Sunday, January 19th, 2020, is the 48th anniversary of my father’s death. He died at just 59, when I was nine. He’d had a bad stroke two years before, and, in the days before early intervention in stroke patients prevented or ameliorated effects, was paralyzed on his left side and lost the ability to speak. His mind was as sharp as ever though, and the loss of ability to speak or write (he was left-handed, like all us five children) must have been horrendous. I remember him nevertheless being able to teach me the meaning, spelling—and, somehow, pronunciation—of two new grown-up words: “solder” and “cerulean.”
Eleven years ago tomorrow, on September 28, I lost my beautiful sweet Lucy Cat. She was skittish and terrified when I first got her, hiding under the bed and only emerging at night to eat. I decided to take on gentling her as a project, but that soon turned into just loving her up. She eventually graduated to merely prickly, but with an increasing supply of love returned to me. I had her for 11 years and by about half that time, she had softened enough that she would play with other people, and even let them pet her. I was devastated when she died. I know, I know, everyone feels this way about their “best kitty ever,” but Lucy was mine.
In Lucy’s honor, therefore, I have the distinct pleasure of presenting Neko Font, a DIY word creation site that takes any letters(s) you type in and converts them to kitty-shaped furriness! It was created in Japan (“neko” is the Japanese word for cat) but I have the English-language site selected; other languages are available via the menu at the top.
One hundred and three years ago today, Le Petit Journal, a French newspaper, featured an illustration of cholera, which was decimating the troops of World War I: Death cuts through the marching men with a scythe. Notably, the men wear the red fez, identifying them as Tirailleurs Sénégalais. (Tirailleur translates variously as “skirmisher,” “rifleman,” or “sharpshooter”; Senegal was then a French colonial possession in West Africa.)
In the past 200 years, seven cholera pandemics have killed millions across the globe. The seventh is still going on, but advancements in medical science have greatly reduced the number of people who die from it.
…At the turn of the twentieth century, the sixth cholera pandemic killed more than 800,000 in India before moving into the Middle East, northern Africa, Russia and parts of Europe. By 1923, cholera had receded from most of the world, although many cases were still present in India.
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