The Great Mathematician Paul Erdős on Possessions and Coffee

All from here:

Possessions meant little to Erdős; most of his belongings would fit in a suitcase, as dictated by his itinerant lifestyle.

Awards and other earnings were generally donated to people in need and various worthy causes.

He spent most of his life traveling between scientific conferences, universities, and the homes of colleagues all over the world.

He earned enough in stipends from universities as a guest lecturer, and from various mathematical awards, to fund his travels and basic needs; money left over he used to fund cash prizes for proofs of “Erdős problems”.

He would typically show up at a colleague’s doorstep and announce “my brain is open”, staying long enough to collaborate on a few papers before moving on a few days later. In many cases, he would ask the current collaborator about whom to visit next.

His colleague Alfréd Rényi said, “a mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems“,[22] and Erdős drank copious quantities (this quotation is often attributed incorrectly to Erdős,[23] but Erdős himself ascribed it to Rényi[24]).

Erdős signed his name “Paul Erdos P.G.O.M.” When he became 60, he added “L.D.”, at 65 “A.D.”, at 70 “L.D.” (again), and at 75 “C.D.”

  • P.G.O.M. represented “Poor Great Old Man”
  • The first L.D. represented “Living Dead”
  • A.D. represented “Archaeological Discovery”
  • The second L.D. represented “Legally Dead”
  • C.D. represented “Counts Dead”

Van Morrison's Into the Mystic

We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic

Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly
Into the mystic

Bertoni, St. Vincent Millay, McDaniel, and Bruni: poems about love

The poem is by Chilean poet Claudio Bertoni:

I’d like to be a nest if you were a little bird.
I’d like to be a scarf if you were a neck and were cold.
If you were music, I’d be an ear.
If you were water, I’d be a glass.
If you were light, I’d be an eye.
If you were a foot, I’d be a sock.
If you were the sea, I’d be a beach.
And if you were still the sea, I’d be a fish,
and I’d swim in you.
And if you were the sea, I’d be salt.
And if I were salt, you’d be lettuce,
an avocado or at least a fried egg.
And if you were a fried egg,
I’d be a piece of bread.
And if I were a piece of bread,
you’d be butter or jam.
If you were jam,
I’d be the peach in the jam.
If I were a peach,
you’d be a tree.
And if you were a tree,
I’d be your sap…
and I’d course through your arms like blood.
And if I were blood,
I’d live in your heart.

And this is Sonnet XXX is by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Now, Jeffrey McDaniel’s The Quiet World

In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

Lastly, Carla Bruni:

Je suis ton pile
Tu es mon face
Toi mon nombril
Et moi ta glace
Tu es l’envie et moi le geste
Toi le citron et moi le zeste
Je suis le thé, tu es la tasse
Toi la guitare et moi la basse

Born a weed until time arrived

in the shape of a woman who seeing the sun decided to no longer dim the life bursting in lungs

Eyes open see braided grass swaying in plains

forests turn into locks of love,

bleached the light brown bark of my grandmother’s youth.


I once wrote this and forgot that I was the author until, after googling it, I could find nobody else who claimed it.

What Charles Bukowski didn’t say

False attributions spring eternally.

The Houston Press asks who the verifiable author of the following quote is:

My dear,

Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain from you your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you, and let it devour your remains.

For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.

Falsely yours, Henry Charles Bukowski