Monday, December 23, 2013

Ah, you are a mathematician

Thanks to Arturo Sangalli of the Writer's Union of Canada -- and fellow-participant in a recent Banff creativity conference --  who reminded me of this poem.  And thanks to Bill Dunham who has spread it widely by including it in The Mathematical Universe  (Wiley, 1997).  These brief stanzas were written in the early 1990s  when many of us kept our financial facts in checkbooks rather than online; still current, however, is the mistaken image of mathematicians as those whose task it is to keep numbers clean and orderly.

          Misunderstanding     by JoAnne Growney

          Ah, you are a mathematician,
              they say with admiration
              or scorn.    

          Then, they say,
              I could use you
              to balance my checkbook.

          I think about checkbooks.
              Once in a while
              I balance mine,
              just like sometimes
              I dust high shelves.

Christmas is coming and I don't have any wonderful new ideas for a holiday posting -- but refer you back to several previous posts to visit if you like:  24 December 201221 December 2012,  and 22 December 2011. And on 2 September 2010 this Christmas rhyme was offered -- the lengths of its words give the first 21 digits of pi:

     Now, I wish I could recollect pi.
     "Eureka," cried the great inventor.
     Christmas Pudding; Christmas Pie
     Is the problem's very center.

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