Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

December 31, 2019 • 6:30 am

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve: Tuesday, December 31, 2019. Today’s Google Doodle show the tradition of New Year’s fireworks; clicking on it below (or on the Google page) takes one to a listing of New Year’s Eve events in Chicago. In your location, the Google Page will certainly direct to your local festivities.

Sadly, Hanukkah and Coynezaa are over, but last night I cooked a big strip steak and washed it down with a fine bottle of burgundy (h/t: Mark). This evening the new decade will start, and we’ll be writing “2019” on our checks for a while—that is, if anybody still writes checks.

Oh, I forgot: it’s the Seventh Day of Christmas (Swans A-Swimming). We’re back to winter weather in Chicago, with a high of only 31° F (-1° C) today, but no snow predicted for at least a week.

Besides New Year’s Eve, it’s National Vinegar Day (??), but also National Champagne Day. I doubt I’ll be awake to see in 2020. Every year when I was a kid, my parents would bring out a bottle of Cold Duck (yech!) to celebrate New Year, but then would fall asleep before midnight. They’d put the bottle back in the fridge and try again the next year. I think they had the same bottle for years! Although now I have truly good bubbly at home and actually drink it on other days, with respect to New Year’s Eve bedtime I’ve become my parents!

It’s also Hogmanay in Scotland,  World Peace Meditation Day, and Make Up your Mind Day (probably referring to those New Year’s resolutions that are never kept).

Stuff that happened on December 31 includes:

  • 870 – Battle of Englefield: The Vikings clash with ealdorman Æthelwulf of Berkshire. The invaders are driven back to Reading (East Anglia), many Danes are killed.
  • 1759 – Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness.
  • 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.

Now that would have been something! Waterhouse was famous for making life-size models of extinct animals that he put on display at the Crystal Palace in London.

  • 1857 – Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa, then a small logging town, as the capital of Canada.
  • 1878 – Karl Benz, working in Mannheim, Germany, filed for a patent on his first reliable two-stroke gas engine, and he was granted the patent in 1879.
  • 1907 – The first New Year’s Eve celebration is held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in Manhattan.

Below you can see a short history of the Times Square celebrations in video. I was there on, I believe, New Year’s Eve, 1972, when I was living in the city. Everybody was drunk, and so there was a palpable sense of common humanity, bonhomie, and joy. I wouldn’t do it again, as it was so crowded, but I’m glad I went once.

  • 1946 – President Harry S. Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II.
  • 1955 – General Motors becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over US$1 billion in a year.
  • 1992 – Czechoslovakia is peacefully dissolved in what is dubbed by media as the Velvet Divorce, resulting in the creation of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.
  • 1999 – The first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, resigns from office, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President and successor.
  • 1999 – The U.S. government hands control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) to Panama. This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties.
  • 2009 – Both a blue moon and a lunar eclipse occur.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1514 – Andreas Vesalius, Belgian anatomist, physician, and author (d. 1564)
  • 1869 – Henri Matisse, French painter and sculptor (d. 1954)
  • 1917 – Wilfrid Noyce, English mountaineer and author (d. 1962)
  • 1930 – Odetta, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actress (d. 2008)
  • 1943 – John Denver, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 1997)
  • 1948 – Donna Summer, American singer-songwriter (d. 2012)

From The Great Cat, here’s a photo of Matisse at his apartment in Nice with his beloved moggie Minouche:

And Matisse’s painting The Cat with Red Fish (Le Chat Aux Poissons Rouges):

Notables who ceased existing on December 31 were few, but include:

  • 1691 – Robert Boyle, Irish chemist and physicist (b. 1627)
  • 1877 – Gustave Courbet, French-Swiss painter and sculptor (b. 1819)
  • 1980 – Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher and theorist (b. 1911)
  • 1999 – Elliot Richardson, American lawyer and politician, 69th United States Attorney General (b. 1920)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is making New Year’s resolutions:

Hili: New Year is coming.
A: So what?
Hili: In 2020 I will rationalize less.
(Photo: Paulina R.)
In Polish:
Hili: Zbliża się Nowy Rok.
Ja: I co?
Hili: W 2020 roku będę mniej racjonalizować.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina R.)

And in nearby Wloclawek, Leon is sporting a bow tie!

Leon: Oh dear—a red one would suit me better.
In Polish: Eeeee, czerwona by mi bardziej pasowała.

From Rhymes with Orange by Hilary Price (h/t: Jon):

From Jesus of the Day:

From Simon’s Cat:

Okay, there has to be some training or trick in this. You tell me! More tomorrow.

Two tweets from Heather Hastie via Ann German. Look at that adorable duckling!


I didn’t get this until I saw it was outside a library. How cool and clever!

Tweets from Matthew, beginning with the last morning exodus of 2019 from Marsh Farm Barn. The animals rush excitedly to the Salad Bar:

Rare ancient Chinese cat art:

Notice that the magnet doesn’t actually touch the copper:


First a goat and then a llama. What a day!

Raccoon’s got her back:



35 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

  1. Is that a Trumpeter Swan? Nice photo.

    The end of 2019 looks bad, just like the first of it. Remember the Trump govt. shutdown. Now we appear ready for war in Iran and Iraq – pick one. Also appears Australia is burning up. Better hope this is the last of Trump.

  2. 1980 – Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher and theorist (b. 1911)

    I assumed he was in suspended animation, forever waiting behind a poster in a New York movie theater lobby:

    1. One of the great cinematic moments. Nearly as great as when Jay and Silent Bob drop from the sky and save the lady from the demon skate rats.

  3. The Jenga Doggie is called Secret & she’s a four year old AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD [or AUSSIE], which Wiki claims, is closer than the border collie it resembles, to the Carea Leonés, Pyrenean Shepherd and Old German Herding dogs that were brought over by shepherds to the USA. The Wiki link above attempts to explain why “Aussie” although it’s an American breed.

    The red head owner is Mary & she’s intensively clicker-trained Secret all her life to perform a zillion tricks – the Aussie needs to be kept busy at all times & it’s a very smart herding breed. Some lovely pics of the pair on the MARY & SECRET Insta account.

    Watching the short video it’s clear that Secret is highly motivated to please Mary – the dog is almost constantly attentive to Mary’s face. It’s my guess that Secret appreciates that the task is to take a block without making nasty noises that would upset any invisible sheep in the house. When Secret grasps a block she usually freezes rock solid & then stealthily moves her head – this behaviour is herding dog all over & happens to be helpful at maintaining the Jenga tower.

      1. It’s heartwarming to observe such a well trained dog. I sometimes wonder who should get credit, the dog, or the history of breeding and the breeders who sculpted such behavior out of the clay of a wild carnivore?

        1. I’m ambivalent on that, why choose – can’t we give them all a squeaky toy? More seriously – that’s a lot of puppies drowned over the decades & what we have is a creature prone to a whole host of medical conditions including a very demanding personality – not a content creature.

            1. I am on my third aussie. Not one of them has had “medical conditions” outside normal dog issues. Mary obviously spends a great amount of time working with her dogs. The facial observation is a natural feature when working with aussie. Love them

              1. @boudiccadylis

                I am happy to be corrected – I suppose the vet sites I looked are keen for screening business. I was erroneously going by the list of common genetic health conditions associated with the Aussie & the statement “Aussies have two dozen inherited diseases and defects that occur often enough to be called common” – which could mean anything. 2%, 5%, 10%? No figures given.

                Also I now see a list at the Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute – I’m aware of course that these aren’t just Aussie medical conditions [Hip Dysplasia for example is found across many large breeds of dog] & I also know that if the puppy was obtained from a reputable breeder [where the stud animal [is that the terminology?] was thoroughly screened for likely problems] you’re going to likely have a healthy mature dog.

                Woof! 🙂

              2. I’d guess that working dogs generally are healthier breeds than “companion” or “show” dogs. The physicality involved probably forces the quick elimination of many obvious ailments. Poodles, not so much. My daughter is a vet and says about 1/3 of her business is removing ingrown hair from small fuzz-ball dogs.

        2. From what I see in the pictures and videos here and at Mary’s site, the relationship between Mary and Secret is a beautiful thing.

  4. Why was it left to Queen Victoria to choose Ottawa as the capital of Canada? It seems the Canadian government could not make up it’s sorry mind between, Montreal, Ottawa, T.O., and Kingston. So the Queen was asked to settle the matter. In the end, Ottawa won the day, a choice favored by the Governor General. Some say that Ottawa also received unofficial support from Lady Head, the G.G.’s wife, who apparently was a good friend of the Queen.


  5. 1946 – President Harry S. Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II. Thus, beginning the orgy which produced the baby boom, of which I am a proud member, born in that very same year.

  6. That open book fountain isn’t near a library – Budapest University Library is two blocks away. But it is near a beautiful big building the Petofi Literature Museum & antiquarian book sellers are traditionally nearby. There is also a book seat


    There is another, open book fountain at Gulhane Park near the Topkapı Palace, Istanbul & it doesn’t look quite so barren:


    1. The OP cat looks engraved with little relief. This one is in high relief and could be made from a mold in clay. Does your source have a wider view with multiple cats (from the same mold)?

      1. HERE

        Note the alliteration 🙂

        The drone view is interesting – the five tombs are going straight up a slope in a line. I wondered if the boss man got the top tomb & his servants & serfs got lower tombs when they popped their clogs. Maybe boss man gets the top end arty cat while the others get the Walmart version.

        1. Fancy feline friezes found!

          “…two cat sculptural wall reliefs were found…”. So, looks like just the two. I’d say they were both carved not cast, but probably by different artists.

          When I saw the lay of the structure, I figured it was a noble, his wife(s), and a few other relatives.

  7. “870 – Battle of Englefield: The Vikings clash with ealdorman Æthelwulf of Berkshire. The invaders are driven back to Reading (East Anglia), many Danes are killed.”

    A small correction: Reading is not in East Anglia. It is west of London and Englefield is a small village a few miles west of Reading. East Anglia is the round bulge northwest of London.

    The Vikings had already conquered East Anglia and marched to Reading intent on pushing westward and taking Wessex. It got messy.

    1. East Anglia is the round bulge northEAST of London.


      (Even though I’ve never been there)

      You’re quite right about Reading, though.


  8. I hear that the Association of Catholic Opthalmologists will soon be making a pilgrimage to Lourdes, where they hope to experience a mass 2020 vision.

    It’s Jan 01 over here, so Happy New Year to the Proprietor of this wonderful blog, and all the readers and commenters and photographers.

    1. Is there such a thing as ‘The Association of Catholic Ophthmalogists’? What does religion have to do with eye health?

  9. I’m writing on Dec. 31, 2019, at 4 pm in the Eastern time zone. Clicking the Google image now took me to a page that talks about places that are already in 2020.

    Also, I guess those of us in the DC area don’t count for much, because the listed celebrations for our time zone were mostly in New York.

    Anyway, Happy New Year to all!

  10. Loved the book fountain!

    But I twitched at the description of a metal plate setting up an induction field opposing force in response to the infalling magnet as “resistance”. However mundane such a description can be.

    “Lenz’s law, named after the physicist Emil Lenz (pronounced /ˈlɛnts/) who formulated it in 1834,[1] states that the direction of the current induced in a conductor by a changing magnetic field is such that the magnetic field created by the induced current opposes the initial changing magnetic field. … Lenz’s law may be seen as analogous to Newton’s third law in classic mechanics.”

    “Currents bound inside the atoms of strong magnets can create counter-rotating currents in a copper or aluminum pipe. This is shown by dropping the magnet through the pipe. The descent of the magnet inside the pipe is observably slower than when dropped outside the pipe.”

    [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenz%27s_law ]

    That is how the law was demonstrated in the class teaching us. Just to make my resistance to the twitter wording worse, unless the plate is a superconductor there is also some resistive dissipation of energy going on. (Aside from the transfer into the fields as potential energy.)

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