Monday: Hili dialogue

I’m writing this at 5 a.m. on my birthday (yesterday) so I can post early and spend the rest of the day having fun (I’m getting a special meal and a trip to the botanical gardens). It’s Monday, December 31, 2018: New Year’s Eve and one day after the end of Coynezaa. It should be National Champagne Day but it’s National Vinegar Day, which is what you get if you leave champagne open for a while. And although it’s the day after the end of Coynezaa, Wikipedia notes that it’s “the sixth and penultimate day of Kwanzaa (United States).”

On this day in 1600, the British East India Company was chartered. And a banner day for drinkers: on this day in 1759 “Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness.” I wonder if they’re still paying that 45 pounds. 9,000 years! More from Wikipedia: “[December 31] 1853 – A dinner party is held inside a life-size model of an iguanodon created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and Sir Richard Owen in south London, England.” On this day in 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa to be the capital of Canada. Because it was the Queen’s choice, and Canada is now semi-independent, they could now change it to British Columbia or Toronto.

On this day in 1879, Thomas Edison first demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public; it was in Menlo Park, New Jersey. On the evening of this night in 1907, they held the first New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, New York, City. On December 31, 1992, Czechoslovakia was dissolved peacefully and divided into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.  Exactly 7 years later, Boris Yeltsin resigned from office as Russia’s President, leaving Vladimir P*t*n as his successor. Finally 18 years ago, it the the official last day of the Second Millennium. It’s odd to think that we still used dates based on the life of a mythological wonder-working rabbi.

Notables born on this day include: Wilfrid Noyce (1917), Odetta (1930), John Denver and Ben Kingsley (both 1943), Donna Summer (1948), and Bebe Neuwirth (1958).

Those who died on December 31 include: Robert Boyle (1691), Gustave Courbet (1877), Roberto Clemente (1972; killed in plane crash; I watched him play for the Pirates in Forbes Field), Marshall McLuhan (1980), Eliot Richardson (1999), and Natalie Cole (2015).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has Weltschmerz:

Hili: By and large I’m content.
A: But something is lacking?
Hili: Yes, but I don’t know what.

Hili: W zasadzie jestem zadowolona.
Ja: Ale czegoś ci brakuje?
Hili: Tak, tylko nie wiem czego.


My old college pal Stash Krod sent me some suggested New Year’s resolutions from the Michael Leunig Facebook Appreciation page (Leunig is an Aussie cartoonist and poet). I’m on board 100%!

Here are two funny photos from reader Merilee. One advantage of the internet is that the previously unknown comedians among us get their day:

Many thanks to the people who wished me happy birthday yesterday. Here’s a lovely e-card I got from reader Jacques Hausser in Switzerland:

From reader Tom. I think this is really a de-escalated fight:

From reader Nilou, showing New Year’s Day last year: prepare yourself for stuff like this!

From Heather Hastie via Ann German.  Nice skills!

Tweets from Grania. I hope to see rockhopper penguins late in 2019.

Polar bears playing and play-fighting.

Mother and kitten:

And one of nature’s cryptic marvels, which I’ve written about before: the orchid mantis:

From Matthew: Population-genetic brews made by Speciation Ales. Where do I get these?

I’ve forgotten about politics on my holiday, but it seems to be continuing in the same dysfunctional way. Look at this!

You be the judge: did Grover curse?

Social falcons! That’s what this photo purports to report, though I’m not sure that communal roosting and migration qualifies as “sociality”. These are Amur falcons, Falco amurensis,

These birds migrate between Siberia and southern Africa: here are a male, a female, and their range map from Wikipedia:



They look like peregrines, but are insectivores

Wintering and breeding ranges:



  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Happy Belated Birthday!

    • rickflick
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Well, technically, the birthday is not belated, though your acknowledgement may be. 😎

  2. Serendipitydawg
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Happy new year Heather! I don’t know if you are still up celebrating but you will be up and around in 2019 long before I will 🙂

  3. Karen Fierman
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Have an Aloha Nui Woo-eee Yummy day today, Jerry!

  4. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink


    on this day in 1759 “Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness.” I wonder if they’re still paying that 45 pounds. 9,000 years!

    That’s St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin. The lease is null & void because the site & buildings were bought from the leasor by Guinness when it expanded beyond the original 4-acre site.

  5. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 7:20 am | Permalink


    “On this day in 1879, Thomas Edison first demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public”

    It was the first time Edison demonstrated it to the public, but the first public demo of incandescent lighting was by the Scotsman James Bowman Lindsay 44 years earlier.

    Among his technological innovations, which were not developed until long after his death, are the incandescent light bulb, submarine telegraphy and arc welding. Unfortunately, his claims are not well documented but, in July 1835, Lindsay did demonstrate a constant electric lamp at a public meeting in Dundee, Scotland. He could “read a book at a distance of one and a half feet”. However, he did little to establish his claim or to develop the device”

    • rickflick
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      It seems there is a time for everything. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    PCC could take another 8 hour flight west and celebrate the New Year early on Guam. It could get quite noisy on Oahu as they tend to do lots of fireworks. Recommend earplugs if you plan on sleeping.

    • Christopher
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Three cheers for the Galápagos Islands for banning fireworks to protect their wildlife. I guess Hawaii doesn’t have much of any endemic wildlife left to protect anyway.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted January 1, 2019 at 6:24 am | Permalink

        I gathered that especially on “Hawaii” the ‘main island’ there is quite a bit of endemic birdlife left, especially high in the mountains. IIRC because the mosquitos spreading Avian Malaria are no going high up.
        I’m sure some here can tell us more about it.

  7. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink


    It’s from their December bottling & you’ll have to be quick, future releases may be on a different theme.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      Some of the beers pictured have been on their list for over a year. They release a new bottled brew each month on a specific date & you prof have to be there [or your proxy] in Michigan on that date. Or you can buy from various local bars/liqueur stores while stocks last. FAQ ON GETTING THE STUFF

      P.S. The brewers are serious retro D&D fans & metalheads. Makes sense – you have to be an obsessive fan type to consider brewing beer for profit – long term survival chances worst than opening a restaurant.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    The great Roberto Clemente was on his way to deliver relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua when his plane crashed. In his way, he was the Puerto Rican Jackie Robinson.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      “Pocahontas” just announced she’s running for prez.

      • Harrison
        Posted December 31, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        She launched an exploratory committee which is typically a prelude to running but it’s not a done deal yet.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    “From reader Nilou, showing New Year’s Day last year: prepare yourself for stuff like this!”

    Wonder if the fella in the tweet trained for his feat of strength the same way as Milo of Croton.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    “We will continue to fight these battles, it is a never ending struggle… until the Rapture.”

    Nothing instills confidence in the prospects for enduring world peace like a Millenarian US Secretary of State.

    • Posted December 31, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      In the Rapture, all the really fanatical Christians will suddenly disappear. It’s entirely possible that the World will be a safer place with fewer battles once they have gone. Hopefully God will take the fanatics of other religions too.

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted December 31, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        Jesus H.Christ! The Sec. of State of the U.S. invoking the “Rapture”? Honestly, it doesn’t get much nuttier than that.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted December 31, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

          It’ll get nuttier. Pretty much as Einstein predicted.

        • Posted December 31, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          This is only for native speakers. For others, nothing takes the wedge away from a word like having to Google it to see what it means.

      • Posted December 31, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        Unfortunately, new ones are born every day. We would have to repeat the Rapture periodically to achieve the desired result.

  11. Roo
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Hey, happy belated birthday! I hope it was a wonderful day. You know, I didn’t plan it this way, but I sort of celebrated in your honor by visiting a science museum. I was incredibly moved to realize what vast amount of knowledge biologists and other scientists have unearthed in such a relatively short period of time through hard work and boundless human curiosity; and, especially touched to realize that no matter what one’s race, creed, nationality, sexual orientation, political views and so on, people from all over the world instantly know that when they see a fossil of a large predator carefully recreated by scientists, the universally appropriate response is to say “Oh my God! A giant carefully recreated fossil! I need to take a picture or selfie wherein I pretend this thing is nomming me to death!!” (I believe scientists have dated this instinct to around Paleolithic era, when Cave Selfies emerged.) It was a beautiful coming together of people from all over the world to hand off phones and clear spaces for people who have always wanted to pretend they were a giant animal’s lunch.

    Anyways, happy birthday, and thank you for your contribution to that mind boggling library of human knowledge! I have come to appreciate the phenomenal traits of humankind more since I started meditating on ‘interdependence’ – one practice is to stop in any situation and say “What all needed to happen to make this moment happen? How many people and how much prior work and sequences of causal events were involved.” It’s mind boggling at a seemingly mundane place such as a grocery store but especially so at museum’s that celebrate human achievement. Humans have a long way to go (we have wiped out many of the very species that we study for example… um… not ok humans, we need to do better) but seeing our potential does give me hope.

  12. Christopher
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I’m all for a New Years resolution about ducks and afternoon naps. This year mine is to read the entire 15 volumes of Darwin, 1896 edition from Appleton co., that I got for a steal a little while ago. Two years ago my resolution was to save all of my belly button lint for a year, in the interest of scientific curiosity, of course. I prefer resolutions that are more obtainable than losing weight or whatever. I suppose reading, ducks, and naps would work well together. Challenge accepted.

  13. Ray Little
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    You leave our Capitol alone, you Yankee carpetbagger!
    Seriously, it was a weird choice (basically middle of nowhere) but it’s there and all those stone Parliament buildings on the edge of the picturesque river have a pretty permanent look about them. Best leave it be.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Yeah that was a bit of pointless snark in the original post.

      Obviously Canada could change their capital any time they wanted, regardless of who chose it. But why would they?

      It’s hardly any odder than Washington (not NY) being the capital of the US, or in fact of Albany being the capital of NY (State).

      I suspect part of the reason for Ottawa was that it was midway between the French zone (Montreal / Quebec) and the British zone (Toronto). Wikipedia confirms this. It was also chosen as being far enough from the US border as to be safer from surprise attack. The ‘Queen’s choice’ was purely symbolic based on a recommendation from the Canadian government. She didn’t just stick a pin in a map.


  14. DrBrydon
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I think he says “sounds.” When I first heard it, it did sound like “f*ckin’,” but after that it sounded like “sounds,” and now that’s all I hear.

  15. Caldwell
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Trump’s SECRETARY OF STATE, America’s chief diplomat, said

    A Secretary of State didn’t say that; Pompeo said it in 2015.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Still f’n crazy.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Are you aware of any evidence suggesting Pompeo has abandoned his belief in “the Rapture”?

      In any sane administration, such a statement would disqualify a person from serving as the world’s most power nation’s chief diplomat.

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted December 31, 2018 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        This is defo NOT a sane administration.

      • Posted December 31, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        It’s interesting that a candidate must have a religion to be electable but belief in “The Rapture” is going too far. Personally, I await our first atheist president but I doubt we’ll get one in my lifetime.

        • rickflick
          Posted December 31, 2018 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

          There a good chance we’ve had a few already. They just pretend their not to broaden their constituency. I’m looking forward to the day people assume everyone else is an atheist so the question never comes up.

          • Posted December 31, 2018 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

            You’re likely correct. I doubt Trump really believes in any religion though he is probably controlled by the Devil (Putin).

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 1, 2019 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

            I’ma go with Jefferson and Lincoln — though even they were prone to crediting “Providence” and to declaiming in Scriptural language and rhythms.

            • rickflick
              Posted January 1, 2019 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

              Whether a president believed in magic or not, they all had to appeal to the masses if they wanted to get anything done.

  16. Posted December 31, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I am not sure what you mean by a semi-independent country. Canada is 100% independent. It happens to have the Queen as its titular head of state but that is its own free choice and as an independent state it could choose tomorrow to have Celine Dion or anyone else it fancied as head of state and no-one (including the Queen) could do anything to stop it.
    I am pretty sure the US has at least as much (and probably considerably more) influence as the UK government over what Canada does.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      I vote for Rufus Wainwright as head of state. He’s very talented and adorable to boot. Also, though he’s gay, he and Leonard Cohen’s daughter made a baby. He’s one cool dude eh?
      Plus I’d like to see him on our money. He’s better looking that the Queen.

  17. nwalsh
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Canada semi-independent eh? – Who knew.

  18. Otternaut
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Seeing the Orchid Mantis takes me to revisit the possible existence of a Creator afterall

    • Posted December 31, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Perhaps the creator is a giant Praying Mantis and this flower was created in his/her image. Ok, probably not.

  19. W.Benson
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    . . . and Happy New Year!

  20. Posted December 31, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Great photos and videos, my favorite: the forklift.

  21. Serendipitydawg
    Posted December 31, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    A very happy 2019 to all from the UK 😀

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      And from me from the UK too

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