Tables, and Good Pies

If I had a kid, and I lived in Russia, I would have named him Dmitri. Unless, it was a girl of course. Then, I am not sure what her name would have been. If we lived in St. Petersburg, I’d make sure we settled very close to this certain bakery over there. They make pies. That’s it. Not pies like we make here in America, but more like HotPockets on Steroids. They stuff them with meats and cheeses. I am not sure what kinds of meat, because I don’t speak Russian. But they are the best food-stuff ever to grace the face of the planet. They make sweet pies there too, but I don’t eat sweets like I don’t speak Russian. Little Dmitri and I would walk to the bakery and eat pies. At will.

But, as the Universe would have it, here I am in Ohio, reading about Dmitri Mendeleev. Born this day, February 8. Long ago in 1834. I sure wonder what Russia was like back then. Nicholas I was Czar of Russia. I know that.

What I don’t know is that much about him, Dmitri Mendeleev, personally. What kind of a guy he was. He looked like the Russian version of Walt Whitman. But Dmitri, in my days of studying Chemistry, was a bit of a hero to me. . He was the one who came up with the Periodic Law, for that good Periodic Table. He also used his creation to predict eight elements which had yet to be discovered.

His life started out as tough as can be. First of all, he was the youngest of 17 children. They lived in Siberia. Yes. Siberia where the average winter temperature was -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Average. I bet the 19 of them huddled together to keep warm.

Dmitri Mendeleev’s father was a teacher, but he went blind. So he had no work. That is tough on a big family. In cold Siberia. I am not sure what happened to the rest of his family, but his Mom took Dmitri all the way across Russia to St. Petersburg. There she got him into a school of higher education. He graduated but then he contracted tuberculosis. He was sent to a peninsula in the Black Sea, where he fully recovered. But while he was there, being near death, he managed to become a science master of the First Simferopol. Whatever Simferopol is. It sounds a bit like the Snuffaluffagus on Sesame Street. Anyway.

Dmitri and his Chemistry. There were a bunch of elements that had already been discovered — but they didn’t have the chemical properties right. By using his “table” calculations, he corrected all the misinformation. And, of course, his predictions of elements yet to be discovered.

Here’s what I like the most about all of this. He woke up and said he had dreamed it all. So he wrote it down, just as he saw it in his dream. And there it was. But, I am wondering if there was any Vodka involved.

He did a whole big bunch more in the way of scientific discoveries and inventions. There is even the Mendeleev on the Moon. It is a crater, named after him.

Another cool-sort-of-fact about his life. He made a solo ascent by balloon to an altitude of 11,500 feet above a place called Klin, Russia. He did it in order to to observe an eclipse. That was in 1887. That was crazy. That’s over 2 miles up in the air. He would have been 53 years old at the time of the trip.

I guess he wanted to rise to new heights.

Anyway. Dmitri Mendeleev. And the name of my son if I had one. In Russia.
Which I am glad for — that I do not. But I sure would like one of those Meat Pies about now.


Алты́нного во́ра ве́шают, а полти́нного че́ствуют. Little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape. — Russian Proverb


А дело бывало — и коза волка съедала. It was happening — a goat was eating up a wolf. — Russian Proverb


Ба́бушка гада́ла, на́двое сказа́ла. No one can know for certain.
Granny was telling fortunes, said two things. — Russian Proverb