Sunday: Hili dialogue

by Grania

Welcome to the last day of the year. I hope you have an obligatory bottle of something bubbly to celebrate with.

Twitter round-up for the day includes a beautiful photograph of space from earth. The photographer adds that it was taken with “A Nikon D800 with Nikkor 14-24mm, f/2.8. It’s a 4 panel panorama all shot at f/2.8, ISO 2500, 30 seconds.”

There’s an interesting conversation about language over on Twitter and the meaning of names.

And a fascinating short video of the freezing surface of the Great Lakes


Finally, Princess Hili shows her gratitude with all level of graciousness we have come to expect.

Andrzej: Happy New Year.
Hili: Thanks, come with such treats for the whole year.

Andrzej: Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku.
Hili: Dziękuję, przynoś takie przysmaki przez cały rok.


  1. Kirbmarc
    Posted December 31, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    The Italian word for raccoon is “orsetto lavatore”, which means “little bear who washes stuff”. Probably a partial calque from French.

    • Lurker111
      Posted December 31, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      In German, it’s Waschbaeren, also “bears who wash [stuff].”

      • Paul Beard
        Posted December 31, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        In Hungarian it`s mosómedve – washbear.

      • Merilee
        Posted December 31, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

        Just stumbled on Waschbären (the word) yesterday in a great book called The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben.

    • George
      Posted December 31, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      In Polish, a raccoon is a szop, shortened from szop pracz. Szopa is Polish for (all four) shed, cote (pigeon shelter), lark, and thatch (as in a roof). Prać is Polish for launder or wash – and pronounced pretty much the same as pracz.

      So laundry in Polish as well. Hili was too lazy, I mean tired, to answer this herself.

      • Merilee
        Posted December 31, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        So raccoon among the pigeons ( in the thatch)?🙀

    • nicky
      Posted December 31, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      ‘Raccoon’ itself apparently comes from Algonquinian: Arahkunem’: ‘who scratches with the hands’
      In most European languages it is ‘wash-bear’
      [eg Dutch wasbeertje (littte wash-bear) or Norwegian vaskebjørn]. A ‘raton’ in French generally is a young rat, but can be used for other young animals, such as hedgehogs or badgers.

  2. George
    Posted December 31, 2017 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    This year, we plan to celebrate the New Year on Atlantic Time – which is 10pm in Chicago. We had barely been making it to Eastern Time the past few years. Buenos Aires time beckons. Soon we will be celebrating at GMT – 6pm in Chicago.

  3. rickflick
    Posted December 31, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I grew up not far from the shore of Lake Michigan near Muskegon, Michigan. The icy waves are familiar. In a typical year the near shore is solid with broken ice which forms huge wrinkles and walls. We used to walk out on the ice and wander among the chunks. Some years the lake froze solid almost all the way across. That’s 80 miles between Muskegon and Milwaukee.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 31, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      AH, those good old days, the ice age. This morning the temp in Wichita, Kansas is 5F/-15C. So everything from Canada is not good.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 31, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        We called Kansas deep in the banana belt. My sister lives in Baudette, MN where the temp was -21 F yesterday. Sometimes it get’s down to -40. Baudette is where auto companies test their cars for winter conditions.

        • Merilee
          Posted December 31, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink


          • Posted December 31, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

            You can say that again! Here in Ontario, the windchill was -35C this morning.

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted December 31, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

              Please…keep it to yourself.

            • Merilee
              Posted December 31, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

              Although I think the aforementioned -21 was in F…We are in any case getting close to where -40F=-40C, i.e. bloody cold. We took our new Mexican-born puppy out yesterday on a short hike in snowy cold Ontario and she was having way too much fun to notice the cold. I do feel sorry for her little bum, though, when she squats in the foot of snow to pee.

              • Posted January 1, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

                Ah, yes, I see. My bones feel positively brittle w/ the cold now.
                Your puppy sounds so cute!

    • George
      Posted December 31, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      Plus Muskegon gets all that lake effect snow as the weather moves from west to east picking up moisture from Lake Michigan. I had to look it up. Muskegon averages 87 inches (221cm) a year. Considerably more than Milwaukee – 52″ (132cm). But Milwaukee gets 50% more than Chicago which is just 90 miles south – 36″ (91cm). Is it because we are on the southern tip of Lake Michigan while Milwaukee is full on the lake?

      Better than the upper peninsula of Michigan – Marquette averages 204″ (518cm) of snow every year. Love those UP houses with doors on the second floor for use in the winter when the snow is pile so high against the house.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 31, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        I lived in the UP near Houghton when I attended Michigan Technological University. We’d wake up to 1″ of crisp dry powdery snow to brush off the car every morning. Most of the city streets were not plowed, the snow was just packed down by traffic. The winter festival in February is when students make elaborate ice sculptures.

  4. Posted December 31, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    The pancake ice clip was especially cool. A nice example of pattern formation in nature.

  5. nurnord
    Posted December 31, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    So Alice in Blockchains states the French word for raccoon is raton laveur and that the translation LITERALLY means ‘rodent that washes stuff’. I was frowning reading that thinking it could not be correct,and so went investigating…

    1. Raton laveur IS French for raccoon, no disagreement there.
    2. The literal meaning is NOT ‘rodent that washes stuff’.
    3. Raton itself, according to some sources without laveur, literally means ‘raccoon’ and also means ‘rat/young rat’.
    4. Laveur is ‘cleaner’ or ‘washer’, as in the noun, e.g. a person that cleans.
    5. So the literal meaning is ‘raccoon cleaner’ or ‘rat cleaner’ or ‘raccoon washer’ or ‘rat washer’. Certainly not ‘rodent that washes stuff. Remember, I am stating literal meanings here, and Alice is just wrong.

    …and let’s not forget, raccoons are not rodents anyway !

    • Christopher
      Posted December 31, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      And the French word for a bat is Chauve-souris, which, I believe, translates directly into bald mouse, although it is neither. And in Cherokee, the word for opossum is (phonetically) si-quu-tse-tsi, or “smiling pig”, probably a new name since they didn’t have pigs until after European colonization, and their word for pig, si-qua, was possibly the original word for opossums. Confusing, yes, but who said languages had to make sense, anyway?!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 31, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        All languages are chock-full of animals mis-named after some other animal that was familiar at the time.

        Hedgehog comes to mind, also guinea pig.

        In Rarotongan, a pig is ‘puaka’ (from English ‘porker’ ?), a dog is puakaoa (‘aoa’ is to shout or bark – so ‘pig that barks’), a cat is kiore-ngiau (‘kiore’ is rat, ‘ngiau’ is I’m pretty sure the equivalent of miaow)


      • nurnord
        Posted December 31, 2017 at 8:41 pm | Permalink


    • Christopher
      Posted December 31, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      And speaking of the French, a phrase I recently learned: faire une carte de France, direct translation: to make a map of France, or in other words, to have a wet dream. No need to elaborate further, I assume. 😬

      I’m sorry or your welcome, whichever the case may be…

  6. Blue
    Posted December 31, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Again … … allegedly from Mr Caesar:
    the first, actual .31 December. New Year’s
    E v e !

    This professor offers up no unerring counsel
    in re those ‘re – solutions’ for the next year. And beyond. Nor do I.

    Just for tomorrow for you … …
    … … paz, paws and p a u s e, All.


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