At the back of the hill

Warning: May contain traces of soy, wheat, lecithin and tree nuts. That you are here
strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton.
And that you might like cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Friday, February 21, 2020


This morning I scoped out the news of the day, on Thursday I let the tide of ignorant ranting from the boys just slide over me, exercising my right not to dispute needlessly. Remarkably they all had solutions. To everything.

As was entirely to be expected, logic and facts were not the most important elements in their old-school weltanschauungen. By a rather wide margin.

They differ less than they think from the majority.

It's all magic.

"We are deeply saddened and embarrassed by the action of our employee"

------Spokesperson for Super 8 by Wyndham Plymouth, Plymouth, Indiana.

SOURCE: Racist assaults and ignorant attacks against Asians - CNN

We are too, dude. We are too. You know, I thought my country was better than this. Apparently we are precisely like the Italians and the French.
Or the Ukranians. Remarkable people, those Ukies.

"Whenever I get a flu shot, I always get the flu"
and ""I never go to the doctor, they lie."

------Cigar smoker who shall remain nameless, a happy go lucky fellow.

Besides insanity and addiction, diseases were hardly mentioned yesterday.

There is better access to knowledge in this era than even a few years ago. But there is less common sense. Or at least it often seems that way.
Rather than despairing over my dumb-ass fellow man on a day off, I shall sometime today head over to Chinatown for something nice to eat, plus a cup of Hong Kong milk tea, and a stroll around the alleyways with my pipe filled with a lovely tobacco mixture. It's quite safe there, and no one ever asks me where I'm from because of my accent.

At present I have no desire to visit France, Italy, the Ukraine, Indiana, or New York. Despite their beeindruckende sehenswürdigkeiten.

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Thursday, February 20, 2020


The apartment mate is on the phone talking with someone about food. She's sneering about a gluten-free kale burrito. Which is something that anyone can tell was invented by my people, for my people. Which she didn't say, thank you Jesus, but lordy we've come up with some strange shiznit.
We hyper-inventive white people.
Gluten-free kale burritos.
Good lord.

She stated to the phone person that she preferred a burrito with fat in it.
Like, I would imagine, a carnitas burrito. Though there's probably a version of carnitas made with tofu, invented by a white person. No offense meant to white people (of which I am one), but unless you dingoes are going to do weird things with your own cuisine, please step out of the kitchen.

Bubble and squeak made with tofu. Black pudding made (entirely) with tofu. Bangers and mash? Pure tofu bangers. Yummy.

The world is waiting for precisely such a thing.

It will save the planet.


One pound fried tofu cubes bought at a market in Chinatown.
Three cloves of garlic, minced.
Two Tablespoons of sambal oelek or sambal badjak.
Two bunches (one pound) kale, rinsed and chopped.
Half a cup chicken stock.
Quarter cup sherry.
Dash of fish sauce.
Hefty pinch of sugar.
Salt and pepper.
Lime wedges.

Plus: Thick slices of French bread or sourdough drizzled with olive oil, and baked on an oiled sheet in the oven till nicely golden.

And: Six rashers of bacon cut in large pieces across, fried till almost crispy, with two to four tablespoons of the grease reserved.

First reduce the chicken stock, sherry, and fish sauce by two thirds with the pinch of sugar added.
Heat up the bacon grease in a roomy fry pan, add the garlic and stir about, then add the sambal and chopped kale, stir around a few seconds on high heat, pour the reduced stock and sherry mixture into the pan and dump in the tofu and bacon pieces, toss till heated through. Add salt and pepper. Serve with the toasted slices of bread for crunch.
Lime wedges for squeezing.

Generally speaking, kale is best sauteed with bacon grease, and goes well with good sausages, all of it served sloppy with both sambal and a decent grainy mustard, or Tierenteyn from Belgium.

Kale is also suitable for a stamppot, especially if you have a source of smoked sausages. But you could use fried pork belly instead.
Or nice chunks of carnitas.

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There's a girl at one of the local Walgreens who once said to me that it almost sounded like I was speaking Chinese. But clearly she couldn't understand what I was saying, so I guess I must not have been. This is not at all unusual, and she probably thinks that a lot about many other customers. Her version of Chinese quite likely is deep Toishan. My apartment mate's parent's language was Toishanese, and she often asks me what something means, to which my response is to look quizzical, because it's kind of like listening to a Monty Python peasant from deepest Devonshire, Gumby, going "ooh argh" .....
Her reaction to me speaking Cantonese is exactly the same.
The number of times something like that happens with American born people is not inconsiderable, and I suspect that the Walgreen's person is like that.
We always speak English now with every transaction.
To her, I'm a likable though eccentric Eury.
I probably talk funny.

She's very cute, though she has frightening eyebrows.
Thick, furry, and statesman-like.
Chou Enlai-esque.

Ooh argh!

Sorry, I can't understand what you are saying. Speak English!

The chap at the place where I had my second cup of milk tea yesterday was considerably more so. He must keep track of all the businesses in Chinatown where the owners speak or understand Toishanese, because with that thick countryside speech, no native Samyap speaker will have even the foggiest clue what the heck he's saying. I listened with fascination as he had a long conversation in his home town dialect on his cell-phone, and could maybe make out one word in twenty.

Thanks to cell phones you need never be more than a ring tone away from someone else who speaks ooh arg.

I deeply apologize to all speakers of Seiyap, it really does sound like you lot are gumbies from Monty Python going "ooh argh" all the time. Some of you are worse than others.

Devonshire, Cornwall, Yorkshire, what ever.

Ooh argh.

Ooh argh.

At the place where I had lunch and my first cup of tea, one waitress warmly recommended a type of woolen glove from the mainland when I mentioned that my fingers turn blue in cold weather, and both waitresses working there yesterday speak my version of Canto. All of the shopkeepers I dealt with yesterday also understood me, as well as the proprietor of the second milk tea place. But I've heard him speaking ooh argh, just like the counter ladies at one of the bakeries I patronize, and several of the customers there with whom I've had conversations. One of whom I can barely understand, except when he's punctuating his discourse with curse words talking with old friends.

Linguistic opacity occurs most frequently with the American born, who might simply say that they don't speak Mandarin (hey, neither do I), assuming that a kwailo eructating something tonal must be trying, desperately, to say something phrasebooky or elemental in that language, because it sure as heck ain't the Chinese they know.

It's almost like ooh argh.

One of my coworkers for many years was like that. I never spoke Chinese with him at all, as he'd always made me feel stupid and unsure of my pronunciation whenever I did, and it was just too much trouble.

I've had several enjoyable and informative conversations with one of his bloodkin who runs a shop in Chinatown and doesn't speak English.
He's fluent in Cantonese, ooh arg, and Mandarin.

You know, I could attempt Hokkien, and then I'd be truly impenetrable.
Everyone would probably say that it almost sounds like Chinese.
Or that they have a distant auntie who talks like that.

Ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh.
Ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh.
Ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh, ooh argh.

Upon reflection, the chap at the second tea place can't be "Thleeyup"; there were no thleeps, thlims, ips, or ongs in his speech. So if it was "Ong waa", it was from somewhere deep in the mountains of Tennessee.
His life must be truly interesting.

To the cute girl at Walgreens, it would probably also sound almost like he spoke Chinese.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020


From a Facebook page (Mike Bloomberg's Dank Meme Stash), comes this picture, shamelessly stolen and pasted here. It is, as far as I can tell, one hundred percent accurate.

Possible original source of photo: craft beer boss meme

DISCLAIMER: I will vote for Bernie if I have to. I am not thrilled by the prospect of an angry hysteric fossil being the Democratic Candidate.
But if that's what it is, okay.

Anything is better than a lying corrupt pussygrabber who consorted with porn stars and child molesters, hitched to an vapid Eastern European bint, chosen by Putin, fooled by Kim, and cheated by the Turks.

Anything except a Christian.

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Shaking things up a little, because it pays to do things differently. Cup of Irish Breakfast tea -- a product which recalls the generations of Irish coolies sweating in the tea fields of Donegal -- and a bowlfull of Dunhill's Nightcap, which is what Englishmen smoke after the pubs close and they stagger home in their drunken stupors. No, not wearing tweed. Instead, a grungy bathrobe that reeks of staleness and smoke. Which when I'm out on the front steps having a cigarillo with my coffee shortly after six on work days keeps the wild dogs of Nob Hill away from me. As the cigarillo does their owners.

Because anyone following a hound to collect its droppings is, of course, fastidious.

The apartment mate had left for the day. Consequently I am smoking inside.

There was a day an age when I took that for granted, both when I was still a teenager and when I was not living with another person as an adult. During my Berkeley years I had a girlfriend who smoked, as well as at one point an apartment mate who collected fine briars. My apartment mate for several years now has been a Cantonese American woman who shares my tastes in some foods, but abhors tobacco. She is the person who buys the dairy products for this apartment. We share the kitchen, bathroom, and teevee room where the electronic equipment is. As well as some of the stuffed creatures. The sane ones are in her room, the wildly challenged ones are in mine. Plus also the raccoon and the soft furry skunk, who are a couple.
She's at work now, so I can get away with anything for a while.

She doesn't drink or smoke, and has no religion.
Jesus will not invade this apartment.

We respect each other.

A skunk and a raccoon who together are a couple are probably a metaphor for something, but I would hesitate to guess what. Certainly they have a far better love life than I do. She's refined and gentle, he's German.

My love life is quite non-existent. Without one iota of sour grapes, that's not a problem. While I admire the idea of a relationship intellectually, emotional involvement is a risky road, and requires changes in the person, and might be more bother than it's worth. Plus there's always the necessary pretense of some kind of moral equivalence: accepting the other person's tastes, hypothetical Jesus-freakery, veganism, anti-tobacco stance, dislike of hot sauce, and redneck alcoholic tendencies, as perfectly valid expressions of unique individuality. As well as being supportive of all of that.

Oh, yeah, possible shopping fever too.

Scented candles. Ick.

What is needed is a person who likes strong tea and stuffed animals, largely abstains from alcohol, has no strong objections to pipe smoke, and owns her own collection of books.

Someone who doesn't get in my way, and will tell me when I get in her way.

Most of the people I am somewhat close to nowadays are men, many of them middle aged pipe smokers with idiosyncratic habits, or younger thoughtful types from a yeshiva background and a talmudic bent. There are a few in neither category, and some people of the opposite gender. Other than that all of them are liberals and open-minded, there is little overlap.

I tend to avoid the ultra-fastidious.

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Here it is, at three in the morning, and I'm wondering what I'll have for lunch. After paying my monthly insurance to the CCHP, there will be at least half a dozen places within a block or two for a delicious meal. My healthplan, clinic, physician, and the office where I'll hand over a cheque are in Chinatown.
When I chose that plan, I figured that because it was near my digs, and they had experience dealing with crusty old codgers swearing in different languages and not taking advice too gladly, it would suit me perfectly.
It turns out I was right.

Of course, I'm still working on them to also publish in Dutch, in addition to Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Tagalog. Bit of a slog. Especially seeing as Netherlanders in the United States are perfectly able to use English. More so if their ancestors came over centuries ago. So helpful pamflets on "suikerziekte" and "de griep" are not really necessary.

Lunch, however, IS necessary.

Een smakelijke middag maal in a restaurant waar er Sriracha saus (sambal) op elke tafel is, en waar men of Vietnamese koffie, of Hong Kong melk thee kan drinken, is noodzakelijk.

Along with enjoying a pipe of tobacco afterwards, and grocery shopping.
As well as people watching.

On my days off I need real people around me instead of Marinites.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020


Dinner: Fish and potato in a curry sauce over rice (咖哩石班飯 'gaa lei sek paan faan'). Hot sauce (是拉差 'si laa chaa') in lieu of sambal. Hot milk tea. It was a delicious meal, very enjoyable. There were over two dozen other customers in the place. And, other than myself, no white people. Because white people are too scared that they will catch the Wuhan virus, simply from being within a few feet of a Chinese person.

You know, I am really disappointed in my fellow Caucasians.

On the one hand, I do like eating a delicious dinner where there are no confused white folks taking up the wait person's time with inane questions ("does it also come with potatoes, or is rice obligatory?"), on the other hand, this fearful sh*t is really absurd.

Yes, over two dozen Chinese people. I am certain not a single one of them had Wuhan fever. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that none of the many people of Chinese ancestry around me today have it.

Everyone at my bank was Chinese.
So were the bus passengers.
Chinatown pedestrians.

That fish curry was exceedingly nice. I heartily recommend it.

By the way: my apartment mate, a Chinese American who does not have Wuhan disease, is thinking of getting a weird spiritual white folks massage at a spa that caters primarily to "woke" white people. If she can keep a straight face long enough. Makes you feel centered in Mother Earth, nurtures your immune system, balances your energy.
She received a generous gift card.

One more by the way: she can't pronounce Wuhan in her parental version of Chinese, and would have a difficult time locating that place on the map. None of her relatives have ever been there. No one she knows has.

Later this evening I'll be in Chinatown again. As well as tomorrow.
And on Friday, my third day off.

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When I was in my very early teens I started taking snuff, a habit common among villagers in Switzerland, where we often went on vacation. Snuff, as everybody knows, is a relatively clean method of enjoying tobacco and getting the benefits of nicotine without triggering an attack by an ethnic rags wearing Californian weatgerm freak screaming about killing children.
Unlike pipes, cigars, and cigarettes.

Snuff -- tobacco leaf finely powdered, gently snorted up a nostril, which alleviates migraines and the abhorrent odeur of unwashed vegans and organic vegetable freaks, because soap is murder -- is one of the older forms of tobacco use. With the added benefit that it does not start fires in farm country in late summer, and tides you over during long airplane journeys.

[BTW: Soap is big business, and made by giant multinationals using all kinds of chemicals that are bad for the environment. If you are "green", you should avoid it completely.]

Oh, and snuff really freaks out the little retard sitting next to you demanding to look out of the window, as well as its odious parent. An added benefit!

Fribourg & Treyer were famous for their lovely snuffs. Sadly, they are no longer in business.
Wilsons still manufacture their snuff, and the Fribourg & Treyer pipe tobaccos are now made on behalf of Kohlhase & Kopp. The famous atheist, essayist, mathematician, philosopher, and all-round bad boy Bertrand Russell is known to have smoked F&T's Golden Mixture.
Which should recommend it to you.

From Wikipedia:
Snuff use in England increased in popularity after the Great Plague of London (1665–1666) as people believed snuff had valuable medicinal properties, which added a powerful impetus to its consumption. By 1650, snuff use had spread from France to England, Scotland, and Ireland, and throughout Europe, as well as Japan, China, and Africa.

By the 17th century some prominent objectors to snuff-taking arose. Pope Urban VIII banned the use of snuff in churches and threatened to excommunicate snuff-takers. In Russia in 1643, Tsar Michael prohibited the sale of tobacco, instituted the punishment of removing the nose of those who used snuff, and declared that persistent users of tobacco would be killed.
End cite.

In the modern world, it might make a come-back.
Imagine if our military men took snuff.

To cite Robert Browning:

Or who in Moscow toward the Czar
With the demurest of footfalls
Over the Kremlin's pavement bright
With serpentine and syenite
Steps with five other generals
That simultaneously take snuff
For each to have pretext enough
And kerchiefwise unfold his sash
Which, softness' self, is yet the stuff
To hold fast where a steel chain snaps
And leave the grand white neck no gash?

To put it differently, they "snuffed" the monarch and left no evidence.
Assassinating one's leader used to be more common.
It was a kinder, gentler time.

That's actually a scrap of poetry I fondly remember from my childhood. Points to the reader who guesses what brought it to my attention.
Hint: it was another English poet.

Because snuff is usually flavoured, often with very old-school fragrances, it has been banned in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and unicorporated Marin County, to keep the little hordes of kiddie-winkies from getting their hands on it, along with very many pipe tobaccos, all menthol cigarettes, infused cigars, chewing tobacco, and most vapes.

What a miserable world.

On the other hand, pitchforks, torches, and guillotines also work, and are much more engaging.


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Monday, February 17, 2020


A popular chain of restaurants in Hong Kong states that they will not take customer orders except in Cantonese, claiming that this is because not all of their wait staff speak Mandarin, and they cannot explain menu items for a Mandarin speaking audience unfamiliar with HK food. There is speculation that their refusal to serve a Mandarin-speaking clientele is because of fears of the corona virus (Wuhan pneumonia, 武漢肺炎), OR a bias against mainland visitors and their snootiness.

Either way, it's pissing people off.
Mostly Mandarin speakers.

I think I'd be fine there, as I can order what I want to eat in Cantonese, and am more than passably able to read menus written entirely in Chinese. Which is what I will be doing tomorrow, on the first day of my weekend. I am not a typical Anglo, nor a mainlander. There are few real linguistic barriers to the smart-aleck Brabander in search of something good to eat.
And living near SF Chinatown.


In the century since Vincent Van Gogh painted the picture above, we've discovered bami goreng. It's pretty much the Dutch national dish at this point. Along with very many iterations of unidentifiable fried object.

Here's a list of items with which the average educated urban (and urbane) Brabander ought to be familiar: Tastes Good. I would like to see this as part of the curriculum of every grammar school, with good reason.
Proper eating is extremely important.

Mens sana in corpore sano.

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This household is very noisy early in the morning. My apartment mate does not have to go to work today, and the various stuffed creatures in her room are loudly rejoicing. It baffles me how they can be so wide awake, so early, entirely without coffee.

It's president's day, one of America's idiosyncratic holidays with no real tradition of celebratory activities -- feel free to invent some -- which means that many people are off today, many other aren't and are somewhat resentful.

Government, banks, and law offices.

To balance things out, there should be a holiday during which government, banks, and law offices are forbidden to shut down. The rest of us get to go there, point, and gloat.

Neener neener neener day.

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Sunday, February 16, 2020


Sometimes it seems like daycare. Because it was a gorgeous day today, sunny and bright, few of the people I like dropped by, but Little White Nipple Dude did. I am a patient and tolerant man, and consequently know more about his meerschaum pipes as well as his smoking habits, than I wanted. As well as that the San Francisco Police will cite you for smoking where you shouldn't if you are yelling abuse at people and throwing things.

Which seems perfectly reasonable.

He was there for more than an hour. I felt like calling the SFPD, but it's in Marin, and he wasn't being abusive.

He also mentioned, in very great detail, the red lacquer Dunhill lighter he uses for lighting his pipes.

Again, I shall stress that I am a patient and tolerant man.

I could have been a combat medic.

Confession: What every sane pipe smoker wants, really wants, is either good company and a place to smoke, OR peace and quiet and a place to smoke. Plus tea and occasionally some chocolate. Dark chocolate covered lemon satin creams are very nice, fyi. They should be on sale now that Valentine's Day is over.

Note that by "sane pipe smoker" is meant this blog author.
Certainly not Little White Nipple Dude.

Cookies are nice too.

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The green stuff is fragrant screwpine, mixed with foodcolouring for both artificial verisimilitude and as a visual clue. At least I think that's what it is, but it might be matcha. Whatever, it's not particularly noticeable, as the toffee bits on the outside and the sweet cream within dominate. It was purchased at one of my favourite Chinatown bakeries, which was not doing very good business because people are loosing their marbles over corona virus. Several of the eateries I passed were nearly empty. Americans believe that you can catch Wuhan Pneumonia from looking at a Chinese person.

Just like you can catch syphilis from looking at a Frenchman.
Or stupidity by seeing too many North Americans.

There was also brown stuff in the pastry.
Chocolate, possibly.


The "vermillion ancient capability squad orchid auspicious gentleman rolled egg cake" ('jyu gu lik paan laan seui si kuen'). Which is delicious, and goes well with a hot beverage. Chocolate pandan Swiss roll cake.

Whatever the heck the green and brown stuff is.

I actually prefer their old wife cakes -- small flaky biscuit pastries filled with candied winter melon paste -- as well as something I haven't seen there in a long time, probably because I don't go there in the morning when all the locals are there. The Lotus Flower Flaky Cake (荷花酥餅 'ho faa sou bing'), a round item consisting of a sweet rich doughy filling somewhat similar to boterkoek, enclosed by a flaky pastry cut to open up like a flower.

Apparently I have a new nickname there: 奶茶鬼佬 ('naai chaa kwai lo')。
Milk tea foreigner. I am not Chinese, and I have a beverage.

Same as "teapot uncle", except he's Chinese.
And he's there more often too.

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Saturday, February 15, 2020


Friday was a day for lazily putzing about, Saturday was work. Both days were marked by pipesmoking. This evening I referred to my notes regarding some tobaccos I have enjoyed over the past decade from Sutliff, a venerable company founded in San Francisco over a century ago, back in the day and age when everybody smoked, fought over gold rush claims, sent their dirty laundry to Hawaii, and died like flies. Those various things are NOT related to each other, despite what you might have heard.

Some Sutliff tobacco is shite. Some of it is quite excellent.
Unlike many other companies, it's a crapshoot.

Many of their aromatics are listed in this post: Representative Samples but Skewed. And oof that was an "experience".

BALKAN LUXURY BLEND [Sutliff Private Stock]
Latakia, Black Cavendish, Turkish, Perique.
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

Latakia forward Balkan blend, which can perform very nicely. Of moderate smoking strength, soft, with a sweet slightly rough edge. The aroma will likely trigger every vegan twat in Berkeley and San Francisco, whose children, apparently, you are killing by smoking this. Quite a decent tobacco. The Perique is not noticeable. The label art may remind you of Balkan Sobranie 759 in the black tin. Worth smoking.


BERKSHIRE [Sutliff Private Stock]
Latakia, Turkish, Virginia, Perique
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

A medium English blend, the Latakia, though definitely present, is not the first thing one notices when opening the tin. Very good, edging on delightful.
One of Sutliff's better blends. Complex.
Worth smoking.


BOSPHORUS CRUISE [Sutliff Private Stock]
Latakia, Turkish, Virginia.
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

Top notch Balkan, rich, creamy, incense-like, resinous, complex, and thus completely offensive to vegan non-smokers, whom you should avoid like the plague, because their company can be toxic. This is altogether a damned good medium full blend. Rich tasting.
Well worth smoking.

Highly recommended.

BRECKINRIDGE [Sutliff Private Stock]
Burley, Kentucky.
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

If you like some of the old-fashioned Burley mixtures that your grandpa smoked, you will almost certainly like this one, and I should recommend it to Nick T in Montana, who has probably already discovered it. Nutty, earthy, cool smoking, with that faint hint of cocao that good Burley often has.
Not overly strong. Worth smoking.

COURT OF ST. JAMES [Sutliff Private Stock]
Virginia and Perique; broken flake.
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

It's a laudable product, but there is far too much Perique for my taste. An enjoyable wet-weather smoke. But no more than one bowl a day.
Peppery, mildly sweet.

CD BLEND [Sutliff Private Stock]
Burley, Virginia, Latakia, Perique.
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

An American mixture like the local tobacconist would sell, years ago, if he knew what he was doing. Interesting, and may appeal to older gentlemen, but not my cup of tea. I do have some of it stashed away, but I never did finish the second tin. It bit. Similar to Epiphany and others of that ilk.

FIELD MASTER [Sutliff Private Stock]
Latakia, Burley, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia.
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

Medium-mild English, with perhaps too much Burley. Sort of American. This is well-behaved, and quite satisfying once in a while, but it is not a blend that I personally would stockpile. Slightly sweet, slightly smoky, slightly chocolaty from the inclusion of air-cured leaf. High quality, and it sings in a corncob.

GOLDEN AGE [Sutliff Private Stock]
Virginia and Perique.
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

The Virginias are hay-like, herbal, sweet, the Perique is a little subdued, one would almost say well-behaved. A fine cut ribbony blend that pleases if not smoked fast, suited to the VaPer smoker, reminiscent somewhat of Dunbar and Dorchester. Possibly an all-day smoke. Worth smoking.


MAN'S BEST FRIEND BLEND [Sutliff Private Stock]
Burley, Latakia, Virginia.
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

A modest American blend, which will have fans, also enemies. I'm on the fence about this one. It's in imitation of the old Barking Dog Mixture, but frankly too academic. Best in small bowls.
A yippy little terrier.

R. BLEND [Sutliff Private Stock] 
Burley, Latakia, Perique, Virginia.
Slightly topped with fruit extractives.
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

A balanced old-fashioned American blend based on Revelation (House of Windsor), and quite enjoyable if you are on a roll. Complex, slightly sweet, mildly earthy, faintly spicy. Can be a good all day smoke, and the room note induces reveries. Dust motes suspended in the sun beams, the high quality alloys of old style drafting tools, the sound of the Victrola having finished playing a record, with the needle skipping softly at the centre.
I liked it. But many people will not.
[Several years ago I smoked this when we were counter-protesting a demonstration by people on the wrong side. It traumatised and pained them. So I had several bowls-full. "Excuse me, can you go smoke that somewhere else?!?" "No, I can't. I'm here, and I'm not moving."
Horrible of me. It was very enjoyable.]

Worth smoking.

SUNRISE SMOKE [Sutliff Private Stock]
Latakia, Turkish, Virginia.
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

An excellent mild English-Balkan, imitative of Dunhill's Early Morning Pipe, but it doesn't hit the target, and is nowhere near the bullseye. If anything, this recalls Dunhill's Durbar, with a little more character. Light and dark ribbons. It's a pleasant product with sweetness and a slight Turkish edge, and exceptionally well behaved. What your maiden aunt might smoke.
Well worth smoking.

Highly recommended.

WESTMINSTER [Sutliff Private Stock]
Latakia, Turkish, Virginia.
Compounded by Carl McAllister.

Medium English in style. Latakia forward, noticable Virginia, subdued Turk. Unremarkable, but satisfying enough. If you like it, you like it. If not, not.
I would smoke it again. Worth smoking.

An interesting journey, and I do feel that Sutliff is unjustly sneered at. Carl McAllister is an old-school master blender, and has produced some very interesting stuff.

It's probably a good thing that the company left San Francisco over sixty years ago. This city has lost its balls, and has been taken over by severely disapproving types. That's why there are no tobacconists of any note here, and half the people are alcoholics or dope fiends.

By the way: on the way home I smelled marijuana.
Those people are loathsome.
Big time.


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Friday, February 14, 2020


It was probably entirely predictable that hysteria should arise over Corona virus fears, seeing as everyone in the United States is medically educated to a fare-thee-well, thanks to the internet. Examples of which are the campaign against vaccinations, as well as the thoroughly well-founded fact that if you get a flu shot, you will get the flu. For which the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.

[Important disclaimer: I've had all my vaccinations, damned glad I did, as well as flu shots, of which I'm equally glad, that's a few strains of influenza right there I shan't be catching, thank you, and anti-vaxers are boneheads, bless their hearts. Complete effing boneheads.]

Like most Americans in the suburbs I run around in a panic because I might catch the plague, leprosy, blackness, syphilis, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the autism, witchcraft, or the Wuhan Corona Virus, omg.


"Anxiety and misinformation related to the virus have fuelled anti-Asian prejudice, Los Angeles authorities said at a press conference."
"Flyers with counterfeit seals for the World Health Organization (WHO) -- advised residents to avoid Asian-American businesses like Panda Express because of the coronavirus."
"In the - Alhambra area, 14,000 people have signed a petition urging school closures over the virus."
"A Los Angeles Asian-American schoolboy accused by bullies of having the virus was taken to the hospital after being beaten."
"And in a now-deleted Instagram post on "managing fears and anxiety", the University of California, Berkeley health services department listed xenophobia as a "normal" reaction amid a virus outbreak."


The skills of reading and writing are wasted on a lot of people.

Your chances of contracting "Wuhan Pneumonia" are roughly the same as influenza and the common cold, if, AND ONLY IF, you are in contact with people who actually have it. And you have not taken precautions. Such as facemasks, sterilized surfaces, and regular handwashing. There are over a billion people of Chinese ancestry who are NOT from Wuhan, have not ever visited Wuhan, and have been nowhere near Wuhan. And of those, less than a miniscule fraction of one thousandth of one percent are infected. Statistically, you have a better chance of winning the lottery.

[Yes, I play the lottery, despite those chances. If you don't play, you can't win.]

If, contrary to all odds, you did get infected, you stand a very minor chance of kicking the bucket because of it anyway. Your greatest danger here is an overburdened medical establishment, such as currently exists in Wuhan, parts of Europe, and the entire friggin' Third World.

Plus Mississippi, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

In cities with large East Asian populations like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Alhambra, your chance of catching Wuhan Pneumonia is far less than getting into a fight with a violent drunkard or addict, getting killed by someone experiencing a psychotic episode, being shot by the cops if you're black, or becoming involved in a pyramid scheme or anti-vax cult.

So. Get your damned flu shots, wash your hands, and stop being racist bigoted morons. And vaccinate your damned kids.

Here's some useful information: Virus survival outside a host.

Oh, and get rid of that damned 'yoni egg'.

Gloop is garbage.

Update: Another useful article here: UCSF, How the New Coronavirus Spreads and Progresses – And Why One Test May Not Be Enough.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020


The sandwich from the convenience store was loaded with ham, just mounded apathetically in the centre, slammed in slapdash devil may care, with no regard to spreading it around. Careless. Hurried. It was decent ham. Dinner this evening was sliced charsiu pork bits mixed into fried rice stick noodles with braised white cabbage. Minced ginger, touch of curry sauce, sploodge of chili paste. Squeeze of lime.

Dinner was prepared by me. So the pork was evenly distributed.

Ginger is healthy, right? There was enough ginger in it.

Now I'm wondering what I should have for lunch tomorrow on a day off. Pork is the default meat. I'm thinking juicy little dumplings. You can tell that I am not a Cantonese person because I don't go batsh*t over shrimp. If I were Cantonese, at least one of the three meals mentioned, possibly even all of them, would contain shrimp. Lovely fresh shrimp.

My apartment mate, who is quintessentially Cantonese, devours shrimp like it's mother's milk.


If I were dating a Cantonese person, I would make sure that they were filled with shrimp tomorrow, which is Valentine's Day, a perfect day for shrimp. My apartment mate is not presently "seeing" anyone, but does seem to still have a relationship of sorts with Wheelie Boy, her Aspy Jewish boyfriend of several years; they converse telephonically. So if there are shrimp around tomorrow, it will be her indulging herself. Even if she and Wheelie Boy were still "together", it would be highly unlikely for him to gift her shrimp.

Nothing says "romance" like a bouquet of shrimp.
Perhaps with a spray of charsiu pork.

My plans for the big celebration of love or whatever do not involve shrimp or other people. I'm open to change, but as it stands it will be noshing by myself on something porky, enjoying a cup of hot milk tea, maybe a pastry, and a long walk with a pipe filled with tobacco while contemplating life's great mysteries ... like why charsiu pork is so delicious, might it go well with oysters, possibly even shrimp, and why haven't the Cantonese adopted carnitas or the Mexicans discovered charsiu. It seems so natural!

As you can tell, I'm an incurable romantic.

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Most people, to the surprise of the insurance industry, have teeth which they wish to maintain. The insurance industry of course believes that only the rich should have teeth, as a visible class distinction. Tell that to your insurance agent someday while you throttle the bastard. Two of my coworkers ALSO have teeth. Upon which work is being done this week. They have my sympathy. Which I shall express when I see them. "Good luck with those teeth", I shall say, while I snap my mandibles around a fresh farm animal carcass, "I know how you types depend upon them".
Pierce, cut, tear, crush, chew.

Chomp, chomp.

And while what passes for my face will be kindly and sympathetic, as far as anyone can tell, I shall have the short educational video below on permanent loop in my brain. Smiling internally.

Good luck with teeth.



Next time you visit the dentist, be sure to bring your klaiven-schnitturs.
Things will happen there which require revenge. Horrible things.

Two people. Two sets of teeth. Two praescriptions for painkillers. Work, where at least one of us will be his familiar kindly self. One of us.

Just one.

Dental hygienists are usually sadistic Filippinas.
At least in my limited experience.
Capable, though.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020


One of the most noticeable things about the new Corona virus (CoVid-19, 武漢肺炎) is the ignorance; people just don't do the necessary reading, but react according to preprogrammed biases. Things to remember: you cannot catch it just by proximity to Asians, eating Chinese food will not infect you, and if it was that easy to catch, we'd all be dead now.
Someone wearing a mask is not a carrier.

An article on SFGate shows the effect of stupidity:

"We have had emails from concerned volunteers, parents, citizens of the city and the Bay Area, asking, ‘Why do you insist to continue on with this parade where we’re going to gather a big group of Asians; where we could get infected?’ Those fears are unfounded – just because it’s a big Asian event doesn’t mean you’re going to get infected."
[William Gee]

"Because the coronavirus is from China, and most people in Chinatown are Chinese, people are kind of afraid to come in."
[James Cheh]

"Contrary to some bizarre online hearsay, though, coronavirus cannot be passed through food."

[Source: Has coronavirus scared people away from SF's Chinatown? -- SFGate.]

While on the one hand I've been enjoying a quieter and more peaceful lunch or teatime in Chinatown, on the other hand I'm rather pissed at the racism, xenophobia, and sheer dumb-assedness, that's at the root of that.
It's affecting some of my favourite places.

On the third hand, you can indeed catch syphilis from being anywhere near a bistro or a French-speaker. It's absolutely rife over there, they practically invented it, and the Paris Metro is the epicentre.

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The three top subjects on this blog, not by number of posts but by visitor count, are Chinese New Year, dim sum, and underwear. Kindly note that two of those subjects listed are clickable.
Not the third.

Much as I encourage my readers to wear undergarments, I do not provide instructions or a lesson plan. You'll have to figure that out on your own.
My views are quite minimal.

Yesterday evening, while on the weekly jaunt in the North East quadrant of the city, the bookseller and myself observed individuals whose underwear was clearly occupied by dysfunctional persons.
Sadly, many of them were probably unaware of that fact.
It may have had no relation to alcohol.
Not a temporary condition.

The number of dysfunctional people in this city seems more than it was years ago. There are always two or three of them at the bus stop where one catches the number one to Chinatown (where there are fewer), as well as individuals having psychotic episodes all over North Beach and Market Street. Underwear is only part of the problem, a minor issue.

The bookseller has accused me of having obsessions -- seal script, pipes, pipe tobacco, the Lumberjack Song from Monty Python, and also may have noted the frequent mentions of Hong Kong Milk Tea, or porkchops, or the sheer rotten offensiveness of rightwing cigar huffing yutzes -- but thankfully has not judged me underwear berserk.

It can be taken for granted that most booksellers in America, and almost all of my favourite authors, have had experience with underwear, and consider it a good and wholesome thing, whether they themselves wear it, or not. Inquiries have not been made, and there have not been national surveys. Their state of mind and psychological functionality do not enter into it.

I, personally, prefer baggy boxers.
And I am not dysfunctional.
Arguably sane.

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My friend the bookseller wondered how karaoke became so popular, when it's usually so bad. Well, other than Kahn Souphanousinphone and overweight drag queens doing showtunes, most practitioners of the art form are drunken twenty-somethings and people who work in marketing, so it's simple to see what the problem is. You people will be so darn blasted that unless someone makes a cellphone video we'll all laugh at tomorrow, no one will remember anyone else's rendition of Sweet Caroline, the worst song in the world, which we all know by heart.

Tequila shots, parasol drinks, and childhood emotional trauma.
That plus sheer stupidity are a recipe for torture.

Oh come on, there is NO good rendition of Sweet Caroline. And nobody wants to hear it again. Stop fooling yourself. You are not a star, your singing is rather bad, and you have the worst taste in music.

This blogger, it should come as no surprise, does not sing karaoke.
The gang boss and the dumbest waiter in Chinatown do.
Everyone else plays liar's dice.
Covering noise.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020


One of the denizens of the internet mentions spending the evening with 古越龍山紹興酒 and Samuel Gawith's Full Virginia Flake in his meerschaum pipe, five hundred miles north of Wuhan. To throw that into perspective, that's as far as the benighted pit of Los Angeles is from San Francisco, or like the distance between Australia and Timbuktu (Tombouctou). He would be outside, except that where he is he would have to wear a facemask, because of the medical situation in his metropolis of residence.

My first thought was to cut holes in the facemask.
Which is contraindicated, and unwise.

Apparently he lives by himself, though, so there are no family members to chase him out to the compost heap to freeze his testes off with his pipe, unlike San Francisco or Marin County, where middle-aged gentlemen are shivering in the cold and regretting that other people exist.
It's a significant problem here.


This isn't a criticism of my apartment mate -- of whom I am quite fond, as well as of the turkey vulture which lives in her room, who complains that he hasn't eaten anything in days (he devoured over half of a cake recently, nota bene) -- nor of any of my relatives, who are mostly non-smoking Canadian health freaks, but rather an angry squawk at the type of disapproval that the world has adopted to rather unobjectionable downright civilized habits. And let's leave it at that; you lot ain't gonna change, are you?

[It was a 咖啡味瑞士卷蛋糕 from that place on Broadway. Swiss Roll Cake, coffee flavour. Delicious! Greedy bird!]

My habit on days off is to head over to Chinatown, have lunch and milk-tea, and wander about smoking a pipe. In the evening, as the cold winds pick up, that becomes a bit problematic -- you may eventually read in your newspaper about a thin dude frozen to death grasping a nice pipe who died of perfectly normal pneumonia, not the Wuhan corona virus, found dead in an alleyway, and you'll probably think "damned fool deserved it, tobacco kills children and dolphins" (and puppies!), but altogether it will have no impact on your pure vegan lifestyle, and in any case the pernicious memory effects of marijuana (now socially approved) will drive it from your mind.
A mere blip, of no consequence.

I like Chinatown. Almost no sneering white people. Who when they are there take ten minutes to decide not to purchase that pastry or rolled rice noodle (腸粉), great with hot sauce or a little soy, but instead occupy space in front of the counter wondering what those things are, then surreptitiously taking photos on their cells for the folks back home in Modesto, and asking stupid questions like "is there gluten in that" or "do you have bats?"

[Surreptitious = Stiekem, gluiperig.]

Fewer people on skateboards too. The pavement is that bad.

Spending the evening with with a pipe filled with Full Virginia Flake and a bottle of Shao Hsing rice wine sounds absolutely splendid. Unfortunately, due to the possible deletorious interactions with some of my medications, that is out of the question. And I would prefer human company and a hot cup of milk-tea in any case.


Samuel Gawith's Full Virginia Flake (FVF) is a delightful hot-pressed straight Virginia. Subtle, no added flavours, slightly dark in appearance though light and summery in taste. Malty, figgy, creamy. What a tobacco should be. The room note is old-fashioned, and calls up armchairs, sofas, tea trays, bookshelves, late summer evenings, and comfy throwrugs.
It is precisely what a happy home should smell like.
Clean and pure enough for children.

Like all Sam Gawith tobaccos, it needs a bit of drying before packing it into your pipe. When aged, it displays sugar crystals on the sliced surfaces.

You really need some tea and a spot of sherry. Good quality Shao Hsing rice wine tastes remarkably like sherry, and drunk in moderation will not render you comatose.

These are recommendations.


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What if the space aliens had multiple limbs (or tentacles) and were covered in chromatophores? They would think us rather deficient, and wonder how we expressed ourselves; surely emotional content was missing? Possibly they'd think that the disco era was our highest state of development, yet curiously depressing because, ultimately, meaningless.
Spectacular colours, but no depth.

A very superficial species, adept at moving around, but incapable of actual thought.

Not very edible either, alas.

Tastes like chicken.

I wonder about these things when I'm half awake.

Undoubtedly, they'd have a form of synesthesia: in a narrow sense, associating numbers, letters, or whole words and phrases, with colours and textures. Which might make their personal names really interesting, and help them enormously with mathematical processes.
Some letters are metalic.

[Numbers and letters relate to moods and smells too. Take my word for it, the number 5 is greenish, and smells good. And it's comforting. The name 'Padron' (a cigar company, Nicaraguan) tends to feel warm and velvety. And Balkan Sobranie (an old brand of pipe tobacco) has reds and blues, with a touch of lemon yellow, completely at odds with the tin art, which was black and white, and rather austere. The term "bitter melon" has none of the hues and textures of the actual vegetable itself, which is quite frissonatic. Perhaps that's one of the reasons I like it so much. Sopropo (its name in Sranantongo) is beautiful, ampalaya and peria are ugly colour combos. Fu gwa (苦瓜 Cantonese for bitter melon) is a harmonious juxtapositioning of raw umber and medium crimson.]

The space aliens would then also have a vast vocabulary for such things. Which means on the one hand that their finest literature would be almost incomprehensible AND untranslatable, and on several other limb terminations they'd find our writings quite gibberant.
As the essay above might seem.

But they'd probably love our tendency towards rectalinearity.
So balanced, so elegant, so Zen-like!
Spare and simple.

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In the same way that Rome is known for dysentery, Venice for the black plague, Paris for crotch rot and syphilis, Shenzhen for Sars, now Wuhan is known for the new and improved respiratory ailment similar to the common cold. A pity, really, because unlike Paris, one cannot travel to Wuhan.
And now I really want to got there.


From Wikipedia:
"Hubei cuisine emphasises the preparation of ingredients and the matching of colours. It specialises in steaming techniques. Its style is influenced by the cooking methods of the cuisines of neighbouring provinces such as Sichuan and Hunan. As a result, Hubei cuisine also uses dried hot pepper, black pepper and other spices to enhance the flavour of dishes."

"Wuhan style, which specialises in soups. Wuhan is also known for its noodle dishes, such as hot dry noodles. Additionally, Wuhan is famous for its dry pots, which are similar to hot pot but without the soup base."
End quote.

An internet search for 武漢餐廳 ("Wuhan restaurant") pulls up a map which is, for the foreseeable future, totally useless. The images that result are mostly uninteresting, though searching for 武漢菜 ("Wuhan cuisine") is infinitely more rewarding. Several beautiful photos.

Wuchang Fish, steamed buns, steamed fish, steamed pork, steamed meatballs, steamed shrimp balls.
And many delicious looking noodle dishes.

The regionym "Chu" (楚 'cho') applies to both Hubei and Hunan (湖北 and 湖南 respectively) and dates back three millennia. It plays a prominent role in the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period. The character means 'distinct, clear, obvious', as well as a bush that is bracken-like. Other words particularly associated with that place: 嬭 ('naai'; milk, titty, mommy) 酓 ('yim'; bitter, sip) 芈 ('me'; bleat, baa) 熊 ('hung'; bear, brilliant).

At least for the next several days, researching Wuhan cuisine through the internet may be an obsession. Particularly noodles. And steamed pork.
Results might be posted.

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Monday, February 10, 2020


Having the devil of a time trying to figure out why there were baby squid in my head. Were they curried? In any case they were delicious. And probably someone was upset at the idea, because squid are adorable and must be protected.

As a food maven, the method of preparation was more important to me, and those details were missing. There is no mental picture to clue me in. Just a texture, and the realization that I ate well.

It has actually been ages since I've had squid.

Nor am I particularly fond of them.

They're good with noodles.

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