Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Happy Birthday to Elof Carlson

We should all wish my father a very happy birthday. Since he measures his time in chapters, let us wish him a shelf/hard drive full of books before his next birthday. Which he will write without breaking a sweat. You think I exaggerate? His prodigious talent and copious productivity with sentences and ideas makes Pepys look like a mealy mouthed jotter and Dickens only a half-hearted wordsmith. No, really. He writes a chapter a day, with footnotes, and a book a month. Half the books are hard science history, the other half delve into the messy intersection of society, ethics, and science and then just because he can, he writes the occasional novel, libretto, poem, limerick, or play. Oh, I forgot the reviews and essays, blog, and articles. Ah, also his lengthy daily journaling. Apparently he sleeps a hearty 3-4 hours a night and pauses to eat, read, write letters, watch the news, nod happily at his wife, and read this blog.

This lucky man has a press that adores him and publishes nearly a book a year. And this third career came after two most successful careers: first as a research scientist (genetics, drosophila) and then as an award-winning teacher at universities both on land and sea. He also attends conferences and gives talks.

I will admit that his productivity can be a bit daunting...I am sure my siblings would agree. Here we struggle to complete a project that can take us months or years and Dad will be nicely encouraging and then ruin it by saying "oh well, they didn't want that last book I wrote on agent orange, that's sad...but...I'll just write another book this month." Are you secretly thinking, how good could this spewing font of words be? A veritable Vesuvius of vapid patter?  Can a man that makes the spouting oil leak look like a thin drizzle of spit actually write well? Sadly, yes, he gets good reviews and has been nominated for things like the pulitzer...

So happy birthday Dr. Elof Axel Carlson, Ph.D. as the man who ought to have his photo in the dictionary next to both productivity and professor, absent-minded! To all the books of you! And also, for being my dad, with all my love.

(And for all the former students...say hi to him on facebook!)

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