At the back of the hill

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

Friday, February 28, 2014


There are times when the reading man needs to find out more about a subject. Not that the subject in question is necessarily foremost in his mind, or at the top of his list of interests, but it has cropped up and now he has questions. The internet makes casual research much more possible.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about the ibis:



Ibis subfamily:
The ibis subfamily, also known as spoonbill subfamily, are long-legged wading birds known scientifically as threskiornidae. They have long beaks which curve downward, and often forage in flocks, inserting their beaks into the mud to search for crustaceans. Most species nest in trees in proximity to other kinds of spoonbills or herons.

Species are:
Ibis, black ibis, big ibis, northern bald ibis, rubicund ibis, white ibis, yellow necked ibis, Nagao ibis, green ibis, bare faced ibis, American ibis, coloured ibis, coloured crest ibis.

Please note that there are various subspecies in each category.
Too many to mention; they are listed on Wikipedia.

In its own way, all this is fascinating information. That steady diet of crustaceans is enviable, especially to people such as myself (seafood eating Dutch Americans with a tendency toward gout), and, I would imagine, nearly the entire population of Chinatown.

It is probably a jolly good thing that the Cantonese are not threskiornids, though they might wish to be reincarnated as such.
If they were, I would have to avoid all of my favourite restaurants.
No more pork, but crawdaddies everywhere.

No tables. No plates.
Just mud.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014


Whenever there's a convention or conference in town, the cigar bar becomes unlivable. Rational people prefer a quiet place, with plenty of seats to choose from, and a noise level far below the volume of screaming pain.
Out-of-towners however seem to like a massive flustercrump.
They find San Francisco to be traumatizing.
And seek loud sanctuary.

We're going through a bit of a warm spell, so it would have been much more enjoyable to simply wander through the streets and alleyways of Nob Hill with my pipe; I did not need to find an indoor place to smoke.
And while I liked conversing with IT guys from Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, the two beefcakes from the fascist state of Arizona harshed everyone's mellow with their coarse antics.

Years ago, when the geologists held their yearly meeting in the city, things got out of hand in a different way. Men who had spent the last twelve months out in the desserts and wastelands with little hammers, surrounded by nothing but scorpions and lizards, with no one to talk to, would experience synaptic overload. And, having not had meaningful conversations for so long, found themselves regressed on the autism spectrum to the point of stumbling goobertude.
Just add whiskey; the results are stellar.
Total verbal mayhem.

Perkily cheerful chatter about rocks. And little hammers. No, not actual discussion or an exchange of information and insights, just several hundred men saying random stuff about rocks. And little hammers. Often to no one in particular, and not part of a sequential series of exchanges. No logical connection to what the nearest-person-by had voiced, followed by statements that did not segue or up-follow in any clear way either.
But they had an enormous good time, and thoroughly enjoyed hearing other people say incomprehensible things too. About rocks. And little hammers. Connections were made. One or two of them had wives.
Few of them were women.
No lizards.

I think I prefer gibbering rumpled men with rocks and little hammers to business-suited twats from Flyoverstan. Even though they may have spent the last several months in Arizona. But instead of rubbing their shoulders with the fascist Azonoid beefalumps, they associated with scorpions and lizards, who are much more civilized.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Several readers have called me to task for using the term "pansies" in a recent post, referring to football players. They felt it was unsporting. Football players, they wished me to know, were the very apotheosis of big butch manliness, nothing floral about them at all.

In truth, the football players were a mere detail.
Although they ARE a bunch of Dilberts.

And I had used the word "pansy" purely in the spirit of good natured jape, albeit quite sneeringly so.
And as a history buff.

It's Arthurian.



At exactly three-o-five, the Black Night respectfully addresses Arthur, King of the Britons, as 'Pansy'.

If a king can be thus appelled, especially by a worthy adversary, then surely lesser men should not quail from being called thus.

Imagine if all princes of the blood had that term in their title?

Charles, Pansy and Prince of Wales.
Edward, the Black Prince & Pansy.
King George, the Pansy Elector.
William, Third & Pansy.

Prince Rupert, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, 1st Duke of Cumberland, 1st Earl of Holderness, and a great British Pansy.

His Imperial and Royal Highness, Prince Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Christoph von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen und Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Crown Prince of Preußen, Knight of the Order of the Black Eagle, and Grand Pansy Extraordinaire.

It has a ring to it. If the French can call their princes "dolphins", why should we not use the word 'pansy' as a title of distinction?
Precisely, in fact, like 'colonel' in Kentucky.

Award winners. Famous actors. Ballet stars. Great painters. Nobel laureates. Senators, state representatives, and folks from Texas.
And most especially the heroes of our favourite sport.

May I present to you a list of notable people who should, by all rights, be known as such?

McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Pansy.
Colin Kaepernick, Pansy.
Alex Debniak, Pansy.
Jewel Hampton, Pansy.
Kendall Hunter, Pansy.
LaMichael James, Pansy.
Marcus Lattimore, Pansy.
Bruce Miller, Pansy.
Will Tukuafu, Pansy.
Jon Baldwin, Pansy.
Brandon Carswell, Pansy.
Michael Crabtree, Pansy.
Chuck Jacobs, Pansy.
Quinton Patton, Pansy.
David Reed, Pansy.
DeMarco Sampson, Pansy.
Devon Wylie, Pansy.
Derek Carrier, Pansy.
Garrett Celek, Pansy.
Vernon Davis, Pansy.
Vance McDonald, Pansy.
Alex Boone G., Pansy.
Carter Bykowski, Pansy.
Anthony Davis, Pansy.
Mike Iupati, Pansy.
Daniel Kilgore, Pansy.
Joe Looney, Pansy.
Luke Marquardt, Pansy.
Al Netter, Pansy.
Ryan Seymour, Pansy.
Adam Snyder, Pansy.
Joe Staley, Pansy.
Tank Carradine, Pansy.
Quinton Dial, Pansy.
Glenn Dorsey, Pansy.
Tony Jerod-Eddie, Pansy.
Ray McDonald, Pansy.
Lawrence Okoye, Pansy.
Mike Purcell, Pansy.
Justin Smith, Pansy.
Christian Tupou, Pansy.
Ian Williams, Pansy.
NaVorro Bowman, Pansy.
Ahmad Brooks, Pansy.
Corey Lemonier, Pansy.
Darius Fleming, Pansy.
Nick Moody, Pansy.
Dan Skuta, Pansy.
Aldon Smith, Pansy.
Patrick Willis, Pansy.
Tramaine Brock, Pansy.
D.J. Campbell, Pansy.
Chris Culliver, Pansy.
Craig Dahl, Pansy.
Darryl Morris, Pansy.
Eric Reid, Pansy.
Carlos Rogers, Pansy.
C. J. Spillman, Pansy.
Dax Swanson, Pansy.
Raymond Ventrone, Pansy.

There now. Much better.

For the record, I have watched several games with great enjoyment. Perhaps as many as six. And though my attention was often drawn elsewhere, the grand spectacle enthralled.
Such a show! Such praestation!
Oh truly well done, indeed!
Bravo, sirs, bravo!


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Years ago one of the commenters here remarked that to him, anyone speaking Dutch sounded as close to the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show as to make no difference. And he opined that Swedish itself sounded like an actual language; Dutch didn't.

Naturally I expressed vociferous dissent.
Swedish sounds like gibberish.
No wonder they're nuts.

Now, let us segue sideways.

A brief instructional video.



At 1:55, the speaker switches to Swedish, for the benefit of monolingual Vikings. For nearly two minutes he maintains a high degree of fluency in that relative of Magyar ere returning to a civilized tongue at 3:50.
For pipe smokers, it is a very useful video.
Peterson's Perfect Plug.

[Swedes, and other Scandinavians, are fond of American luncheon meat. This is well known. It explains why the natives of other countries fear them, and wish they would stay home instead of going on Holiday to Europe.]

I do not know if any chickens were harmed in the making of this video. Mijnheer Jan Kusters, judging by his tastes and erudition, is probably a Brabander or Limburger. A fine Virginia-Perique tobacco bears his nickname, in tribute to the pater noster of the Dutch and Belgian pipe crowd.

I first saw mention of Jan Kusters on Arno's blog (Dutchpipesmoker at Wordpress dot Com), on which a fellow Brabander writes interestingly and in-depth about an enjoyable past-time, in English -- because there are marginally more people who understand that tongue than Dutch.
Or Swedish.


Peterson's Perfect Plug takes a little getting used to. It's presented as a block, which needs to be sliced with that hugely expensive chef's knife that was purchased years ago and is very rarely used (I prefer the twelve dollar serrated blade I bought in 1984 at the knife store in North Beach for most purposes).

3P can be described as rich and creamy (not entirely sure what other people mean by that), being a full and broad smoke with a rather good development of flavour. Smoke it slow, and use a medium bowl rather than a big Castello or Danish freehand. It has a bit of a nicotine whompus, due to the air-cured element.
Rational non-smokers will probably like the fragrance.
Californian non-smokers may start weeping.
They're perverts; screw them.
Lightly cased.

Urf, urf, urf. Rubbidup, rubbidup. Opla.
Words to live by.


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Tuesday, February 25, 2014


There are three alleged grocery stores within easy walking distance: Whole Foods, Real Foods, and Trader Joe's. None of these three are high on my list of meat and vegetable related emporia. Reason being that all three are overpriced and cater to very bourgeois white people who quite clearly don't know beans about food.

There used to be a much more down to earth food store much closer to the apartment: Big Apple, at the intersection of Polk and Clay. One could buy various dried noodles there, plus condiments, Asian sauces, fresh vegetables, liquor, and various items of an animal protein origin. As well as all the usual groceries that real people who cook real food might require. Nothing nearly as elite and pretentious as the fancy stuff that is sold (with a big serving of snootiness) by Whole Foods, Real Foods, and Trader Joe's.

There was also an ethnic market in between Clay and Washington on Polk, but once the young white dotcommies infested the street, it failed. Now there's a pizza place selling pie to tipsy twenty-somethings late at night.
And it's thriving.

Big Apple closed down a month ago.
The owners had decided to retire.
The neighborhood has changed.

The Korean store shut its doors in the early nineties, Cala Market closed in 2010 or 2011, the place with fresh vegetables in bins outside is now a pizza joint. Many other shops, most of them run by immigrants, have disappeared.
There are over half a dozen places within a three or four block radius where you can get six packs till two in the morning.
Some of them also have frozen pizza.
Or pizza pockets.

I have nothing against scum-sucking yuppie cretins; some of my best friends are scum-sucking yuppie cretins.

But nothing ruins a city like a whole host of them moving in and taking over.

There are three sushi places within two blocks of my digs.

If that isn't a sign of decay, what is?

And, as previously mentioned, not a single store that sells normal food. Unless you count Walgreens. Yet if I walk half a dozen blocks north, I will encounter a fancy coffee chain, coffee shops, several bars, two or three incredibly nouveau-type eateries, pizza, gourmet tacos, and a collection of the cutest little boutiques this side of Paris.
Several bars. I mentioned that.

Head south, and its three times as many bars as eateries, gradually fading into rebel-held territory when you get close to the Tenderloin.

We need a shop that carries rice stick noodles, egg noodles, wheat noodles, Italian noodles, bean thread noodles, soy sauce, fish sauce, peanut sauce, plum sauce, hoisin sauce, hot sauce, plates, bowls, cups, basins, pots and pans, wooden spoons, sieves, tea, whole bean coffee, insta-coffee, bread, buns, rusks, rolls, canned tomato sauces, gherkins, bread and butter pickles, dills, hot dog relish, spicy jalapeno relish, chili paste, miso, canned fish, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ketchup, mayo, horseradish, red wine, white wine, cooking sherry, pork chops, lamb chops, beef, chicken, sausages, ground meat, tofu, surimi, fish balls, fish steaks, onions, ginger, garlic, cilantro, parsley, basil, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, yams, bell peppers, butternut squash, melons, baby bokchoi, Shanghai bokchoi, Napa cabbage, mustard greens, chard, Chinese broccoli, bean sprouts, bitter melon, tomatoes, green beans, long beans, red cabbage, lettuce, avocado, apples, oranges, bananas, lemons, limes, other fresh fruit in season as well as juices, and a small selection of salad dressings.
Jalapeño, Serrano, Annaheim, and Mulatto Isleño.
Thai peppers, de arbol, chiltepin.

Plus gallons of ice cream.

All at prices for real people.

No more than two blocks away.

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Monday, February 24, 2014


A few weeks ago I saw the cutest little girl. Often little girls are far more appealing than little boys, and awaken the protective response. Their male counterparts don't do that; there is much less evident vulnerability, and not nearly so much of an empathy-arousing characteristic. A key word here is "medelevings-vermogen".

Sometimes you don't want to shield masculine children so much as introduce them to mr. Ravenous Predator. Especially rowdy ones.
"Here, Johnny, this lion REALLY likes you!"
Little girls, on the other hand.....


[Sources: Copyright: BBC. See also this article: ]


"Little Baraa struggled to find words and courage to speak but one detail was firmly lodged in her mind: "People killed cats to eat."

Baraa means innocent in Arabic, but it no longer captures the life of this little girl.

The mother who gave Baraa her name died instantly when a mortar slammed into their kitchen. The children found her body slumped over the cooker, decapitated.

Then their pet cat was killed by a sniper and snatched from the road by a passer-by desperate to find food."

End quote.

[Emerging from the siege of Homs, BBC.]

Yes, in one sense we can blame the bestial Bashar Assad for this. But both Obama and Putin deserve a fair share of the blame also. So do the United Nations, as likewise do the Persians and the Arab states.
The Turks do too; they used to like Bashar Assad.
He was their favourite dictator.

There is plenty of onmedelevingsvermogen / indifference to go around.

Little girls need mommies.

I do not know whether the child in the photo is little Baraa. But she is desperately unhappy. And that picture keeps floating into my head.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014


On the bus back from Marin County, I sat next to a young man who started chatting with me. Now, normally I spend that half-hour ride contemplating the inside of my head, with my eyes closed. It's important and enjoyable down time. But he needed to talk. It was the worst birthday ever, he averred. He and his other half had just broken up.

He seemed nice enough -- though it's incredibly hard to judge whether someone has axe-murder sensitivities or rampant peculiarities on such superficial acquaintance -- so the reason for the split may well have been due to psychosis, paranoia, and sheer gut-busting insanity or stupidity from his girlfriend. Or boyfriend. The gender of the other party never came up.

As people who have suffered psychological blows often do, food was foremost in his mind. Food is comfort. Food is love. Food is the consuming passion that takes the place of a passion completely consumed.

I could have mentioned that I also had been through a break-up (nearly four years ago), but it was his day, and instead of celebrating another year older, he was depressing over a disastrous love-life collapse.
Which occurred today. At the home of his ex.
Right before dinner time.

Yeah, one hell of a sucky birthday.

And, probably, no cake.

But after a half hour conversation about Moroccan food (about which we both know a lot, but him far, far more than me), he seemed much better. With a bit of luck he'll have an appetite when he gets home.
And perhaps his apartment mates will feed him.

After some good tagine, and merguez, rice with lamb and dried fruits, olives, salad, zabadi, and some flaky flat breads, plus halwa, he'll feel a lot better.
If his apartment mates cannot fix that, they should drag him out to one of the local North-African restaurants and make him fat and happy again.

His ex probably HATED Moroccan food anyway.

Good thing he lives in San Francisco.
Food in Marin is pathetic.
Not Moroccan.

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In the interview above. Mr. Anema speaks about speed-skating, and explains that American Football is a rather silly game for strangely garbed pansies. Which is why the Seahawks won the World Series (limited to one country, just one country, only one country, no other countries, just one, only one, one alone), and got absolutely nothing in Speed-skating.
The Americans won no medals. In speed skating.
Not a single one. In speed skating.
We are not the world's best.
At speed skating.
We suck.


Zero gold medals.

Only Americans can come up with something, call it the World Series, and not invite any other country.

American Football.
Hoo hah!

Oh, and just so you know: the Seahawks suck.
Bunch of real Dilberts.
Go Denver.

We should have sent some of those neon-pantied pansies from football around the rink. Yeah, we still wouldn't have won Jack, but it would have been amusing.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014


Not everyone is as enamoured as I am of my favourite subjects. Many come here for only one purpose: FISH. They are fascinated by fish, they cannot get enough. Fish are warm and fluffy.
Little else interests them.

Over the years I have mentioned fish a number of times, but till now had not thought much of the matter.

Now there is a clickable label: FISH

Readers who are consumed by fish may scope out all articles on that subject that have been posted on this blog. Or at least the ones I think they should read; their questions will be answered.

There ARE other fishy subjects here; good luck finding them.

And no, fish does not automatically get associated with Cantonese women, no matter what you heard. Even though a large number of them are very fond of fish. Other people also like fish.
English people -- who do not grasp the difference between mackerel and herring -- Scandinavians, Scotsmen, and sundry Pacific islanders.

And the Dutch.

Who may do odd things with fish, if they cook it all.

[Steeped Fish]

Two pounds salmon fillets.
Two cucumbers; peeled, seeded, and sliced.
One carrot, thin coin cut.
One onion, sliced thinly.
One cup vinegar.
Half a cup of water or fish stock.
Quarter cup of lemon juice.
One Tsp. sugar.
Quarter Tsp. cayenne.
Pinches of salt and pepper.

Mix, spread plastic wrap over and press onto the surface, and set it in the refrigerator for half a day. Take it out when ready to eat.
Heat to a boil, then let cool to room temperature.
Garnish with minced parsley.

Serve as a first course, with some buttered brown bread from a dense loaf.

You should drink sherry or chilled genever with this.

NOTE: Fish should be shared. But finding someone to share it with is not so easy. Many Americans come from backward cultures which do not like fish, preferring instead to eat Spam, Chef Boyardee, or tuna in a can. Correcting their culinary misapprehensions is a Sisyphusarbeit of monumental proportions; daunting and well-nigh hopeless. The exceptions to this are Dutch American women, Cantonese American women, and Vegans (who eat none of the above).
Plus Belgians and Italians.

Probably due to several of my own peculiarities, I have not been able to find a Dutch American or Cantonese American with whom to dine.
Even in a city filled with Dutch and Cantonese people!
And I am completely uninterested in Vegans.
Esurient or otherwise.

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Friday, February 21, 2014


There's a minor uproar in The Hague about election material in various languages other than the ancient noble tongue of Brederode and Vondel.
Real Denhaguers, it is rumbled, do not need their party propaganda in Turkish, Somali, or Arabic. It is an outrage!
Why cant' all those foreigners learn English!   Dutch!

Never mind that most Dutch are nigh illiterate in that noble tongue.

The sense that immigrants are taking over dominates the internet discussion. And the usual argument is made that those who become citizens should make a far greater effort to learn the native speech, act less glaringly unnatural ('alien'), and participate in political discourse solely with the same tones and harsh gutturals as people sprung from the soil.

There is righteous fury that anyone should cater to the immigrant inability to become white   integrate.

Which echoes discord in the United States anent a very similar issue.

I also believe that there should be NO impartial official election material whatsoever provided for people who do not speak the dominant national language; the taxpayer should NOT have to pay for this.
Under ANY circumstances.

The reason being that I wish to produce convincing statements in Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese (and whatever other languages new citizens speak) asserting that the California Republican Party eats babies, proposes prostitution as a means of social control and a replacement for schools, wishes to run medical experiments on the old, the infirm, and the demented, and will raise fees for city services beyond all reason, enslaving those that cannot pay in vast work-camps deep in the savage interior.
I would very much like to present these as unassailable facts.
With no counter-voice, and no dissenting views.

"If the Republicans win, your children will be sold to Arab slavers, and your teeth will fall out. Organs will be forcibly harvested from poor people, and jack-booted storm troopers will be billeted upon the populace. Anyone who opposes George the Third will be shipped to Barbados to labour in sugar plantations or in the salt mines of Australia!"

If you vote Republican, your little daughters will be forced to watch Dutch bestiality videos!

I can think of no better cause than exposing the satanism, child sacrifices, drug dealing, and sex-torture dungeons of the Tea party and the Rightwing, in languages which have no legal standing, for the speakers of same whose ability in English does not extend beyond the very low level required for citizenship or paying parking tickets.
There is, in fact, utterly no reason at all for them to be well-informed and capable of making a rational and balanced choice at election time. But every reason why they should be utterly convinced that Republicans, most especially members of the Tea party fringe, are the very devil incarnate, vampires, zombies, and spreaders of filth, immorality, and athlete's foot.

If English was good enough for Jesus and Inbred Jedd, why it's good enough for damned well everyone!

Likewise, voters in Den Haag should not be provided important data in any other language than Dutch. Opinions of which I wholeheartedly approve, however, have to be given them at every turn.
By whatever means is most effective.
Including speaking in tongues.

That selective and one-sided information about social and political issues disseminated in other languages would benefit the liberals in California is a foregone conclusion; we have more people who volunteer for good causes, and more underpaid idealists, than the other side. Here in San Francisco there are any number of Democrats who will gladly translate the most cogently pointed statements into whatever language in which the baffled voter may be most fluent, for free even; whereas true Republican Expertise consists primarily of billable hours and opaque terminology, and even one measely page will cost several thousand dollars.

Free. Versus "professional billing rates".
Readable, versus rightwing gibberish.

Which side has the advantage?


*      *      *      *      *

By the way: the fire escape is down the hall and to the right. There is a green exit light above the door. If you cannot read this sign, it is only right and proper that you should be burned to a crisp, and there is no point to your survivors suing the building owners or the insurance company, because you should have learned English, you retard.
Only English-speakers deserve to live.
Everyone else, just die.

Achtung! Geen woord hiervan mag vertaald worden, noch in het Nederlands, noch andere talen. Het gaat vreemdelingen volstrekt niet aan, en zo zij het willen begrijpen dienen zij geheel vloeiend to worden in de taal van Jesus en Shakespeare. Punt.
[Hikbolo! Ki mat kapratem den turulasan, pi lasan Nhulanda atawe lasan dene. Ngon taragurdena di pang-paringgi, ngen kiyayau engen inso tangarti-ne, djipakalau turuturu pi lasan na Djezuts ngen Shakespeare. Nukto.]

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Thursday, February 20, 2014


My apartment mate leaves for her work at eight o'clock, at a time when I'm usually fixing my second cup of coffee. Shortly thereafter on days when I do not have to be anywhere in the morning, instead of having breakfast I fill a pipe with tobacco and read the news.
After that I grab a book.

At present that's Monday and Thursday for sure, and usually also one or two other week days.

I've never been a breakfast person. Caffeine, newspapers, and a smoke. That has been the ticket for most of my life.
You might say I became the quintessential bachelor when I was fourteen. By habit, if not by any inherent tendencies.
I would join my dad at the kitchen table, and both of us would have our cups of coffee and read the newspapers in silence.
It's an early morning thing.
Time to smoke.

I very much like people who can read for long periods quietly and with total concentration; they do not have to be smokers, many of my friends aren't. But they do have to be able to focus.


On Monday evening, my apartment mate retired to her room with the one-legged monkey, and spent the next several hours reading in bed.
With a foot-tall simian dude.

She does that often, on the evenings when she isn't seeing Wheelie Boy or watching trash-television. I respect her privacy as she does mine.

My bed, because of a very similar behavioural pattern, resembles a battle field. The entire left-hand side is a higgledy-piggledy library guarded by stuffed animals. Much as I would like to have someone human share it, that has not happened, and probably cannot happen.
Unless they were somewhat petite (and really liked cookies).
I would need some advance notice if it were to occur.
Enough time to clear some space, at least.

I'd probably find books that I meant to finish months ago, but forgot about when other reading material crowded in and on top.

That happened the last time I rooted around under the bed too.

There were dictionaries and cookbooks there.

As well as sundry novels.

The only thing I use my down comforter for is to keep from bumping into hard edges and corners when I'm in bed. Sort of a retaining wall.
Or, conceivably, a dyke holding back a bruising flow.
Also a good place to put a plate of cookies.

There's no telling what is on the left-hand side.
I'll have to go exploring one of these days.
Who knows what I will find there.
No doubt distracting.

No, it's highly unlikely that I might find a young lady hiding there.
I am fairly certain I would remember ensconcing her among the books and various stuffed animals months ago, if that had happened.
Besides, young ladies cannot survive on cookies alone.
Their rambunctious selves require protein.

As well as comfy pillows!

Which are under books.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Seven cups of tea, five bowls of pipe tobacco. You might not think that this was a productive day, but opinions differ. Mine do. Always.

Yes. I am somewhat wired. Life smells like oranges.

Two Tobaccos.

A rich blend of Brazilian and African Virginia leaf with Cavendish and rare Louisiana Perique.

Pretty darn decent stuff. Admittedly, this is a tin from 2005, so it's got over eight years age on it. It smells heavenly, due to tin-fermentation.
An enjoyable smoke, similar to many other mixtures of flue-cured and condimental tobaccos made for the VaPer market.
Still have several tins of like vintage.

Bullet Rye Select.
Virginias, Burley, and something black (Cavendish?) topped with a "whiskey" note.

Extremely enjoyable Danish tobacco. The pipes now manufactured under the name 'Comoy' are from Cadogan, who has done their level best to ruin a once stellar reputation. I've seen total garbage with that estimable name, manufactured in Italy. Or maybe it was Vladivostok. Never mind. Suffice to say that I will not buy a Comoy pipe made in this day. Bleh. Just bleh.

The pipe tobacco, on the other hand, is a rather splendid product indeed, resembling any number of other English brands now manufactured in Denmark, in both cut and appearance.
Smokes like it too.

Worth enjoying several bowls of, this.
In a real Comoy; a Blue Riband.
Not one of 'those' things.

The tea? Nah, shan't go into detail. Merely functional hydration, not a super-fine Oolong or Shuisien, not even a Pi Lo Chun.
Just something rather brisk.


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Don't understand quite why, but for the past forty minutes I have been reviewing Inco Terms. Which, as thrilling reading matter goes, is right down there with "diagnosing parasitic ailments of the feet". Still. Forty minutes. Merchandise moving from point A (the seller's facilities) to point B (the buyer's specified location). While travelling via truck, handcart, intermodal container, or other means.

It's like a mystery novel. Who bears responsibility? Which entity owns the merchandise at what point, or has legal liabilities? Was insurance arranged? Free On Board? Ex Works? Delivery Ex Quay?

Carriage Paid?

From my point of view, these niggly details need to be hashed out in the logistics department, all I care about is that payment was received (收過了 'sau gwo le') by wire transfer (電匯 'din-wui') two weeks before delivery.

[Vocabulary: wire payment before delivery of goods 出貨前電匯 'chut fo chin din-wui'. Wire transfer two weeks before the delivery date 交貨日期兩星期之前電匯 'gaau-fo yat-gei leung sing-gei ji chin'. Irrevocable letter of credit 不可撤銷的即期信用狀付款 'pat-ho chit-siu dik jik-gei sun-yong jong fu fun'. Make payment 付款 'fu fun'. Unexpected circumstances 意外的情況 'yi-ngoi dik ching-fong'. Goods, commodities, merchandise 貨物 'fo mat'. Confirmation of goods 貨確認書 'fo-gwok ying-syu'. Date of shipment 裝運期 'chong-wan-gei'. Shipping documents against payment 裝運單據於付款後交 'chong-wan daan-keui yu fu-fun hau gaau'.]

But what set me off on this wild goose chase through dense contract terminology was the phrase 'waan-kau ngaan-hong gam yung din-sun hip-wui'.
The 'Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication'.

Which stuck in my head while still dreaming.

"International trade"

I do not know why that cropped up. Just before that moment, a young lady of college age asked me if I had any talent at trigonometry.
Which, not having gone to Lowell High School, I do not.
And why she should be sweating over that is a mystery.
Maybe remedial classes, necessitated by cut-backs.

Incoterms, negotiable instruments, commercial invoices -- perhaps more arcane, and possibly more useful.

Very likely the cause lies in hearing my apartment mate stumbling around breakfast-wise in the kitchen. She went to Lowell. She took trigonometry. And my bladder was full, so my subconscious probably grabbed the nearest thing in a hurry, and offered this instead.

Nope, can't remember beans about triginamo....., trilbigo....., turgy....., terragomono....., triginigo no monetry. So very sorry!
Can I lay some gibberish on you instead?
I promise you will be fascinated.
It's really good stuff.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014


There are times when the single man does not wish to face the hurly-burly of the world, but merely wants to curl up with a pipe, a good book, and a stuffed animal. Especially because the stuffed animal will not object to him smoking; most stuffed animals indulge themselves.

Well, the larger ones do. The smaller ones simply set fires.

I have reason to believe that both the penguins and the Totoro-type individuals like pipes. Totoro One and Totoro Two are most likely normal in that regard; either blends with Turkish and Latakia, or standard Virginia flake.

The penguins probably like Burley tobacco.
Which tastes just like herring.

I have no idea what the various stuffed animals read.
Possibly cook-books. They look at each other.
Speculatively, and with calculation.
As if plotting something.
Herring burgers.

I'm not depressed. Just not a very social animal.
Cognizant of my peculiarity in most eyes.
Best, sometimes, just to hide.

Loneliness isn't bad when you consider that most people are, on the whole, not particularly broad or deep.

The stuffed animals, however, are crazy.
Not composed. Not peaceful.
Not temperate.

After a walk and a bath I'll probably spend all day reading and drinking tea. Indulging in some Virginia and Perique flake, and enjoying the near-emptiness of the apartment building. Private and secret.
Late lunch, and observing people from a distance.
Some of them are exceptional.
Not many.

I wouldn't mind their company. If they read. And didn't mind the smell of a pipe. And if they could appreciate companionable quietness, stuffed animals, and the occasional cup of tea.

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Monday, February 17, 2014


If you caught me near the women's room in the park, you would naturally think me a pervert. But, in all honesty, it wasn't the women's room that interested me. It was at night, and the only person there had a bucket and a mop. Plus I was on the other side of the building anyway.

It was the rats. There's a colony of rats that live in the adjacent undergrowth. The lights from the ladies loo let me see them.

I like small furry critters. Both rats and mice have these extraordinarily large eyes that give their faces expressiveness and charm. Yes, I know they're actually somewhat dumber than raccoons, but they are more intelligent than horses, chickens, or blondes.

And they're cute little balls of wriggly fur.
That counts for something!

I spent twenty minutes watching them while smoking a pipe the other evening. They're really very lovable. Curious, determined, and stubborn. Nature's born survivors. I never knew they could leap.
You can tell males by the huge sack of testicles they drag behind them.
Which must be quite burdensome.

If humans were built proportionately in that regard, most of us men would be crippled by the time we hit high-school age.

I'm not sure whether it's the ladies loo or the overflowing garbage cans that sustain them in that area. It's probably a bit of both.

They're well-fed. Obviously so. But very lively.

Shan't mention which park; don't want them exterminated.

They're my rats.

I must protect them.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014


Most people have perfectly disgusting musical taste. Especially as regards tunes suitable for bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and hip venues. The world is a depraved place; most popular music is, in the final analysis, about acts of congress.

Well, we just had Valentine's Day. So we're all heartily sick and tired of acts of congress. Especially those of us who weren't involved.

Maybe we just bought ourselves a nice box of chocolates, and had to fight the sales clerk to keep him from covering it in pink tissue with bows.

"It will be so romantic, you've got to let me wrap it!
I have metallic glittery paper! Bows, bright pink bows! Cards with roses and butterflies! It's big and beautiful!"

Yeah, I know it's big and beautiful. But it's mine, and honestly, I just wanted a large box of chawkelit for dinner, okay, there is no other person!

Weeping, the sales clerk collapses in a corner. He just cannot conceive of someone who will not share chocolate. By admitting that, I have destroyed his world. He has no reason to believe anymore.

Sad little clerk; be zen, baby. Be zen

And whatever else, please (!) turn off that sappy love music; hearing Bad Daddy Sex Bomb rapping about 'Banging In A Benz' doesn't do Jack for me. Save that for the suburbanites.

In actual fact, there was no box of chocolates, not even a tiny five pounder. If there had been, it would be completely gone by now. I have NO self-control at all when it comes to chocolate. That's why I avoided the downtown for the past several days; chocolate everywhere.
It was a Valentine's Day orgy.

And to celebrate the fact that it's over for another year, and we can all go back to being normal non-sappy individuals again, without even a pretense of a love-life, and no emotional disasters or mine fields in the past fortnight -- unlike the Typicals, several of whom are now heading to Splitsville -- let me present two tunes I really want to hear in a bar or restaurant someday. Or nightclubs, and hip venues.
My idea of great music.


This one is about angst.....

And this one about rebellion.

I like tunes like this.

Okay, I'll admit it; there's just a wee touch of sour grapes in this post.
I would have loved flowers, chocolate, dinner in a fancy restaurant, and, conceivably, congressional acting afterwards. Or even just a box of chocolates. And maybe some stargazing later in the evening. But I'm a frightful cynic, and I suspect that most people who actually did stuff like that are now suffering from post holiday depression as well as severe hangovers, because of the cheap champagne and all the really stupid things they did.

"Oh crap! He proposed! And I said 'yes'!"

They both have some explaining to do.
Nightmares and regret all round.
Except for that sales clerk.
He lives for this day.

It's the chocolate.

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On the twenty seventh of September, 1996, Afghan president Mohammad Najibullah was seize by his countrymen, castrated, hitched to a vehicle and dragged through the streets of Kabul till quite utterly dead, then strung up on a traffic light for public ridicule.
His brother was treated likewise.

Mohammad Najibullah was a politician whose entire career had been created by the Russians, who had been involved in Afghanistan at that point in various ways for several years. He was hated by his people, and owed everything to his foreign masters. When the Soviets cut off aid to their puppet government in 1992, Najibullah's administration collapsed, and he found refuge in the UN compound.
Which did not protect him four years later.

The United States has nearly finished withdrawing from Afghanistan.
By the end of this year, we will be out of that place.

Hamid Karzai in recent months has shown himself to be a profound enemy of America, and has released numerous prisoners whose complicity and involvement in terrorism is absolutely certain.
He consistently rejects American requests, and treats our political considerations with undiplomatic disdain. Remarkable for a man whose position, nay entire political life, has been due to American support.
Even before recent events, Hamid Karzai was utterly duplicitous, and during the past few years the man has proven adept at studied unreliability.

That will probably not be enough to save him.

The best outcome would be that like his predecessor Najibullah, he too cannot flee Kabul in time; we certainly don't want him in the U.S.
Especially not in San Francisco, where he has relatives.
Nor Boston and Chicago.

Far better that he be castrated, dragged through the streets of Kabul, then hanged from a traffic light. Whether he is alive or dead at that point is immaterial.

It would be a bit problematic if that were done here.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014


One of my readers left a comment under a post several days ago which, the more I think about, the more it bothers me. She suggested that I was desperate. I assume it was a 'she', because most men understand the difference between desperate and simply not getting any.

And only young men are upset, frantic, disturbed, pained, frustrated, perturbed, even "desperate" if they aren't getting any.
Middle-aged men are peeved.
If anything.

Yes, my current relationship status might be considered one in which a degree of peevishness would not be entirely unusual or unnatural.
It's a normal state of affairs.

The problem is that most of the time men cannot stop thinking about that other gender, and the various characteristics of exemplars that intrigue us, which may induce peeve, whereas women on average spend thirty hours a day thinking about handbags.
Some more, some less.

About three years ago one of my readers started suggesting at every turn that I should pursue any likely woman who crossed my path.
Spinners, hoochies, wild party drunks, and such like.
He could not grasp that I wasn't "desperate".
Hell will freeze over first.

One of the phrases I use often is "life is too short to drink Starbucks". What that means is that if, for instance, I had a yen for curry, and the only place where it could be found was a mediocre restaurant with low standards -- such as, for instance, any place where Suleiman the nasty Bengali works -- it would be entirely out of the question to eat there.
Better no curry at all than some miserable version of it.
Shan't settle for crap just because.

On the other hand, I am not pursuing anything at all either. Reason being that I don't know anyone whom I might like to know better.

As a hypothetical representatrice of the "type", I may have painted a wordportrait on occasion that included the terms "elegant hands" and "pleated skirt".

Both of which are symbolic of certain sought-after characteristics.
Yes, I know of several persons who could be described thus (if they wore skirts). But none of them are targets. For the very simple reason that I have reason to believe that none of them actually read. They are exemplary young ladies (*), and quite uncomplicated. Very normal.

[Explanation of the term "young ladies": the corollary to young gentlemen; a female between twenty and forty who demonstrates good manners and morals, and is reasonably independent minded. A woman, but more than just a woman; ideally a real gentleman among her gender. In any case, someone older than 'girl'.]

Dating any of the people I know is quite out of the question, especially the 'young ladies' among them. That does not mean I cannot appreciate their sweetness and charm, and occasionally interact with them, but it does mean that I shall not ask any of them out on a date. They would end up finding me peculiar, irrespective of whether they said yes or no.
If before, because the invite would be a breach of protocol.
If afterwards, quite likely because of my various interests, books, and lifestyle. None of those are within their ballpark.
Some of them are very cute(*).

Cute alone does not make for a suitable match.

[Explanation of the term "cute": there's 'cute', and then there's 'cute'; 1) between adorable (worthy of being adored) and admirable; 2) itsy witsy oooh! Examples: "She knows ALL about the internal combustion engine, and tunes her own car!" "That's so cute!" "Look at that fabulous Hello Kitty purse!" "That's so cute!" A young lady who knows how to fix her own engine is adorable and admirable. A young lady with a Hello Kitty thing going on is a dingbat. There may be an overlap, and I have no idea what to call them in that case.]

But "not getting any" is not a significant factor in this situation.
It just does not enter into the calculation.
It's all about coffee.


Coffee, coffee, dinner, dinner, dinner.
Coffee, dinner, coffee, dinner, coffee, and dinner.
Coffee coffee coffee coffee! Dinner dinner dinner dinner!

The entire process starts with caffeine. Enjoy a beverage together in a public place, get to know more about the facets that fascinate(*), then graduate to dinner together because it's fun eating with someone else who is good company.

[Explanation of term "facets that fascinate": these could be almost anything. But in my case, there are the things that interest me and the books I read. In the case of a hypothetical young lady, it could very well also be the things that interest her and the books she reads. Or, for example, her knowledge of internal combustion engines, and that she can fix her own car. For some people it's a Hello Kitty fetish, or handbags. ]

It isn't until after sufficient caffeine and food that sexuality can even be an issue. If one cannot even get along very well and enjoy each other's company, it will never come to that. But the facets that fascinate have to come before, always, and it would be quite ridiculous to assume that just because a young lady of any age is sweet and charming, or cute, there is anything there.

Without more than a slight social familiarity, there is no basis for pursuing the matter. One has to know the other person first.
And often just leave it at that.

Mere possession of secondary sexual characteristics, even if they are quite remarkable, doesn't count.

Although I will admit that small hands can be appealing.

Life is just too short to drink Starbucks.

Peet's; Peet's is a good brand.

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Friday, February 14, 2014


Quite inappropriately for Valentine's Day, some pervert googled "barbide doll naked in a bow" and found my blog. Which is slightly irritating.
I would have wished that they searched for something more high-minded to find me. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, which suggests that it was a purely intellectual quest, motivated by any deep spiritual or scientific thesis.

What he found was this: " a perfectly clean post about two gay men celebrating Mother's Day in San Francisco, involving delicious food, particularly a mildly spiced étouffée, which was mentioned merely as "stew", because the culinary details were not Germane ".

In case you are interested, étouffée is described on Wikipedia as a shellfish or crawdaddy smothered dish, "made with a blonde or brown roux and sometime tomatoes are added".


When someone looks for Barbie on Valentine's Day, there is something missing in his life. And conceivably his obsessions are off-target.

Rather than focusing on a biologically inaccurate and mal-dimensioned fluffhead, perhaps he should put on the old trench coat and ride the bus all day. Whether he's a studied old degenerate, or a young inexperienced one with hope and shy optimism still beating in his stifled little heart, he is bound to see any number of real women among his fellow travelers that can excite the eye and prompt the imagination.

It's what I would do if I weren't so bloody clean-minded.

Students, secretaries, nursey-wursies, successful bankers, stockbrokers, rising young venture capitalists, cops, business attorneys.......

And arms, ankles, delicate earlobes, slim fingers.......


The other day a young lady was reading her college text-book on the bus. From my angle (standing, because gentlemen do that), I could admire her elegant hands fondling the page in anticipation of a flip, the furrowing of a brow as she pondered the multi-syllabic words strung together like an ant-caravan bearing nuggets of science, the hair that flopped deliciously on a broad clear brow, and even the defined line of a small nose above the upper edge of a finely sculpted lip.

The chin was hinted at, but not revealed; her head was bent over the volume, and as I was looking down (because she was sitting and I was standing), I could not see it.

Women engaged in thought, mentally preoccupied with serious matters, with that abstracted air of pensiveness......

They look sweet when they're like that.

Barbie doesn't look sweet. She looks like a Real Housewife.
Vicious, calculating, superficial.

The best étouffée in the city is down in the Tenderloin.

Brenda’s French Soul Food
652 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

It ain't crawdaddy, but chicken. Evenso, excellent.

Their beans and rice, the gumbo, beignettes, shrimp 'n grits, and the oyster po' boy are all worth coming back for. Often far too crowded for a nice cozy dinner for two, and located in an area which is more than a little skeevy after dark, but still exceptionally deserving of your attention, when you and your boyfriend or girlfriend want a lovely meal together.

A first-date spot for two adventurous eaters, or some place to go after you've become comfortable with each other, for more standard souls.
Don't go there by yourself; you need to share.

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Just in case you missed it, here are photos of the snow elsewhere in the country. Apparently some places got nearly a foot of the stuff, many areas were severely effected by transit issues and a scarcity of services.
Here in San Francisco it isn't shirtsleeve weather yet, but close.
I want you to realize that as you shovel white stuff.
Or take a break inside with your computer.
Which keeps you in contact.
With the world.

Yeah, I know. You're suffering. Life is hard, snow is hell, your toes are falling off. And that cup of steaming cocoa turned to ice within a minute, you didn't even get to enjoy it. It's a brown coloured popsicle!
There's a layer of frost on your computer monitor.
You wish modern tech were coal burning.
That would be so nice!

On a daily basis I can sit at the computer in my underwear. The sun comes in through the blinds and warms my skin. Often I wear boxer shorts and an A-shirt in the unheated apartment -- the radiator comes on at night, when the temperature drops a bit -- before putting on some lightweight clean clothes and strolling out onto the street, where the Acacia trees are blooming, and up the hill where new green sprouts bedeck some of the trees. The parrots wheel overhead, making the spring sky gay with their colour, adding a joyous noise to the air above San Francisco.

[Note on underwear: mostly cotton, all of it in excellent condition. Some of it has little happy owls, some of it has semi-formal blue stripes, some of it riotous tropical patterns. None of it is old or decrepit. Even wearing little, a man must look his best. If you can recommend any cheerful patterns for my daytime indoor wear, I would be grateful.]

Our last "storm" was a Pineapple Express. That's when warm air from the equatorial Pacific carries rain to Northern California. Usually it's very wet, but not at all cold. Sometimes it's quite tropical.
You know, a very mild temperature.
Not chilly at all.

A few days ago, I saw a crow invade an area where pigeons roost, then fly off with an egg in it's beak. Wow, procreative behavior from our flying rats so early! A feast for corvids! By the end of the month the little black thugs will be flying off with baby pigeons, and growing fat on the effects of early spring.

We watch the Winter Olympics to see what people in cold weather do.
Since we all moved here, we kind of forgot.
Lookit the thick clothes!

Hee hee hee.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014


For some reason I reread 'People I have known' (Mensen Die Ik Gekend Heb) by Jan Fabricius (published by Van Gorcum) last night upon returning home, along with a chapter of 'Wood of Bara' (Het Hout Van Bara) by Beb Vuyk (published by Nijgh & Van Ditmar).

Jan Fabricius was a poet and playwright from Drenthe in the eastern part of the Netherlands who left for the Duch East Indies at twenty years of age. Much of his professional life was either in the great east, or formed by it. The book 'People I have known' is an autobiography, but it is really more about other things. He was born in Assen in 1871, passed away in England 1964. His son Johan Fabricius (Java 1899, Netherlands 1981) was also a writer, many of whose works I own and sometimes reread, particularly 'De Grote Geus' (The Great Beggar, about the later life of Lord Brederode, one of the three early leaders of the revolt against Philip of Spain), and 'De Heilige Paarden' (The Holy Horses, about the subjugation of Sumba in the southeast of the Indies).

Beb Vuyk (1905 - 1991) lived outside the European ambit in the Indies, was interned by the Japanese on Java, and returned to the Netherlands with her husband after the war. Many of her works, like that of other 'Indies-Dutch' authors, are in part autobiographical. But there is a great insight in them, and, similar to Jan Fabricius mentioned above, the texts are not about them (the writers) but describe people and events in a sensitive manner that, never-the-less, says much about themselves.

Something one of them said made me remember another famous Indies personage.


Johannes Van Der Steur (b. 1865) left for Magelang on Java as a missionary in 1892. Within a year after his arrival, he deviated from his original 'task' by taking in orphans, often the abandoned children of Dutchmen and native women. At that time, when a Dutch soldier or low-level colonial employee died, his native wife was often left penniless, and though the children might be sustained by relatives, as often as not circumstances spiraled out of control, and they lived a hand to mouth existence on the edges of all society. Not native, and often not fully conversant in the local language and culture; nor Dutch, or at least not acceptably so.

From 1883 till 1944 he took in over seven thousand such youngsters. He, his sister, and his wife became examples of the kindness that was usually lacking in colonial society. His wards affectionately referred to him as 'Pop' (Pa), both his sister and his wife were 'mom' (Moe). Because of their efforts, these orphans grew up with a good education, and ended up fully functional in a society that initially did not wish to even acknowledge their existence.

The Japanese interned him in early 1944. After liberation in August 1945, when his wards and the alumni of his orphanage and school found out that he had survived the camps, they brought him back to Magelang, where he died a month later in September from the effects of starvation and ill treatment as a prisoner of war.

He is fondly remembered in Dutch Indo circles, and in Indonesia.

His work continues. The orphanage he founded still exists, and you can read about it here: History - Yayasan Pa van der Steur.

Donations may be made to account number 31.84.522 of the Postbank, The Netherlands, addressed to the Penningmeester Vereniging Vrienden Yayasan Pa van der Steur (Treasurer of Society for Pa van der Steur Foundation).

Society for Pa van der Steur Foundation
Buerenlaan 33
2295 LS Kwintsheul
The Netherlands


Some good did indeed get done in the east.

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