. Gotta write something though.

Square roots had their day for me, and that day was about 7th grade. Sixth? I don't know, but their sudden reappearance caused me some concern. I feel that math is like any other foreign language to my brain and, with gross disuse, I forget major concepts. For instance, squares of stuff. And algebra. And how to accurately use decimal places. People who are able to do math in their heads truly impress me.

Back in school, do you ever remember starting an argument about not wanting to do homework with the justification "Why am I studying this anyway, I'll never need this stuff in the real world"?
Well kids, I'm here to tell you that you WILL need that stuff in the real world.
While trying to escape your desk job where you're never asked the square root of anything, you'll receive emails about fun people celebrating mathematical fun for themselves with the use of root vegetables, and the email will contain information about the square root of things, and you'll break into a cold sweat hoping you're not asked to discuss the concept before you click on the link explaining it, because you're not quite sure that square roots are what you remember them to be. That weird check mark design? The one that looks like it has scoliosis? Is that it? Or is that the logo for Visa? Have I paid that bill? Why am I not a responsible adult yet? Why can't I grapple with finance? Oh, probably because I can't remember what square roots are. That's it.

Long story short, stay in school!

Squares make me think of Hollywood Squares, the center square, squaredancing, checkerboards, Dorothy Gale's dress, picnic tablecloths, triscuits, wheat thins, the game Memory, chess, and then One night in Bangkok from the musical Chess.

[ASIDE: ABBA seems like it'd be a mathematical wonder. There's probably a square root of ABBA, and my guess is it's "Take a Chance," but I can't be sure. I only bring that up because one of the guys from ABBA wrote "One night in Bangkok." Really, give that song a listen or five, and I guarantee you'll also be in love.]

I saw a bumper sticker on a car that read "Chess players mate better." I chuckled. Then noticed the chess piece featured on the bumper sticker was a knight. That sent me down a perverted road of trying to figure out why the knight was on that sticker. Shouldn't it be the queen? She's got the most power. The most options for moves. So then I was thinking would the horse be symbolizing sexual power? And then I tried to think of the path of its motion on the chess board and whether that would be sexual. And then thought oh the queen can do anything - isn't that better? Then wondered why chess hadn't been used as a metaphor more often in books and movies with a queen having to take on the attack of her king's enemy. It seems powerful to me. Then I wondered if more things did use a chess metaphor and I just didn't know about them, like possibly the musical Chess.

The next day "One Night in Bangkok" came on the radio, better than I remembered. I decided I hoped to see that musical one day to both solve the mystery of whether it uses a chess metaphor for character action, and to find the square root of ABBA personally.

Finally, one other chess themed item that really hit me square in the roots - the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. Fantastic. Recommend it to nearly anyone. No sexual metaphor involved.

Ooh, and the Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. That book uses chess too to great effect.

Hopefully tomorrow's crockpot will be less stale and more mate, so be sure to check back...mate.

1 comment:

  1. a story about chess and yiddish policeman's union. remember what the end move/problem/board set-up is called? some german word? yeah, me either... BUT i was playing balderdash not too long ago, and that word came up. so not only did i actually know what it meant, but i fooled everyone with what seemed an improbable chess metaphor. full circle, yes.