Sunday: Hili dialogue

UPDATE: Okay, everything historical listed happened on May 8, so just reread this tomorrow! Blame it on my writing it at 4:30 am


Good morning on Ceiling Cat’s Day: Sunday, May 7, 2017. It’s a beautiful day in Chicago, though chilly, with a predicted high of only 50° F (10° C).

Although Holi—the Indian spring festival of colors during which people pelt each other with powdered and liquid dyes—was on March 13, for some reason Indian-American students at my university celebrated it yesterday, sending up clouds of color across the street from my building:

Today, though, really is National Lamb Day, and by that I mean lamb meat: the ideal meal with a good Bordeaux—or most reds. really. And Helston, Cornwall, England, sees a strange holiday today: Furry Dance, described in Wikipedia as “one of the oldest British customs still practised today.”  (I can’t find out how old it is.) It’s an all-day combination of dances and pageants celebrating the advent of Spring, and there’s a video below that shows the Children’s Dance and the Midday Dance:

The children’s dance involves over 1,000 children aged from 7 to 18, all dressed in white, the boys with Lily of the Valley buttonholes and the girls wearing flowers in their hair, the flower determined by the school they attend. They come from St Michael’s School, Nansloe School, Parc Eglos School, and Helston Community College: each year a different school leads the dance.

. . . the midday dance is perhaps the best known: it was traditionally the dance of the gentry in the town, and today the men weartop hats and tails while the women dance in their finest frocks.[5]

Traditionally, the dancers wear Lily of the Valley, which is Helston’s symbolic flower. The gentlemen wear it on the left, with the flowers pointing upwards, and the ladies wear it upside down on the right. Lily of the Valley is worn on Flora Day by dancers, bandsmen, Flora Day stewards and by those who are “Helston-born”.

On this day in 1794, a famous scientist was executed: in Paris, French chemist Antoine Lavoisier was tried, convicted and guillotined in a single day. On May 7, 1886, the first glass of Coca Cola was sold—as a patent medicine—at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. On this day in 1902, Mount Pelée erupted on Martinique, wiping out the entire town of Saint-Pierre and nearly all of its residents; over 30,000 people perished. On May 7, 1978, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler became the first people to summit Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. Here’s the great Messner on top:

Exactly two years after that climb, the World Health Organization officially declared smallpox eradicated from our species: a great triumph for science, field work, and epidemiology—and Homo sapiens. 

Notable people born on this day include Edward Gibbon (1737), Harry S. Truman (1884; the buck stopped there), Edmund Wilson (1895), David Attenborough and Don Rickles (both 1926), Thomas Pynchon (1937), Ricky Nelson (1940), and Pat Barker (1943, read her Ghost Road trilogy). Those who died on this day include nobody I think worthy to list, and this is a first. Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, today’s Hili dialogue has both a title and an explanation by Malgorzata:


Hili: You are disapproving of me again, aren’t you?
A: And I know why.
In Polish:
Hili: Znowu masz do mnie pretensje!
Ja: I wiem o co.
Explanation: ​The trellis Hili is on goes almost to the roof— and is dangerously close to a nest of starlings.​
Lagniappe: some mimicry from David Bygott via Ziya Tong via Matthew Cobb: a moth whose ancestors evolved to resemble thorns:

Finally:  Ssshhhh . . . Gus is sleeping:


  1. Posted May 7, 2017 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Is there really such a thing as National Coconut Creme Pie day?

    • Posted May 7, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Actually, I erred: it’s National Roast Leg of Lamb Day (a better holiday), and I’ve fixed it. But yes, there’s a day for that pie, too.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted May 7, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Depends on what you mean by “really”. admits:

      Within our research, we were unable to find the creator or origin of National Coconut Cream Pie Day.

      But apparently they’re comfortable with promoting it anyway.

  2. George
    Posted May 7, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Chicago weather on March 13 –
    High 35F (2C)
    Low 26F (-3C)
    Snow 2.2″ (5.6cm)

    Also, final exams for winter quarter began on Monday March 13. So waiting to celebrate Holi was probably a good idea.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 7, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Holi Mackerel! I didn’t know that Lavoisier was executed!!

    • Posted May 8, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      A crime against science, for sure.

      He was executed because he was a public servant of a very unpopular sort, particularly amongst revolutionaries: he was a tax collector.

  4. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted May 7, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    There is a similar, but not nearly as ‘posh’ a festival at Moonta in the South Australian ‘copper triangle’ area. The school children dance in a procession, but do it around a moveable May Pole, and bands play the same tune. Here is a link to my concert band preparing to march in the festival a few years ago.
    The area was colonised by Cornish miners in the nineteenth century.

  5. Randy schenck
    Posted May 7, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    That is a strange little dance, kind of a hop. I thought at first those walking were attempting to get in step but then, it seemed to be part of the walk.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 7, 2017 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    So it’s a day on which nobody who was anybody that anybody knows about died?

    • Robert Seidel
      Posted May 7, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Otto I. was somebody – quite somebody, even. And anybody who likes their painters will recognize Caspar David Friedrich.

      • noncarborundum
        Posted May 7, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        A couple of great nicknames among those who died today: Willem the Bad (Willem I), King of Sicily (1166), and Joseph “Top Toad” Giunta, one of several gangsters murdered by Al Capone on this day in 1929.

        Lovers of early music will recognize the name of Johann Jakob Froberger (1667). And many more people, especially those who saw the movie Amadeus, will know the name of Antonio Salieri (1825).

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted May 7, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Typo, Jerry: Lavoisier died in 1794, not 84.

  8. Rob
    Posted May 7, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Love these kitties getting my day started off with a smile.

  9. Robert Seidel
    Posted May 7, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    It’s also the day Beethoven’s 9th was first performed.

  10. pdmanson
    Posted May 8, 2017 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    I used to serve at Culdrose Naval Air Station, next to Helston. The Captain of the station was always invited to take part in the Furry Dance. If he said ‘Yes’, it was fun to see the other senior officers scrabbling to take part too.

%d bloggers like this: