At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

CAT ON A COLD LINOLEUM FLOOR

All kitchens should have a table.  Not only is it utilitarian, but it's sexy.  Those firm legs, that smooth flat surface just waiting for an opportune towel.........
Yes, second to beds, tables are the sexiest furniture.

She shuffled into the kitchen while it was barely light outside.  Winter mornings were cold, so cold!  The bathrobe and pajamas didn't guard entirely against the chill, but at least the kitchen was warm.  The rest of the house felt icy. 
She sensed a presence in the kitchen.
Was it another person?
A wild creature from the nearby woods?
Was it, perhaps, a big savage hairy bear, that would rippp! her clothes from her juicy hot body, drench her with honey, then li-li-lick her clean?
And tickle her till she screamed as she lay on the floor panting?
Eeeeeeeee!

Nah, just the cat.
Stupid cat.

The feline came over and rubbed against her legs.  Cats are incredibly sensual, and this particular exemplar had come in heat recently.  She had heard it yowling last night, sounding for all the world like a sex-crazed socialite demanding another bit of bling for every bang.  Come on boys, the more the merrier.  Just drop the diamonds in my purse.

Miaow.

Skanky little harlot.  Acting all affectionate.  All it wants is someone who can operate a can-opener. Once it's had it's breakfast, it will go off and find the nearest wealthy tomcat with esteem issues.


While the cat ate, she switched the coffee machine on, and sat on the table munching cookies.  Good to get ones feet off the frigid floor.  Her slippers dangled as she swung her legs, and one rabbit fell with a fwap onto the linoleum, startling the cat.
Randiness, apparently, makes creatures twitchy.
She waited till the cat had resumed eating before angling her foot just ever so.....
The other slipper slid.....  slid.....  slid....
Slapped down hard.

FWAP!

The cat screeched and jumped.
Kept watching her for the rest of it's meal.
Cats in heat have good reason to be wary; it's not just humans who do stupid things because of randiness.  But the irony was that the cat was warily watching the human, who didn't even have a sex life.
Perhaps living at home and never dating wasn't wise?
She really wanted to be drenched in honey.
And then tickled till she screamed.
Right here in the kitchen.
Sometime!

On the other hand, she liked having dad around, even if he left early.
And this part of the house was warm and had a table.
A coffee maker was good on cold mornings.
And the cat was very nice company.
A ball of affectionate fur.


Even if she did go out and bang all the neighborhood toms.


Purring slut.



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THIS PLACE IS A MESS

Looking around the apartment establishes very clearly that this blogger is a slob.  The only prize that I am likely to get from Good Housekeeping Magazine is the all-time booby prize.
Too many books.  A huge number of which I haven't finished reading, and others I would like to reread but cannot find.
Enough pipe tobacco to survive the end of the world, bring on the zombies.
Porcelain objects - including a Shekwan grinning degenerate.
Stacks, piles, boxes, and heaps.

Not nearly enough shelf space.

My bed is perfect proof of my personality.
It contains cookbooks, eight or nine years worth of Pipes And Tobaccos magazine, an Edward Gorey compendium, language study materials, manga series, a dictionary or two........
A sheet which is so old the material rips easily.
Pillows higgeldy piggeldy.

And two monkeys.

In addition to several other stuffed animals.

One of the monkeys (Urasmus Wazzoo) is a one-legged reprobate who was traumatised in the product development lab at work long ago, the other one is a small squat simian with lovely thick soft fur, who claims that his name is Arabella Oyster. 
And everybody loves oysters.
He's happy about that.

The first mentioned is more than a little bit insane, the second is an extremely well-balanced individual, though often somewhat innocent.
He has faith in his fellow creatures.
Urasmus wants to kill him.

My apartment mate is a much neater person. 
Her room is tidy, especially when compared to mine.
The various fuzzy creatures in her room are well-behaved.
There are no tins of pipe-tobacco obscuring the volumes arranged in her book cases, and no stacks of reading matter on the floor or in the bed.
I've offered, but she firmly resisted.
She says she has enough stuff.
No need for anymore things.
Especially not tobaccos.

It looks empty to me.


In my defense, I do the dishes much more often than she does, and much better.
That's something I have a peculiar talent for.  Somehow I doubt that most women are equally blessed.  I remember years ago a friend who insisted that the glasses in her kitchen cabinet were clean.  They just had to be, they had been washed when they were put in there months ago. She could not feel the thin layer of grime, nor see the hazy film deposited on the surface. They had NOT been used since they came out of the machine, ergo it stood to reason that they were still good.

Another woman I knew had a layer of grease on everything.
Even her floors were oily - good for the wood, I guess.
A rich patina on the walls adds so much to life.
But it rather detracts from the table silver.
Not to mention the cups and saucers.
Why is an oil-slick on my tea?

My apartment mate is not that bad, not by a wide margin.
Still, I have several times over the years re-scrubbed the plates and cutlery that she put in the rack, after she's left the house in the morning. 
That's something I've haven't ever mentioned to her. 
It would be pointless to point it out, and cruel.
She doesn't have eyes in her fingertips.


I'm a frightfull slob.


A clean one.




TOBACCO INDEX


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Saturday, September 29, 2012

BOTH WEEKLY AND DAILY

This blogger likes to claim that he is a temperate man, but the truth is far otherwise.
When it comes to food, tobacco, sex, and stimulating beverages (i.e. coffee and tea), there is scant restraint that I can muster.
These are the things that make some men passionate.
In that regard, I am positively Latin.
Brightly alive.

I love food.  Many kinds.  A vast spectrum.
Is it good to eat?
Very well then, let me mouth it!
I eat several times a week, often daily.

Tobacco is a private pleasure, though enjoyed semipublicly. 
My apartment-mate is not particularly friendly toward the noble leaf, and has told me in no uncertain terms that if her teddy bear EVER starts reeking of smoke, bad things will happen.  Very bad things.
Consequently I tend to partake outside of the home.

As regards sex, restraint is not the operative word, as it implies choice.
There is no choice,  hasn't been any in years.
Ever since Savage Kitten (the aforementioned apartment mate, still a trusted and well-regarded friend) and THIS BLOGGER ceased to be an item, activities of a deliciously lascivious nature disappeared; they haven't been part of the program in a frightfully long time.  When decent behaviour and sound judgement take the place of "restraint", a veritable aridity of the naughty stuff results. There is no rain in the wasteland.
Abstinence is something with which gentlemen are quite familiar.
It takes two to tango, however at present there is only one.
I think of sex several times a week, often daily.
And it's the thought that counts.
An active mind.
Years.

It seems that the world does not want anyone past a certain age and level of juvenile idiocy to have sexual relations; they've seen what happens when we do. 
My generation produced vast flocks of over-privileged little monsters, many in their late teens and early twenties right now, who lack discernment, manners, morals, and nearly any redeeming qualities at all.  An immodestly depraved lot.
Babyboomers should probably not have had sex from the git-go.
Bad things happened because we did.
Very bad things.

In my own defence I have to state that I am NOT responsible.
None of this was my doing.  I have no children.
Those brats aren't my baggage.

I think the world owes me an apology.


It might take a bit of time before that happens.


While I'm waiting, I'll have a bit more coffee or tea, and light up another pipe. 
Perhaps have a bite to eat first.  Or afterwards.  Or even both before and following the delicious warm beverage and the satisfying smoke.
While endeavoring to keep my mind clean and chaste.
Then I'll repeat the pattern. As often as it's necessary.

I am a patient man.  I have restraint.
And I'm better than the bratpack currently abounding.


Tea and coffee.  Tobacco.  Food.
Several times a week.
Often daily.



I am more thoughtful now than I used to be.




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Friday, September 28, 2012

FEMININE PLEASURES

She dozed upon the soft pillows, against his leg.  She still felt all tingly, and his hand against her back made her feel beloved, and at home. 
His touch was so nice.

It was comfortable to lie here, eyes half-shut, listening to the birds outside. They nested in the ivy that covered the building, and several of them were young, rambunctious, noisy. 
And, without a doubt, warm and juicy.
She adored warm and juicy.
Both of those characteristics suggested sweet things.
Fun activities, and happy results.

She purred.

He also dozed.  It had been a wonderful afternoon.  Staying at home with a book, a pot of tea, and the lively company of a pussy cat.
She had earlier dug her claws into his lap, which made him yelp.
Sharp and painful, dammit.  Please stop!
Wicked beast. 
But she soon relaxed, and let him stroke her, before finally going limp.
She probably dreamed of the sardines she had eaten earlier.
Playfully she had rubbed against his legs.
Yowling....... Feed me!
Delicious!

A spirited little creature, smaller than most house cats.
The fierce silken-furred huntress, on the prowl.
Those tinned fish didn't stand a chance.

Later he would have another hot cup of tea.
And feed her some more seafood.
Salty, oily, delicious.



She very rarely ate mice.  After catching one, she would bat it back and forth a while, till it was too tired to run.  Whereupon she would lose interest, and wander off, leaving her plaything to quiver by itself, panicked and rigid. A warm vibrating mess.
Eventually the rodent would recover from the ordeal - there had been no claws, those were reserved for laps and thighs - and scurry off wondering what had happened.
Possibly it was always the same mouse. Or mice.
Sometimes felines are creatures of habit.
Given to fits of constancy.
Familiar routines.


It was time for a bath.  How does one get a cat to stay asleep?  


She followed him in, and waited outside the curtain.



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Thursday, September 27, 2012

A MEAL FOR CROWS

While travelling down toward the new location, we passed a restaurant that looked interesting, and I mentioned that it might be a keen place to visit. This suggestion was promptly voted down.
Apparently Indian food tastes far too strong. Almost unbearable.

In my opinion, it is not so at all.
Perfect breakfast food, in fact.

What would you rather have:
1. Rashers of fried sugar-cured fat on a bed of greasy potato rasping, with an egg, and a bowl of overly sweetened pap with cinnamon, raisins, and butter, or.....
2. A yummy stew that has simmered all night, so that the bones in the broth have yielded all their goodness, served with flaky hot flat breads that can be torn up to sop the liquids.

Well?

Clearly the bacon and hash-brown breakfast loses out to the paya nahari and kulcha feast.


There you'll be, in a warm and hospitable foodery behind the Golden Mosque just before dawn, happily digging in while the muezzin from the tower sings out the call to prayer. You are surrounded by other equally irreligious types, anxious to get what the heathen heart desires before the moomins from the masjid get theirs.

Paya nahari: sheep's trotters, browned lightly, then simmered overnight with black pepper, ground coriander seed, turmeric, red pepper, fennel seed, cumin, and a pod or two of black cardamom. Plus pinches of mace. Water to cover.
When serving, garnish with finely slivered ginger, and add a squeeze of nimboo.
Serve with fresh hot kulcha, flaky and oozing ghee.

Then go next door to Parveen Baba's for a double glass hot milk-tea with green cardamom, sonf, and sugar.
Plus a khari biscuit.

Coincidentally, I have a recipe for paya nahari right here: 
http://cookingwithalizard.blogspot.com/2008/06/paya-nahari-sheep-trotter-stew.html .


I cannot think of anything more likely to take the chill off a foggy San Francisco morning, such as we've been having recently, than early curry. Good cure for a hangover too.
Far, far better than the load-o-grease most people prefer.


As we wheeled into the parking lot, I spotted a crow with a large piece of dead animal. They have that here. Dead animals. Carrion is truly the breakfast of champions, if you are a corvid.
One might even want to share a meal with the bird.
For want of anything better.
Here in Hayward.

Humans eat paya nahari.
Crows enjoy dead animals.
Everyone else prefers grease.



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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

EGG, PEAS, CARROTS, AND GREEN ONIONS

Good news! There are indications that civilization IS possible in the city of Hayward!
Or, at very least, not too very long off.
At some point, light and culture may even penetrate.

Search results for “Chinese food in Hayward” pulled up several jewels.

Quote:

Known as the “Heart of the Bay,” the city of Hayward serves as the ideal location for Chef’s Experience China Bistro.  The restaurant’s central proximity to Oakland, San Jose and the valley communities surrounding Pleasanton allows Chef’s Experience China Bistro to serve as the perfect destination restaurant for the diverse and accepting community reflected in the city’s caring environment.


Say what now? Heart of the Bay?
When did Hayward overtake San Francisco?

There’s also a place called “Prince Beef Chinese”.
Like you, I associate cows and Chinese food.
Along with urban caring environments.
Yes.

蛋, 豌豆, 胡蘿蔔, 蔥

Reading the menus of various places on-line, I am overcome with the suspicion that the kitchen staff of most Chinese restaurants in Hayward consists of hardworking gentlemen from Mexico. None of these menus are in Chinese, and many feature pricing structures that take balls.


"All fried rice comes with egg, peas, carrots and green onions"


Not very promising, but please remember that civilization probably started with egg, peas, carrots, and green onions. In any case it's a first sign of culture. There is hope.
Life in the major metropolitan areas of the world is IMPOSSIBLE without egg, peas, carrots, and green onions.
Fried rice comes with it!

The presence of egg, peas, carrot, and green onions is a certain sign that staggering miracles can happen.

Either that, or a harbinger of the end-times.

In Hayward.



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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

HAYWARD IS A VERITABLE JEWEL OF CIVILIZATION!

And miracle whip is a superior alternative to both butter and mayonnaise.
The pizza is more than passable.

Wide roads, tons of parking.

Humans reside in this place.

There may even be an American Express Office somewhere nearby.


I wish they'd keep the door closed.
The fruitflies are attacking me.

Connectivity at the new office remains an issue. As does the fact that every part of the Eastbay is an armpit.
Fortunately I shall be working from home more than from the beautiful burg of Hayward.


Trolls live here.





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SO HOW DOES THIS WORK?

Why am I here?  No, this isn't some existential quandary, it's a very real question.
Till three o'clock, I couldn't gain access to the system,
The company data base.
Or my files.

Then they switched out the antiquated laptop I had been using for something more modern.  So that I could get in.
I released a bunch of orders.

Commuted back to the city.
Discovered that I couldn't connect to Wi-fi.

And that there was a snarky Chinese-Filipino behind me who sneered at my laptop (okay, one of us has small manhood issues), and that the whole idea of working on-line away from the office is ridiculous.
Apparently this new laptop is antediluvian.
Ancient, long in the tooth.

Sound of a raspberry.

Can't get online.

Coffee shop, rental terminal, beverage I cannot, will not, drink.

That rude Chinese-Filipino ruined my mood.

Arrogant dingus.


First day at the new office can be written off to massive frustration.
And a supercilious Chinese-Filipino whom I cannot stand.
Fortunately rarely present at the Occidental.
Though a very common sort.


Tomorrow can only be better.


Get that odious Chinese-Filipino away from me.



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Sunday, September 23, 2012

MOLLUSC DREAM

One of the most heartwarming scenes in the corpus of English literature involves the wholesale slaughter of sweet little bivalves. 
It is the most lyric description of a massacre of innocents that you are ever likely to read, and if you are a PETA member you would do well to turn off your computer right now and have a nice soothing cup of chamomile tea. 
Breathe deeply.  Centre yourself.  Chant 'om'.
There, don't you feel better already?

How are your chakras?


If, on the other hand, you are a normal woman, you are licking your lips. 
You wish you were the walrus. 
Oysters!

The only quibble you could have with the poem by Lewis Caroll is that the poor beasts were raw.  You might prefer them steamed with a little ginger and scallion, and some thinly sliced jalapeno for zing.
Had you been there, you would have brought along a suitable vessel and a platter, plus a drizzle of soy sauce.

The most private thing you are willing to admit is that you actually like that place around the corner with the old-timey cliché decor and the nautical maps.  Simple seafood dishes, prepared properly, for the people in the neighborhood.  Nothing fancy.
They do oysters rather well.
They've also got scallops.
And very nice mussels.
Clam chowder too.

But if it were just you by yourself, you would stay home with your big bag of oysters and have a feast.
Followed by a luxurious long bath, because of the juices.
Leave the kitchen as it is, clean up tomorrow.
So what if it's still daylight, time to sleep.

Oysters, unfortunately, give me twinges of gout.
So do all the other molluscs I mentioned, though I love them.
So I'll just have one or two of yours, if I may, and share my seabass. 
We'll also have some other dishes, because it's fun watching a woman eat.
Especially small morsels of incredible richness.
That happy expression, and the smile.
Almost sleepy, as if dreaming.

We'll walk back to your place afterwards, maybe stopping somewhere for a small cup of coffee.
Watch a filled cablecar rumble past along Hyde Street.
Tourists, who didn't have oysters.
And we will gloat.
Goodnight.


Oysters.


You probably look lovely wearing pearls.



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OF COURSE YOU MAY ASK!

As I do every nearly every Saturday night, I went to the cigar club to have a few pipefulls.  It is quieter there on Saturday than during the week, because the conventioneers and bankers are largely absent. 
Consequently there is a relaxed atmosphere, and often pleasant company.
There is no other place to smoke indoors in the city anymore.
And a pipe is best enjoyed in brightness, inside.

Plus they have Wi-Fi!  Apparently we aficionados of decent tobacco are devoted to our jobs and must be connectable at all times. 
In fact, I'm thinking of having an electrical cord and several co-axial cables installed in my nether regions so that I can be contacted when and wherever.
Call me sometime, and don't be surprised if I let it ring for a while.

Oh, the excitement!


Often when I'm there someone will ask me about pipes and tobacco. 
Many young men who enjoy cigars (and fresh-faced youngsters should NOT smoke those things, what ARE you thinking?!?) have experimented with a pipe, but never managed to get the hang of it.
What, they want to know, are they doing wrong?
Please explain the process.

Very well.
Here are all the answers.
This is your new religion.

Sometimes I am avuncular, talkative, and resemble a pope.


A PLURALITY OF TOOLS

The reason for carrying around several pipes is that you must let each one rest a bit after use.  The carbon layer inside the bowl will dry out, and go through a series of minor chemical changes.  Allowing it to do so yields a cleaner-smoking sweeter pipe which will serve you infinitely longer than oversmoking just one pipe will.
Nothing is worse than a sodden, dull, sour, nasty-smelling piece of wood which gurgles unpleasantly with each new load, and drips tarry goo.
Take good care of it, and you will be a much happier person.
Oh, and both of you will smell better too.
That's somewhat important.


WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE

The shape does not significantly influence smoking qualities.  Almost all pipes have a very similar internal design. Yes, there are variations, and a broad deep bowl will give a different smoke than a shallow little dipper - but the external dimensions are mostly merely matters of comfort and visual appeal. 


WHAT YOU SMOKE

Virginia tobaccos tend toward sweetness and an herbal fragrance, and must be smoked so slow that they are at the edge of going out.  Oriental blends, which are also called English blends, can be smoked at a faster clip, almost hot-boxed. The smell of Oriental blends tends to startle and dismay many non-smokers, but the exceptions to that are truly exceptional.
In both cases the tobacco will be packed wetter in the tin than is suitable for smoking.  Dry it out until it feels just a little too dry, almost dessicated.

Do not indulge overmuch in aromatic blends.
Unless you have slutty tendencies.


AND HOW YOU DO IT

Do not pack tight, as you can always tamp it down while you puff.
Do not smoke hot, do not puff like mad.  And use pipe cleaners.
Put less tobacco in the pipe than you think necessary, so that the bowl ends on a note of "gee, that was wonderful", rather than "darn, the last ten minutes were an arduous chore".


AND LASTLY

Two things: your girlfriend is looking utterly bored right now.  Good god, she's rigid with ennui. Why did you bring her to a cigar bar?  It's wonderful that she will endure this for you, but it would have been far, far better if you had not subjected her to it.  She's precious, and the fact that she was willing to come along proves that you are a very lucky fellow. 
But for heavens sakes, man, don't prolong the torture. 
Take her somewhere special tomorrow.

The other thing is that hanging around all these cigar and pipe smokers is guaranteed to get that horrible new car smell out of the clothes you had drycleaned like nothing else.
So it would have been much better if you had come here during the week fresh from work, dressed in office drag.
You would leave smelling pleasantly like autumn leaves and a fresh coat of roofing tar, rather than petrochemical byproducts and cancer-causing cleaning fluids.

Trust me on this.
I'm a pope, I can say these things.



TOBACCO INDEX


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Saturday, September 22, 2012

THE FURRY PICNIC

With great interest she observed him filling his pipe. Deftly his fingers stroked the shaggy shreds of tobacco into the deep recess of the object, gently pressing down and massaging the surface to ensure an even pack.  Not too firm, but nevertheless with a sensitive attention to the springiness of the soft material.  When it was done, he brought the polished wooden object up to his mouth and, eyes half closed, awoke the opening with a flame. 
Clouds issued forth, and he appeared blissful.

A remarkable performance.  She was surprised at the sensuality of the process.  How odd, she never thought that men could be so ......   physical.
She brushed away some hair to get a better view, confident that he would not notice her observing him with such curiosity. 
He seemed entirely absorbed in the moment.
And in the smoke.

A wisp of resinous fragrance drifted past.
Like an old-fashioned perfume.
Or ancient incense.

Men were, in their own way, remarkable creatures.
Though many were boringly normal.
Unimaginative, and loud.


This one might be different.  Rather than a plain fascination for the physical exertions of large sweaty athletes, he looked like he'd be far more interested in watching a movie with a twisted plot and a well-written script.  No baseball cinema, no action films, no ridiculous fantasies involving superheroes with shiny form-fitting leotards and overly busty love-interests.  Instead, something that both stimulated, and spoke to the psyche.
Either that or a nature special about the Wildebeest.

Not so much intellectual, as quirky and inquisitive.
Very much like an intelligent forest animal.
Definitely the whiskers, and the pipe.
International badger of mystery.


NAPOLEON

I've always wondered why a decadent confection should be named after a short man with issues and an affection for silly hats.  Possibly the name is an attempt to give it a cachet it otherwise might lack, maybe it is even an appeal to the Francophiles and partisans of the Bonapartist regime.
A bottom layer of flaky sheet pastry, on which the custard cream is generously heaped, a top layer of more flaky pastry, and an application of a sweet pink glaze.
In the Netherlands it is not called a Napoleon, but a 'Tom Poes'.
Which means tomcat. 

That latter name makes a lot more sense.  Cats sheerly love creamy things.  They are nature's little orgiasts.  And tomcats are utterly degenerate.

My mother hated Napoleons, and considered them to be little more than malnourishment and potential food-poisoning combined. Based, I will admit, on my having turned green after eating one.
Several.
At least three.
That's all I remember.
Or at least, all I will admit to.

I can very well imagine a brazen feline (of which over the years we had several) attempting to finish off the entire box from the luxury 'banket bakkerij' ("banquet bakery"), before the lady of the house discovers that the evil beast has spoiled her tea party for the members of the 'Ladies Moral Instruction Guild'.
There is nothing to serve with the fine tea imported from England!
And the little saucers with paper doilies looked so darling!

Woe!

It is, if you think about it, a distinctly small-town disaster.
A tom poes is quite the done thing in some circles.
Nothing else will do. What a horrid failure!
Cause for bourgeois despondency.

Meanwhile, in a room upstairs, her daughter is cheerfully reading about all the good things that were brought along on the picnic.  Cold chicken, cold tongue, cold ham, cold beef, pickled gherkins, salad, French rolls, cress sandwiches, potted meat, ginger beer, lemonade, soda water........
Plus naturally several sweet things to eat!
What's a picnic without pastries?

If you're a cat or a forest creature, that's what you really anticipate.
Burying your snout into a thick clot of custard cream.
Snarfle snarfle snarfle.
Delicious.

After which you lick the crumbs off your whiskers, and look around bright eyed for more.
Before tackling the other yummy things in the hamper.
Oh, such fun! 


I discovered after my bath today that eating cookies while naked is NOT a good idea.  The crumbs get stuck in your belly button, and beyond. 
Pepperidge Farm Sausalito, which are milk chocolate macadamia cookies.
What I really craved was a Napoleon.  Creamy, smooth, indulgent.
Just imagine where the globs of custard would have fallen.
It would necessitate going back into the shower.

There's a bakery in Chinatown called the Napoleon Bakery.
Haven't been there in a while.  I don't think they actually have Napoleons, but they do have lovely scallion rolls and other delicious stuff. 
Egg tarts, cream rolls, custard buns.

I didn't leave the house in time, though, and they were long closed by the time I got down to Stockton Street. 

So instead I had a bite at a favourite restaurant.

After which I filled and lit my pipe.

I don't think anyone was watching.




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Friday, September 21, 2012

REST? ARE YOU NUTS?!?

Dog -tired.  Helped break down metal shelving towers, and moved a huge number of boxes.
The metal stuff was yesterday, the boxes were today.
There were only five of us in the office today, because everyone else assumed that they'd be needed at the new location. 
A very self-serving assumption, unsurprisingly.
Opportunism may be alive and well.

I woke up this morning sore all over.
And tomorrow morning I will again be sore all over.

But in the meantime, spicy curry peanut sauce soup with ginger, noodles, mushrooms, and meatballs, plus a cup of strong coffee. It's Friday evening.
Time's a seriously wasting.


Start of the weekend.
Time.  To.  Party.


Yow.  Za.
Yay.


Long.  Hot.  Bath.
Woof.


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Thursday, September 20, 2012

GREETINGS, MUSLIM WORLD!

Question: what happens whenever the Muslim world has indigestion?
Answer: American flags get burned, diplomatic missions are attacked, and some poor non-Muslim shmo gets slaughtered.
All to the accompaniment of furious howling, violent riots, screamed obscenities, and incidental looting and destruction.

It's a bit tiring.

I am a very tolerant man.
But even I am getting fed up with Muslims.
Very many of whom appear to be humourless cretins.

I keep having to remind myself that people like Ahmed Aboutaleb, Ahmed Marcouch, and Abdulkader BenAli are sterling members of Western Society.
As well as being exceptional Dutchmen.

Ahmed Aboutaleb, Ahmed Marcouch, Abdulkader BenAli.

On the other hand......

Apparently the entire government of Pakistan consists of swine.
As does a large percentage of the population.
Pakistan: a pissoir of a nation.

Shan't mention the Arab world -- too much horrible but true stuff has been written about them that it would be rather pointless.  And there are elements there who are indeed trying to stem the tide of insanity. 
Even in Saudi Arabia.
Still, not a place a civilized person should visit.

The Turks burned their fingers on Syria, and have been a bit more restrained recently.
Let us hope that continues.
Excellent food, repellent attitudes.

Indonesia: venereal diseases, filth, and violently racist Malayoid types who are largely illiterate, with foul mores and even worse vices. Malaysia is exactly the same, but more so - the bumiputera population has to work twice as hard at being thoroughly repulsive sons of bitches to make up for the resident civilized ethnicities like the Indians and the Chinese, who just won't act like rabid dogs.
That, however, is the only hard work they do.
Mostly they just sit around the kampong dreaming of rapine and slaughter.

I could also mention several other places and people, like those inbred savages in the Sinkiang, or the newly European criminal gangs who traffic women, but why bother?
It would be a pointless exercise.

Just keep repeating: Ahmed Aboutaleb, Ahmed Marcouch, Abdulkader BenAli. Ahmed Aboutaleb, Ahmed Marcouch, Abdulkader BenAli. Ahmed Aboutaleb, Ahmed Marcouch, Abdulkader BenAli. Ahmed Aboutaleb, Ahmed Marcouch, Abdulkader BenAli. Ahmed Aboutaleb, Ahmed Marcouch, Abdulkader BenAli.
Etcetera.

And there are many others. It isn't hard to find splendid representatives of civilization among Muslims, and some of the very finest examples of admirable qualities are not rare among their number.


Nevertheless, there are reasons why contacts between normal people and the Muslim world will keep shrinking.
Most of them hate us.
And we're learning to return the hate.
That isn't a good thing.  But they keep showing us how.

Go on, folks, keep on burning American flags.
Attack yet another Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet.
Kill several more Christians in your god-awful countries.
Eventually there will be fewer and fewer reasons to deal with you, interact with you, spend any money at all on you, and do business with you.

Or even tolerate you.


You're making it too easy.



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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A YEAR OF SPARKLING NEWNESS

This blogger appreciates change.
Nothing else keeps the mind quite as flexible.
In addition to prompting insanity.
And disquieting behaviours.

Not for me, of course. My mind is exceptionally strong and resilient, and not at all likely to veer off the deep end.
The problems are with everyone else.


NEW LOCATION

People in my office are running around losing their tempers and their marbles, as part of the planned grand move to an industrial parking lot in the suburbs which is happening even as we speak.
Remarkably sensible of them. This way they won't have to pack up either the marbles or the tempers.
Those things are fairly useless anyhow, best to let the clean-up crew throw them into the recycling bins.
If they're really necessary, you should buy new ones at Office Depot.
Maybe you're ready for an upgrade?

I finished packing up the credit files and my desk yesterday morning. Since then I have happily sneered at a refund request, drunk lots of coffee, loaded up several huge bins with office supplies, thrown out tons of stuff from other cubicles, and helped load-up the CFO's behemoth vehicle. Twice.

I also enjoyed a delicious pain au chocolat.


The Accounts Payable folks, on the other hand, didn't start packing up till after lunch today. And as of this writing, they are wailing and shrieking.
The AP Supervisor is playing with a Superman Figure, whirling it over his head and humming to himself.
His nickname is 'Whizzle'.
He's in control.

A lead member of the Operations Team ran past with a gun.
Don't worry, it only shoots rubber darts.
But there have been howls.


LIKE MAGIC

And, speaking of change, the nearest tobacco merchant finally lost their long acrimonious fight with their landlord, and is closing down forever.
After 163 years in business.

The Financial District will not be the same.

As one of the cigar smokers at the wall put it:

"There is another upside to this reckoning. It is the silver haired lining in this smoldering, vacated tobacco cloud. GC is elated. Like a great weight has been lifted. Like he finally found the lithium his doctor prescribed months ago.
I'm betting that he is skipping down the sidewalk pausing only to line dance through the steeplechase of sandwich boards that litter Market Street."


Things change. Change is good.

Shan't be at the wall smoking a pipe with the boys more than once a week at best now.  And without a decent tobacconist within walking distance, the group will likely wither. 
The only thing that will keep us together will be e-mails from Agent L.T.
One or two densely informative feuilletons each week. 
Every one of which has mentioned chickens. 

---   ---   ---   ---   ---   ---

In addition to the laptop, I've been given a cellphone for those days when I'm working from a coffeeshop with mood music and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
So that I can call in.
Or something.

This is all surprisingly new.
I've never used a cellphone before.
Gonna miss the velum and carrier pigeons.


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KICKING AND SCREAMING INTO THE 20TH CENTURY. NO WAIT, THE 21ST. WHATEVER!

As part of the company move I have been handed a laptop and told to work from home at least one day a week.  Along with a cellular device.

The last time I was so connected was when I still had a beeper.
I stopped using the beeper back about five years ago, when I discovered that there were no pay-phones left anymore. 
To listen to messages and return calls required being near the two land lines I always employed - my office phone, and my home phone.
Fat lot of good calling me in between those two points would do.

Stop sneering!  I got rid of the carrier pigeons years ago.
By the late nineties, you looked stupid with a pigeon clipped to your belt.
The only people who still used them were certifiable nerds with celluloid pocket protectors to keep the pigeon crap from befouling their frock coats.

Now I shall have to discover Wi-Fi.
And hot spots.
As well as batteries.
Indeed, I am just thrilled.
The full spectrum of electronic pigeon crap.

If you see a furious badger in a Northbeach Café or Chinatown noodle soup restaurant smacking expensive equipment with a sliderule while growling 'work, darn you, work', do not be surprised.  That will be me.
I own several sliderules.
And I know how to use them.


I also usually write in longhand.


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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

TOAD PETTING TIME

Under pressure from friends I joined an internet dating site.
This, as you no doubt understand, was a really bad idea.
As well as a glimpse into the pit.
All the likely dates in my ballpark are either sixty plus grandmothers with dogs, descendants, and Jesus in their lives, OR non-smoking non drinking saintly virgins who watch Snooky and America Has Got Talent.

Women I would never want to meet.
Some of them list the DaVinci Code as their favourite book.

How utterly ghastly.


What I want to find is someone who is rather like me.
But smaller, and without the beard and moustache.
Badger-like.
Not the best person in the world.

[* BEARD AND MOUSTACHE: a trim goatee, very dashing. Collegiate, yet devilish.]

A solitary type with a social streak.
Tolerant of stubborn men.
Fond of pipe-smokers.

As well as hot beverages and furry creatures.

I'm guessing all such women already miraculously found their ideal.  That being a five foot eight and a half tall grumpy 52 year-old Dutch-American who speaks mediocre Cantonese, veers towards Nabokov and Dunleavy as authors, and smokes a pipe.

There were probably two other such men in the Bay Area, they're married now, and deliriously happy.

Bastards.


I'll admit it. I'm not interested in single women my own age.  They're usually clapped-out alcoholics, neurotic, and too eccentric by a wide margin.  This is San Francisco, so most of them are also unbearably creative and unique.
No, not interested in grandma with her dogs and spoiled infant relatives either.

This decrepit old fart is looking for someone notably younger than himself but more mature, who can be encouraged in her fondness for all the trade goods of yore: coffee, tea, tobacco, highly refined white sugar, and incorrigibly decadent authors.
Someone who gets along well with stuffed animals.
And likes noodle soup.

If you've wasted your time on mediaeval studies or Elizabethan literature, so much the better.
As just two examples of non-business related fields.


Absolutely no dogs or Jesus.


Period.


FYI: this is as close to an obscene proposition as I'm ever likely to make.



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Monday, September 17, 2012

PORTRAIT OF JESUS IN HOT SAUCE

I am an active man.  Incredibly so.   And quite impossible to find.
And I say this because even though I've been at or near my desk all morning, it wasn't until I had my face buried in a burrito during lunch that everybody needed to speak with me. 
No, not all at once. One by one. By one.
Thank you, guys, I now have acid indigestion.

It was a good burrito.  Fatty pork plus spicy sauce.
It should have been a slice of heaven.
As in "oh my goodness, this burrito con carnitas y salsa picante sin frijoles is heavenly!"
Un sabor celestial, de verdad!

Jesus makes a damned fine burrito.

Heaven, I was told when I was in kindergarten, was where you would always eat delicious porridge out of golden bowls.  At that time I had no idea what porridge was.
Now I do.
Porridge, as most Americans like it, is nasty muck.
Very unlikely that it would be improved by gold.

I'm certain that if heaven existed, it would be filled with lobster.
Lobster is a surefire way to keep the women happy.
Women love lobster, far more than life itself.
A buffet with several lobster dishes.
That's heaven.

We men will just be glad that our women are happy.
And take satisfaction in an endless burrito bar.
Con carnitas, y salsa picante.
Sin frijoles.

No beans in heaven.
Don't want to ruin the place.
The ducts up there cannot handle beans.
Something about a ventilation system that's 5772 years old.
5773.

Anyhow, no beans. 

Nor people who interrupt lunch.

De verdad.


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Sunday, September 16, 2012

THE SAFE PORT

And so, laboriously, they hoisted themselves aboard the ship.  Which appeared deserted.  If the Spanish had known they were coming, why did they not torch and sink the boat? It really didn't look good.

Creaking sounds. Then he noticed that everyone left on board was dead.
The despicable Don Lopez emerged from the cabin......


All of them ended up on trial in Spain.

Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition!


My apartment mate spent half the day watching old pirate movies.
All manner of derring-do was duly done.
'Zounds, matey.

Naturally I hastened off to the office. As I usually do on weekends.
This will probably be the last time.
Hours to enjoy a book.

Last chance.

The company at which I work is moving over to Hayward.
Which is a long journey away from where I live.
I need to find another weekend hide-out now.
A quiet place.
Coffee shops are entirely out of the question, as I do not like too many peopl around me when I'm reading. Individuals wired to the gills, oh my.
Due to San Francisco's primitive laws about smoking in public and several other environments, parks are off-limits, as are old-folks homes, grammar schools and high schools, hospitals, hospices, and child-care facilities.
In addition to the usual places.

As yet I have no idea what I shall do.

Good heavens, I might have to be social now.

Need to get some coaching on that; it's not instinctive.


'Meanwhile, along the coast of Seville, gallant captain Thorpe is chained to the oars of a galley, and being savagely whipped, along with his surviving men.......'

Galley slave for the evil Iberians, a fate worse than death.

Hayward, for craps sakes!

Worse than Seville.

No oranges.


What on earth shall I do on weekends?
Suggestions are welcome.




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SAILORS! I LIKE SAILORS!

My beauty sleep was brutally disrupted by loud cackles from the teevee room.  It turns out my roommate had woken up early to watch Seahawk, an Errol Flynn movie. 
There is a shipload of derring-do in the flic.

The English and Spaniards get it on at sea.
Nobody likes the Spanish.

Not only the English contested oceanic trade and conquest with them, also the Dutch, nay even the entire civilized world.
Oh wait, that's just the English and the Dutch.
Still.
Nobody likes the Spanish.

But EVERYBODY likes sailors!


Hearing the phrase "sailors, I like sailors" hollered out early in the morning is a novel and disturbing way to wake up.  It made me briefly think that I had been dragged into a bagnio or low dive, and was somehow witness to unimaginable perversion.
Many voices, highly emotional.
Scenes of violence and discord.
Gunfire. Loose cannons.
English gallantry.
Trumpetry.

And the cheerful "sailors, I like sailors", followed by happy hooting.

"SAILORS, I LIKE SAILORS!"

Do you now?  How...   interesting.

I never knew that about you.

Very San Franciscan.


There's a monkey on the ship who also likes sailors. 
So does the captain. As likwise his officers.
And sundry men with fruity moustaches.
Plus manly queen Elizabeth.

I do not like sailors. 

Not early in the morning.

Not with loudness.

Or soundtrack.



ONLY exception:  giddy girls in sailor costumes.

Especially if they also wear fishnet stockings.

Which would be thematically appropriate.



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Saturday, September 15, 2012

BUT ON THE PLUS SIDE, I'VE STILL GOT ALL MY MARBLES!

In another four weeks exactly, it will be my birthday. Not, really, that I expect to make a big deal out of it. It will be just another reminder of antiquity. My ex keeps telling me that I am still young, and obviously full of piss and vinegar. And remarkably spry despite the occasional flare-up of gout.
I try to hide the gout from her and others around me, and I pride myself that I do a good job of that. Having, as you may have surmised, a remarkable talent for dissimulation.

Recent example: a lovely bowl of clam chowder.
Followed by twinges in my right knee and big toe. 
But nobody noticed anything. The old badger seems as sparky as usual.
Okay, the shrimp bonnets I had in C'town may have also contributed.
Monday through Thursday, a spry sparky version of gout.
Please do NOT ask me to tango.
Twinges interfere with rhythm.

Today I didn't make any mistake like that. Meaty substances with hot sauce and plenty fresh crunchy green crap, tea, coffee, and several bowls of tobacco.
Precisely like I want my birthday four weeks hence to be.

On my birthday, I might go down to the Asian Art Museum to inspect my rotund friend the bronze rhinoceros.
It has been too long since I visited him.

Shang Dynasty ritual objects get a bit lonely after a few thousand years.
Even if remarkable fit and vibrant.
Trust me on this.

I rather doubt he'd care much for clam chowder, though.
Company, that's what he wants.
And friendly chit-chat.
Perhaps cake.



Warning:  if you click on the embedded link, you should know that the picture will show a NAKED rhinoceros.  As, normally, rhinoceri are wont to be.  This may shock or titillate you, but not nearly as much as seeing a nude picture of the birthday boy might. 
Rest assured: you will never see that here.
I am a modest man. 
I will never post pictures of myself au naturel on the internet.
Or even pose.

Might expose myself in the buff again sometime.
But only to someone with a sense of humour.
Whether you're a three-thousand year-old bronze beast, or a badger-like middle-aged pipe-smoker (still trim, spry, and sparky, please remember that!), you are likely to feel a little self conscious about your appearance.
Keen appreciation is essential.
And a bemused smile.


PS.: Feel free to recognize how nice your local badger is.



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Friday, September 14, 2012

A CLEVER STRATEGEM!

Two days ago I posted that I could very well see myself solving my dating problems by positioning a box trap somewhere with a book as bait. Depending on the book, the ideal woman would, without a doubt, be promptly caught.
Hah! No longer a solitary single man!
At the time it was meant in jest.
But several of my readers (well, only two people), stated that I had screws loose for even suggesting it, and proffered counterarguments.
The plan, they said, could not possibly succeed.
What was I? Some kind of idiot pervert?

I beg to differ. The more I think about it, despite their bitterly vociferous contestation, the more convinced I am that it is probably the best idea I have ever come up with.
Utterly brilliant.
Fail-safe.


The scene below may soon be coming to a park near you.
Such as Washington Square park.
Right around teatime.





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Thursday, September 13, 2012

A LIGHTNESS IN THE AIR

The first thing I noticed was how she held her chopsticks. And then the book.
When a woman is eating dumplings while reading it tells you two things.
One is that she is alone. Whether that is a permanent state or temporary is not clear.
The other very important datum it imparts is that she likes dumplings.
Dumplings are a very great good.

The place was nearly empty, and on a whim I went inside. After placing my order I observed the dumpling woman out of the corner of my eye.
Short, trim, grey haired. Probably around seventy years old, maybe a little bit beyond.
Angular features, though they softened as she ate.
A string of pearls, and a comfy sweater. Reading a book by Elaine Pagels.
And, unlike most Caucasians, she used all of the digits on her right hand to wield her chopsticks.


CHOPSTICKS, PAGELS, AND DUCK

That’s quite unusual. Most of us white people manipulate chopsticks rather like Tanizaki Yukari, with that dubious two-fingered wobble that makes the transfer of morsels to the mouth a minor miracle.
She, on the other hand, looked like she had been born with them.
I’m not sure about the Elaine Pagels book, however. As dinner literature it is both excessively casual and disconcerting.
It is not clear to me why anyone would read that book while in the presence of good food.
Perhaps a perverse streak?

When her bowl of roast duck noodle soup came she put the book down, and grasped the porcelain spoon with her reading hand. Slowly, almost lovingly, she clumped a skein of noodles between her chopsticks and lifted it up, before bringing it to her mouth. While slurping the noodles in, she dipped a spoonful of broth.
It wasn’t until the third mouthful that she assayed a chunk of roast duck.

I’ve had the roast duck there a number of times, it’s not bad.
And their soup stock is very good, both fragrant and clear.

I ordered the same dish, but instead of wheat noodles, I requested rice stick.
Personally I think it goes much better with rich meats.
Plus I prefer the slippery texture.

The dark glistening Sienna hues of the duck, the pure whiteness of rice noodles, the fell green of 菜心 and the chopped scallion sending its perfume over the sparkling pale broth. Beautiful.
Like the dumplings mentioned earlier, it is a great good.


She finished before I did, of course.
Stowed the book in a pocket of her jacket, and headed out into the night.

After I left the restaurant I wandered up Pacific Avenue. There was a peculiar smell at the corner of Taylor, so I sniffed my tweed coat. No, not me. I smell slightly sooty, but that's it.
Lit up a cigarillo at Hyde, and admired the street lights, haloed by mist in the air.
Then home.
Well-fed.


NOTES

Dumplings (餃子): meat and chopped vegetables wrapped in a wheat flour skin, and either steamed or boiled (水餃). If panfried on one side, they become potstickers (鍋貼). Best with a dark vinegar and soy sauce dip, and a dab of chilipaste.
Tanizaki Yukari (谷崎ゆかり): An English teacher in the manga and anime Azumanga Daioh (あずまんが大王). Jealous, self-centered, and mercurial, with a tendency to smack her students with objects like binders or blackboard erasers.
Roast duck (燒鴨): Duck brushed with a sugar solution, hung to dry, then roasted at high heat (400 degrees Fahrenheit) for nearly an hour. Part of the trick to cooking this is first blanching the duck with boiling water to tighten the flesh, plus putting rice wine and aromatics in the cavity. The cavity contents are poured out after cooking for use as a dip or flavouring.
Wheat noodles: 麵. Probably 幼麵 in this case.
Rice stick noodles: 河粉. Though 粿条 would also work. Not 瀨粉, that would have been too rich.
Elaine Pagels: an author who lectures at the same school as my super brilliant cousin the mediaeval art historian.
Not that that means anything or is in any way relevant.
I just like boasting about my cousin.



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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

KEEN WORDS OF ADVICE

My friends are, generally speaking, as supportive and understanding as I would want them to be.  But unfortunately they're also likely to proffer advice.
I like advice.  I give it really well.
Lousy at hearing it, though.


FIND SOMEONE!

The instructive words on rectifying my current state (bachelorhood) almost always seem to specify going where the female of the species congregates, and, as if by magic, getting into a conversation with the most intelligent specimen there, whereupon surely many dates, lunch, and a long happy life will follow.

Suggestions have included universities, bars, and shopping districts.

As well as courses in basket weaving, or poetry writing.


Aside from the absurdity of the enterprise ("the hunting of the snark") are the places proposed as likely environments (i.e.: universities, bars, shopping districts). 
Universities are where you find many overly sensitive mediocre minds with strong yet unsupported opinions, surrounded by frustration, intellectual dimness, rutting college athletes, bongs, bafflement, and exceptionally bad pizza.  The only time I've ever met someone who was worth dating at a university was when I took the same class as she did.  On her recommendation.
She was, in fact, the person I was already seeing at the time.  If there had been any chance of my "finding someone" at a university, she certainly would have NOT suggested it.
The pizza at SF State back then was quite horrid, by the way.
I do not know if it still is.
Bars, of course, are even worse. That's were you go to spend an hour being suboptimumly social at best, dawdling over a cocktail while smoking.  Bars are a good place for assiduously ignoring sports on television in early evening, while observing rush hour traffic thinning on Pine Street and dusk descending. 
Bars are NOT prime gathering spots.
Shopping districts are ab initio ridiculous.  Folks who flock in vast herds in the shopping districts have no interests in other people at that time, and are experiencing a feeding frenzy besides. 
Women who shop for fun are in a cannibalistic state.
Do not bother them.  They are the Borg.


In some ways I actually like bachelorhood. 
It would be nice to find someone (female) to share it, but I despair of women.
The snark which must be hunted is a shy creature, and does not hang out with others.
Her response to a friendly "hi come here often wanna share some pizza" would almost certainly be to viciously clout me upside the head with a heavy book by Henry James.
While wondering how and why anyone climbed to the top of the tree where she was hiding with her copy of The Bostonians, coffee, and an HP or Dell lap top. 
Actually, now that I think about it, she'd probably smash me on the head repeatedly with that volume, in hopes that I would lose my grip and tumble to the ground.
Splat.  And whimper.

I'm rather fond of my head, and do not want it dented.
Readers of Henry James might disagree.

So no.  Hanging around universities, bars, and the shopping districts, in hopes of "meeting girls", is a perversion I shall not engage upon.


On the other hand, placing a large cardboard box propped up with a stick (to which a long string is attached) on the ground under a tree is something I can very well see myself doing.
Of course, there's a BOOK on the ground under the box.........
Yes, this seems both workable and brilliant.
There's a good chance of success!

It's a big comfortable box.




Are there any young ladies out there who read Henry James?

I'd be keen to hear your opinion of this plan.





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FEATHERED FELLOW RESIDENTS

Far above the streets I heard a crow calling. I wonder if it’s the same one I heard a while back near the TransAmerica Pyramid?
And I wonder what he does all day.

Crows are gregarious and playful, and while they cannot really be domesticated, they do enjoy the company of creatures that are not like them. There are plenty of videos on the internet that make that clear.
One in particular is rather charming, namely a clip of a crow that befriended a kitten. Over a period of several months the bird fed the small feline and protected it, and long after the kitten had found a human household to live in, the crow remained its best friend. They played together every day.
You can look it up. Youtube.

The Financial District is peaceful on weekends, quite a pleasant change from the rest of the time. Even the pigeons and the street people have gone elsewhere.
Except for crows and solitary individuals, it is empty and deserted.
I probably have more in common with the crows.

I understand that the shopping district, only a few blocks away, is filled with people. I’ve been down there on occasion, but it isn’t my scene. And I hate shopping. 
As entertainment, it ranks right up there with team sports.
North Beach, too, is busy on weekends. A lot of people from out of town indulging in a bit of Beatnik bohemianism, browsing in precious boutiques, and taking photos in front of picturesque backgrounds.
They exclaim animatedly in French, German, and Suburbanese.
It’s not my kind of place on Saturday and Sunday.
At least not during the tourist season.
When all the idiots are in town.

Perhaps again after October.

I am not fond of generic throng.

If I cannot find someone whose company is enjoyable, who simply wants to read, explore a bit, and end the day with a spot of tea at a café where we won’t be bothered by Artists, Bohemians, and Europeans, then I would much rather hang around the Financial District with the crows.

They’re actually very intelligent creatures.

As well as gregarious, and playful.



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