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.

Friday, June 30, 2017

DIGESTING THIS NEW IDEA

Apropos of nothing, a charming and rather large woman yesterday told me that I was "cute". This was at the local Karaoke bar (to which I planned to go on Wednesday evening, but I went to bed instead).
I am not sure how I feel about that.

Well, flattered, sort of.

Especially as she was vibrant, and significantly younger.

I realize that lighting, time and place, and liquor may have been factors.


Size-wise, there was a significant discrepancy; possibly that's relevant.
She wasn't overweight, just big boned and taller than me. Statuesque is the word. And while the word "cute" could also mean fuzzy and playful, like a kitten or an otter, I doubt that that was the slant she was giving it.
She undoubtedly took the grey whiskers into account.
Clearly recognizing that I wasn't a child.

She didn't need glasses. I saw proof that both her distance vision and her near-vision were fully functional.

Nor was there any reason to doubt her sanity, at least as far as anything else is concerned.


I am not able to think of myself as an otter or a kitten.
Things do not quite compute.



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DANG, THAT'S MISERABLE

Like many of my readers, I have been influenced by Victor Huge. No, never saw the entire stage production of 'Les Misérables', which is a fictionalized account of nastiness in France, and never sang along to the music.
Everything I know about 'Cosette' paints her as a drip.

As I said, never saw the musical in full.

[Émile Bayard (1837-1891)]

I am, generally speaking, not overly involved in the travails of poor suffering French people. Particularly everyone in that stage show.

What galls me, however, is that some of the songs are now associated with the rabid rightwing in this country, particularly since Pumpkin Clown.

This is a miserable development.


Clueless, cretinous.


Bugger.



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Thursday, June 29, 2017

YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS THAT

Now how do you really feel about that? How do you feel about having an apartment mate who is insensitive as all git-out (blinkers, blinkers, blinkers), very often, but superhumanly considerate and would be mortified to know how hurtful some of her actions are? Well, if you are like me, you don't say a damned thing, because you've never felt comfortable bring up stuff which causes conflict and you are far more comfortable simply ignoring things the changing of which would take struggle, effort, and frustration.

With someone of whom you are very fond you'd rather let it slide instead of venturing on thin ice

[And did I already mention that she is incredibly considerate? It helps much.]



Which probably explains why I won't tolerate bupkes from people who have managed to burn through my acceptance of all their irritating little peculiarities. Not a single thing.

I have a short fuse around self-indulgent entitled nutballs.


This isn't that.


So, I shan't mention what it is that hurts this evening, as it is nobody's business, and in a few hours it will be seem so minor as to be not worth mentioning. By tomorrow it will be a thing of the past. Faded. Gone.
There is no reason on this planet to bring it up with her. Ever.

Sometimes I wish I had someone to eat with.





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NO TALK CLAY POT WINTER MELON!

Under normal circumstances this blogger will not speak Mandarin in Chinatown, for two reasons: 1) My ability to speak Mandarin is piss-poor, and 2) the native languages of Chinatown, in no particular order, are Cantonese, English, and Toisan (okay, alphabetic order).

My apartment mate and I speak two out of three, but not the same two.
We have English in common.

In a way, speaking Cantonese is a form of cultural imperialism, seeing as by doing so one rightly presumes that the listener, irrespective of whether or not it is their native tongue -- they could be from so far outside of Hong Kong and Guangzhou that everything they say sounds Martian -- will not only understand, but be able to respond. Surely everyone is at least semi-fluent in language? Usually, they are.

Mandarin, on the other hand, suggests that one is not willing or able to communicate.

The other day someone started speaking Mandarin at me.

So the conversation continued in English.

My upper-hand language.


"你好。 我的狗吃了我的功課。 謝謝。"
[Nǐ hǎo. Wǒ de gǒu chīle wǒ de gōngkè. Xièxiè nǐ!]


Toishanwa is not entirely intelligible to the speaker of city Cantonese, and vice-versa, but it is comfortably within the realm of possibility. The two are each other's shadows, in a manner of speaking, and often follow each other around the mental room. Mandarin is the language of Northern warlords, carpetbaggers, the Kuomintang, foreign invaders, refugees, collaborators, snobs, and patronizing tourists. Among other things.
Oh, and stupid white guys.


There are other Cantonese dialects than "city language" and Toisan, but standard Cantonese plays the role of common denominator, whereas hometown dialect is "our tongue".


唔說「煲冬瓜」。


If you only speak Mandarin, you're probably Taiwanese.

Or English!



[Tongue firmly in cheek.]



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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

MY DIMINISHING SANITY

Never answer the phone when you've only had four and a half hours of sleep. By which is really meant, given that under almost all circumstances the phone won't ring until a decent hour because no one wants a grumpy puss snarling at them, never allow yourself to be without a decent amount of sleep at a reasonable time.

I went to bed at around five. Got up briefly at seven to write something fishy before I forgot, then went back to bed.

The phone rang at nine thirty. The boss-lady apologized, the person who was scheduled to come in today was sick, could I please work half a day? The reason that she asked was that herself and her husband had appointments that were set in stone.

My co-worker NEVER calls in sick. Either he's in love, or at death's door.
So yes.

Two cups of coffee, bathroom, out of the house. Caught ride to work. Clocked in, fixed tea, ate a cookie.

Filled a pipe with Samuel Gawith Saint James Flake and lit it.

Checked in a massive order of cheroots. Two more cookies, another cup of tea, and some candy. A small cigarillo.

Bus back to the city, had a cup of coffee at home, went to the AA Bakery ((永興餅家茶餐廳) for a very late tea-time, arriving at just before six.

Charsiu sou (叉燒酥) and naai cha (奶茶).
Dawdled half an hour.

Smoked a full bowl of Greg Pease's Regents Flake in Chinatown while stumbling around in a haze afterwards. There are far too many tourists.
They wander in traffic, and are all stupid and ugly.

Home. Vietnamese Sandwich.

Coffee.


So the day has basically been coffee, tea, smoke, coffee, tea, smoke, and repeat. Which means I am presently wired to the tits, and planning to go have a drinky poo before I crash.

Best part was probably the little girl on the bus with the sunny personality, yet well-behaved manners. She sang 'The Wheels on the Bus' softly to herself while her mom and grannie talked in Cantonese.
Truly, a charming little moppet.

Not just a warm beautiful smile, but beautiful facial expressions reflecting an active mind and stable emotions. My guess is that she learned that from the other two women.




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FISHY FISHY FISHY

Pursuant a very recent post in which I lovingly mentioned salt fish, the dish labelled on the menu as 魚片鹹魚炒米粉 ('yü pin haam yü chaau mai fan') naturally caught my eye. Both of my eyes.
It was delicious!

Fish pieces (and) salt fish stir-fried (thin) rice noodle.

The waitress was a little surprised that I ate all of it.




I believe they also have sweet 'n sour pork, if any one wants to join me next time. This blogger is not at all averse to company. And I've shared possibly worse things. Raw delivery pizza that was stale by the time it got to the office party. Which many of my coworkers just loved, oh wow, because hey man free lunch!

Yes, I worked with a lot of Scotsmen. How did you know?

Actually, they could have been Scots

In any case, my point is that I will put up with a fair amount of culinary haphazardness if the company is enjoyable, and shall even relish sharing whatever it is that the other person insists on ordering, provided that they also try some of the actual food which I decided to get.
I've even eaten Vegan stuff!

On second thought, please keep the sweet 'n sour pork.
You can have all of it, I'm really not that hungry.

No more Vegan muck, no spiritual stuff.
Pretend we don't know each other.



I'l just sit here quietly enjoying my savoury fishy rice threads, with scallion pieces, crunchy sweet beansprouts, bits of fried egg, and hot sauce.
Nom nom nom.
A cup of milk-tea afterwards while replaying the deliciousness.
Plus a pipe and a walk to park to follow.

If you think about it, very British.

Like kedgeree, rather.

I say, what.




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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

RANDOM WORDS OF ADVICE

Naturally this blogger likes to mansplain, whitesplain, and goysplain. In addition to Chinesesplain, Filippinosplain, Dutchsplain, and foodsplain.
I am a knowitall of monumental proportions, which was pointed out to me on a discussion forum where I very rarely comment anymore, precisely because a few months ago Barnaby Y. called me a notorious troll and Ariella A. sneered that I was a typical ignorant Ashkie control freak.

That was back in April, and since then I have largely ignored them.
Eff it all, it's not worth it, and who cares what those people think?

Fortunately, what with being a dislikable middle-aged single white grumpus of the Gentile persuasion, there is still ONE subject on which I am totally qualified to splain like Topsy. It's a field where all opinions are within the realm of possibility, and only totally neurotic people take everything including their own selves seriously.

No, not baseball! Feh!


'Pieces of briar burl carved into functional yet aesthetically pleasing shapes for the purpose of combusting tobacco leaves that have been processed in a multitude of ways guaranteed to piss off large Berkeley earthmoms of either gender and every age.'

Okay?


In addition to all my other flaws listed above I am also a pipe smoker.


Every rational human being needs three to twenty pipes. It depends on how often you smoke, how Spartan you wish your life to become, and how neurotic you are. If you smoke habitually, eschew Spartanism, and veer towards excess on that last measure, you may need more.
If you live in a cave and practice meditation, less.

A previous opinionated post on this subject can be found here: HOW MANY PIPES DO YOU NEED?.

Since then, nothing has changed.


All I would add is that you should have pipes which are comfortable to the hand and pleasing to the eye, of a reasonable dimension irrespective of gender, which perform well and which you keep clean.

There are a welter of briars within easy reach as I write this. As a battery of such things should be. You may also wish to have a plurality of teapots, as well as books.

I would also argue for a comfy throw rug, as well as a fake Persian carpet or two, but that, really, is a personal decision. I shan't judge.


Only dingoes and gun nuts smoke aromatics, however. Civilized individuals always veer toward either Oriental / Balkan / English mixtures, or Virginia / Virginia & Perique blends. These have the most pleasing taste, complexity to excite the intellect, mood associations, and ever more iridescent connotative facets.


Realistically, the occasional pipe smoker needs about half a dozen briars for rotational purposes, the regular smoker will probably require ten or a dozen. This is so they can be rested after use, which allows the tars and resins deposited on the inner wall and in the shank to dissipate and break down into simpler chemicals -- they will be there even after you use pipe cleaners -- and the carbon layer inside the bowl to stabilize. If the same piece is smoked too frequently the 'juices' get boiled into the wood, the nasty stuff burned into it, and pretty soon the pipe smells like a sewer.

This goes for women too. Chemistry does not respect gender.

Rotate your pipes. And use your throw rug.

Summer in SF is cold.


I am currently enjoying a bowl of three year old Escudo, in case you were wondering. The tin was hiding on my bed under a pile of books.
Lovely reeky little discs.



In short, the bare minimum anybody needs is this: three to six briars, a tamper, a bundle of pipe cleaners, matches, at least one tin or jar each of a Virginia compound or flake and a Latakia mixture, one teapot, a throw rug, a book, plus an ashtray or a small saucer for any detritus.

Avoid all large Berkeley earthmoms.

Life is too short.



TOBACCO INDEX


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YOU HAVE A DESIGNATED DOOR!

The apartment mate is Aspy, and outspoken. So I should not be surprised that within seconds of her joining me in the teevee room (where both of our computers reside) she was swearing about Donald Trump. Which is quite understandable, but in any way thinking about the big Bloat Hard this early in the day is only good for simple-minded people in Iowa and Ohio, where innocent middle aged Christian women are finally experiencing a form of sexual awakening because they think of Trump.
Along with Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi.
Plus Florida and Texas.

Fortunately she's now considering someone's dead dog.

A dead dog is at all times better than Trump.


The Asperger enters into the picture because of how thoughts progress. Someone who is on the spectrum will often have a narrow and obsessive focus which is hard to derail, and go on and on about just one thing, until they themselves feel it has been fully and completely explored.
Which even to other Aspies may be a bit "much".

I have finally learned how to switch tracks and make myself think about other subjects. She has not quite mastered that skill. Which probably contributed to her academic success when at college, but left her rather isolated at times.

I flatter myself that I am very socially adept. Then I realize that I have been describing the precise angles of the ideal pipe for half an hour (in fascinating and engaging manner!), and that my interlocutor looks tortured.

Actually, closer to forty five minutes.

Forty eight.



All of this comes into sharp focus, because I got to hear about the fire drill at the office where she works at great and inordinate length yesterday evening. Apparently everyone on her floor has been designated a fire door, through which they must go when the alarm sounds, irrespective of where they actually are at that moment. Other end of the building? No matter! If downstairs, go upstairs, and head down the hallway to your designated door. If in the lobby, return to your desk before you evacuate.

You get the idea. The neurotics are in charge.

Us Aspies missed the boat on this.

We panic much better.

Logically.


"We're all gonna die! Aaaaugh, we're all gonna die!"


Let me tell you how.


Both of us may have a future writing emergency manuals.





This picture of a frog is here for no logical reason. It was added afterwards,
because this post really needed a frog. A spirit animal, as it were.
Please note that the two characters (田雞 'tin gai') mean
"paddy chicken", which is what frogs are called when
sold as food. Rice paddy chicken: frog. Ribbit.




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Monday, June 26, 2017

I AM NOT HARRY POTTER

The first Harry Potter book was released twenty years ago today. It was a momentous event! But even twenty years ago I was a dreadful old droog kloot, and in consequence I have never read any of the volumes. Harry Potter: James Clavell for kiddiewinkies! My significant other at the time devoured the books, anxiously awaiting each new one, and dragged me to the movies.

We are no longer together, but that's not why.

Even after the movies, the Potter phenomenon did not attract me. But it's so nice that an entire generation for a few shining years read more actual 'text' than 'texting' text.


My generation felt infinitely attracted to multi-volume series if the cover had heaving bosoms, like Frank Herbert's 'Dune' trilogy (five or six books, all overly verbose, downright gibberant), or the twelve volume manual for an inventory and accounting system written in Dinglish (Dutch engineers and programmers massacring their badly remembered English as a technical language which Americans can't read classes).

Heaving bosoms!

I am fairly certain there was not a single heaving bosom in the Harry Potter universe. There was a heaving bosom on the cover of 'Candide' (Voltaire), and I read that. The Song of Songs (which is Solomon's) had a sheer tonne of bosom heaving! It was very exciting!
Detective stories? Sci Fi?
Fairy tales? Fantasy?
Bosoms.

"You're a wizard, Harry. No heaving bosoms for you!"

Even Armistead Maupin's 'Tales of the City' had bosoms. Without even thinking I read most of it. Sort of by accident. It was in the newspaper, in the section I turned to by my fourth coffee refill at Ping Yuen Bakery and Restaurant on Jackson Street in the evening. After pie and crossword puzzles.

That was the day and age when I first became habitually wired to the tits. There are those bosoms again.


Normal people require bosoms. Irrespective of their gender.
Is there in fact even ONE bosom in Harry Potter?
It is a grievous oversight.


Sorry, I was going to say something very meaningful and significant about the Harry Potter books, but I forgot entirely what it was.
I got distracted by the idea of bosoms.

I am a single man. More even than most people, bosoms are meaningful to me. Quite utterly lacking, absent but not forgotten.
Bosoms, Harry, bosoms.


Happy twentieth.




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IT'S THE HEART OF CIVILIZATION!

What spells joy, and goes well with all the good things in life, such as ginger, grease, and, frequently, chili sauce? Or, more specifically, what tastes delicious but frightens people with very white bread ideas?
Clue: beloved in Reykjavik AND Stavanger.

Salt fish!


鹹魚蒸肉餅
Steamed pork patty with salted fish.
'Haam yü jing yiuk beng'
Some minced pork flattened, a few slices of salt fish thrown on top, and some ginger sliced into threads. Steamed for ten minutes.
Or twenty if you have made it thick.

鹹魚雞粒炒飯
Salt fish and chicken fried rice.
'Haam yü gai naap chaau faan'
Fried rice with one thing for substance, another for flavour. Available at every Hong Kong style chachanteng between here and Hotpot, Mongolia. Really, so widely available that you need never make it at home.
Just wander happily from one HK eatery to the next.
Avoid places that cater to Caucasians.

鹹魚頭豆腐湯
Salt fish head and tofu soup.
'Haam yü tau dau fu tong'
Precisely what it says, with optional other ingredients like roast meats and stalky mustard, in a chowder. You can even add chunks of tomato to cook along with the other ingredients.

梅香鹹魚蒸五花肉
Fermented salt fish steamed with fatty pork.
'Mui heung haam yü jing ng faa yiuk'
Nice rich chunks of pork made luscious by braising with whole cloves of garlic and "plum fragrance" fish.

鹹魚茄子
Salt fish eggplant.
'Haam yü ke ji'
A simple country dish. Delicious.

鹹魚蒸豬肉
Salt fish steamed pork chunks.
'Haam yü jeng chu yiuk'
Roast pork, salt fish.

柴魚花生粥
Salt fish ("firewood fish") and peanuts congee.
'Chai yü faa saang juk'
Cheap to make and wonderful to eat. Especially good if made with pork bone and chicken carcass broth.


There are any number of things you can do with salt fish, even make a broth out of toasted pieces. Which, if crumbled and moistened, can add a depth and saveur to whatever leafy or stalky vegetables you stirfry. When simmering meats, salt fish heightens the deliciousness.
Add the ginger to the pot.

Such dishes are great for breakfast.

Especially in a hot climate.

Or during summer.



Yeah, I'm heading off to work in Marin in a few hours. I'm just thinking about what I would far rather eat for lunch than what I will eat for lunch.
Other than an affection for mysterioso Eastern shit, Marin is very very white. And really, Eastern Spirituality is also very very white.

Real people don't eat bland muck.



AFTERWORD

Indeed, this IS blatant cultural appropriation. Something we Dutch people do very well, thank you. I am surrounded by carefully manicured minds everytime I cross the Golden Gate, and I hate the effing suburbs.
They disapprove of everything in Marin.
Except for yoga and Buddha.
Damned hippies.




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Sunday, June 25, 2017

SPECIAL DELIVERY FROM CHINATOWN TO SOUTH CAROLINA

On Friday afternoon, while normal people were preparing for Shabbes, or like Kaz 'Xxxxxxx' discovering that Panang curry, a bottle of claret, and Stonehenge Flake are the pathway to heaven, this blogger had an early dinner at the same place where a little over a fortnight ago someone monumentally threw a hissy over General Tso's Chicken.

I decided to have the General Tso's Chicken.

It's quite good.



左宗雞

According to Wikipedia, "General Tso's chicken (pronounced [tswò]) is a sweet, piquant, deep-fried chicken dish that is served in North American Chinese restaurants."

This wasn't that. Instead of battered chicken nuggets with a tangy sauce, it consisted of sauteed chicken pieces with fine sliced onion and bellpepper, plus fried dry chilies for earthy spice, lightly pan-sauced.
Not sweet at all.

"Americans" would be most displeased, but Hong Kong Cantonese would find it very satisfying. It is something that bears ordering more often.


The harmony of a violin and a bamboo flute drifted over the park from the area at the playground where the musicians sat, and from my disadvantage point on the other side of the fence -- smoking is strictly forbidden on city property, and offenders will be violated -- the tune was recognizable as one of those wistful pieces about home towns and the sadness of exiles. Which is a theme that runs sodden through over twenty centuries of Chinese poetry and balladeering, seeing as the civilized world was administered by people who left home, and spent lifetimes posted far away.

A city is seldom thought of as a hometown.


Comoy's make pipe, Samuel Gawith's Saint James Flake, a few loonies and old folks in the middle distance. Plus children, tourists, music, and a naked man. Heaven. It just doesn't get any better than this.

The naked man was exercising on the bars.

Sometimes I am glad that me and my fine old fashioned perfume of lovely matured leaf are on the wrong side of the fence. Alone with the sparrows on Walter Lum, looking in instead of out. If the police need someone to arrest, let it be the bronze exhibitionist flexing his butch manly muscles.
His athletic torso would look splendid in the back of a cop car.


Dang, this tobacco is good! The trick is rubbing it out a few days before it is needed, fluffing it up in a jar, and letting the moisture re-distribute itself.

I'm fairly certain that if the little children in the playground had a choice of proximities, me or the naturist, they would prefer to be closer to me and tobacco than to the glistening sweaty person.


General Tso's Bacon. Now that sounds like a fine dish. Battered bacon, deep fried, dolled up with ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sherry, sugar, sesame oil, scallions, and fried dry chili peppers.



PANANG CURRY AND CLARET

Like me, Kaz probably ate by himself. The reason being that his lovely wife's parents dragged her off to London for a fortnight, where she is having a splendid time with her own pipes and tobacco. A year ago I teased her by mentioning a grape flavoured mixture (the Beta-version of Captain Black Purple), because she went through a childhood spell of liking Aromatics and Cavendishes. As many pipe smokers do.

It's part of the learning curve.

She's now smoking Davidoff Medallions. He's smoking Stonehenge Flake, the rebirth of a previous collaboration of Greg L. Pease and John Gawith. That's two flaky Virginia-Perique concoctions. It would seem that their tastes are hitting the mind-meld stage.

Kaz: "She's in London, so she can deal with my solo house party of Thai, wine, and tobacco!"
End quote.

TST: "I look forward to the first time you go on a trip and leave her home alone, so I can send her absolutely terrifying clown horror movies to watch in the dark house every night."
End quote.


They'd probably also enjoy Union Square or maybe Cumberland (both by Greg Pease), and likely also the Saint James Flake that I've been smoking with great pleasure for the past several weeks, hop-scotching it with the Dunhill flakes.

Methinks they would prefer Panang Curry and Claret, rather than loonies nearby and a shiny nude dude exercising in the sunlight.
But that's just an educated guess.



I know, we'll send the naked clown to South Carolina!
It will be the best of both worlds!
Everybody happy.




TOBACCO INDEX


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WE ARE PROBABLY NUMBER ONE

Excluding Bashar El Assad and other Arab leaders, these are most thoroughly evil heads of state in the world:

Kim Jong-un
Vladimir Putin
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Narendra D. Modi
Mitch McConnell

Choose for yourself in which order to put them.




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Saturday, June 24, 2017

DRAG QUEENS, TRANNIES, AND DOMINATRICES OF EITHER GENDER

When darkness falls Polk Street is total Blade Runner. It isn't the perverts, as you might expect -- other than chafing because of their dominatrix garb, and inflammation of the tender areas, they are even-tempered and benign.
It's the wandering solitary eccentrics in the fog, for whom this reality offers scant allure. Their minds have substituted something else, sometimes a very long time ago. Some of them are Alex Jonesian in their alternativity, others merely droid-like.

In a different universe, I would retire to my den after returning home from work, and settle down with a pot of tea (Keemun or Lapsang Souchong), a volume of Tang history or Dutch-Indonesian cookery, plus a selection of choice dictionaries, a tin of Dunhill Dark Flake, matches and an ashtray, and two or three pipes.

Unfortunately, I have an apartment mate who objects to smoking.
And my den is the teevee room we share.
A problem, yes?


No, I have no issue with her as an apartment mate, because we like each other, make allowances for the oddness of the other person, and, crucially, trust each other not to go all druggie or psycho.
This is San Francisco, and druggie or psycho is very common.

Years ago one could head over to a cafe in North Beach for pipe and a pot of tea, but the nut quotient has gone up, drastically, and the other patrons now lead good clean wholesome lives which have no room for tobacco.
Apparently we pipe smokers kill children and puppies.
Even in dystopia there is myopia.

If it meant that I could smoke my pipe and read my book in peace, I might happily do something very nasty to spoiled brats and chihuahuas.
More so if a pot of good strong tea was involved.


What a person needs in San Francisco is a ventilated basement or garage with a fairly comfortable chair, a table next to it large enough for a tea tray and the clutter associated with enjoying a pipe, and a bookshelf. A source of light suitable for reading by, and maybe a heater for foggy nights.

Perhaps two or three fairly comfortable chairs.
Someone else might like to read.
Or a cat.



This blogger is tolerant, and open to other tobaccos and choices of tea.




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EVIL SUBURBAN TASTE

Lunch, when I finally ate, was abysmally bad. Trust me, Americans know nix from bread. And this is the Bay Area, notabene, where edible bread can easily be found!

You know that shitty bread is probably the reason for Trump?
People who habitually eat that crap make poor choices.
I hope you're sorry. Besides really constipated.



What kind of life can you have if key members of your household are okay with mediocre comestibles, especially when good food is cheaper and better? Word of advice: NEVER marry someone with horrid taste.
If food is the glue that holds families together, American chow is what causes divorce, therapy, existenzangst, and unrest.



And you lot are worried about gluten.
Bunch of soft-in-the-heads!



A proper meal has something tasty and reasonably nutritious. Near work there's a McDonalds, a Seven Eleven, and an In-n-out Burger.
Quod erat demonstrandum.

Plus it's deep in Marin County, so decent Chinese, Indian, or Dutch food cannot be found without assiduous searching if at all.

I am very unhappy with you people.

You're precious.




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Friday, June 23, 2017

IT SMELLS LIKE SWEAT IN HERE

This blogger is a single man, and not at all averse to ending that status. But this blogger is also a rather sensible sort, and realizes that at his age the options are somewhat limited.

A few years ago someone seriously advised me to do yoga, because, they said, that's a guaranteed way to meet single women.


Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!


Yoga, good lord.


Why on earth would I willingly associate with dingleberries?


Other "helpful" suggestions were joining a church, taking classes at community college, or learning flower arrangement.


No.




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Thursday, June 22, 2017

REPUBLICANS AREN'T MAMMALS

After a scant half hour of Facebook, this blogger feels that any shooting of appointed or elected Republicans is more than justified. As well as the savage clubbing of much of the electorate and many police officers. And, if you have been following the news instead of Alex Jones, so do you.

Thanks to the Second Amendment, this isn't so unreal.

Or even unlikely. Plus many of them are very recognizable, and pudgy, so they would make easy targets. But if you do, please don't shoot them in the ass, like James Hodgkinson did to Steve Scalise. That's NOT where their brain is located, no matter what you heard. It's actually in their thorax, behind a tough layer of chitin. Aim for the pterothoracic zone.
Don't worry, most of them don't have nociceptors.
They won't feel a thing.
Blattodids.



Seriously, there aren't enough kitten videos or cute pet tricks on Facebook.



The only other mindless entertainment the internet provides is either sports or pornography, and both of those are jejune and require scorekeeping.




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PORK CHOPS OVER RICE ARE A METAPHOR FOR ...

On Tuesday I snacked at a bakery on Stockton Street. On Wednesday dinner was at a bakery on Pacific. Both bakeries are also chachanteng, meaning that they have Hong Kong style milk-tea and a selection of hot dishes from the kitchen. Rice plates, spaghetti or macaroni with something, legitimately Chinese noodles, fried rice, and stuff cooked in fry pans in the manner of the white folks but not intended for the white folks because white folks are quite baffled by that stuff.

[What do chachanteng serve? Things like these: 鮮茄牛肉午餐肉煎蛋通粉 Macaroni with fried egg and luncheon meat in tomato sauce. 餐肉菠蘿包 Toasted pineapple bun with butter and luncheon meat. 公司三文治 Club Sandwich. 焗茄汁雞飯 Baked chicken rice with tomato sauce. 蕃茄豬扒意粉 Pork chop with tomato sauce over spaghetti. 銀芽肉絲煎麵 Pork with bean sprouts pan fried noodle. 牛腩湯麵 Beef brisket noodle soup. 雞絲通粉類 Chicken macaroni. 餐肉蛋公仔麵 Spam and fried egg instant noodle. 滑蛋蝦球飯 Scrambled egg with shrimp over rice. 枝竹羊腩飯 Lamb stew with tofu skin over rice. 咸魚雞粒炒飯 Salt fish and chicken fried rice.]


Tuesday's place is more likely to see white folks wander in, look in bafflement at the baked items because the ONLY thing resembling a cheese Danish has clearly visible scallion and ham, and there are other things which are entirely un-identifiable despite English names -- mo mo chong, and pork floss bun -- bleat a few questions, moo, and block the aisle. Really, most white people should just resolve to get the egg tart and escape. Instead of occupying time and space in groups of three to six.
The Pacific Avenue place is mercifully untainted by tourists.
Except for the occasional Mandarin speaker.


Disclaimer: this blogger honestly likes white people. They are so nice. Some of my best friends are white, no lie. As are all of my blood kin, seeing as I am so very white that I glow in the dark myself.
But when they're slumming, they're a nuisance.
And somewhat irritating.


蕃茄豬扒飯
Faan ke chyu baa faan

Oro nasip makaean enti lengkip. Without cooked rice, it isn't a meal

I had a real yen for tomato pork chop rice. The meat consisted of two thin peppered cuts on the bone, panfried with a little onion, then generously augmented with chopped tomato to simmer briefly in the pan juices. Served with a mound of rice. It was delicious. Dinner came with a bowl of very good soup, and a dinner roll with a pat of butter. Along with a hot cup of milk tea the total bill for a full meal came to eleven fifty.

And holy jayzus was it good.

[Smoked my pipe for nearly an hour afterwards, watching cheeky little sparrows on the street behind Portsmouth Square. Nice weather, light late outside, and at times interesting fellow wanderers.]

Indeed, I could have had this at home. But I don't use our kitchen as much as I should, because my apartment mate cooks for her culinarily impaired and wheel-chair bound boyfriend two or three evenings a week -- often inconveniently on my working days, when I don't have the chance to go down to C'town -- and usually I have to wait several hours to prepare myself noodles or choi po fan.

My apartment mate acts irritated but self-controlled when I enter the kitchen while she's busy. It's obvious that she's pissed, and fervently wishes I wouldn't do that.

Her cooking is a stressful experience for me.
I am sometimes a bit resentful.
But whatever.



Last night she cooked a delicious green pasta dish for her boyfriend, with fresh basil, mushrooms, and herbs. Enough for at least four or five meals.
It was quite the production, and the kitchen was off-limits till after ten.

Darn good thing that I ate already, earlier.




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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A FADING FRAGRANCE

Late teatime at the AA Bakery (永興餅家茶餐廳) on Stockton Street (市德頓街). Then, pipe filled with Sam Gawith's St. James Flake, down to my bank on Grant. After withdrawing some cash I went around the corner and strolled up Becket Street (白話轉街), greeting an elderly gentleman resting there, and on to Jackson (昃臣街).
Noticed that the American Chinese woman who finds my pronunciation difficult to understand was serving at the chop house (新蘭亭) on the corner. Further down Jackson the transformation of the old ABC restaurant (ABC大餐廳) to something expensive and not meant for the local Cantonese was almost complete.
The neighborhood is changing, alas.

The pipe gave me intense pleasure at this point, the smooth slightly spicy tobacco having reached perfect cruising level. Around forty five minutes after lighting up I was tapping out the ashes at Sue Bierman Park, while the wild parrots flitted about and racketed. After enjoying their cheerful noise for a while, I boarded a bus and headed home. An enjoyable tea time.


NOTES

AA Bakery: excellent cakes and pastries, particularly the egg tart and the flaky charsiu turnovers, What I had was a ham and pork floss bun. St. James Flake: an excellent mostly blonde compound of Virginias with a modicum of Perique; too much for Perique haters probably.
St. James Flake is a good summer tobacco.
My Bank: same bank for several years, three different names during that time due to mergers.
The American Chinese Woman who ... : her first language is English with that slight Chinatown twang, her second is Toishanese. She believes that what I speak must, logically, be Mandarin. Which it isn't.
Though I can understand Toisan a little, I can't speak it.
The ABC Restaurant: the new owners are dolling the interior up all fancy, the new menu betrays a Szechuanese influence in buckets. Local people will be apathetic, but obviously it isn't for them. There are a number of other glossy Szechy-style restaurants in C'town now, with dishes that appeal to white folks, tourists, and snooty Mandarin-only mainlanders.
Their attitudes (and prices) are rather off-putting.
I do not go to those places.



ADDENDUM: DISAPPEARING CHINATOWN

Uncle's on Waverly and Clay, in their final iteration closed three years ago. For a long time it had been a lunch counter and bakery with good pies, and endless coffee. It's now a Szechuan something-or-other.
Sun Wah Kue Restaurant, on the corner of Washington Street and Ross Alley, had an orange chiffon pie which no one else does and many people fondly remember, as well as chops, ox tail, and the best waffles. Many old timers fondly remember the waffles. Booth seating, and a side door. Baked goods, daily lunch specials. A great place to dawdle over coffee and pastry on a rainy afternoon. The interior was formica, and plain white paint over wood, yellowed a bit and softened by the years.
New King Tin further down closed after a run of half a century, the restaurant that went in was a chachanteng which is now also gone.
Golden Dragon Barbecue on the upper corner of Washington Street and Waverly became a shop selling tacky souvenirs, and is now a discounter of large porcelain whatchamacallits.
Sun Hung Heung below Grant Avenue became a restaurant which in big bold characters (川味) tells the local people that they should not go there, Szechuan Taste! It caters entirely to gullible tourists and visiting provincials, and from what I hear the food and service are frighteningly awful.
Once upon a time there was delicious suckling pig.
Silver Restaurant changed hands and name, the food is decent, nice people work there, and they are open till ten.
Nam Yuen has been an empty building for over two decades.

Tao Tao Restaurant (陶陶茶樓), named after a famous dining spot in Hangchow (杭州), had existed since the very early thirties; the exterior recalled an elegant multistoried mansion in the Chinese style. It shut down a generation ago, and the paint-peeling building housed a bookstore and pop-music emporium for a while. It is now a general services centre, offering translation, tax prep, marriage introduction, job placement, immigration help, official forms, etcetera, while Woey Loy Goey (會來居) next door in the basement changed ownership and Chinese name, and hasn't served prime rib or beefsteak for an exceedingly long time.

New Moon Restaurant: changed hands at the beginning of the year, the Chinese name is different now, the roast ducks, barbecued pork, and hanging chickens are a glorious memory. The duck was that good.
It was delicious. I should have gone more often.
I wonder what happened to the people.
Empress of China Restaurant: closed in 2014.
New Lotus Garden: long time gone.

That place where I got a monumental MSG headache is also past tense.

Ping Yuen Bakery on Jackson closed very many years ago, and is sorely missed. Endless coffee, open til nine, a very long counter at which a single man could sit after work doing crossword puzzles before going to the Great Star Theater a few doors down for a gangster movie. The Shanghainese noodle place is gone. The DPD is gone. You can't get those lovely pastries and dumplings at Yong Kee Rice Noodle Co. up the street anymore, they finally quit after three generations. Preserved egg in a flaky puff-crust, chicken buns, and Toishan daai bau.


Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the place which served 'rice paddy chicken'. They brought them out for us to choose, and one them hopped out of the basket, then sat staring at us with big placid eyes.

Ribbit.



All of the movie theatres are gone, of course.




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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

HEAD IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION!

Every Tuesday we test the emergency siren at various locations in San Francisco at twelve noon exactly. This is followed by the unintelligible airport announcement.

As my apartment mate translates it: "We are not dead yet, despite the orange-faced idiot's instability. But we might be, and soon, so make sure you've told everyone you like how much you appreciate them, unless you are socially maladroit, because when it happens you'll be far too busy running around in a panic to do so. And a pretty thank you."

We worry about such things in San Francisco. Social maladroitness.

Anti-vaxxers, gluten-phobics, vegans, self-entitled twats, the black block, racists, bigots, tattooed slags, carpetbaggers from the rest of the country, conspiracy theorists, and the entire upper echelon of that other party.

The Venn diagram that shows the divergence of those types, as you would expect, is rather limited. Most Americans are so infinitely talented that they can be all of those things at once.



On another subject, cell-phone usage frequently epitomizes how bad many people are at actually interacting with other humans. No matter the time or place, they are transfixed by the glowing screen. A few people I know seldom use the damned thing, and some don't even own one.
Like me. I don't want or need it.

People have asked "but what if there's an emergency?"

If there is an emergency, we shall be alerted by people around us running around in a panic, because a siren went off, and they can't find the safety instructions (where is that damned App), and can't see where they are going because they are staring at their electronic pacifier.

They have reached their fullest potential.
And will advance no further.
It's bloody sad.



I had a beeper once, but there are almost no pay phones anymore.
If I'm not near a land line, I might be engrossed.
There is no answering machine.





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WARMLY DISINVITING!

For the benefit of people living in the more temperate parts of the world (Schiermonnikoog, for instance), please be aware of the current heatwave.
In much of Holland and Belgium, the temperature will be eighty six degrees Fahrenheit or above today and tomorrow. That's thirty degrees Celsius.
Here in California things are even warmer and more fraught than that.
Novato may go up to ninety (32°C). Fresno over a hundred (38°C).

In Phoenix (Arizona) it will top one hundred and twenty (49°C).

In San Francisco it is sixty five degrees (18⅓°C) right now.
Again, that's 65°F / 18⅓°C.


PLEASE DON'T COME HERE!

There's not enough coolness here for everybody. If you all head to San Francisco, that will cause the temperature to rise, kinda like a cattle barn with all those steaming beefy bodies, and we will swelter.
Besides, we don't really like you.
Don't suck up our cool.

Please go to Phoenix and maybe achieve something.


It is presently 62°F / 17°C in Schiermonnikoog (Skiermûntseach). That's positively frigid. All of you monkeys wouldn't like it. You'd think you were freezing, and there is no way you could possibly enjoy the lovely dunes, the beaches, the half a dozen or so frituurs, plus herring shops, eetcafes, and bar-restaurants serving the bevande più belle in Schiermonnikoog.
There's even a place where you can get pizza!


If you folks decide to wander around in little bikinis because it's so warm, we will gladly view the videos on the internet, and forward the best ones to whoever we know in Schiermonnikoog, where it's insufferably cold.

I hear their seasons are the reverse of ours.



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Monday, June 19, 2017

NGOH JAN M CHITO NEITEI GONG MATYEH FEIWAH!

In response to several gibbering individuals, I cheerfully explained "ngoh jan m chito neitei gong matyeh feiwah". No, it was not the bloated heathens in the lounge, one of whom had threatened another with violence upon hearing the Cambridge Dictionary definition of something, and another one of whom suggested that as over thirteen hundred American schoolkids die of gunviolence every year, children need assault rifles -- only a fraction of the fat toads present took that seriously, praise the lord -- but I've said something similar at times to those same esteemed gentlemen.

Several times today I heard it was one hundred degrees plus in Novato. Or Fairfax. Or Modesto. Or some other place unfit for civilized living. We had the aircon on, and it was only in the eighties outside, so I could have glibly suggested that whatever was just said did not compute.
Unconcerned, uncaring, uninterested.
Aircon, man!


我真唔知道你哋講乜嘢廢話!

Whatever, dude. I have no idea what you're talking about. It's all rubbish. Not hot at all. Adjust your attitude. Be cool. It's all 亂講 ('luen gong'; "talk nonsense"), 癡人說夢 ('chi yan suet mong'; "crazy person talking dream"), 亂噏廿四 ('luen ngap yaa sei'; "confused prattle twenty four", totally illogical), absolutely 夢囈 ('mong ngai'; "delirious sleep-mumble"). In fact, 我都唔知你噏乜 ('ngoh do m chi nei ngap yeh'; I have no friggin' clue what you're babbling on about)!


But that wasn't it. It wasn't heat related.

Nor even politics or fake news.

Just linguists at play.


I of course do not speak Rokbeigalmkish nor hyperphonetically correct late Biblical Hebrew (shocking, I know), so I did the next best thing.
Interjecting Cantonese, I have found, is the complete opposite of Godwin's Law, much like a Monty Python reference.
It gets things flowing.





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AN AMERICAN EVIL

It is only at my present age that I realize this: McVitie's Caramel Digestive Biscuits are not a proper substitute for dinner, and there is nothing digestive about them. Nor is there actually anybody named McVitie involved in their production, and the provenance is not Northern Irish, as so Ulsterian a surname as 'McVitie' might suggest.

There actually was someone named McVitie, at some point, who started manufacturing 'digestive biscuits' in Scotland over a century ago.
They are immensely popular in Great Britain.
Great with a cup of strong tea.


Which, of course, begs the question why Americans drink such horrid tea. What should be an invigorating beverage, almost universally is insipid shite.


Proper black tea is made by using one heaping teaspoonful per cup and one extra for the pot, with boiling water poured over. Four or five minutes steeping, and it's perfect. Milk and sugar to taste, or not. Your choice.
American tea is made by waving some herbal muck over a cup, dancing widdershins about an Indian graveyard or doing yoga, and drizzling lukewarm water into a styrofoam.

Widdershins and the padmasana are do not contribute to drinkable beverages, no matter how meaningful or significant they make you feel. Sorry. Good black tea is strong, weak baggy crap is not.
Herbal or fruit-flavoured tisanes don't count.

You lot, kindly stop being such sissies.

Also your bags are too small.

Mingy much?




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Sunday, June 18, 2017

HIDE YOUR FRAGILE SIDE!

Imagine a small forest creature, spitting mad, jumping up and down in great distress. That which he so passionately desired cannot be, it is impossible, oh woe, all hope is dashed, life is quite utterly forlorn.
His snout quivers disconsolately.
He sneezes.

It was so disappointing! His day was ruined!

All this in addition to waves of fever, a sore throat, occasional dizziness, minor headache, and a general lassitude. which, logically, must interdict almost completely all emotional up and down jumping, and any seriously upset moaning. As well as loud lamentations. Though not rolling on the carpet and weeping, although there was none of that.
Because it's a question of dignity.


I tried to smoke a pipe at work today. One third of the bowl of Virginia flake in, and dizziness overcame me. Sure, it tasted fine -- the sore throat is not affecting my palate -- but dang it all it nearly put me on the floor.
Which, because of the dignity thing, was not an option.


Grumpy middle-aged men as well as small angry forest creatures must at all times be conscious of these things, or people will take advantage of them, and before you know it their heads will hang on a wall.


When I am sick, I do not trust the free-range cigar smokers in the lounge to not at an opportune moment hunt me down for a trophy.
Never show weakness.



Someday soon I will be over this damned sore throaty ailment. The sun will come out again (metaphorically, that is; it was well over eighty degrees in Marin today), I will sing and dance, and burrow happily in the undergrowth or the piles of crisp leaves (metaphor: more like tall stands of wild anise and dried grass on yellow hillsides), and do other great things.

I will smoke a bowl of Samuel Gawith's St. James Flake, drink cups of Hong Kong style milk tea (avoid any dairy when you have a sore throat, because it ramps up the mucus and coughing), and be happy and gay.


I will also have gulai ayam at that place in Chinatown run by Malaysian Chinese. Perhaps with a flaky roti, and, if they have it, sambal setan.


Maybe as early as sometime this week.

Delicious chicken curry.

Gulai!




TOBACCO INDEX


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MAGIC MEXICANS!

Last night before going to sleep I advised an internet friend that the best hot dogs in the world were the ones bought at around two AM from an illegal street vendor.
Bear in mind that because of the mother of all sore throats in the past two and half days I cannot swallow and I've barely eaten diddly.

Evenso, I stand by the recommendation.


On Friday or Saturday nights, after twelve thirty or so, there are small fly by night stands -- a metal baking sheet over a gas flame, a small work table with supplies -- on several corners in the neighborhood, conveniently near drinking holes. A young Mexican gentleperson (either gender) will be grilling onions and a row of bacon-wrapped dogs.

"Uno, por favor, con todo."

A slightly charred dog will be flopped in a heat-soften bun, a hefty tong-full of limp and slightly browned onion will go on top, brisk squirts of mayo, mustard, ketchup, and upon making sure you want it you pasty-faced Anglo, a few slices of tangy crisp Jalapeño en escabeche added.
The whole is wrapped in aluminium foil and handed over.
Money well spent, please tip a dollar or two.
After finishing it, one more.
To take home.

See, I have a bottle of Sriracha in the refrigerator. It adds a sabor autentico to almost anything. I'll eat both dogs at home.


Because the San Francisco Health Department lacks a sense of humour, the police are tasked with removing or chasing away these wonderful food vendors. That adds an element of risk. You do not know where the stand will be so you follow your nose (mmm, bacon!), and then anxiously await your turn while hoping that the fuzz don't interfere.
At least until you've had your share.

It's seriously good stuff.
Worth staying up for.
Magic Mexicans.




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Saturday, June 17, 2017

IT'S SATURDAY, DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR FRIDAY WENT?

At around ten thirty last night there were over two hundred page views here, according to my blog stats. It is quite likely that those were all spam bots, as most people at ten thirty on a Friday night -- in my neighborhood, at least -- are thinking of donuts at Bob's on Polk Street between Sacramento and Clay.
Before the crowds get there, peaking between one thirty and three.
Spam bots are, understandably, not into donuts.
Instead they come here.
How sad.

I was asleep by then. That is, I was trying to sleep, but my sore throat kept waking me up. To bed at seven PM, up again by six AM. The concept of donuts was very far from my mind, as swallowing was incredibly painful.


Crullers, old-fashioneds, Long Johns, strawberry frosteds, buttermilks, shishkys, pampushkys, Berliner, dulce de leche benuelos, coconut sprinkles, custard filleds, old fashioneds, Boston creams, bear claws, jelly filleds, maple bars, apple fritters, cake donuts, chocolate glazeds, coffee caramel creameds, Dutchies, glazed blueberry cakes ....


My infection, which had been at a low ebb for a week, got a second wind Thursday night, in consequence of which I had maybe three hours sleep.
I must be getting better, because last night between seven PM and six AM there may have been as much as five or six hours of slumber.

My Friday was spent convulsing from the pain every time I swallowed, and postponing the agony of hacking and spitting as much as possible.

I know where my Friday went. It went somewhere dark and depressing, and altogether nasty, an ante-chamber to hell, a foretaste of the second Trump presidency. It was in several ways apocalyptic.
As was, unfortunately, Saturday.


I shall blame the existence of other people's children for this.
We all know they're little disease vectors, right?
And I have an urge to blame anybody.


No, I shall not have a donut.
Can't even imagine it.

Two more days to my work week before I'm off.
I was off Friday, and should've enjoyed it.
Bad disease vectors! No donut!




Another reason to suspect that last night's readers were spam bots is that the comments they tried to leave involved World of Warcraft, Hispanic females, penis enlargement, and sure-fire real-estate schemes.
I have an intellectual interest in only one of those.

I've never written about any of them.

When I am well again, and can eat, I may consider World of Donuts, Hispanic females frying donuts, donut enlargement, and donut schemes.
Till then I shall whine in an unlovable manner.




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