Friday, July 10, 2009


We've been married fifteen years. Today. 5,475 days, not counting leap years. Christ, I get bored in like twelve minutes. I fast forward through fight scenes. I get bored unless something or someone is actually burning, bleeding, or screaming.

Strangely, happily there has been no burning in our marriage. True, there has been a little bleeding. For example, I fell off a ladder this week. My wife (the topic of the entry) was holding it, right up until I asked her not to. No shit. I asked her to turn off the hose. Whomp! I dropped 16 feet. And bled a bit. But if you are paying close attention, she was holding the ladder. That is mature love. Not particularly poetic but oddly poignant.

Screaming? Some. Good natured, mostly. I'd like to tell you it was always impassioned and heartfelt. However, a lot of times one of us was dehydrated, hung-over, stupid, or in some other way being an ass. I have taken more than my fair share of turns being the jerk, but my wife ain't afraid to take her turns, either. Like I mentioned earlier, this love is adult, seasoned. Sort of like...well, the hell I know what it's like. (For the record, my first idea for a metaphor was smoked barbecued ribs.) Put it this way - every day I wake up and am surprised she is still here. She gets bored easily, too. And I'm a handful. Sexy. But a handful.

I could stay true to the genre and extol my wife's virtues, but that would be pedestrian, and given it's our anniversary, totally predictable. Can I skip to the end and tell you she had a lot to offer? Cute as hell. Complicated. Nuts. Unpredictable. Stubborn. Oh, wickedly stubborn. Patient. Okay, I'm not exactly skipping to the end... To summarize, I won and married up.

For the younger readers, there is no such thing as a fairy tale marriage. Watch "When Harry Met Sally" for a primer. For the folks who are long married, you go ahead and decide if we have have it good. We keep saying we do, which is miles harder to say than "I do."

But I know this (...and I know very little for sure...) - I am a better man and person because I met and married my wife. She may scratch her head at times and come up short when she weighs how things have played out, but I scored.

So, it's 1:00 a.m. Technically speaking, we are in our 16th year now. I wonder what this year will bring? Whatever shakes out, I know who will be holding my hand. Fifteen years? Easy.

Oh, thanks. And I love you.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Prime and Prejudice

A few years back, a student of mine gave me a book on prime number theory because he knew I liked math. Okay, he was ten and he picked out a book about Bernhard Riemann and the greatest unsolved problem in mathematics. Oh, his dad is researcher at Johns Hopkins and was voted top ten smartest Americans alive. And his mom has two doctorates and is a professor at Hopkins, too. What a bunch of slackers...

So I get this book and I'm gonna' read it, damn it. How hard can it be, honestly? I cruised through the first eighteen pages or so; the first chapter is essentially about a theoretical card trick and convergent series. But by chapter two, I start to dribble and drool a bit. The author gets into the history of mathematics in 18th century Germany and little anecdotes such as "Ah, shucks, wasn't Gauss a cut up in class! Oh, don't talk to me about Euler." Throw in a sentence like, "N / pi (N) - log N. (Pronounced "N over pi of N tends asymptotically to log N" by page 45 and I might as well be reading sanskrit. But... I. Am. Gonna'. Finish. The. Book. Damn. It.

Three years later, I am finally done with the freakin' book. Guess what? I read the whole damn book only to find out that the author wasn't kidding - the problem is still unsolved. Oh, what a buzz kill. Berhard Reimann dedicated his life to this problem and he died from an ear infection or something tragic, and he never did come up with an answer (proof...) to whether or not there are infinite prime numbers. Oh, sucks being him. I spent bits and pieces of three years reading about his struggles but I am not dead, at least. But I wanted the Disney ending to the story, I must admit. For Riemann and me. For him, peer recognition and fame (...he was loved by an adoring wife...). For me, enlightenment (...I am loved by an adoring wife...). We both were ROBBED!

Then I reread the second to last chapter. The autor wrote, "As Andrew Odlyzko told me, "Either it is true, or else it isn't. One day we shall know. I have no idea what the consequences will be, and I don't believe anyone else has, either. I am certain, though, that they will be tremendous. At the end of the hunt, our understanding will be transformed. Until then, the joy and fascination is in the hunt itself, and -- for those of us not equipped to ride -- in observing the energy, resolution, and ingenuity of the hunters. Wir mussen wissen, wir werden wissen."

We must know. We will know. In the meantime, admire the passion of others, even if they use really big words.