Monday: Hili dialogue


Well, here it be: better late than never.


Good morning on a dreary Monday, May 18, 2020: National Cheese Soufflé Day. It’s also I Love Reese’s Day (yay for those delicious peanut butter cups), International Museum Day, and National No Dirty Dishes Day (I never leave dirty dishes after a meal, and do it all by hand, even though I have a dishwasher).

News of the Day: It’s so depressing that, for the first time, I can’t watch the evening news all the way through. According to the New York Times, Brazil (once a leader in response to health crises), is coping poorly with the pandemic, with people violating space restrictions and the country becoming a new focus for an outbreak. In the U.S., confirmed deaths from coronavirus have reached 89,932, and the world total now stands at about 315,000.

And today’s the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, which killed 57 people and did $3 billion worth of damage.

Stuff that happened on May 18 includes:

Here’s a commemorative tweet found by Matthew, and the thread has a lot of stunning photos:

Notables born on this day include:

Those whose lives were snuffed out on May 18 include:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili smells meat upstairs (her favorite is beef):

A: Why are you sitting here on the stairs?
Hili: Because it smells good at our neighbours’.
In Polish:
Ja: Czemu tu siedzisz na tych schodach?
Hili: Bo u sąsiadów ładnie pachnie.

Here is Szaron frightened by a bunch of lilacs:

A meme from reader Simon: When haircuts resume after the pandemic:

From Casey:


Another pandemic meme from Bruce Thiel:

A tweet from Titania. Genders are now more numerous than letters of the alphabet. What on earth can we do now?  LGBTQ + ∞?

From Barry: a video of a Thailand cat cafe. Pity these can’t be open in the U.S. during the pandemic, as they’re great stress relievers.

Simon says, “Apostrophes matter.”

Tweets from Matthew.


Newly found video footage of the now-extinct thylacine, or “marsupial wolf”:

Hazel the Wombat occupies the washing machine. Sound up, please!

Look at this sweet Scottish wildcat and her kitten. (Be sure to play the video.)

COMMON bronzewing? Seriously? Read more about it here, it actually is one of Australia’s most common pigeons.




  1. Dominic
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Good day to all – wishing you all a virus free week! I actually saw a friend in a park yesterday for an hour! 3m between us & I said Eh? a couple of times!

    My grandfather was born the same year as Bertrand Russell, but died aged 90…

  2. JezGrove
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Also on this day (amd contributing a hefty number to the “those who died on this day) was the Bath School Disaster / Massacre in 1927:

  3. E.A. Blair
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    I visited a maternal aunt who lived in Longview, a southwest Washington town, a few months after the eruption. Except for heavy ashfall, she was not affected by the eruption, but the Red Zone (as it was called) was not far away, and I got a tour even though it was oficially off limits.

    The devastation was astonishing; rivers coming off the mount were turned into mud floods that left soil deposits on the few trees that didn’t get washed away – mudmarks on the trunks went up to thirty feet and more overhead. Houses were swept downstream like chaff and ended up looking like something Godzilla has stepped on. There were parts of Longview that reminded me of Chicago in winter, but it wasn’t piles of plowed snow scattered throughout the town, it was ash. If you tried walking through ashfall, it filled your shoes and abraded your feet. If you fell while walking through it, or it was windborne, it got under your clothes. When I was there, jokes about “hauling ash” were considered mortal sins.

    Considering the damage, it was a lucky thing that more people weren’t killed.

    One long-term benefit from the eruption, though, is that volcanic soil is good for viniculture, and the Washington wine industry has been thriving.

    • Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the personal description. I was living in Saskatchewan, just north of Montana. The volcanic ash that drifted a thousand kilometres to dust my farm truck was thick enough for me to sketch the initials of my girlfriend on the truck’s white hood.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Mt. St. Helens continues to pose a dangers, not just from further eruptions but especially because of frequent earthquakes in the area. A large earthquake could damage the integrity of a natural dam caused by debris from the eruption.

      “When St. Helens blew its top, it triggered an avalanche that dammed the Toutle River. Water could no longer drain from Spirit Lake, raising the water level. If this dam was to fail suddenly, the flood that would sweep down the river system would threaten 50,000 people living downstream.”

      Mt. St. Helens poses multiple dangers.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      I was sound asleep at the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier (SW corner of the park) about 20 miles or so NE of St. Helen’s, when my daughter woke me up to tell me that “Mount St. Helen’s has interrupted.” We got in the car and drove down the road to a high spot from which we knew you could see St. Helen’s. A lot of people were there but all you could see was a big cloud of ash moving our way. We got about 1/2 way home when ash started snowing down. I was not due to work for several hours, but I just put on my uniform, got my patrol car, and went to work to help close the park and get visitors on their way out. We had an accumulation of about 2 inches of ash at Nisqually. On the east side of Rainier they had about 5 to 6 inches of ash. I spent the next couple of weeks with a fire hose washing down buildings and roads. Somewhere I still have a jar of ash from that day.

      • Rita Prangle
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        I have a small container of ash from Mt. St. Helen’s that my son brought home from school in Illinois. A classmate had visited there and brought back enough to give out the small samples to everyone in the class. The notable thing was how much the small sample weighed. It’s very heavy for it’s size, though I don’t know the numbers.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Lucky employee at the cat cafe who gets to take care of the litter boxes.

    Shameful episode in history – how about the last 3 1/2 years.

  5. boudiccadylis
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Is the Scottish wild cat and kitten actually ild or merely feral?

    • Pierluigi Ballabeni
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      If it is a European Wildcat (Felis silvestris) it is a different species than the domestic cat (Felis catus). I think the domestic cat results from the domestication of an African species, not the European one (there are hundreds of cat momies from the Ancient Egypt; perhaps the domestication happened there).

  6. boudiccadylis
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink


    • Randall Schenck
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      If the cat occurs in the wild then it is wild.

  7. rickflick
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I road the TGV train from Paris to Bordeaux in, I think, 2 hours (not at all 575 km/hr). Great ride. On the one hand, it’s amazing technology. On the other hand, it seemed pretty much removed from the villages and people. It might be nice to take a bicycle from Paris to Bordeaux.

    • Rita Prangle
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Watching the video of the fast train, I wondered about the stopping distance, and if it might exceed the distance that can be seen ahead of the train. In other words, if the engineer sees a hazard ahead and instantly reacts, could the train be stopped in time?

      • rickflick
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        Good question. Wikipedia: the onboard security systems are among the world’s most advanced. The high-speed tracks, maintained by SNCF Réseau, are also subject to heavy regulation. Confronted with the fact that train drivers would not be able to see signals along the track-side when trains reach full speed, engineers developed the TVM cab-signalling technology, which would later be exported worldwide. It allows for a train engaging in an emergency braking to request within seconds all following trains to reduce their speed; if a driver does not react within 1.5 km (0.93 mi), the system overrides the controls and reduces the train’s speed automatically. The TVM safety mechanism enables TGVs using the same line to depart every three minutes.

      • Graham Martin-Royle
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        As retired train driver I can say that at 100 mph which was my line speed if I put the emergency brake on I would hit whatever it was I saw before the train stopped.

  8. Andrea Kenner
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    It looks like the cat cafe’s name is Caturday.

  9. EdwardM
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Hirsute Winklepicker?!

    • EdwardM
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Scratch that. I don’t want to know.

  10. merilee
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    The wombat!

  11. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    It breaks my heart to see that Tasmanian tiger in captivity — going from pillar to post futilely trying to find a way out of captivity.

    • EdwardM
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      “The apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun.
      The parrots shriek as if they were on fire, or strut
      Like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut.
      Fatigued with indolence, tiger and lion

      Lie still as the sun. The boa-constrictor’s coil
      Is a fossil. Cage after cage seems empty, or
      Stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw.
      It might be painted on a nursery wall.

      But who runs like the rest past these arrives
      At a cage where the crowd stands, stares, mesmerized,
      As a child at a dream, at a jaguar hurrying enraged
      Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes

      On a short fierce fuse. Not in boredom—
      The eye satisfied to be blind in fire,
      By the bang of blood in the brain deaf the ear—
      He spins from the bars, but there’s no cage to him

      More than to the visionary his cell:
      His stride is wildernesses of freedom:
      The world rolls under the long thrust of his heel.
      Over the cage floor the horizons come.”

      The Jaguar. Ted Hughes

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Wow! Thanks for posting this poem. It is exquisitely sad and exquisitely beautiful.

        I’d not paid much attention to Ted Hughes’s poems before. But after this, I’m going to investigate.

      • Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

        This poem has the best, best words! Enchanting and haunting, and full of fitful anger and frustration. We humans are terrible beasts.

    • davelenny
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Yes! A bare concrete pad, someone banging on the enclosure, no vegetation, no mate.

  12. Charlie Jones
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Australia has the best pigeons!

  13. Posted May 18, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    That look on Hili’s face! I don’t know quite what she’s expressing, but it’s brilliant.

  14. Ruthann Richards
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the duckling update this morning. Yesterday I check the camera feed off and on, so much rain, and I was worried about them. Do they ever spend time in the plant area at the bottom of the screen? How much time do they spend on that canal? This morning I didn’t see them, and the islands were too waterlogged, so I wondered where they were.
    Re Mt. St. Helen’s: I will never forget the old man who lived there with all his cats and refused to leave–they were all killed.

  15. Jim batterson
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    You published it on time this morning. I read it at 0700 chicago time and have been sending urls from dialog items to people from time to time all day. And of course look at the time stamps on comments. Do not know what may have happened to original

    • Posted May 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Me too. It must have just gone poof.

      • Terry Sheldon
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

        Thank you!! I thought I was going batty. I checked my email and saw that I got a notification of the posting of the Hili dialogue at 7:31 Eastern time. I know I read it this morning before I started work!

  16. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    This is like something out of the twilight zone. I hope Rod does not show up. Note: This was put up this morning and the time on the comments proves it.

  17. Posted May 18, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink


    I honestly believed it was there and I’d read it!

    • Posted May 18, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      G-d must be sending another message.

      • JezGrove
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

        Yup, that will teach our host to think to himself, “What would convince me there’s a god would be if he could alter an event in the past”!

    • Moishe
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      It was there. I read the Hili dialogue this morning as well. In fact I copied the Obama/Trump apostrophe tweet to my Email at 5:50 AM PDT

      Something must have happened with WordPress.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

      Not only did the email arrive in my inbox with a timestamp of 6:30 – and I’m in the Central Zone as well – but there were two copies. I get duplicate mailings from WEIT three or four times in a week, but there’s never any consistency; sometimes it’s the Hili Dialogue, sometimes it’s other posts.

      • rickflick
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        Same here.

  18. loren russell
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    On the morning of May 18, 1980, I was crossing the Willamette River bridge on my bike, looking forward to a grueling 80+ mile tour linking 8 or 9 covered bridges in Linn County. Out of a clear sky there was a series of thunderclaps: Boom .. boom …boom-boom. Although we’d been expecting an eruption, I didn’t connect the “thunder” with the Big One, 150 miles to the north. Rather, assumed some military jets were having fun.

    I got home about 5 hours later, but in pre-cell phone days, neither I nor the several cyclists I stopped to chat with had any idea.

    When I got home, I turned on the radio, then TV. All the stock footage, helicopter shots of houses and forests clogging the Toutle River, and darkness at noon in Yakima…

    I grabbed a sandwich and headed out again on my bike, this time to the lookout atop 4000ft Marys Peak, giving a clear view to St. Helens and north.

    I ran out of fuel [“bonked” in American cyclist language, NOT the British usage!], about 5 miles from the top of Marys Peak and nearly turned back, but was revived by a 16-oz can of Olympia beer — a wordless hand-up from a pickup, in the parade to the viewpoint.

    At the top — of Marys Peak, there was no top — to St. Helens. All that could be seen from the south was the most incredible mass of thunderheads, as the mountain made its own weather.

    I had little left by the time I got home — this was, at 135 miles, one of the longest days I ever put in on my bike. And certainly one of the most memorable.

    [About the booms: St. Helens was heard much farther away, but only where terrain and atmospheric inversions conspired to focus the sound. In Oregon, it was apparently inaudible in the Portland area, only 40 or 50 miles from the mountain, and in my area, only in limited areas on the flat floodplain to the east of Corvallis.

  19. daniaq
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    For me too…I read the dialogue at 7:30 AM.

  20. Roger
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    So, according to comments, I did see this earlier. I nearly had myself convinced of a glitch in the matrix. The mind plays fascinating tricks.

    • JezGrove
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:55 am | Permalink

      Not sure when PCC(E) reposted this with the anguished “I can’t believe I forgot the Hili Dialogue” remark, but it was definitely there when I looked at it at the regular time, and thanks to Jerry’s early hours and the time difference here in the UK, I’m often one of the first to comment below the line.

  21. Posted May 19, 2020 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    Going back to those Mt. Saint Helens photos is terrifying after having lived in Washington recently. How quickly we all forget. Thanks for the reminders and a prompt to enjoy every day.

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