Good morning on a chilly December 9 (Chicago temperatures -4°C, 25°F), with Arctic cold and snow approaching my town this weekend. It’s National Pastries Day, and I have one cupcake waiting for me at work (note added in proof: it’s now in my alimentary canal). There’s an unusual holiday in Sweden and Finland today; as Wikipedia notes: “Anna’s Day marks the day to start the preparation process of the lutefisk to be consumed on Christmas Eve, as well as a Swedish name day, celebrating all people named Anna.” I like the idea of name days (where’s “Jerry’s Day”?), and wonder if every day of the year is a name day in Sweden. But about that lutefisk: from what I know of it, I’d rather be named Anna than eat that lye-soaked pottage. Here’s a novice tasting the stuff for the first time; the best he can say is, “It’s not like I”m going to fall over and die.” Then he goes off camera and appears to vomit.
I mark with sadness yesterday’s death of John Glenn, war hero (in two wars), test pilot, astronaut, Senator (he was the main author of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978), ambassador for space, and, according to all save Tom Wolfe, a genuinely nice guy, never pulling rank. At the age of 77, he went up in space again, still approaching the adventure with childlike wonder. When I was a kid I had an autographed photo of all 7 Mercury astronauts (unfortunately, that photo vanished), and he was the last to die.
On this day in 1905, France passed a law providing for the separation of church and state. And, exactly thirty years later, the first Heisman Trophy, for achievement in collegiate football, was awarded to Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago Maroons. We’ll never see the likes of that again at my school; we have no athletic scholarships and a noncompetitive team. On December 9, 1961, Tanganyika gained independence from Britain, and, on this day in 1979, the final eradication of smallpox was proclaimed: a huge achievement for scientists, epidemiologists, and field workers. (No credit to prayer or religion here.) The disease has not reappeared, though frozen viruses reside, I believe, in two locations.
Notables born on this day include John Milton (1608), Margaret Hamilton (1902; you’ll know her as The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz), Kirk Douglas (1916; he’s 100 today, and still with us!), Judi Dench (1934), and Donny Osmond (1957). Those who died on this day include Edith Sitwell (1964) and Mary Leakey (1996), Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, while Cyrus goes after his ball, Hili pursues mice and birds, but Cyrus, ever protective of his little friend, warns her about predators of cats:
Hili: You can play with the ball and I will catch something.A: Be careful not to get caught yourself.
Hili: Wy bawcie się piłką, a ja sobie coś złapię
Ja: Uważaj, żeby ciebie nie złapali.
Finally, have two GIFs of foxes hunting for prey under the snow. They hear the rodent under several feet of snow, and, with the help of the earth’s magnetic field, dive on the (usually) right spot. Those pounces are generally toward the northeast; read about their remarkable snow-hunting ability here.