Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s now officially November: Wednesday, November 1, 2017. To celebrate the onset of the new month, as I have done before , I’ll post Wallace Stevens’s poem on the degeneration of the seasons:


by Wallace Stevens

Yillow, yillow, yillow,
Old worm, my pretty quirk,
How the wind spells out
Sep – tem – ber….

Summer is in bones.
Cock-robin’s at Caracas.
Make o, make o, make o,
Oto – otu – bre.

And the rude leaves fall.
The rain falls. The sky
Falls and lies with worms.
The street lamps

Are those that have been hanged.
Dangling in an illogical
To and to and fro
Fro Niz – nil – imbo.

As for food, it’s National Bison Day (for eating), so we can just forget about that. It’s also National Brush Day (appropriately, the day after Halloween), emphasizing the importance of toothbrushing. As Wikipedia says, “On this day, parents are encouraged to make sure their kids brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day.” Left to their own devices, few people realize how long two minutes is, I get around that by using a Sonicare electric toothbrush that beeps every thirty seconds (to move to a new row, inside or out), and shuts off after two minutes. I use this inexpensive one (I have one at work and at home), and it gives good results, or so my dental hygienist tells me. Get one! And floss every day, too. If you’re gonna tell me what kind of cat to get, I’ll tell you how to take care of your teeth.

On this day in 1520, Magellan’s ships entered the tumultuous straits that later bore his name. On November 1, 1604, Shakespeare’s Othello was presented for the first time (at the Palace of Whitehall); records attribute the play to “Shaxberd”. Exactly 7 years later, The Tempest was presented at the same place. On this date in 1755, Lisbon, Portugal suffered a terrible earthquake, killing about 30,000 people (if you want to see confusion, see the Wikipedia estimates for the death toll from the November 1 entry, the Lisbon entry, and the poem entry in the next sentence). It was this event that inspired Voltaire’s work Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne, questioning the existence of an omnipotent and beneficent god.

According to Wikipedia, it was on this day in 1896 when “a picture showing the bare breasts of a woman appears in National Geographic magazine for the first time.” Yes, many young men read the magazine as their only chance to see semi-naked women. On November 1, 1922, the last Ottoman sultan, Mehmed VI, abdicated. On this day in 1938, Seabiscuit defeated War Admiral in an upset victory during “the match of the century” in horse racing. Here’s that famous race, a highlight of Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book Seabiscuit: An American Legend (an excellent read; see this documentary).

On this day in 1941, American photographer Ansel Adams set up his tripod in the evening and photographed a moonrise over the small town of Hernandez, New Mexico; it is perhaps his most famous picture and an iconic image in photography. Here it is:

On this date in 1950, Pope Pius XII, speaking from the “chair” (as Archie Bunker said, being “inflammable”), formally proclaimed and defined the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. This event, Mary’s bodily ascent to Heaven, isn’t in the New Testament, but was simply made up as a gloss on Scripture:

By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

Finally, it was on this day in 1982 that the first car manufactured in the U.S. by an Asian motor company rolled off the assembly line. It was a Honda Accord.

Notables born on November 1 include Grantland Rice and Alfred Wegener (both 1880), Edward Said (1935), Kinky Friedman (1944), Lyle Lovett (1957; once married to Julia Roberts, but for less than two years),  and Toni Collette (1972). Those who “fell asleep” on this day include Dale Carnegie (1955), ecologist Robert MacArthur and Ezra Pound (both 1972), Phil Silvers (1985), Nobelist Severo Ochoa (1983), and Walter “Sweetness” Payton (1999).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is nosing around the place where Andrzej and Malgorzata toast sausages around a campfire:

Cyrus: Not a trace of the sausages.
Hili: But something is moving in the grass.
 In Polish:
Cyrus: Ani śladu po tych kiełbaskach.
Hili: Nie, ale coś się rusza w trawie.

It has snowed out in Winnipeg, and Gus’s thermometer-nose and muddy footprints tell the tale. His staff reports:

The season of pink nose and mud feet is upon us.

A tweet found by Matthew Cobb. This is just WRONG:

And this from Gethyn, part of the staff of the coffee-drinking moggie Theo. I’m not sure, though, that this behavior really minimizes noise, or whether there’s a fitness advantage in halving the number of pawprints.


  1. Posted November 1, 2017 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I was thinking PCC[E] was getting up earlier as when he was writing faith v Fact, but I suddenly realized we are back on GMT & the US has yet to do its daylight saving…! Duh!

    What is the state of play on the book for children?

    • Posted November 1, 2017 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Still being revised. It is VERY HARD to write a decent children’s book: much, much harder than writing a science book, even though the kids’ book is only 1200 words.

      • Posted November 1, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        Well, we look forward to it & will be trying to find children we can give it to!

        • Posted November 1, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink

          Some publisher has to accept it first. My agent handles only intellectual books, so I have to do this on my own.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Seabiscuit was one of the really great race horses in history. Nothing has eclipsed the great Secretariat but still very good.

  3. busterggi
    Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    First – that cat isn’t fanning the mouse, its going to swat it!

    Second, Company (the cat that moved in three Januarys ago) not only puts her back paws in her front paw prints but will, when there is snow on the ground, walk in her old tracks repeatedly. She has never told me why.

    • Lurker111
      Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      It may be an evolutionary safety bonus.

      You’ve already safely stepped in a spot with the front paws, so it should be safe to step in that same spot again with the back foot.

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted November 1, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        I assume the hypothesis of lowered sound is viable too; having been careful, or having just rustled something away/into the ground, it should help towards that.

        But it seems to me a lot of quadrupeds are moving analogously, say horses in gallop, so maybe there is some constraint that makes it a convergent trait. (IF it is, since I have no statistics.) Stability would be a prime suspect, I would think.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted November 1, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          It might be a less-energy thing. It takes some energy (slight though it may be) to compress the snow. But further, while compressing the snow, one’s stance is uncertain – that is, you have to put some weight on that foot but you can’t put all your weight on it until the snow is compressed. Also, you’re uncertain as to how deep your foot is going to sink. This makes it a slower process than a normal step.

          (I’m unfamiliar with deep snow, but sometimes on the beach, damp sand is in such an unconsolidated state that your footsteps sink in three or four inches. Walking through such is extremely tiring. Not being quadrupedal, I can’t say whether there’s any advantage in re-using the same footprints there, but I assume there would be.)


          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted November 1, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

            I’ve just noticed Michael Fisher made the same point re energy. Just acknowledging that he was first.


      • Michael Fisher
        Posted November 1, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        A Fox walking: The hind foot steps in the front foot track, which is called registering – it is claimed this conserves energy, when walking in deep snow.

        A Dog walking: All over the place by comparison! It doesn’t register its steps when walking

        I speculate that the difference is because dogs are pack animals & thus they don’t bother ‘registering’. In deep snow a wolf pack travels in so-called Indian file, letting the lead dog take the strain of bursting the snow with [almost] belly flop style manoeuvrers. I wonder if wolves swap lead dogs in those circumstances or not?

        I’m also not sure that dogs walk much, they seem to trot a lot while the local, nightly foxes that I’ve observed, prefer to walk in a civilised manner

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    In honor of the Kinkster’s birthday, with an anti-PC intro:

  5. DrBrydon
    Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Well, then it’s also time for me to post Thomas Hood’s November. Of course, it’s nothing like this in Florida, but forty-five winters in the north leave a chill in the bones.

    No sun–no moon!
    No morn–no noon!
    No dawn–no dusk–no proper time of day–
    No sky–no earthly view–
    No distance looking blue–

    No road–no street–
    No “t’other side the way”–
    No end to any Row–
    No indications where the Crescents go–

    No top to any steeple–
    No recognitions of familiar people–
    No courtesies for showing ’em–
    No knowing ’em!

    No mail–no post–
    No news from any foreign coast–
    No park–no ring–no afternoon gentility–
    No company–no nobility–

    No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
    No comfortable feel in any member–
    No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
    No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,

    • Lurker111
      Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      I recently exchanged messages with someone who once lived in Labrador. He said the winters were long and brutal, but that it was still the preferred season. In the summer, the black flies eat you alive.

      • DrBrydon
        Posted November 1, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

        I did not entirely hate winters in Chicago. Like winter in any snowy climate, they could be beautiful, and refreshing, and pleasant. They could be damned cold, though, and for long stretches. I remember one recent winter when it didn’t get above zero (Farenheit) for several weeks. Then it gets into your bones. Fall, though, is fairly dreary.

  6. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    ‘According to Wikipedia, it was on this day in 1896 when “a picture showing the bare breasts of a woman appears in National Geographic magazine for the first time.” Yes, many young men read the magazine as their only chance to see semi-naked women.’

    In the light of NG’s recent lapses into religiosity, it’s kinda perversely satisfying to contemplate that today’s moral decay was all precipitated by National Geographic.


  7. George
    Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I also use a Sonicare toothbrush. You can brush just as well with a regular toothbrush as with an electric toothbrush. The problem is that “can” does not equate with “do”. I read somewhere that people who use a regular toothbrush brush for less than a minute. Those with an electric with a timer feature brush for at least two. I brush longer than that. The Sonicare pulses every 30 seconds indicating that it is time to move on to another quadrant of your mouth but I usually do not think I am ready to move on. So when it shuts off after two minutes, I have to start it again to finish all areas.

    I am not sure what is the more important advantage of an electric toothbrush. It requires less effort and brushes correctly all the time. But there is also the psychological aspect of that timer. You know you are not done.

    So a technology that replicates what you can do without it. But you do not. So the technology is correcting for human error and laziness.

    • darrelle
      Posted November 1, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      I really don’t know, haven’t seen any data on it, but are you sure manual brushing can achieve the same results as brushing with a good electric like the Sonicare? Just based on my experience that seems unlikely, though I realize I could be fooling myself.

      With a manual brush I’m pretty brutal. I brush hard and long. Much longer than 2 minutes. My arm would normally be tired afterwards as if I had been arm wrestling and I’m fairly strong.

      With the Sonicare, which I’ve been using for about 4 years now, I brush similar to what you describe, 1-1/2 to 2 times the programmed cycle. It is certainly easier than the way I brush with a manual but it also does really seem to give me better results as well. And I can’t imagine being able to get more out of manual brushing than I was. But then again, I’ve never had a cavity or gum problems so perhaps the manual is just as good, or at least good enough to effectively prevent cavities.

      • claudia baker
        Posted November 1, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        Since I got an electric toothbrush a couple of years ago, my dental check-ups have been great. I assumed it was because of the new toothbrush, but maybe I just wasn’t doing it properly with the manual, as George suggests. Makes sense.

        Six months ago, my hygienist suggested adding a water pic to my dental regime. She said it takes care of any gum bleeding during teeth cleaning. So, I got one and used it and last week went for my 6 month cleaning. Not a speck of blood! A water pic does not replace flossing. It cleans below the gum line, where brushing and flossing may not reach. Oh gawd, this is starting to sound like an ad. I’ll stop now.

        I was so chuffed to have such a great check-up, that I asked her if I could have a lolly-pop.

        • George
          Posted November 1, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          I water pik, floss, use an electric toothbrush. Real fastidious about oral hygiene. And I am in the midst of getting my third and fourth implants. Bad genes. Crap teeth in my family.

        • darrelle
          Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

          I’ve noticed that water pics are making a come back recently. They were pretty popular for a while back in the ’80s as I recall. I never had one but all the cool kids did.

          I’m guessing this new generation of water pics are higher performance than the 1st generation ones?

          Kids these days are spoiled. As soon as my kids sprouted all their adult teeth their dentist applied some sort of new (at least to me) long lasting coating that protects the teeth. I’m not sure how long it lasts but its been a few years already and has not needed to be replaced. Hard to say about efficacy because other measures, like brushing, are involved but they haven’t had any problems with their teeth to date.

        • darrelle
          Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink


          • claudia baker
            Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

            That’s a bummer George! I have a friend who is in the same boat as you. She is fastidious about her oral hygiene, yet has had so much dental work. I have been lucky for sure.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      I agree absolutely with George there. I usually despise electric gadgets (I still use a cheap disposable razor) – and for years I put electric toothbrushes in that class – till I tried one. I get bored and lazy with repetitive tasks. The electric is just so much more thorough than I could ever be bothered with when I had to scrub my choppers manually.


  8. Posted November 1, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Those who “fell asleep” on this day

    This term always amuses me. I live in a cemetery (honestly – and it has been very noisy last night 😉 ), and I have seen this on several gravestones. I can’t help thinking how upset they must have been when they woke up. Stuff of nightmares, really.

    • Posted November 1, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      I got the phrase from 19th-century tombstones in a graveyard in Cornwall, England: many of the tombstones, before the death date, said, “fell asleep on. . .”. What a euphemism! But of course I think that’s the same phrase used to describe death in the Old Testament.

      • claudia baker
        Posted November 1, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        “Stuff of nightmares, really.” Lol. Exactly!

        How I would love to say that to someone who tells me that their loved one is “sleeping peacefully”. Really? They’re in for a shock, then.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted November 1, 2017 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

          I feel a spasm of Thomas Hardy coming on –

          And then the main drain had to cross,
          And we moved the lot some nights ago,
          And packed ’em away in the general foss
          With hundreds more. But their folks don’t know,
          And as well cry over a new-laid drain
          As anything else, to ease your pain!


  9. Dave B
    Posted November 1, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    > I’m not sure, though, that this behavior really minimizes noise

    Go for a walk in the forest with a group. Let everyone walk anywhere they want, minimize talking (so you can hear the sound of leaves being crushed, sticks snapping etc).

    Next, walk in a line and try to step in each other’s footsteps. Less noise as the first few people disturb everything while followers disturb less.

    Doesn’t work everywhere. (not minimized on hard surfaces).

    Works for groups of apes (at least the military tribe of them I was in when I was young – one of my many mistakes) , not sure about an individual cat (don’t think that likely).

    Considering cats do a lot of hunting in lower light conditions, and they have crappy vision in close (read that, not sure about it), my bet would be on it saving the cat paying attention to where it puts it’s hind feet.

    • busterggi
      Posted November 1, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Cats do have crappy vision up close, that’s shown as they will leave small amounts of food in their dishes as too small to notice but if you gather those small bits together they immediately see there is more and start eating again.

      • Dave B
        Posted November 1, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        That explains so much about my wee Ollie. If 24 pounds is wee.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 1, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        Is that because their eyes can’t focus close in?

        (I know a lot about that symptom because my geriatric eyeballs are permanently stuck on one dioptre past infinity).


  10. Andrea Kenner
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I loved watching the video of Seabiscuit and War Admiral!

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