David Rodeback's Blog

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Monday, March 15, 2010
Dessert First, with Romance

This weekend there was Pi. And Pie. And Pie. And an opportunity to help an American soldier in Afghanistan win the heart of a Russian women with literary taste.

Long-time readers already know that I sometimes disappear into my work (as opposed to my blogging) and fail to come up for air for a week or two or three at a time. That's how it's been lately, which is not to say there's been nothing to blog about. We need to talk soon about Republican candidates in Utah's Second Congressional District (potential opponents for Congressman Jim Matheson), as well as some developments in the current US Senate race. Perhaps we should also ponder together the utter absurdity we're seeing in the US House of Representatives, including a now-frustrated attempt to declare a bill passed without an actual vote on the actual bill, and Speaker Pelosi's argument that one of the reasons to pass the health care bill is to find out what's in it. I also need to introduce you to an interesting, not altogether political development in American Fork. All of that is important, and most or all of it is coming soon.

But the governing principle of this particular blog post is: dessert first. I like veggies well enough, too, not to mention the flesh of beasts, but let's talk about the fun stuff first, okay?

First of all, yesterday was Pi Day, March 14 (3/14). There was chicken pot pie and lemon meringue pie at my house yesterday, garnished with ample geeky talk of circles and irrational constants. Now I'm thinking, maybe we need "e" Day, which would be nestled comfortably between Groundhog Day and Valentine's Day, on February 7.

Next, I received an e-mail message yesterday from a friend in Michigan. He was sending me his new phone number, along with an explanation that he and his wife have surrendered their cell phones.

[We] have given up our mobile phones in favor of a landline: [number omitted]

She only ever called me, so mine was an expensive husband walkie-talkie, and I only ever called her, and she never answered, so hers was an expensive voicemail service.

Several questions come to mind, but I won't sport with your patience by listing them.

Finally, I received a message on Facebook Saturday from someone I never met, and of whom I never heard. He introduced himself as a soldier; apparently he is currently in Afghanistan. He says he's from West Jordan, Utah. He's trying to win the heart of a Russian girl, and he just needs to use my bank account temporarily to transfer some funds . . . No, wait, that's the Nigerian who e-mailed me for the 278th time on Friday. This soldier seems legit, and he's not asking for money.

Where do I fit in? Well, someone he knows told him I might be able to help. You see, according to our soldier, this Valentina (I imagine a classic Russian beauty) told him she'll go out with him if he can tell her about her favorite author, Chingiz Aitmatov. Can I help with some information?

Ahem. My thoughts include these:

  • I'm happy to help the war effort.
  • I am generally a proponent of romance and, for that matter, of Russian literature. (Technically, Aitmatov was Soviet literature, not Russian, not that you ever heard of him. He wrote mostly in Russian, but was himself Kyrgyz, which we often spell "Kirghiz." In any case, he's one of my favorites.)
  • My ample knowledge of Russian and Soviet literature is mostly dormant and, I admit, somewhat esoteric. The notion of it being in any way useful to someone else's romantic aspirations is, well, unexpected. And somewhat tantalizing.
  • Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic, is near Afghanistan, and there are still many Russians there. So an American soldier in Afghanistan meeting a Russian woman who loves the works of Chingiz Aitmatov is unsurprising.
  • Would it be wrong of me to ask for a picture? (Of her, I mean, but I suppose it's fine if he's in it, too.)

What would you do?

I sent him a few paragraphs about Chingiz Aitmatov. I told him I'm fond of one of Aitmatov's novels, И дольше века длится день [The Day Lasts Longer than a Hundred Years], and that Aitmatov's Jamilia has been called the world's most beautiful love story. (If the Russian there doesn't work for you, switch your character encoding to UTF-8.)

You may wonder, did all this cost me any money? Yes. I just ordered Jamilia in an English translation from Amazon, for $3.95 plus shipping. It's for me, not our soldier.

In the meantime, I've started rereading The Day Lasts Longer than a Hundred Years. It's a gem.

That's dessert, such as it is. The rest of the meal is forthcoming.

Carla Carpenter Elliott comments (3/16/2010 via Facebook):

"And what type of food would one celebrate e Day with?"

David Rodeback comments (3/19/2010):

Roast bEEf, pEas and other veggiEs, some sort of chEEse, your choice of dEssert, probably including ice crEam.

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