Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Mietek monologue)

It’s Tuesday, the cruelest day: March 24, 2020: National Cake Pop Day, an overly small dessert rejected by all food mavens, as well as National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day, a snack that one of my friends used to call “rabbit turds”. It’s also National Cheesesteak Day, an indigenous and estimable American sandwich, National Cocktail Day, National Agriculture Day,. and World Tuberculosis Day, honoring the birthday of Robert Koch (see below).

News of the Day: Everything’s going to hell in a handbasket. I can feel my own well-being eroding; for two days I have not spoken to another human being face to face, and I’m becoming grouchy (well, grouchier than usual).

Here’s a useful video about how to wash your hands. Watch it, please:

Stuff that happened on March 24 includes:

And one of these concertos, No. 6 in B flat major (BWV 1051; 1721)—in particular the the last (allegro) movement—may be my favorite piece of classical music. Here it is performed in my favorite version, the one by Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert. As I’ve said before, this piece is very bouncy: if there were music for Tigger, this would be it.

More stuff that happened on this day:

  • 1832 – In Hiram, Ohio, a group of men beat and tar and feather Mormon leader Joseph Smith.
  • 1882 – Robert Koch announces the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis.

For this discovery, Koch won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1905. Here’s the great man at the bench (photo from the Koch Institute)

  • 1921 – The 1921 Women’s Olympiad begins in Monte Carlo, first international women’s sports event.
  • 1944 – World War II: In an event later dramatized in the movie The Great Escape, 76 Allied prisoners of war begin breaking out of the German camp Stalag Luft III.

76 men escaped, but nearly all were captured: half were shot and many returned to the camp. Only three men escaped successfully.  They had dug a 103-meter tunnel under the wire and into the woods.

  • 1958 – Rock ‘n’ roll teen idol Elvis Presley is drafted in the U.S. Army.

Here’s a video, sans sound, of Elvis being inducted. During his two years in the Army, Elvis was introduced to both his future wife Priscilla, but also to amphetimines.

  • 1989 – In Prince William Sound in Alaska, the Exxon Valdez spills 240,000 barrels (38,000 m3) of crude oil after running aground.
  • 1998 – First computer-assisted Bone Segment Navigation, performed at the University of Regensburg, Germany
  • 2008 – Bhutan officially becomes a democracy, with its first ever general election.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1820 – Edmond Becquerel, French physicist and academic (d. 1891)
  • 1874 – Harry Houdini, Hungarian-Jewish American magician and actor (d. 1926)
  • 1886 – Edward Weston, American photographer (d. 1958)
  • 1902 – Thomas E. Dewey, American lawyer and politician, 47th Governor of New York (d. 1971)
  • 1909 – Clyde Barrow, American criminal (d. 1934)
  • 1919 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti, American poet and publisher, co-founded City Lights Bookstore

Ferlenghetti turns 101 today! Here he is in front of the famous San Francisco bookstore he founded:

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti poses on Monday, Jan. 15, 1988 in San Francisco in front of the North Beach bookstore he founded more than 35 years ago. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors accepted 13 of Ferlinghettiís recommendations on Thursday to change local street names after 15 of San Franciscoís best known artists and writers. (AP Photo)

  • 1930 – Steve McQueen, American actor and producer (d. 1980)
  • 1944-J. S. “Steve” Jones, geneticist, science writer, and friend of Professor Ceiling Cat.
  • 1976 – Peyton Manning, American football player and entrepreneur

Those who checked out on March 24 include:

  • 1603 – Elizabeth I of England (b. 1533)
  • 1882 – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet and educator (b. 1807)
  • 1905 – Jules Verne, French novelist, poet, and playwright (b. 1828)
  • 2016 – Johan Cruyff, Dutch footballer (b. 1947).

One of the greats, Cruyff did all this despite smoking heavily. He died of lung cancer in 2016. Here’s a video of some of his great moments in football.


Meanwhile, there is no joy in Dobrzyn:

Hili: Do you see what I see?
A: What do you see?
Hili: A catastrophe.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy ty widzisz to, co ja widzę?
Ja: A co ty widzisz?
Hili: Katastrofę.

And in nearby Wloclawek, we have the return of Mietek the rescue kitten, who’s very nearly a cat now. Apparently his staff member Elzbieta is reading a book while Mietek looks on, wondering about the plot.

Mietek: And what happened next?

In Polish: I co było dalej?

And here’s a new picture of Szaron. Since he was taken to the vet, examined, treated for an eye infection, given his shots, and had his testicles removed, Szaron is scared of coming inside. He more or less lives on the veranda, though he likes people (he sits on Andrzej’s lap, where he purrs and gets petted, and where he’s fed), but hasn’t ventured more than a few feet inside the house. The good news is that he seems to be getting tamer, and that he and Hili, though wary of each other, do not fight.

An amusing note from Malgorzata:

The sun is shining and both Hili and Szaron went out. They stopped and lay down on the grass about 2 meters (correct coronavirus distance) from each other, sneaking a look at each other and then pretending that they didn’t see. It was very funny.

From Merilee:

From Jesus of the Day:


From reader Su, who posted this as “Best covid meme ever”:

From Gethyn: The cops in Mallorca ain’t your ordinary cops. Does anybody know this song?

The Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Officer has an announcement:

From Heather Hastie via Ann German. I don’t like putting depressing tweets up, but I’ll make an exception here:

Tweets from Matthew. First, Saffy sees a gecko. (Don’t Siamese cats have the most annoying meows?)

These fish are getting the hell out of Dodge, for the Jacks are coming!

My paternal grandmother died in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, right after my dad was born. I haven’t yet read this paper, but you can access it by clicking on the first link:

Oh, man, that poor dude! Be sure to enlarge the video.

Bats are the most dainty and neatest urinators I’ve seen in the animal world.  Look how it shakes itself off at the end!


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Elvis was introduced to both his future wife Priscilla, but also to amphetimines.

    His hitch in the service lasted two years, the marriage to Priscilla about five or six, but Elvis’s problems with pills haunted him (despite his having been deputized an honorary DEA agent by Richard Nixon) right up until the King was found croaked on the throne in August 1977.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    What was learned from the 1918 Influenza is very similar to what they know today. I believe the number of deaths in the U.S. alone was 664,000. I see in Italy they are even using an ice skating arena as a mortuary.

  3. Simon Gallant
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Hi Jerry

    Just signed up to your blog this morning. Arrived here because of a link to a previous post about Laura Nyro. I have been pretty grouchy myself but listening to the upbeat riff and downbeat lyrics of Stoney End made me excited and cry at the same time (as it always does).

    I don’t know who you are but there are plenty like me in North London who will appreciate your polymath geekiness. I will share.

    Hope you have a less grumpy day and stay well.


    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      “Just signed up to your blog this morning.”

      If you keep in mind that WEIT is a website and not a blog, I’m sure that Jerry will have a much less grumpy day, now and in the future.

  4. Hempenstein
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    My technically-competent and intellectually-curious plumber called me wondering about details on the use of ozone for sterilization vs. coronavirus. (I think that Pittsburgh is using that nightly on their buses, too). He now runs an ozone generator in his shop overnite.

    In any event, in looking for data on ozone ablation of viruses, I ran across this from 1982. The recovery of mice with influenza is enhanced by exposure to (what I think is) a mild level of ozone! The text seems to refer to other studies showing the same with sulfur dioxide, but I haven’t tracked those down.

    What does ozone hit? Another study from Italy in 2006 points to cysteine, tryptophan and tyrosine as the smino acid residues most sensitive to ozone, and RNA being even more sensitive.

    • rickflick
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Keep me posted.

    • Posted March 25, 2020 at 5:54 am | Permalink

      Isn’t ozone itself pretty dangerous to humans?

      Wikipedia says this:

      This same high oxidizing potential, however, causes ozone to damage mucous and respiratory tissues in animals

      That would suggest to me you are more likely to get coronavirus because of the mucous tissue damage and be worse because of the respiratory tissue damage.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    My paternal grandmother died in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, right after my dad was born.

    My mom (who would’ve turned 91 today) had an uncle die in the Spanish Flu epidemic. I could tell from the way she would talk about it that, even though she wasn’t born until over a decade later, the stories of the mass deaths during 1918 epidemic she’d heard growing up had haunted her childhood memories.

  6. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Love the Spanish cop serenade! 😎


  7. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Johan Cruyff was about the greatest. Not just as a player, but as an ‘architect’, he basically developed the ‘total football’ system (together with Rinus Michels), which makes it such an attractive sport to watch, and later he developed the tic-tac style of short passes, that won Barcelona so many matches.
    His best quote:
    “In Spain all 22 players make the sign of the cross before they enter the pitch. If it works all matches must therefore end in a draw.”

  8. rickflick
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    It’s great to wake up to Bach.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Brilliant as the Brandenburg concertos are, they -unbelievably- did not get Bach the position he tried to get. Brilliant as they are, they are still not my favourite pieces by Bach.

  9. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I wish that the POTUS were Mr Inslee instead of Mr Trump. What a contrast!

    • EdwardM
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Trump recently said this about Inslee; “That governor is a snake” in reference to Pence’s fact finding trip to Washington State at the being of the pandemic (he was there to learn about WA state response).

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 24, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        I guess that being called ‘a snake’ by Mr Trump is somehow a badge of honour.
        Mr Inslee is so much what Mr Trump is not: humble and modest, knowledgeable, listening to experts, honest, a leader, a gentleman (he was the only one in those primary debates that did not interrupt another speaker).
        Again, how much better off the US would be with Mr Inslee for president (he was my favorite candidate, and he did not disappoint in the Washington crisis)?
        Sadly he dropped out of the race.

    • Mark R.
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      I’m happy he’s our governor. I couldn’t imagine living in a state run by a Trump-governor like Texas or Florida…blind leading the blind.

      Trump’s lack of leadership is frightening. Now he says everything will be open again by Easter. Riiiight, 19 days from now America will probably have more cases than any other country. And why does Trump think he can supersede a governor, or Disneyland or the NBA?

      • Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps only red states will re-open on Easter, leading to a higher COVID-19 fatality rate among their citizens, and a higher rate among Fox News viewers generally. Imagine further that analysis after the election shows that Trump would likely have won but for many of his voters having died. Ok, this is obviously just my imagination running wild due to a case of raging cabin fever but it could happen, right?

        • rickflick
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          Right. 😉

          You can still go for a walk – but remember: 2 meters!

  10. merilee
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink


  11. Posted March 24, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I love how the bat shakes the last drops off after peeing. I’d run to everyone to show them this video but for two things (a) we’re quarantined and (b) it would make me look like a 13 year old boy.

    • rickflick
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Aren’t we all…sometimes.

      • notsecurelyanchored
        Posted March 24, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        There are worse things than a thirteen year old boy.

        • Mark R.
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, an 8 year-old boy who is also America’s President.

          • rickflick
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink


  12. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I’m delighted that Hili and Szaron are playing coy with each other. That’s a good sign that they’re becoming friends. I feared that Hili would reject Szaron. Seems that I was wrong — Good. I wonder if Hili’s thinking, “Well, he’s not Cyrus but I like him anyway — as long as I rule the roost.”

  13. Laurance
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Feeling grumpy? Are you lonely? We’re using Zoom! On Sunday my best friend and I hung out for a couple of hours.

    And just a few minutes ago there were fifteen of us having our Tuesday book club meeting.

    Some versions of Zoom are free, and others cost some money.

    It’s not the same as seeing people face to face in Meatspace, but it sure helps! We talk with each other and see each other virtually which is better than nothing at all.

    Zoom is going to be a lifesaver for me, I think.

  14. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Note sure I get the ‘best covid meme ever’ post…is it a kennel? Is it something to do with the dog staying indoors?

    • Posted March 24, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      I don’t either.

      • merilee
        Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        It’s Snoopy’s doghouse without Snoopy!

    • Charles Minus
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      I’m not telling.

  15. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Something to cheer you, or at least to distract you:


    • notsecurelyanchored
      Posted March 24, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Though some of those Texas cats look suspiciously like brown tabbies.

  16. Charles Minus
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    So wonderful that Lawrence Ferlinghetti is still with us. He wrote one of he few poems I have ever memorized, entitled D**. You can (and should) read it in full at https://100.best-poems.net/dog.html

    I’m sure Lawrence, like the hero of his poem is still
    “. . . looking
    like a living questionmark
    into the
    great gramaphone
    of puzzling existence
    with its wondrous hollow horn
    which always seems
    just about to spout forth
    some Victorious answer
    to everything.”

  17. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    “And one of these concertos, No. 6 in B flat major (BWV 1051; 1721)—in particular ”

    It just occurred to me – I think this has a distinct motif that is featured in one of the English Suites. I’ll have to listen to make sure and find the catalog entries…

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 25, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      English Suite no. 2 A minor V Bourée I and II BWV 807

      It’s close, but not exactly the same. Also not major.

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