The best man at my wedding emailed me this week. I am unhappily good at losing track of people, because I usually don't want to bother them, but sometimes they turn up. Dana wanted me to tell him something only he would know, as a sort of password.

I told him about the Thanksgiving we spent with him in Tsaile, Arizona, when it was so cold we kept waking up to put wood on the fire all night. He took us to Shiprock and to Canyon de Chelly, and we listened to the radio in his faculty apartment at Navajo Community College and watched the horses next door drifting across their snowy pasture, nibbling tan-colored grass. The radio said that the mayor of Chicago had died.

I also told Dana about some of our Dungeons and Dragons characters. I had one called Galbraith, after John Kenneth Galbraith, and one called Tito, after Marshal Josip Broz Tito. Dana liked the names Brick Blue and Red Blue.

Dana has a girlfriend who used to be his student, and they live in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Dana is six feet seven inches tall and and is an inorganic chemist. He is the only person I know who holds a patent for something in his own name, all by himself. It's a molecule.