Thursday: Hili dialogue

Reader’s note: I don’t think I’ve clarified this before, but Hili’s name is pronounced like “hee-lee”, with long “e”s. It is not pronounced like “hilly”.


How the time has flown! Today’s my last full day in Dobrzyn, as I take the train to Warsaw tomorrow and fly back on Saturday. Naturally I’m hopeful that my sweet female duck, Honey, will have migrated away from the pond. I don’t want her hanging around in the cold weather hoping for handouts.( The pond freezes solid in the winter.)

But today it’s Thursday, September 14, 2017, and it’s National Cream-Filled Donut Day (the “cream” is usually “creme” or “kreme”, indicating a lack of dairy products). I indulge in this comestible only once or twice a year when I go to Dunkin Donuts (I prefer the “double chocolate”: a chocolate-glazed chocolate cake donut). In Colombia, it’s Lord of Miracles of Buga Day, celebrating a cross that grew and grew. But here’s the tale from Wikipedia, and then a picture. The tale tells of a poor laundress in the mid-sixteenth century whose Big Dream was to own a fine crucifix (that’s what Catholicism does to people):

Some days after, while she was washing laundry, she spotted a small but brilliant object that was carried upstream by the current in the middle of the river. She caught it up and discovered that it was a tiny crucifix. She was very happy with her find and as soon as she returned home, fashioned an altar for the small crucifix using a common wooden box.

 One night she heard strange noises coming from the altar box of the crucifix. It was obvious that the wood was splintering. She was astonished to see that the box had been broken by the crucifix which was quite simply growing inside. Although quite small at first, the crucifix grew to almost two meters in length and almost a meter and half in width. The news of the miraculous event spread along all the Cauca River valley and many people started to gather at the place, where a hermitage was built, turning the woman’s humble house into a sanctuary.
The miraculous cross, shown below, now resides in its own church in Guadalajara de Buga, Colombia. The “miracle” also includes God’s diversion of a river so that people could visit the church:

Now onto things that really happened. On this day in 1741, Handel completed his Messiah. In 1752, the British Empire adopted the Gregorian Calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory in 1582. On this day in 1901, U.S. President William McKinley died after being shot September 6 in an assassination attempt. Teddy Roosevelt succeeded him as President.

On December 1 of 1969, the U.S. Selective Service chose September 14 as the first date of the Draft Lottery, which included men born between 1944 and 1950 (e.g., me). On that day in December, 366 capsules, each including a different date, were mixed and drawn by officials; the order of drawing was to represent the order of induction into the Armed Forces. Unlucky guys born on September 14 were to be the very first people drafted—and that was during the Vietnam War. My birthday (December 30) came up #3, insuring that I’d be drafted too (the dates chosen turned out to be nonrandom, suggesting poor mixing). I had already applied for conscientious objector status and resolved that if I was not granted it, I would go to jail. Later on I did get my I-O status, but, as I’ve recounted before, I discovered that men born on “draftable days” were forced into conscientious objector status in 1971 but not into the military, a disparity that violated the draft law. With the help of the ACLU, I began a class action suit, Coyne et al. v. Nixon et al, which we won handily in New York’s federal court, freeing several thousand illegally drafted conscientious objectors—starting with those born on September 14 down through the first 120-odd birthdays. But all of us had spent several months working in “alternative service” jobs, drawing the pay of an Army private (about $5000/year in those days), but without the free food, room and board, and medical care of men in armed service.

On this day in 1994, there was a strike in U.S. Major League Baseball, canceling the rest of the season, including the World Series. The strike ended only in April of 1995, when Sonia Sotomayor (then a U.S federal court justice) issued an injunction against the baseball owners. Finally, exactly two years ago, scientists first observed gravitational waves, though the observation wasn’t announced until the next February.

Notables born on September 14 include Alexander von Humboldt (1769), John Gould (1804), Margaret Sanger (1879), Jan Masaryk (1886), Clayton Moore (1914), and Allan Bloom (1930). Those who died on this day include Dante Alighieri (1321), John Harvard (1638; his eponymous college was founded the next year), Dom Pérignon (1715), Aaron Burr (1836), James Fenimore Cooper (1851), Isadora Duncan (1927), John McPhee (1952), Grace Kelly (1982), and Patrick Swayze (2009).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is making a virtue of necessity, espousing a form of Feline Darwinism:

A: You killed a mouse again.
Hili: Yes, I’m helping evolution according to my modest ability.
In Polish:
Ja: Znowu zabiłaś mysz.
Hili: Tak, pomagam ewolucji w miarę moich skromnych sił.


  1. Randy schenck
    Posted September 14, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know why the lottery system was added to the draft system at the end of 1969? I did not know much about it because I was long gone and in the military more than a year earlier (Aug. 1968). Of course the way the thing worked prior to the lottery was that you simply registered at 18 years of age. After that you could be drafted by 18.5 years of age unless you had a deferment. There were several ways to be deferred, just ask Cheney or Bush. In 1968 when things were really hot and heavy in Vietnam, if you had reached 18 and one half years of age, you better be doing something or you would be drafted.

    There were many ways to avoid getting drafted of course and the way I chose at the time was to simply join something and I joined the Air Force. Even joining the Army might get you out of Vietnam but waiting for the draft to get you was a very bad idea unless you wanted to go their.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted September 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      As I recall, it was a reaction to eliminate most deferments–such as student deferments as these went mostly to those who afford to go to college–and who were, of course, most active in protesting the war.

      • ploubere
        Posted September 14, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        That’s correct I think. Student deferments were eliminated with the lottery system.

        I was lucky, my number was 356. I wasn’t eligible till 1973, though, so probably wouldn’t have bee sent to the war even if drafted.

  2. Ken Phelps
    Posted September 14, 2017 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Love Jesus’ skirt. Is there a pride parade or something? Is he going as Pocahontas?

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted September 14, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Yes, the skirt is quite chic.

  3. Lee Beringsmith
    Posted September 14, 2017 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Jerry, curious as why you didn’t have a student deferment? We are about the same age and I avoided the draft by being in college during those years.

  4. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted September 14, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    she spotted a small but brilliant object that was carried upstream by the current in the middle of the river.

    Hmmm, gold-laden and being moved by the current is one thing (unless the flow rate was really high, in which case the observer would have had a job seeing it through the moving mud), but it being washed upstream is really a miracle.
    I suspect the report is made up.

  5. Posted September 14, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    I don’t think I’ve clarified this before, but Hili’s name is pronounced like “hee-lee”, with long “e”s. It is not pronounced like “hilly”.

    It has been raised before but it might have been Grania or one of Hili’s staff that wrote the post. My Google-fu isn’t up to finding the relevant post.

  6. gscott
    Posted September 14, 2017 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Buga is also know for what is supposed to be the best microbrewery in Colombia. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to check it out when I was in Cali last month.

  7. busterggi
    Posted September 14, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Love to see the ‘documentation’ for this miracle – somehow I’d bet a priest wrote it rather than an illiterate peasant woman.

    I vowed I’d never watch another baseball game back when the strike started in ’94 and I haven’t since. Oddly there is no sense of loss either.

  8. Liz
    Posted September 14, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Oh my gosh. I just read this. Good for you. On the draft fight. I worriried about that after 9/11 but everyone I knew chose to fight. They all came back safely. It was only friends of friends who were shot up with shrapnel and died. I feel like I would fight but then again no. Depending on the cause. It seems like now we should be able to figure everything out with words and solutions.

  9. Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    “On this day in 1994, there was a strike in U.S. Major League Baseball, canceling the rest of the season, including the World Series.”

    Also the year the Expos (RIP, though I was never a baseball fan myself) could have won it, and maybe kept themselves in Montreal.

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