Now that inspiration that has been flooding into me in the form of my latest Number Pegboard mathematical study is starting to bear fruit in terms of its ideas and how to understand and communicate them, I am feeling very thankful. This mathematical study, along with all the others over the past couple of years, makes me feel alive and like I belong in the world of these ideas in ways I never imagined when a college student or a Federal civilian worker, even when I decided on my own impetus to change career skill fields and proved myself right with a jump in productivity and constructive accomplishment. Watching these ideas unfold is thrilling, just as watching my mind change and grow in how it, and I, deal with integrating such inspiration in my life is, I will admit, a bit scary. It is, however, exciting, fulfilling, and, I daresay, enlightening. I feel like a very late bloomer, but one who is born again in quite profound ways. It is making me very happy, and I am very thankful.
And I want to go into some specifics of that, and name some names. Those of you who get bored when this time arrives during an awards show presentation, please feel free to skip. But you might miss seeing your name mentioned – I’m grateful to a LOT of people today.
First of all, I thank our God, with my heart, my hands, and my voice, who wondrous things has done, and in whom I rejoice. Toward the One, the Perfection of Love, Harmony, and Beauty, the Only Being, united with all those illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the Teacher, the Spirit of Guidance.
I thank my family from the bottom of my heart, for love, encouragement, huge amounts of patience, and all the good parts of being in such a wonderful family all my life: My lovely, wonderful, smart, strong and sexy wife Wendy; my daughter Susan Rose; my beautiful, talented, and amazingly artistic sister Mary Nell Smith-Podgorny; my other daughters through my marriage to Wendy, Rebecca Jean, Emily Dawn, and Meg Kathleen; their supportive husbands who also are friends to me; my grand and glorious grandsons Leon Ivan, Keegan Chase, Rafael Orlando, Kolby Michael, and Mikael Andres, who make my heart sing every day and make their Grammy feel so happy and alive every moment; cousins by the dozens and all the Aunts and Uncles who have gone on to their rest; and of course I would be remiss in leaving out our fur babies Daisy Jane, Lucie Cupcake, Felicity Lyric Irene, JazzPurr Dale, JeffFurSon Thomas, Caliente Mosaica, and Ivy Noelle. You are such good pets to love, so playful and sweet, and I want to take good care of you and make you happy all your days with us. All my family members are precious, vital, wonderful. No mathematician in the world, past, present, or future, could fail to benefit from such a beautiful family as I have, people whom I love and who love me right back.
I want to thank Alan Turing, who took his love for puzzles and his amazing brain and mindset and, along with some other brilliant and hard working human beings, produced genuine good for a world at war and for the world since, by solving a problem that had the world baffled, and showing what mechanized computation could do. You deserved so much better from the world, and I wish you had grown and lived in a culture and time that could have given you better. That tends to happen to human beings a great deal of the time, but the way it happened to you was so sad, and extinguished such promise before its time. I should also thank Benedict Cumberbatch, who did such a masterful job of portraying you in a movie I took too long to discover, named for one of your great concepts, The Imitation Game.
I want to thank David Lynch whose works have so inspired me with glimpses into the creative mind, and honest, scarily believable glances into worlds of madness and dreams and pure delights.
I want to thank Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, who wrote “36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction” and thereby introduced me to a character named Azarya, a very young son of an ultra-orthodox rabbi who had an amazing knack for mathematics and who saw the prime numbers as angels. I have been calling them Azarya’s Angels ever since, and I have enjoyed several of Ms. Goldstein’s books, thoughtful non-fiction as well as philosophical fiction.
I want to thank The Rude Mechanicals of Laurel, Maryland and all the great community theater companies with whom I have acted, for providing an outlet and an avenue for the other great love of my life, the theatre.
I want to thank the United States Department of Defense for employing me from 1979 until my retirement in June, 2012. I did not always take the path my managers and career planners plotted out for me, but you put me in a position where I could combat both that and my own lazy inertia and become a contributing member of a workforce whose Mission was worthy, and where I could stay faithful to all my obligations and oaths. I hope you will continue to defend what is Right and Good, and that you will strive to be part of a Government that is always ready to be aware of what that might entail and not so sufficiently bound up or even corrupted in its bureaucracy that it would fail to implement it. Defend us. Thank you again.
And finally: In my Federal workplace in the early twenty-oughts, I took training under B____ K____, who taught me principles of number theory I have been thrilled to think about and program ever since. He told our class that nobody knows how simple or complicated the next mathematical breakthrough might be. I liked that idea, and it gives me hope today. You probably won’t see this, B____, but thank you, sir.