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.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


None of my favourite chachanteng in Chinatown do baked Portuguese chicken rice. There is one place to which I used to go, but I haven't been there since the waitress offered to introduce me to a friend of hers looking for a husband. That was three years ago.
I am still scared.

Now, if someone were to approach me and say "walk me home, harmless looking old coot, you have an umbrella and it's raining, I'll give you a cup of hot coffee (or tea) afterwards" or something like that, I might be piqued.
Especially if she also said that the smell of my pipe was nice.
Or at least not problematic.

Today would be a good day for baked Portuguese chicken rice. Last week a merchant mis-guessed that I was Macanese. Flattering, because it says that my accent in Cantonese is neither English (HK) or American (horrendous), but never-the-less considerably off the mark.

I'm not, but some of my tastes are.

Back when baked Portuguese chicken rice was still offered at two other restaurants in my narrow world, I could never finish an entire serving. One of those places no longer exists, and the other has modernized the menu and decor. Which, one hopes, will ensure their continued thriving.
Good people, nice atmosphere, comfortable, tasty food.
But no baked Portuguese chicken rice.


It's been over half a year. I have withdrawal symptoms. Some things are just too potent a drug for them to become unavailable, their disappearance should lead to riots. But one man rioting would just be a typical San Francisco street loony, and quickly locked up.

Kindly do NOT imagine me screaming in my padded cell.
It will not happen, and it would be quite ineffective.
Baked Portuguese Chicken rice wouldn't result.

'Guk pou gwok gai faan'

I could make it myself. Don't feel like it. Marinate chicken chunks in a little rice wine, soy sauce, ginger, and corn starch. Then brown in a skillet with a chunk or two of fatty sausage. Layer it on top of scallion & egg-fried rice in a casserole, add a little cooked potato, pour a mild coconut curry sauce over, add a sprinkle of grated cheese, and brown it under the broiler. A slight excess of the coconut curry sauce is highly recommended.
Serve with hot sauce on the side.

Something like that.

It's actually a Hong Kong invention. The Macanese had almost nothing to do with it. Mild coconut curry sauce is often called 'Portuguese Sauce' (葡汁 'pou jap'), hence the name.

Whatever I end up having in the middle of the afternoon will be followed by a pipe smoke. I'll have an umbrella with me, in case it rains again.

Winter came back.
It is cold.

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On the BBC webpage there's an article about female experts not being taken seriously, and dealing with the assumption that the actual expert is the male. Which is interesting. And, you'll admit, happens all the time.
Most of us do that, unfortunately.

Years ago, the person who taught me more about tobacco and briar pipes was a woman. And if she is still alive, she still is of that gender.
At the time she was the manager at Drucquer's in Berkeley.

An impressive woman.
With a gorgeous pipe collection.
Plus expertise and sound judgment in many areas.

I will admit that I work best with clever intelligent women, but that may be because the social dynamics are different. For one thing, there is less mention of sports, and significantly less confrontationalism.

That said, for several minutes I was doubtful about the wisdom of doubling the dosage of a medication two months ago when the female doctor recommended it.
I think if my regular physician, a bright young lad of indeterminate age, had suggested it, I probably would have been marginally more open to the idea initially -- a problem being that I had read all about the possible side effects, and I retain disturbing minutiae -- but I accepted her advice.
Roll idea over in brain, she's a doctor, well okay then.
I have since then not felt physically better.

When I see her again I will apologize.

Years of experience in offices convince me that women are more capable at paperwork, especially accounting-related matters, than men. And that a Marketing or Sales department with nothing but men will be incompetent, full of hot air, and play golf.

That, too, may be subconscious sexism.
It could be just bitter experience.

Or a half-assed bias.

And I should mention that I am keenly aware that one of the nurses down at the hospital whom I see most often is an attractive petite woman.
If she were male, that would be unlikely.

I am a flawed individual.

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Monday, May 20, 2019


After considerable urging by my apartment mate, I watched 'Money Can't Buy You Class' on youtube, as sung by someone calling herself 'the countess'. Good lord what garbage! This is painful! And why is my apartment mate now laughing uproariously?
Evil minx!

It's hard to take the performer, or that shitty performance, seriously.

Some cow-woman blaring out the same line over and over.

There are better first-time drag artists.

More sincerely "artistic".

My apartment mate wanted me to endure this. Practical joke. Evil. This song is what skunk spray would sound like if it were noise, instead of perfume.
The entire 'Real Housewives' television franchise needs to be destroyed in thunder, lightening, fire, and flood.
A cleansing.

I nearly heaved up my charsiu, chilies, and rice.

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This blogger does not lament the finale of Game of Thrones. I didn't watch a single episode, and consider myself vastly superior to anyone who did.
Y'all a bunch of Lord of the Rings freaks and right-out weirdos.

Now, if they made a multi-season television show of Pearls Before Swine, that would be different. I would await each episode avidly.

Stephan Pastis is totes the genius of our age.

An exemplary Greek American.

Deservedly a legend.

Competition for the roles would be lively and fierce. One can well-imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger as 'Jeff the Cyclist'. No idea who could play 'Little Guard Duck' and his platoon of incendiarist girl scout psychopaths, but as a counter toxin to the poisonous ideas of womanhood presented by the Game of Thrones females, they would be major, necessary, and role models.

More or less a reality show.

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Sunday, May 19, 2019


Today was marked by three culturally significant events: Bay to Breakers, Pipe Club, and the final episode of Game of Thrones. Major, minor, mega.

GOT: There will not be any spoilers for the Game of Thrones ending here. Primarily because I don't watch that garbage, and wading through all the internet pouffle talking about it, or screaming in despair, shortly after eight o'clock on the evening of Sunday May nineteenth takes more effort than I am willing to expend. It's a soul-crushing waste of time. Suffice to say that dragons give some people huge orgasms, whereas others, many others, are now experiencing an emptiness in their groins.
Oh, those aching fantasy groins!

Bay to Breakers: Naked middle aged people running with beer in the rain. And folks dressed as hot dogs and beer bottles. Plus giraffes, zebras, and many other things. Oh, the zaniness! Someone asked me why it was always the folks who should not be seen naked who disrobe for the race, and I had to explain that precisely the people who SHOULD be seen naked lack the insulation for it. San Francisco is cold. Mister Walrus Man won't notice the chill, and the Blubber Fairy is more than perfectly prepared for this.
If they are capable of running, they by all means should.
Their children will proudly remember this day.
Daddy got arrested!

Pipe Club: My suggestion that next year we field a squad of naked middle aged and elderly gentlemen with pipes fell on deaf ears. Even when I said that fanny packs for tobacco, tampers, matches, and bristly pipe cleaners would certainly be encouraged, as well as colourful scarves and umbrellas. Perhaps the stumbling block was the information that I would only be there in spirit, full of moral support, because I always work Sundays.
I'm kind of a man of the cloth in that regard.
They look to me for leadership.
In this I defer to youth.

When I joined the gentlemen for a brief period, the conversation was about salmon. It expanded into codfish, plus, briefly, halibut, but kept returning to salmon. About which an awful lot can be said.

Biltong was also mentioned.

As well as the yak.

Tobaccos on the table: Greg Pease's Quiet Nights, Rattray's Hal O' The Wynd, Solomon's Presbyterian, some aromatic crap, and a plug.

Two bottles of Port, Laphroaig, plus red wines.
Preserved meats, cheese, and hummus.
Plus pretzels, sourdough, pita.

Later, when Sam arrived, he talked informatively about briar structure and geographic sources, to great appreciation. Unfortunately I missed almost all of that, as the place got rather busy for a while.

Next year's Bay to Breakers race should have many more naked middle-aged people (all genders) running with beer. It will not be as nearly cold, and San Francisco likes beer.


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A good curry takes precedence over all else. In which it can only be rivaled by excellent fatty charsiu. Chunks of fatty charsiu simmered IN curry must, therefore, be the food of the gods.

As good an argument for cilantro and thin-sliced green chilies as you'll find.
And all of this inside a toasted sour-dough French roll ........

Did I mention that I've been having extremely vivid dreams lately?

I bought a pound of charsiu from 新凱豐燒臘店 ('san hoi fung siu laap dim') on Stockton Street the other day. It is immensely delicious.

And add some long-sliced cucumber for crunch.

My life has never included meat-free.
Or pretentious yuppie gluten-free.
And neither should yours.

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Saturday, May 18, 2019


An elderly acquaintance likes to mix marijuana in with his Rattray's Black Mallory. He says it calms his heart palpitations, and seeing as he is older than Jayzus, it is doubtful that his doctor has an opinion either way. You don't argue with men who are determined to derail the conversation.

I, personally, find that frightful a waste.

Black Mallory is fine stuff.

I despise marijuana.

[Black Mallory consists of Latakia in a reasonably full measure, plus plain black Virginia, Turkish, and a medium Virginia base. If you like this, you'd probably enjoy Rattray's Three Noggins -- same components -- as well as Red Rapparee as a change of pace (more stinky Turk, less Latakia).]

I am glad, however, that he is not smoking Black Cavendish Aromatic with his pot. Which is a dark steam-stove and bake Burley sauced to the gills with Vanilla and sugar, and fundamental to very many house blends in the aromatic category, because it stabilizes them and makes them burn in a regular fashion all the way down to a steaming soggy dottle.
It's prominent in Hobbits Weed, as you know.

Pitch black evil stuff.

I was recently reminded of this because of the disgusting Irish penchant for huffing nasty aromatic shite. Some very fine Celts of my ken have that horrid habit, and because of tobacco prices in the European world, they will often have their friends, relatives, and chance-met Columbian drinking buddies smuggle in pounds of BCA, RLP6, and 1Q.

If you go to hell for perversion, smoking these qualifies.

One of them needs eight pounds per year.

His SF friends bring it.

Stank luggage.


With a few exceptions (*), the Peterson line of tobacco mixtures are superior variations on this theme, made in Denmark, with better basic tobaccos, and strange fruit chemical additions. But almost all of them (except Sherlock Holmes) will have a black Cavendish added.

[Among the exceptions: Irish Flake, which smells lovely after some age in the tin (clean tobaccos), Signature Flake (pressed flue-cured leaf, which is good), and Old Dublin, which is a rather excellent Balkan type blend.]

The most notorious thing the Irish stuff in their pipes, though, is Erinmore Flake. Counteracts the smell of mildew and burnt cooking fat nicely, goes well with a pint of Guinness.

The Irish make some fine whiskey, and sing very nicely.
Their breakfast tea is quite good indeed.
Their smoking is a curse.

That said, I have a year's worth of Erinmore Flake stashed away, of which a tin is opened now and again, because I'm actually rather fond of the stuff.

I can admit this because I am not presently dating anybody.

That fragrance. Cheap perfume for sinners.

Drug-addled, and drunk.

The two old codgers in Marin who used to smoke it habitually have passed on, which is a pity because they were rather decent old fellows. A chap from Denmark with bad legs -- liked it because he smoked slow -- and a Brit who had been interned at Stanley during the war.

I miss both of them; they were excellent conversationalists.

Like you, I associate cheap fruity aromas with tawdry harlots of either gender, and frowsty old men.


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Friday, May 17, 2019


Stylishly garbed in tartan pajama pants with pockets, a bright red, black, and white tee-shirt advertising Savinelli pipes, and a grey bathrobe, the grumpy cold guy entered the teevee and computer room with his coffee.
For good luck, there was a briar pipe in his left side bathrobe pocket;
a tan sandblast panel, which he would take out and sniff.
The panel was very Dunhill-esque.

Why was it so beastly cold? In May?

Global warming.

Folks, we need to save the planet. For me.

Contradictorily, I fought off the first mosquito of the year last night. If she got me, she probably drowned because of the blood thinners coursing through my veins. I can imagine her head popping. I had a extremely vivid dream of discussing the four Biblical Matriarchs with a friend on the East Coast, particularly Sarah Immeinu. This being probably mostly caused by Amlodipine Besylate.

I do not often dream of Biblical subject matter.

My life is relatively normal. I know this, because in the computer age I can read about yours. You all lead interesting and vibrant lives filled with stuff which I heretofore would not have imagined. Thank you.

One of my Facebook friends has this to say: "Due to excessive food-shaming I will no longer be posting photos of my Suhoors. Are you happy with yourselves? I am privately enjoying my chocolate-covered french fries, deep fried pizza and a 2-litre bottle of Coke away from your judging eyes. Good night."

Dang. I'll miss the photos.

In a FB group, another member writes: "Forgive me for the super new Jack question, but I'm new to pipe smoking. I'm looking for a tobacco that tastes good as well as smells good. That way my more attractive half won't mind as much when I smoke in my gun study."

Yeah, no. Let someone else answer that.

A third person: "How can something so small be so smelly #kittens"

Introduce her gently to warm water.

My own life is not so exciting. Rather pedestrian, even. Other than freezing my brass monkeys off in San Francisco -- a very quiet normal city where nothing ever happens -- there is absolutely naught remark-worthy.
It's cold in the rest of the country too, yes?

Today is a day off. Reading, followed by dim sum, a bit of a smoke (in the aforementioned panel), milk tea and a pastry late afternoon, another smoke (probably in a Comoy Liverpool), then something with chilies at home.
Where there are down comforters.

Oh, and grumbling.

Dark Flake: 20%. Best Brown: 60%. St. James Flake: 20%.
Mixed together. There's just enough Perique for comfort.


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Thursday, May 16, 2019


There's an on-line petition to have the current season of Game of Thrones re-written and re-filmed. Apparently the fans are unhappy. And want, as it has been put in their on-line opinionation, more competent scripting.
Well fine then.

Not having a dog in this race, and never having watched the show, which is apparently another religion to add to America's plethora of crack-pot cults along with Mormonism, Republicanism, and Alabama, I'm cool with that.

Just one request.


But this time, give everybody there a plague first. May I suggest 'The Bloody Flux'? And please show their suffering. In some detail. Before you burn the damned place down.

There are any number of ways that The Bloody Flux (dysentery) can be used in plot developments and twists appropriate to currently surviving characters.

Religious tribulation, survivor guilt, poetic justice, unnecessary and completely random suffering, deux ex machina, and shock effect.

I note, by the way, that not a single character is EVER shown smoking. Just another attack on the trade crop that made America great, I suppose, and a smarmy way of kissing up to the non-smokers.

It's communism, is what.


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Some of my friends and acquaintances elsewhere in the country are complaining that their air-conditioning is out, and lordy it's hot.
Oh, the suffering!
Okay. I live in San Francisco. I need a sweater.
And an umbrella.

This is rather English.

I wish to register a complaint.

Meanwhile, folks from the hot part of the country (Ted Cruz) are worried about space pirates. Heat affects one's ability to think. Here in SF, we are not worried about space pirates. We're worried about you lot.

Are you all right?

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019


My primary care physician and I are, more or less, on the same or similar pages. The one thing in which we are in complete and total agreement is that chilipeppers are essential. He's Chinese from Indonesia, educated here. I am Dutch American, born here and raised overseas. So we're both from sambal cultures. Sambal being chili-paste with or without other stuff.
Sambal has made America and its weirdness bearable.
And, thanks to Huy Fong (Sriracha), good.
Y'all still "wrong", though.

Sambal goes with darn near everything.

Italian, French, Chinese? Add the peppers and stuff. Gefilte fish is great with green chili paste (sambal tjabai hijau). Fried fish? Add sambal. Porkchops? Hot sauce. Tex Mex? Needs way more hot stuff.

If you don't get it, you don't get it.

Saw my doctor today in Chinatown at the hospital, we reviewed recent lab work. Kidney function is okay, no signs of lung or thyroid cancer. My blood pressure is finally fine, although there are some circulatory issues.
The nurse thinks I'm a zombie.

Oranges are over-rated as a source of vitamin C.
Chilipeppers, on the other hand.....

And, of course, everyone agrees that I should eat better, and watch my diet. Good food is an investment in the long term. So less fat, more veggies (ooh, hey, chilies!), and just plain decent cooking. Cut the Bearnaise and gehakte leber out, as much as possible.


Six large pieces of chicken thighs (雞腿, 6塊).
Two dozen slices of ginger (薑, 24片).
One TBS Chinese wolfberries ('gau kei ji'), (枸杞子, 1湯匙).
Eight or nine large dried mushrooms (冬菇, 8-9個).
One third cup of black sesame oil (黑麻油, 1/3杯).
Four or five cups of Chinese rice wine, or sherry (米酒, 4-5杯).
Salt as suitable, a minor amount (鹽, 適量).
A pinch of sugar (一撮糖).

Black sesame oil is not commonly used in the cooking process, but added afterwards in small quantity to augment and brighten the flavour of dishes. It's darn well essential for Cantonese cuisine.
Here it is a main ingredient.

Rinse and soak the mushrooms for two or three hours in water with a mere pinch of sugar, rinse the wolfberries (Lycium Sinense, 枸杞子) well. Cut each chicken thigh piece in half, a whack with the cleaver ought to do it. Sprinkle a little salt over.
Pour the oil into a cool wok. Add the ginger slices, and over low heat cook till fragrant. More of a simmer, really. Then add the chicken bits and seethe till the pinkness is gone and there is a little colour. Pour in the sherry or rice wine, bring to a boil, add the mushrooms and wolf berries.
Turn low, simmer twenty minutes, it is done.

In Taiwan this is considered strengthening for new mothers, and served with a bowl of cooked noodles doused with the broth on the side. Normally I like noodles, but to me this is best with rice splashed with the broth, and a hefty dollop of sambal........ wich, of course, goes with nearly everything.

And perhaps a little cilantro.

People from sambal cultures would also have a small plate of long chunk cut cucumber on the side, which is cooling and good for the digestion.
It's just a thought.

No Bearnaise was harmed in the cooking of this dish.

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The off duty waiter, clean and neat and near-moronic. The two Mexicans quietly enjoying the Canto-pop. The small crowd slamming dice cups. The bartendress, who understands that I do not touch alcohol.
Pumpkin seeds. Hot water. Tea.
Good times.

Some screaming from the alleyway.

Extemely loud music earlier at the burger joint, probably as a way to limit the stupid conversations that the grill-man would have to participate in.
Of which there were doozies.

The Canadian was a marked example.
A complete dunce, eh.
From Calgary.

I have relatives in Calgary. They are not thus. Quite intelligent and civilized, in fact. In my first year back in America I visited them over the holidays; haven't been back to Calgary since then, but the conversation has had far less to do with that than the climate.
My comfort zone is formed by the weather, and the availability of certain foods. Of which chilipeppers, in a plurality of guises, are a major part.
Conversation less so, especially random and strange.

Any place with lots of Mexicans and Chinese.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019


The lamentation is in full force. No, not the heart-ache over the burning of King's Landing -- none of my kin were harmed -- but the disappearance of Dunhill as a brand of pipes and tobaccos. Something of great import to approximately point two percent of the population in the first world.

At best, and less than.


Oh woe.

My piles bleed for you lot.

If California wine disappeared, more people would be affected, and that would be a far greater disaster. And I say this despite rarely drinking wine (although I like it). Starbucks is a better example. If Starbucks were to shut down, millions would weep into their last Venti, then move on to other vendors within hours. A blip.

There are immensely more artisan pipe makers than ever. In the last week alone, on pipe-related internet pages, I have seen pipes of a quality that Dunhill could not equal. And the availability of good tobacco is greater than it was when I was first smoking a pipe years ago in Valkenswaard, then in Berkeley. Scandinavian and Stokkebye have become almost the standards for "house blends". So from my point of view, there is scant cause for any lamentation. But there are far fewer pipe smokers now, and you cannot smoke in cafes anymore. Those are greater issues.

[Ages ago most locally created house blends were crap. Mediocre burleys and Virginias, mildly flavoured with dubious additions, and a smidgeon of condimentals. Now they are often based on too much candy cavendish, and too little sound judgement. And sometimes merely 1Q or RLP6, creatively renamed. Captain Bedrock's Private Reserve, or Doctor McRambo's Special Stock.]

Years ago a man could ensconce himself in a corner of the local cafe with his pipe, a nice tin of stinkiness, and several newspapers, and look properly grouchy and intellectual without being bothered. Now, some miserable drinker of low-fat tofunated syrup steam bucket swill in yoga pants will start screaming about the stench, precious children, my lungs, etcetera, and call the moral police on him.

We are left, sadly weeping, on the pavement. In the rain.

Fortunately, I know several abandoned awnings.

No needles or children there.

Far from S'Bucks.

It takes about four hours for this apartment to air out. My apartment mate returns shortly after six. So from two o'clock onwards, I will join the local wildlife, for a reclusive and damn-near rabid bit of wandering about. Which will include lunch and hot Hong Kong milk tea. As Cartman would say, "screw you guys, I am going out".

Matured Virginia leaves.
Perhaps an egg tart.
People watching.


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Monday, May 13, 2019


Having dutifully experimented with all kinds of healthier eating, I conclude that lettuce is evil, and Americans are mostly out of their minds, and likely blotto, when they claim they like it. The damned leafy scraps get wedged in one's teeth, right between the back molars, and are the very devil to pry out. Cantonese people like to sauté the stuff, and drizzle stock and oyster sauce on it, but they counteract its sleep-inducing qualities with gallons of tea.
Proving that that nasty stuff needs help.

Packaged salads? Nuke 'em in the microwave. Then add hot sauce, pepper, and lemon juice, and they become quite edible.
Still full of lettuce, though.

Made interesting by adding meats, croutons, cheeses.
In lieu of the anchovies which can't be found.

One of my co-workers, asked by a visitor if she was pregnant a month ago, has taken to eating even healthier. Spinach shakes. Kale shakes. Carrots.

Spinach. Kale. 'Rots.


And a touch of garlic, ginger, chilies.

Salad. It's the most severely punishing Protestant dish in America. And like everything in that category, beneficial to the bowels while chastising to the soul. The edible version of a severe beating with birch rods. Cook it, then dump it in the blender, along with two or three rashers of fried bacon.
Call it a protein shake afterwards.

"What are you drinking?"

"A protein shake. It's good for yoga."

I'm wondering what's for lunch tomorrow. Day off, time to eat real food. Going to head into Chinatown, probably dine at a chachanteng.
Maybe steamed fatty pork with dried oysters.
Chicken and salt fish fried rice.
Raw lettuce is torture.

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Sunday, May 12, 2019


Many people spent today thinking about their mother (it being M-day), or Game of Thrones, or the playoffs. A coworker was thinking of his wife and the mother of his offspring -- he left early to buy her flowers and take her out to dinner, which was very sweet of him -- and one of the regulars lurked in the backroom for the game, getting away from stuff like that.
He seemed it a bit down. I didn't ask.

I spent all day, more or less, thinking of side effects.
A very long list of described possible problems.
One of which I am conscious of not having.

Possibly because nicotine is a vaso-constrictor. Therapeutic in this case.
That's a theory I shall NOT mention to my doctor.

One of which is a pain in the back-end, in a manner of speaking. Not major, really, but enough of a literal pain as to make me wonder whether dosages can be lessened on one with a balanced increased of another.
An extreme screaming in a shoulderblade.
Not. Quite. Crippling.

Either one constantly keeps heading forward, pushing oneself, and there will be improvement. Or one passively becomes a vegetable, bleating piteously at bus-stops, cursing the weather, one's fate, and why is everything so loud, or bright, or cold, or bad-smelling.

San Francisco is filled with the latter type. And I already spend enough time whining about the beastly cold. In that regard I am positively English.
So the stagnating part has scant appeal.

Besides, I do not have a talent for sitting still or alcoholism.

As Bill Clinton says, "we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!"

If you stop moving, the enemy shoots you from behind the trees.


Oh, and bugger game of Thrones.
You are all very silly.

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You know, I've never really thought about Mother's Day very much. My own parents didn't make a lot of to-do over such invented holidays, and other than birthdays we weren't taught to pay too much attention to such things. Be good people, don't break too many things, clean up reasonably after ourselves. Don't get into trouble unless it is necessary.

Not being a parent, or female, it's not something I can really get inside of.
But never-the-less, I've kind of given it some thought.

What would I want on Mother's Day?

A cup of coffee out on the patio, with the nearby garden in bloom. Forsythia bushes. Mutton korma for breakfast, with Parsi onion rice, and a fried egg. Maybe some flowers. Familiar smells and noises from the house. Children grown-up, with careers that keep them balanced and happy. Cats. And a tin of Turkish cigarettes near the glass ashtray on the patio table.

As well as good new novel.

I'm not much for expressive stuff, and as far as the housework is concerned, as long as beds are straightened upon rising, the kitchen stuff washed by whoever used these immediately afterwards, and there are no sticky fingerprints all over, it's all good.

I miss the patio of our house in Valkenswaard, and even though I ended up doing all the gardening because of my mother's lumbago, those forsythia bushes occupy a fond place in my head. They were quite lovely.

Plus who doesn't like coffee, good curry, and a smoke?

I don't think that I would've been a suitable parent.

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Saturday, May 11, 2019


In tomorrow's episode of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen teams up with Detective Pikachu to defeat Donald Trump and destroy the Death Star. All with lots of special effects and electricity. And you would gladly watch this, and explain it all to your mother, who was born long before CGI and cell-phones. She'll think you're gibbering, but loves you anyway.

Then you'll give her a nice bouquet of raw beef steaks.

Mmm, yeah, so all my social networks have been invaded by advertising.
To the extent that, in all honesty, reality has a few odd accents.
Fatty meats. Booze. Movies.

There are natural product tie-ins.

Not enjoyed by Slytherin

I myself do not intend to watch any of this crap, but I sort of applaud all of you who are willing to take one for the team. My own mother passed away years ago, but her birthday is coming up soon, so I will be thinking of her anyhow. I have no idea what she would have made of the modern era, but she was a Sci-Fi author, so she probably would have taken it all in stride. While criticizing the plot lines and character development as being extremely childish and altogether rather silly.

Gryffin D'Or

As well as any pipe tobacco featuring a sparky hamster on the label.
Which, honestly, is also rather silly.


It's actually a pretty damned fine product, and altogether quite unsuitable for anyone watching television tomorrow evening, nor recommended for viewers at modern movie theatres. Kind of old school.

If I finally have a smoke, after over three weeks of hacking and wheezing, it will be outdoors, because my apartment mate is not into tobacco, and will probably be watching women on teevee acting like vulgar trollops.
Real white Housewives of wherever.

Should there be any pet dragons or small fuzz balls in my neighborhood after dusk, their owners seriously need to pick up after them.
Street people can't see pavement well in the dark.

Happy Mothers Day.

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Friday, May 10, 2019


Sofar, Brian claims it's merely a cold. He's had it for over ten weeks. Mario tells me it keeps coming back, and then it lingers. My downstairs neighbor has recently started hacking, as well as someone else in the building. Pete says that the internet generation brought it back from a different dimension just to pester everybody over fifty. Or possibly kill them slowly. Which is a novel theory, but does not explain why the three regular asshole bums at the bus stop don't have it. If anybody needs to be fatally pestered, those alcoholics do. Old people no longer dare sit there, but wait with pained expressions under the nearby trees.

In my case it combined nicely with flu-like symptoms to make for a very surreal three+ weeks, and perhaps it's almost gone. But then, I am the youngest of the mentioned victims, what with being BARELY past fifty.
And I may be out of touch with reality anyway.

Jeff is overjoyed that I seem to be recovering; the last time he saw me he fled in a panic anytime I got near him. He thinks I am now no longer infectious.

At it's worst it's a repetitive cough that leaves you gasping for air.

Trust me, it's the perfect way to occupy those boring moments between Easter or Passover and Mother's Day. You realize that you are perfectly okay with attending no seders for the sixth year in a row, as well as having no older relatives to infect on festive occasions. It would also be absolutely splendid for Christmas/New Years, as well as the July Fourth Barbecue you've never been invited to.

If you get the impression that I am pissed, you are wrong. Misery does not love company, but prefers solitude. It's very civilized.

When you are alone, you can happily spend hours with micro-fiber pads and pipe stems, and there is no need to ask how the brats are doing in school, or how cousin Agatha's divorce is coming along. No one to whom you absolutely need to devote half a brain's worth of attention.

That's what e-mail and Facebook are for.

Of course, there's no one to share food with, but with an awful hack hack hack, you find it easy to forget that most people don't eat what you eat anyway. In a way that's icing.

Almost all fish dishes are better with hot sauce.
That's just a thought.

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Thursday, May 09, 2019


When I returned home, I could in the semidarkness see my apartment mate lying on the floor in her room, chatting on the telephone, presumably with Wheelie Boy, her sort-of boyfriend. I don't think they've seen each other face to face in approximately a year now, but they are both Asperger, so they talk unseeing quite well. It's a peculiar relationship.

I am quite a bit more socially adept. And don't really phone converse particularly well. My Asperger lies elsewhere. Formulaic dexterity.

Which, of course, is why my best interactions in the past nearly five months have been with staff at the clinic. There is little randomness there.

"Hello Nurse Mak, you're going to take my bloodpressure?"

"Thank you, Nurse Mak. Still a tad too high?"

At my work I'm pretty good at faking it too.
And actually really enjoy the chit-chat.
In a limited field, I am an expert.


For my apartment mate, that really long extension cord is a blessing. It allows her some privacy while on the phone. The cord is nearly forty feet long. So in theory, except that I myself hardly ever use the thing, I could harass the world while reposing in my bed, and I prefer it right next to my chair in the teevee room, where both it and I normally sit.
I am the designated phone slammer downer.
The lady of the house is not in.
We do not have air-ducts.
No habla "survey".

Ironically, I call a toll-free number to pay my phone bill.

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This picture of a frog is meant to cheer you up. If you are unresponsive to it, you may be emotionally defective. It could be just you.
Frogs are noble and cheering animals.

You might ask a psychologist about your reaction to frogs.
It's just a suggestion, though.

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Wednesday, May 08, 2019


Not having enjoyed a jaunt with a pipe on a day off for three weeks, I am awfully tempted to push the envelope today. So, of course, I am actively considering which pipe to merely look at longingly and not smoke.
What with still being a bit hacky.

Item A): The pipe for watching rats in Spofford Alley.
A smallish billiard made by Comoy under an off-label (shape 110B). Performs very well with aged Virginias. Fits nicely in the hand.

Item B): The Parker Billiard.
Lovely in the fingers, purchased from Marty Pulvers many years ago. Smooth, some surface wear, a touchie-feelie item.

Item C): Dudleigh Hollywood blasted straight panel.
Something I finally restored a few months ago. With the new stem it's a total looker, elegant and Simenonesque.
A textural affair.

If your eyes are glazing over now, that's quite okay. Pretty much most folks really aren't into briar, and tobacco smoking is so last century crusty old fart.
My doctor would severely disapprove also anyway, my apartment mate can't stand smoking, and almost everyone nowadays draws away from smokers as if they have the plague and a total body fungal infection in any case.
One gets used to being a sand creature.

The key concept in play is that good stuff does not have flavourings added. Good coffee does not have sea salt caramel or vanilla cinnamon extract, good tea isn't jacked up with orange peel or hibiscus, good tobacco will not be augmented with brown sugar and cherries.

The day that wine coolers were invented is when civilization threw up a little bit in her mouth.

If your granddad smelled of Dutch Cavendish or other fruity tobaccos, maybe he was a right ruddy pervert?

Permissible exceptions being, possibly, aromas inherited from either the snuff trade or Edwardian hair oils.

Pipe smoking: it's what dead people in books do.


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One of the things which I truly appreciate about the place is their seeming inability to cater to a white clientele. Most of the customers are Chinese, with a sprinkling of Filipinos ("hello my friend", pork!) and appreciative blacks. White people just don't get it. "You have won ton soup?" "Sweet and sour shrimp?" Ma'am, do you see either of those hanging in the window next to the duck and roast meats?

So um yeah, the reason why white people are starving in Africa is because they're stupid.

Two darling small creatures, different tables. The little boy was wearing Peppah Pig pajamas, and while wide awake and full of energy, was not noisy by any standards -- nicely tempered voice -- and the female-child was quiet, curious, very intelligent-eyed, and had a girl-power shirt on. Both kids, though still kindergarten age, knew how to act around grown-ups.
That's a skill many people don't learn till long after college.

Roast duck, roast pork, charsiu, plus soy chicken: powerful teaching tools.

And a bubbling hot claypot dish, with scallions and an egg on top.

There are parents with their heads screwed on right.

Desperate brunette round-head with a knife, or Keltoid girlie blonde stating everything with fire and dragons. Lots of dead people. The show already did not draw me, then I saw this: "Many "Game of Thrones" fans are angry the writers decided to use Sansa's rape as a reason for her self-empowerment."

Um, what?

"Many "Game of Thrones" fans are angry the writers decided to use Sansa's rape as a reason for her self-empowerment."

Rape is a theme in this show?

So um yeah, the reason why white people are starving in Africa is because they're stupid.

節瓜燒肉飯 ('jit gwa siu yiuk faan') fuzzy melon roast pork rice. It's on the menu, and their roast meats are extremely good. It's what they do.

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Tuesday, May 07, 2019


Yesterday marked the return to work after two weeks being sick. The cough is slowly subsiding, the dander is, sort of, back up. Haven't enjoyed a pipe since the nineteenth of April. Missed out on the pipe club social, but did enjoy all the pictures posted by attendees at the Chicago Pipe Show.
One of these years I may go. I hear it's a blast.

Still coughing.

In consequence of which not only no pipe smoking, but also no fried foods, and no Hong Kong milk tea. This blogger is going stir-crazy without tea and porkchops at the usual places. Seeing as he identifies as a pipe smoking, tea drinking, and porkchop snarfing somewhat anti-social old coot.

I'm more socially adept when well fed and smoked.

Without my pipe and my porkchops, I feel naked.

Next pipe club meeting coming up in a few days. Let's see if I feel more fully clothed. Hope so, nearly had convulsions because of the cold last night.

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Monday, May 06, 2019


The four most admirable women on American Television in this day and age have nothing to do with either Game of Thrones OR Real Housewives. Meg Griffin and Consuela from Family Guy, Louise Belcher from Bob's Burgers, and any random clip of Golda Meir. Strong yet vulnerable. Determined, in touch with their own reality, and in control.

Yeah, no, Arya Stark and Daenerys Targaryen are just masturbatory fantasies.

If you think about it, a dragon is just a stand-in for a motorbike.

All big and throbbing and full of fire.

I understand that American women need fantasies and heroines, but good grief. Disney princesses.

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Sunday, May 05, 2019


How about some boring repetition? There's a barrage of rather ineffective rockets from Gaza (over 600 fired so far) which succeeded in killing three people in Israel. The IDF, in guided retaliatory bombing, takes out several Hamas targets, with 15 fatalities. Everybody on Facebook you know wails angrily why this isn't major news, why must people (photos of residents cowering in airwells) live like this, why isn't the media covering it?

"Why is this outrage NOT on the frontpage?!?"

Yeah, well, it's boring. Unless you have kin over there, you are already heartily sick and tired of it. As well as uninterested.

I sincerely hope that Jonathan, Yossi, and several other friends get through this unscathed. Susan in Jerusalem, having shown herself a Trumpite and a racist, can go hang herself, though.

For the rest, I already know what's going to happen. Rocket. rocket, rocket. Bomb, bomb, bomb. Two to ten times as many Pally dead and wounded as Israelis. Turkey screams about crimes against humanity, the United States says Israel has every right to blah blah blah, Jeremy Corbyn and the European Left wring their pathetic little hands about what those horrid Jews are doing, the United Nations issues some angry pointless resolutions for the feelies of it all, and Benyamin Netanyahu makes several boastful and gloating comments that are altogether in bad taste. Racism and bigotry from the expected corners. Plus flat-out lies and heart-rending pictures.
Ilhan Omar, Rashida T'Laib say stupid things. So does AOC.
Flagwaving by the usual idiots.

After this is all over, we can go back to endlessly arguing over hummus, cherry tomatoes, and amba.
All of which are quite explicably more popular than ful mudammas and molokhia.

So, again to clarify: explosions, which I hope Jonathan and Yossi and others survive, but if dingus Susan in Jerusalem walks in front of something that goes 'boom', that is perfectly all right.
Then, chickpeas.

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An old friend who has had some horrendous health issues in the past few years who lives one block away was waiting at the bus stop to go up two blocks. So that he could go over two blocks. To the Trader Joe's at California and Hyde, where the Cala Market used to be.
It' a slope and invalid thing.
Plus swelling.

He states that this neighborhood isn't our neighborhood anymore. And he's right. For him, it's that a good burrito is hard to find, and there are fewer Gay bars. For me, Chinese bakeries, Chinese eateries, and grocery stores. And the one Mexican restaurant within a few blocks used to have competition.
There are more hipsters.

But what really highlights the change is that bus stop.

There didn't used to always be bums and nuts there.

I don't mind the fat Hispanic, he's cheerful and harmless, but the old black drunk is always filthy and a pest, so is the angry-looking white insane guy with the box of paints, the pigtailed dude on behaviourial medication seriously freaks out everyone, and the old black homosexual telling everyone about the government wanting to put fingers up their ass till they like it seriously has got to go.

Little kids and old folks use that bus stop.

Plus mommies and infants.

It used to be their neighborhood.

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Friday, May 03, 2019


It's probably a severe moral failing, but I have not watched a single episode of Game of Thrones. Ever. It took me over an hour of internet research to understand the death of the Night King reference which I first encountered this morning. Didn't know he existed untill this morning, didn't know he got whacked either.

Youtube is full of it.

Yeah, still not interested. Keep wasting your time, boys.

Season Eight, Episode Three.

If you spent a lot of time reading about elves, and all that faux Welsh crap by Tolkien, you probably love Game of Thrones. More gratuitous violence, more dragons, less moral message. A jolly pleasing bloody brainless romp.

With a bit of good old American style derring do thrown in.

Sex, violence, dragons.


It's rather like American reality teevee or broadcast football.
You people never really grew up at all.
The evil of juveniles.

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Thursday, May 02, 2019


The locals like it, so I shan't mention the name or location, because for the time being it's our kind of place. Not so many tourists with insane requests, nor white people who have impossibly high standards.
I should have gone there yesterday evening, instead of having 'Holier Than Thou Soup' from a can.

What I ordered was stirfried pork and tofu over rice. Tasted MUCH better than that sacred organic summersquash soup from the previous day. Yeah, I could only eat half of it, and took the rest home with me. But man, so much better than that tinned white folks muck.


If you were from New York or the East Bay, I'm sure it was not up to snuff. Because you know what's what, and if the Pizza is so much better there, or the cheesecake and bagels, then of course the Chinese food is too. Because San Francisco Chinese don't know know how to cook, do they? Not like in New York.

Been running a fever off and on for two weeks.
Completely fed-up with certain attitudes.

The owner at this point understands that I'm a creaky white dude with no family nearby. That's not very common in the Cantonese world.

It's not very common in any cultural world.
But I am relatively inoffensive.

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