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Dear Daddy,

Rather than send you a card this year – I know you don’t really want one anyway, considering your long-held conviction that Father’s Day is just a marketing scheme cooked up by greeting card manufacturers – I am sending you this entry on my brand new blog. You get the very prestigious honor of being the first person ever to whom I am dedicating a blog entry!

I am grateful that you changed your Father’s Day Policy a couple years ago, and we are now allowed to mention the existence of Father’s Day in your presence, and even send you a card if we wish. I always wanted to celebrate Father’s Day in the past, but felt that the best way to honor you was to respect your wish that Father’s Day not be celebrated, at least not around you. However, this was frustrating for me…. I did celebrate Father’s Day in my own way, but always wanted to share it with you – and now I can! The fact that you changed your policy on this, after so many years, shows me that you are still open to change, and that means a lot to me.

You are not the father of all those Home Depot and Auto Zone Father’s Day ads. For some reason, I don’t see a lot of commercials telling people what to buy their professor father for Father’s Day! (platinum slide rule?) But that’s okay, because I like making my own presents. I hope you enjoy this one I created especially for you.

You have always been way ahead of your time, for example in your pioneering use of recycling – greeting cards, come to think of it – decades before the rest of us started to think about it. (By any chance, did this have anything to do with your aforementioned suspicions about greeting card manufacturers?)

So following your lead here, I have recycled the thoughts of others, and compiled a selection of some of my favorite quotes below, ones that relate to you in one way or another. I predict you will like some of them more than others… but they all make me think of you.

I have also recycled some of my own words – here’s part of what I wrote for you on the occasion of your 80th birthday a few years back:

To Daddy: Thanks for being intelligent AND reading MAD magazine, for loving bad jokes, toys, tennis, science fiction, Rube Goldberg machines, mathematical jokes, musical jokes, puns and palindromes… for playing all different kinds of music around the house, for playing a million duets with me, and for following in my footsteps into the world of computers. Thanks for brainwashing me against cigarettes. Thanks for being willing to change even when you didn’t know how, and being willing to face the challenges I’ve thrown down in front of you. Thanks for loving your work, and for always having a couch in your office for naps. Thanks for the hot fudge sundaes at Lehigh before Hebrew school. Thanks for the perpetual letters, notes and e-mails, and for all the precious things you’ve shared with me from your diaries and memoirs.

When I wrote this, I forgot to mention your reading me my favorite bedtime stories over and over again no matter how many times I asked, teaching me to ride a bike, doing my times tables with me so exhaustively that I still remember them today, teaching me to drive, and introducing me to everything from O Henry to Oscar Wilde. For all these things, and many more, I thank you….

I see you in myself in a million ways, and know that so much of what makes me who I am came from you: your values, interests, intellect, and constant explorations. I may not have been your best student, but I can’t imagine you had a greater impact on any of your countless accomplished students than you did on me (and Eleanor).

And as much as I have, in the past, rebelled against some of these things I got from you, I can see now that they are among my best qualities – and a few of my worst. I treasure the things we share – the jokes, musical research, cultural observations, wordplay, and so much more. I’m excited about our new songwriting collaboration, and touched that you accepted my invitation to write together. I hope we can do more of this!

I have tried many times over the years to tell you what you mean to me. I hope at least a little of what I’ve tried to communicate has meant something to you. And I hope that at least some of the things I’ve done in my life have made you proud of me.

So Happy Father’s Day, Daddy! This blog’s for you!

I Love You…..
Laura Sue

P.S. Get one of the grandkids to show you how to enter a comment and subscribe to the feed on my blog!

P.P.S. For those of you who don’t know my father, here’s a website that will give you a taste of his most famous creation/discovery: Smith Numbers You can see by the many scholarly articles written over the last 25 plus years listed on this page how widespread the interest in Smith Numbers is. To me, the most interesting thing about this phenomenon is that Smith Numbers are something my father came up with when he was just playing around. Although Smith Numbers have become famous in the math world – and even a bit outside it – I think my father feels his body of “real” mathematics work is more deserving of attention than this bit of recreational math. And having had a ringside seat to his dedication to this work over the years, I can certainly understand that feeling (even if I don’t understand the work itself). He recently proudly told me that Dover Books is planning to reprint his “Topology for Analysis”. While this and his other books have become standard required college texts, and thus have at least some guaranteed buyers, I have suggested he change the title to “Topology for Dummies”, which will no doubt sell a million copies and make him rich.


Quotes for My Father

Being a father is just a job: long hours, no pay, and at the end all you get is someone yelling: “You screwed me up!” – Homer Simpson, “We’re on the Road to D’Ohwhere”, The Simpsons, 2006

We do allowance in reverse in my home. Once a month they give me 20 bucks. And as a result, I’m a good Daddy. – Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, 4/3/08

President Bill Clinton’s prescription for 21st Century America: Giving through charity, and I believe, if I may say, I’m paraphrasing here, naps. – Jon Stewart, The Daily Show 9/20/07

Hercules: I know you want what’s best for your daughter, but this is her dream.
Althea’s father: I am trying to protect her!
Hercules: If you really want to protect her, then encourage her, support her. If you don’t let her dance, you will break her heart. – Hercules, “… And Fancy Free” episode, 1997

I still think Nature could learn to be a little more tolerant of vacuums. – Rob Miles

If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business … Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down. – Ray Bradbury

Rituals? Ridiculous! My only ritual is to sit close enough to the typewriter so that my fingers touch the keys. – Isaac Asimov

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats. – Albert Schweitzer

What, Me Worry? – Alfred E. Newman

There was a survey conducted by Esquire Magazine in 1965 which revealed that self-described college radicals ranked Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk among their favorite revolutionary icons right there with Bob Dylan and Che Guevara and Malcolm X. – Bradford Wright, author of “Comic Book Nation”

From the Prairie Home Companion Annual Joke Show:
When God was creating the world, he made many animals. When he got to the snakes, like all the others he told them to go forth and multiply.
“We can’t multiply,” the snakes said, “We’re adders.”

Think Globally, Nap Locally – Steven Colbert, The Colbert Report, 4/28/08

Actual e-mail exchange, March 2008:
Laura Sue: “Why did the physicist cross the road?”
Daddy: “The physicist crossed the road because the road was an inner product and his calculations required an outer product. (I can’t stop laughing!!!)”


Great Words from Great Wordsmiths

“I am the strings, and the Supreme is the musician.” - Carlos Santana

“What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner.” - Collette

“I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.” - Rabindranath Tagore

“A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” - Maya Angelou
October 2021