Wednesday, December 31, 2014


At the end of the year one reflects upon the high-points, and resolves that what was great will come again, what one achieved one will surpass.
Well darn it, that gives me a lot to work with!

Relationshipwise, the year was kinda sucky. I still have no snookipoo in my life, so there has been neither loving nor lusting. Yeah, I saw a lot of lovely persons of the opposite gender throughout the year, but each and everyone of them was quite unsuitable.

By 'lovely', only certain attributes are meant.

In other aspects, they were:

Too old.
Too young.
Too consumerite.
Too barely literate.
Too handbag collecting.
Too self-impressed.
Too stupid.
Too determined to hook a very rich oblivious man.
Too crazy.
Too unaware of history and geography.
Too coarse and superficial.
Too alcoholic.
Too unlikely to appreciate stuffed animals.
Too lacking snarkiness.
Too not my type.

Or, many of them, too much already involved in a committed relationship with someone else, who unfortunately may have been a much better person than I am.

I remain jealous of better people.

There are a lot of them.

On the other hand, I got an awful lot of reading done, enjoyed doing many things, and had a ball. This was a darn fine year -- there was no stressful and traumatic relationship with a dumbass neurotic handbag collecting consumerite ignoramus with big boobs to ruin it; thank heavens -- and I feel one year wiser and happier.
And, remarkably, one year younger.

There was also a bit of misbehaviour -- we shan't speak of the incident with the goat and the can of orange spray-paint, or the rotting plantains in the stalls of a department store powder room -- none of which I'm ashamed of, none of which I'll admit to.

So it's been a very fine twelve months

I hope it was for you too.

On to more of the same.

Except this time more so and with more juices.

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If it weren't for Rush Limbaugh pooping in his brain-cavity again, this blogger would not even know who Idris Elba is. Thank you, mister Limbaugh. You have some use after all. Not just as a doorstop.

Idris Elba was suggested as a possible James Bond.

Like all Bond-actors with one notable exception, he is not Scottish.

That may surprise you.

His non-Scottishness has offended Rush Limbaugh, proud scion of the MacLimbaugh's of Alba. As a direct lineal descendant of MacGhalraithe de Fraochún, Rush believes that just as Jesus is traditionally played by a blond Norseman, Bond should always be shown as a glib sex-crazed Celtic gentleman with a sneeringly supercilious attitude.
Change galls him. He fears new things.
Tradition is sacred.

Not being myself particularly vested in Scottishness or the crazed ranting disapproval of Presbyterians, I do not really care who plays Bond.
But it's a stupid role, and a waste of a perfectly fine actor.
I'm surprised that I had not heard of him before.

Such a pity that I have heard of Rush Hudson Limbaugh, though. My life, and yours too, would be so much better if Rush Limbaugh was entirely unheard of.

And unheard.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014


This post is fairly pointless. I just wanted to share a lovely video found recently showing a stoat and a pussycat playing.

That's what everyone uses the internet for, right?

Kitty videos!

My money is on the stoat.



That stoat is a stellar ball of flying fur.

I ran across this video after watching Ozzy the Weasel fiercely interfering with his human's video game. Or something.
Man, I wish I had those moves.
That's mighty impressive.

Anyhow, here's Ozzy.



Ozzy has many other videos.
This one, for instance:



The heck with cute little kitty pictures, you can't get enough weasel!

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Some things defy explanation. Among those are the over-the-top body-chemistry imbalances caused by too much deep-fried high-garbage-content chain-restaurant confections.

Several conclusions present themselves:
1) Eating crap is bad for your brain.
2) Other people eating crap is good.
3) The 'F' word is multi-functional.
4) We need more outlets in this city.
5) Why don't they also have cocktails?
6) Dinner and a fabulous show!

Seriously, these ladies use the 'F' word in more ways than I thought possible. Which can only mean that I lead a sheltered life, and need to get out more. I might need to shove a breakfast burrito inna mah face, along with bad bacon factory cheese sawdust muffins (toasted), bucketsize gulp-o-sodies, mush balls, and monster-fries.











Clearly, otherwise demure and modest young ladies should stay away from small artifically flavoured chicken niblets; it does something to the gentler sex. Probably affects their wombs, or something.
We need more fast-food franchises in SF.
I'm easily entertained.

I really want a 'Royale with Cheese' right now.

Textures, and chemicals.


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Monday, December 29, 2014


It had started out a nice day, but unexpectedly it began to rain. She had left the house without an umbrella -- as could be expected, doing so was an invitation to disaster at this time of year -- and by the time she had finished shopping for the fabulous hotpot she intended to fix for dinner, the rain was coming down steadily.

Fatty pork, lamb slices (ooh, so yummy!), plus yauchoi, little baby bokchoi, and daumiu. Plus some of the clarified turkey stock from Christmas! And cilantro. Lots of cilantro. Along with ginger, it helps digest the fatty meats. With overloaded bags she waited under an overhang till the rain passed.

Unfortunately it just got worse. From a medium level steady drub it progressed to a downpour, then a bucketing, torrential inundation.
It just wouldn't let up!

By the time it hit tropical cloudburst with sheets of water slashing down in walls of wetness, she was drenched. Indeed, the overhang shielded her head somewhat. But the splatter-back bounced upwards and in, and soaked her through three layers of clothing.

No, not cold. But very wet. Her home was on the other side of the hill.
A slog of monumental proportion in this weather.
And there were no taxis!

A short stocky figure trudged up the street. It carried an umbrella far broader than its height, almost mushroom like, and though the rubber boots were shiny wet, the rest of its space seemed from a view through silver pillars of rain like it might be warm and dry. And fluffy.
Fluffy is good. Always.

Hard to tell. Walls of rain cascaded down, all was obscured. She was reminded of an illustration in one of the Paddington Bear stories.

As if in a delirium, she joined the stout figure under the umbrella.
No words were exchanged, but the beast knew exactly where she needed to go, and walked her there.

She rushed up the steps, so very glad to be home. Soon, warmth, dryness, a thick fluffy towel, and a comforting hot cup if milk-tea!
Plus, perhaps, some nice buttery almond short-bread cookies.
Or marzipan chocolate! With crumbled walnut!

"Would you...?"

She turned to invite the badger in. It was the least she could do. But to her dismay, he was already half way up the block. In the brief moment that she had not been paying attention, he had wandered off, and loaded up a pipe. A whisp of fragrant smoke marked his passing.

Mr. Badger turned and waved briefly, then rounded the corner.

She resolved that the next time they met, she'd ask him in.

And make sure that there were plenty of cookies.

She was certain he liked cookies.

And that was correct.

He did.

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Sunday, December 28, 2014


Regular readers could probably easily imagine me smoking pipes all-day long when I'm in Marin County tending to tobacco-related affairs. Lord knows, I've bored them enough with tedious descriptions of my self-indulgence.

Not so.

Today I only smoked two bowls. Both Virginias, both blondish. One aged very nicely, the other with the freshness of pink-faced youth.

Far too busy for anything else.

Hardly any tea, either.

Cleaned several Peterson pipes, an old Dunhill root, a few Italian jobbies, and a nearly foot-long Dunhill whangee billiard (natural). That last one just needed minor reaming, a bowl rub, and stem polish. Same for the Italian jobbies. All of these items were clearly loved. Possibly favourite briars.
The people who own those pipes have good habits, and lead clean abstemious lives. Exemplary individuals, sane and sober.

On the other hand, those Petersons and the old Dunhill root.....

Good frikkin lord! How do you get a deposit of icky tar all over a pipe?

I can understand a putrid interior -- some people are just careless sluts and will stick any old sewer outlet into their piehole -- but a sticky nasty exterior takes deliberate effort and perversion.

I have been a pipe smoker since I was fourteen. That's forty years of good clean fun. I cannot imagine what I would have to do to get the outside of a pipe tar-encrusted over eighty percent of the wood surface.
Sir, you are a filthy bastard. That's all I can say. Dealing with those things was just nasty. How could you stand to touch or hold the poor abused lumps of wood during the last century of your obscene dirtiness?


Gevalt. And gottenyu.

Well, in any case, your little briar friends are clean now. Both inside and out. Stems all nicely black again, shit removed from the bowl and the draft hole, dense tar layer scraped out of the passage between the tenon and the bowl, gunk damned well hosed out and off the carbon rubber mouthpieces.......

Don't worry, I made sure that all industrial grade solvents did not enter the bowl. Nor did I employ the hot-lava cannon to blast away the pollution.
Your carbon layer was not a sodden wreck, so that's cool.
You weren't smoking aromatics.
Boruch Hashem.

But I would be keen to find out what you were huffing.
I couldn't hazard a guess.

*      *      *      *      *

There are two women pipesmokers that I had not met before.

One of them is new to the habit, and came in for a tutorial. After explaining the what and wherefores, introducing her to a number of different blends and describing them, and answering her questions, she left with two pouches of tobacco. One of which is a near-replica of Dunhill 965. So it's medium on the Latakia, around forty two percent more or less, with a bit of Turkish, and the remainder a Virginia blending cavendish, a black Virginia to carry the Latakia, and some red ribbon.
A very nice mature smoke, which should lead to contemplation.
Something very close to a meditative mood.
Peace of mind.

The second one came in for advice on why her favourite briar seemed a bit problematic. So I cleaned it up, tightened the tenon, and buffed the stem. Some advice on packing and ideal moisture content of the combustibles, and I'm fairly certain she left a happy camper.

Add the gracious old lady who came in last week for some pipe cleaners, and after due contemplation acquired an elegant meerschaum for herself as a Christmas treat -- something to smoke at night when she's reading, and all is quiet around the cottage -- and that makes way more women with excellent habits than I knew existed a month ago.

December has been very good in that regard.

The new year should be splendid.


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Dear friends, every time I see comments waiting for approval that contain any Cyrillic letters, I deep-six them. Because naturally one assumes that they are spаm. Oh, I know, you wish I would click on your cunningly embedded links -- you believe that you can contribute! -- but no, your ge-weighted by-drag has naught to mean. Your language is not something I comprehend ("be-grab"), your considered texts ("well through-thought ge-scribe") simply look like the word 'kaopectate' repeated ad nauseum ("till men there sick from is").

Delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete!

By the way: Vladimir Putin is still a shmuck.
I just felt that you should understand that.
Shmuck, shmuck, shmuckity shmuck.
Bit of a shmendrick too.

[For further kindly words of wisdom, please visit my site.]

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Saturday, December 27, 2014


Sometimes you can tell where someone is from even before they open their mouth. In this case, both mother and son looked like they were northerners, and when they spoke privately among themselves, their pronunciation had that furry rolling quality one associates almost only with Peking. Except for a few brilliant people in Chinatown who can fake it marvelously well.

The place where the bookseller and I have drinkies once a week is not a place where one may hear it, though. It is undoubtedly rare there. Usually what one hears is snarled Taiwanese Mandarin, and curse-word laden Cantonese. Both of which have their own charms, but they aren't decent Beijing-hua (北京話 'pak king waa').

The mother and son were indeed from Peking.
I asked, and they affirmed my guess.
Both were naturally pale.
Very northern.

One of the items which they ended up with was a Xikar Xi3ST.
That being a spalted tamarind double bladed cigar cutter.

Tamarind was easy to translate. Either "sour bean tree" (酸豆木 'suāndòu mù', 'suen dau muk') or "gauzy view thingy tree" (羅望子木 'luōwàng-zi mù', 'lo mong ji muk'). Either term is used for tamarind, which does not grow anywhere near Peking, so it makes no difference which name you use.
The brand name (品牌名 'pǐnpái míng', 'ban paai meng') is transcribed as "western wedge" (西卡 'xīkǎ', 'sai kaa').
The product is a "snow add" scissor (雪加剪刀 'xuějiā jiǎndāo', 'suet gaa jin dou').
Note: Cantonese transcription of cigar.

[Several kinds of trees produce variously hued stripes if they are traumatized by fungus or damage.]

There is no exact word for spalting in Chinese, but it can be described as "soak tracing" (漬紋 'zìwén', 'ji man').
漬紋 (淺顏色的木頭或深色):如果感染了真菌,淺色木變成深色。
"'Spalting' (light coloured wood versus dark): if infected with fungus, the lighter hued material becomes darker".

Xikar is a great brand. Well-made, durable, and a life-time guarantee.
They also do cigar lighters; single jet, double, or triple jet.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area (三藩市灣區 'Sānfānshì-wān qū', 'saam faan si waan keui'), Cantonese (粵語,廣東話 'Yuèyǔ', 'Guǎngdōnghuà'; 'yuet yü','gwong tung waa') is more widely spoken than Mandarin (國語,普通話 'Guóyǔ', 'Pǔtōnghuà', 'gwok yü', 'pou tong waa'), and usually far more useful. My ability with Mandarin is bollocky (真可怕的) at best. Hence the inclusion of the southern pronunciation after the pinyin.

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Friday, December 26, 2014


Whenever Devonshire and Cornwall are mentioned, the intelligent person naturally thinks of afternoon tea. This is a given, because the intelligent person has read Wind In The Willows as well as all of Beatrix Potter's books, and connects the dots of provincial comfort exemplified in those works with all the English literary references to summer days and pots of clotted cream. Plus scones, fruit preserves, and Dundee Cake.

[NOTE: Dundee Cake was first made commercially by James Keiller & Son, a manufacturer of Scottish marmalade, but rich fruit cakes studded with blanched almonds are a traditional and beloved Caledonian confection.]

I strongly suspect that the intelligent person also automatically associates such things with cups of Lapsang Souchong tea and a discreet tot of Scots Whisky.

Mr. Badger and his friends were probably not averse to a wee nip in late afternoon. Followed by a pipeful of aged Virginian tobacco out on the veranda. Or under the eaves, if it was rainy weather, which it often is in the British Isles.


Here in San Francisco it is winter, the day after the Feast of Consumerite Excess, which every year falls or culminates on December twenty fifth.

Consequently it is frigid outside, and rain threatens. Instead of sitting in a cane chair outdoors, one vastly prefers to snuggle up under a warm comforter inside. Maybe with a nip of sherry.

I have run out of Lapsang Souchong tea. I wasn't thinking ahead. And it is far too early in the morning to indulge in sherry. Also, because my apartment mate is off work today, I cannot smoke indoors.
I shall have to hide out in Chinatown, either nibbling pastries with a cup of hot milk-tea, or wandering alleyways puffing on a briar by myself.

Precisely like snuggling under a warm comforter, the whole caboodle of pastries, milk-tea, and a pipeful of aged Virginia, are infinitely better with a similarly inclined person.
But there are none such. Particularly not in Chinatown.
The reason I hide out there is that I won't get clobbered by wheatgerm-snarfing earthmammas violently opposed to all manifestations of tobacco, or sensitive moondaddies who find the smell of cigars and pipes highly objectionable. Those people do not dominate in C'town.

My apartment mate spent all day yesterday in bed, suffering from a malady that strikes once a month. Which, when she briefly ventured into the teevee room, she described in uncompromising detail.

Lucky me.

I sometimes wish she would share that stuff with her on-again-off-again boyfriend, but he's a delicate soul, and there is no place for her to lie down and be miserable at his place.

Note that she is a non-smoker.

A minor flaw, yes?

But it is a characteristic that bedevils my own desire to hide from the world, or spend an entire day comfortably ensconced.
I cannot do that when she's around.
She would object vociferously to the aromas.
Wherefore I must flee.

I've often thought that I should find someone delightful who has fond associations of pipe tobacco and pipe-smokers -- either a male relative who smoked, or her own personal praedilections -- and together we could spend all day on the couch bundled up warmly in rugs, reading and drinking Lapsang Souchong. While twiddling our toes. All ten of them.
Perhaps sharing an ashtray.

But this is SF. It is never summer here and multiple obstacles abound.
Wheatgerm-snarfing earthmammas and sensitive moondaddies.
People who drink herbal tea and practise yoga.
Creative types, who do not smoke.
Ick poo, I say, ick poo.

I dream of clotted cream and cake.
And warm summer rain.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014


For several days now the giddy masses have been happily speculating that Havanas will be stocked by tobacconists within weeks. Some are more sober, conceding that it might be a few months. On the other hand, any number have been insanely demanding "where's da Cubans, bro, dey iz legal now!" Dammit, they want their Cubans!

All in all this is rather like a bunch of wannabe gangsta rappers hooting at a pole dance. The twirly girl up on stage is unavailable, and not in their league. But she's close, so close! Sweat pearls their pimply brows.

A truly realistic person knows it ain't gonna happen.
There are still several obstacles.


For one thing, the embargo is still in place, and won't be lifted anytime soon. While the President and the State Department can create a smoother diplomatic relationship with our long-time enemy, it is Congress that will decide when and if to ease trade restrictions.
Given that Congress is filled with constipated hacks and ideological swine, that will probably take several months at least, even years.

"But won't the syphilitic bastards want to buy Cubans themselves?" I hear you ask. "Surely the venal thugs who run this country should like to indulge in good cigars?"


Those of them that like a good smoke already have them. The embargo has not affected them in the slightest, and has in fact added an exclusiveness and mystique to the cheroots they flaunt.
Their aides and friends already have them parcelled in from tobacconists in Switzerland, Spain, and Australia. At prices which are not out of line with other cigars in any case, with reasonable guarantees that the supplier will refund or replace any that get seized by the authorities. They've got their sources, the embargo does not affect them. The same goes for their financial backers.

Congress people who are NOT into fine cigars, on the other hand, are probably in the same camp as the fanatical anti-tobacco activists, and will as usual whore themselves out to a key demographic.
Their interest lies in preventing access.

And then there's the FDA.

For cigarettes, the FDA has to approve the products for sale. If Cubans are categorized as ciggies (not at all unlikely), the process is arduous, and the chances incredibly slim. Did you ever wonder why all those lovely European smokes you enjoyed during your continental holiday could not be found in the States? The FDA hasn't allowed them in.
You can thank the anti-smoking nuts for that one; it was because of them that we have the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009.

For cigars and pipe tobaccos it is still a little easier, but there are plans to narrow the exemptions those products currently enjoy, which explains why some pipe tobaccos have already disappeared entirely, while others are now being made in the U.S. rather than coming from abroad.

In any case, control over smoking products now rests with a federal bureaucracy heavily slanted toward protectionism AND sneering disapproval of a fond habit. Suck it up, bitches.


One other little issue will stump the issue for years to come, and provide a comfortable living for a generation of lawyers: trademarks. Most of the famous brandnames have double representation. Outside of the United States the ownership lies with the Cuban government and its henchmen, who dispossessed nearly every company or family that was vested in the industry, and seized the factories.
Because of the embargo, those trademarks were not exercised in the United States, which meant that when they lapsed (ref: Lanham Act, "abandonment", 15 U.S.C. § 1127), they were claimed -- often by or on behalf of the original owners -- and in consequence there are Monte Cristos, Cohibas, Partagas, Upmans, and several other famous brands represented in the U.S. by excellent non-Cuban products. It should also be particularly noted that the quality of the cigars available in the United States is far higher than what the rest of the world accepts.
Of the twenty five top cigars for 2014, only three are Habanos. Many more, including the number one cigar, come from Central America.
Consider these three names: Oliva, Padron, Perdomo.
Solid Nicaraguans, better than Havanas.
As are also many Dominicans.
And Hondurans.

[And don't overlook Arturo Fuente. Grown men weep when deprived of their Arturo Fuentes.
As well as Illusione, Flor De Las Antilles, La Aroma De Cuba, LFDs, Aging Room...

Matilde, San Cristobal, Litto Gomez, Alec Bradley.]

The fight over trademarks and intellectual property rights will make the import of Cubans into the United States a long slog. The probability is that the products imported soonest will be flying under imaginative flags of convenience -- Don Salami, Don Frijole y Cia, Empresas Tomas Elculo, Pulgadoras -- and not very good.

The plain fact of the matter is that the famous brands will only be commercially available once the legal issues have been settled.

Who gets to import these and supply them to the trade is also a problematic legal situation, as irrespective of their current non-availability, several companies already own rights or have claims that are in play.

Lastly, there's the matter of production. Currently Cuba takes less time to bring cigars to market than many non-Cuban brands which age their tobacco before rolling the product, then let the flavours marry over another several months or years of maturing. Many of the finest cigars that you purchase today started off as seedlings over five years ago. And because they face an uphill struggle against the damned-fool herd's blind loyalty to Cuban leaf, their quality control and attention to detail are much higher than anything in Havana. The Nicaraguans previously mentioned again come to mind, as well as Davidoff, which was so displeased with the shoddiness of Castro's factories that they withdrew completely from the island more than a quarter of a century ago.
Only the top Cubans will be in a position to compete.
That's far fewer brands than you might think.

Manufacturing will need to be geared up for the North American market, distribution and supply issues worked out, brandnames and marketing campaigns re-thought or tweaked.......

And that will only happen after the embargo is lifted, and after all the legal battles.


Good Cuban cigars will always be an expensive luxury product. Mediocre crap, however, won't be worth smoking even with a famous name, shan't compete against the fine smokes now available all across the country, and as usual will be sold primarily to Spaniards.

There may be some Havanas at your local tobacco paradise within three or four years. By five or six years from now, a few highly regarded brands will also have representation. At unsurprisingly premium cigar prices.
But by then you might not be allowed to smoke anything.
Because even that privilege is under threat.
Except of course for marijuana.
Which is "medicinal".

In short: Embargo. FDA. Legalities. Logistics. Supply. Marketing.

And politicians. Always politicians.

Plus lots of crap.

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The existence of the internet has made it possible for many more people to be as crazy as they want to be. One example of that is the flood of conspiracy nonsense webpages -- mostly written by and for inbred hicks related to themselves several different ways -- one is by the wealth of cat-related sites. Inbred hicks love their guns and hate blacks.
Everyone else worships kitty-cats.
Vastly different symptoms.
Same disease.


Perhaps the craziest use of the internet is for breaking up. Bobo, in Australia, sent his girlfriend a message that ran as follows:

1. You refuse to update your relationship status on Facebook
2. You won't include me in things like the wedding this weekend. I should have been the one to escort you
3. You are rude to my cat and that makes me feel uncomfortable
4. You do not share your time equally and by now your boyfriend should be taking priority
5. Your swearing is very unladylike
6. You won't disclose how many sexual partners you have had which makes me think it is upwards of 3 and anything more than that is unacceptable.

Of course this was a break-up message. Reason number three ("you are rude to my cat") was the clincher. Anyone who is rude to cats is probably a right bastard, and, whatever their true gender, extremely unladylike. Such a person is capable of almost anything, including not updating their relationship status on Facebook.

"Nei deui ngoh-dik siu-maau mou lai!"

Being rude to cats is a sin worse than buggery.

He was right to break up with her.

I would do the same.

There is no cat in my life, in case you were wondering. Nor have I had reason to update my relationship status on Facebook in all of four and a half rather pissy years. I doubt that those two things are connected.
They are probably neither equal in scope, nor cause and effect.
Never-the-less I feel strongly about such matters.

Always be polite to cats.


Why did I reproduce the phrase "you are rude to my cat" in Chinese? Because I am late to the party. I didn't find out about this internet meme until I read about it on a Hong Kong news website. The phrase "nei deui ngoh-dik siu maau mou lai" makes me giggle.
It sounds funnier in Chinese.

PS.: The usage of the word 'buggery' as a comparative sin in the text above is purely for effect. The word has a host of connotations, and is often automatically associated with Australia for some reason. It seemed right here. No negative judgment whatsoever was meant, and I apologize if any natives of Australia, or British sailors, felt offended.
Sorry. There isn't anything wrong with that.
I assume it's consensual?
So sorry.

I actually like the word "buggery".
It is so buggery evocative!
Oh buggery yes.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014


While rereading something I penned half a dozen years ago, two sentences stood out. In fact, taken together they define my being, in each and every way.
If you ever wanted to know what I am like -- though why you would remains utterly baffling -- then assiduous study of the selected textual fragments will make everything clear.

"Lonely Russian girls would know that I am only interested if they are petite, have dark hair, and blush prettily. Amazon would cease telling me about wholesome Protestant novellas."

Or at least somewhat less opaque.

One further passage in that essay stands out, and upon reflection may be considered slightly incorrect or off-kilter.

"I am only interested in panties, wombats, blushing schoolgirls, and elderly rabbis. Whether you want to sell these to me, or merely show me zesty pictures, is up to you."

Bear in mind that those are strictly intellectual concepts, as the realities of wombats, schoolgirls, and rabbis, would doubtless disconcert me, and conceivably disrupt my comfortable routine.

I do have many interests, though.
That part is true.

In actual fact, that post was meant as a rude comment on the senders of spam, who erroneously thought they had me figured out.
What they imagined was that I was bi-sexual, with minuscule privates both masculine and feminine, as well as short, fat, and balding.
And Christian.

I'll admit to having issues, like everyone. But not that badly.

I am heterosexual, of average height, slightly evil, with a stunning deficit of both panties and Christian faith. I am not a rabbi, but I sometimes play one on the internet.

That isn't sulfur that you smell, but excellent pipe tobacco.

Like Spam and salsa, I am great with fried eggs.

I am at my best in the morning.

But good anytime.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014


My ex admits to being the world's cheapest date; just give her some Tater Tots and rootbeer float, and she be happy. This is important information that I wish I had known when she and I were still an item. It would have been very good to know. But I'll just have to remember it the next time I get close to a person of the feminine persuasion...

Tater Tots, and rootbeer float.

Sounds like a plan.

"Hello, miss, can I offer you some piping hot Tater Tots and a lovely cool refreshing rootbeer float? I've got mayonnaise! It's GREAT with Tater Tots."

The best women enjoy the simple pleasures.


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The internet, I used to say, exists for just three things: recipes, cute kitten pictures, and filth. But I am wrong. There's fourth category. Insane and paranoid ramblings from people so far in the bush that their nearest intellectual equal is scrub cactus.
As part of the season, and under the rubric of 'spreading joy', here's a discussion composed of chery-picked quotes, which I refuse to attribute to anyone, as they should not be held against the under-medicated.

It could very well be an interior monologue for many.


Please imagine the following as a simple conversation between two gentlemen from Texas. Fine, upstanding salt-of-the-earth types.
Informed voters.

"Obama is a Muslim liar. He lied about Benghazi, he lied about "you can keep your doctor", he lied about the IRS..."

"Obama is no Muslim. He's a Zionist CorpoRat Fascist or actually he's a well paid Puppet of the Zionist CorpoRat Fascists!"

"Coming from a clueless, snivelling Obama Ass-Kisser that's pretty funny!"

"One person with a viewpoint slightly skewed from another person can come up with a completely different conclusion based on those facts and figures."

"I just want you libs to know just how much I hate you and your leftist bullshit. If you had any guts you'd meet me face to face but why anyone would fight for this miserable country I don't know. If I were a young man I would say f*ck this country and sponge off the working man."

"I rather enjoy being in a nation considered by many to be the heir to all of western civilization."

"Your philosophy is so empty I actually pity you for the shriveled, miniscule soul you might have. You will die crying for help that will never come."

"Obama's ISIS War Is Illegal. The president is subverting the Constitution"

"What kind of ridiculous statement is this?! IT doesn't matter if a person is Conservative or not! This has nothing to do with voting for whoever!"

"Then you must hate public roads, transportation, schools, water systems, the police, and public parks because those are products of a certain level of socialism."

"Might have had Nixon and Vietnam - But Obama has completely f*cked up the world!"

"The one thing you right wingers seem to share is an inability to use correct English joined with a prediection for obscenity."

"Is the viagra working for you?"

"Why the overt racism? Homophobia? Jealous? Afraid? You should be. You show up on my street and I'll beat you to do death with your own ignorance which is big enough to be a deadly weapon. Conservatives should be neutered so their selfish bullshit dies with them rather than getting passed along."

"Yeah, like PBS isn't a Progladyke's paradise. Either way, whether it was the Chinese, the Khmer or the VC, '60's hippies were responsible for genocide in S.E. Asia."

"Your God wants all white men to join US marine forces to fight for democracy. You can't escape from that responsibility."

"A dee dee, motherhole, a dee dee!"

And so on.


The remarks above were what I found by looking up Joe Cocker, who passed away recently. No, these weren't in any comment string related to that subject.

They are, however, very appropriate to the season.

A calendric frenzy is upon us.

We're nuts.


The title of this post paraphrases the term "goldene medine", as a snide comment, about what a wonderful place the United States is.
Our country is filled with amazing stuff.
And batsh*t people.

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Monday, December 22, 2014


During the night I dreamed of Switzerland. Which is unusual. The normal person has little if any reason to visit the place while slumbering. And it has been a long time since I went there. Bern, Appenzell, Zurich, Basel.
Vierwaldstättersee, Altdorf, Fribourg, Schaffhausen.
Graubünden, Aargau, Thurgau.

Every summer for several years our family would head to Switzerland to enjoy that which was unavailable in the Netherlands. Something which in San Francisco I take for granted. Verticality.

Switzerland has topography and three dimensions, whereas the mud flat along the North Sea where we resided was nearly as flat as a pancake.
Except for Limburg, but though that area is beautiful, it is filled with weirdoes grunting unintelligibly, and unsuitable for vacations.
Limburg is rather like Yorkshire.

My mother loved the Swiss mountainscapes, and we would descend on a hotel or gasthof which was near a stream. I remember building dams with big rocks, getting bit by horseflies, and beleaguered by june bugs for hours on end -- you avoid both horseflies and junebugs by swimming in the cold, cold water -- then heading back to our lodgings for dinner along sunlit hillside dirt roads.

[June bugs: Actually the cockchafer or billywitch. But my parents were more American than they realized, and in our family those things were called june bugs. The Dutch name is 'meijkever', in German it is 'maikäfer', and in Polish they call it a 'chrząszcz' (pronounced 'shahnsht') or 'chrabąszcz' ('khraabonsht'). That last datum is not relevant.]

There's something about Swiss mountain streams that just begs for regulation, order, and deep large pools formed by building dikes and waterbreaks out of rocks. I suspect that may have been an entirely subconscious influence from living in the Netherlands, which is a very rectalinear kind of place.

Swiss food was a welcome change from both my mother's military-style cooking, and the many Dutch comestibles of which she disapproved.
I may have mentioned before that she had odd ideas about what was edible, and a disdain for the eating preferences of the natives in North Brabant.
About which she knew surprisingly little.
Her awareness what they actually ate was, quite probably, limited to herring, nasi goreng, and fried potatoes.
Their bakery products met her wholehearted approval.
She remained vague about everything else.

[From Wikipedia: "In some areas and times, cockchafers were even served as food. A 19th century recipe from France for cockchafer soup reads: "roast one pound of cockchafers without wings and legs in sizzling butter, then cook them in a chicken soup, add some veal liver and serve with chives on a toast". And a German newspaper from Fulda from the 1920s tells of students eating sugar-coated cockchafers. A cockchafer stew is referred to in W.G. Sebald's novel The Emigrants."]

The drive from Valkenswaard to Switzerland usually took several days, as it was interrupted by elevenses, lunch, teatime snacks, and dinner. Southern Belgium, Northern France, Bavarian village restaurants with wursten, and finally the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

European food can be quite good. And thanks to the Michelin Guide as well as recommendations from Henri Kater, we ate very well while on the road.
Strangely, all I really remember is trout, and ten thousand porky things.
Plus white wine (mostly Riesling and Elbling), and ice cream.
Kaffee-schnapps, and tea mit einer zitronenscheibe.

And, naturally, the Wiener Schnitzel.
It's the signature dish of Europe.
Available everywhere.
With parsley.

If I go to Switzerland again, I shall rent a motor vehicle and discover cheeses. Surely there is more to their fromage than just holes?

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Sunday, December 21, 2014


Recently my apartment mate was talking over the phone with friend who will be visiting Canada soon. Canada is a very fine country, make no mistake, and has much to recommend it.
But their interpretation of junk-food is not among that.

"For the love of God, do NOT eat the fried chicken!"

She remembers how impossibly ghastly the fried chicken was in Vancouver. Apparently, it was nightmare inducing.

The last time she visited Vancouver was when she and I were still a couple. That was in February of 2008. We often ate separately during that trip, because we both liked exploring the city on our own. Being Chinese, her curiosity took her to some very strange places, and coupled with the hunger ("the HUNGER!") which people of that cultural and ethnic background are 'blessed' with, some ill-advised culinary choices were made.
By her. Not me. Her. I ate well.

Vancouver has great fish. Stick with the fish.

Avoid the fried chicken.

I have never been disappointed in fried chicken. Ever. This is because as a typical Dutchman, I lack faith. I do not trust food cooked by people who do not have a reasonable presumption of reliability regarding what they serve.
Canada is not a fried chicken culture. They are a poutine culture.
No one else does poutine like them.



I showed that clip to my ex. Her comment? "God, I love that frog! I'd run off with him in a minute! Leave all of you punters in the dust! 
Even the wheel chair dude!"

My reaction was considerably more rational.
I wanted some poutine. "Peeyew-teen."
Fries, cheese curd, beef gravy.
I've had it; it's delicious.

"I love that frog; I'd run off with him in a minute!"

There are, to the best of my knowledge, no darling little poutineries within easy distance of my abode. It is inexplicable. This must be an oversight. Surely so food-savy a city as San Francisco puffs itself would not overlook the glorious Canadian contribution to the cooked arts?

Life can be very disappointing.

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Most of the past week I have pretended to be an oyster. No, I haven't worn a bivalvular home-made shell-costume while wandering the streets of San Francisco, what I mean by that is that I have mostly stayed in when not involved in fiddling with pipes across the Golden Gate Bridge. Occasionally, I have blown bubbles and hummed to myself, as oysters are wont to do.

The week has been both busy and moist.

If you see something evil lurking beneath the surface of the water as you flap your wings across the slough, that will be me.
Best fly faster, I have harpoon.

Largely I have been ignoring the season. Other people's insane drang to spend their life's savings has little impact, and though I have not been there I imagine that the downtown is a seething madhouse.

I do most of my Christmas shopping in July.

Just thought you should know.

Can I gloat? Yes.

Yes I can.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014


It turns out that some schools have peculiar traditions. Schools such as King's College and other polytechnics in Great Britain, where social club and fraternity initiations frequently involve faeces, genitalia, and outright homosexual debauchery. All of which are calculated to make you a mannish and chappish sort of lad.
You always knew the British were peculiar.
You just didn't know how much.


Like the Rugby club at the London School of Economics, this blogger also disapproves of group activities that involve faeces, genitalia, and outright homosexual debauchery.

I've always believed that anything involving faeces and genitalia should be more private; just one for the first, two for the second. And as regards homosexual debauchery, I have not considered the matter. But likely it too should only involve one person, or at most two.
Not outright, but discreet.

My own debauchery has been neither homosexual nor unnecessarily pluralistic. As well as hypothetical. I cannot even claim that I practise a lot when I'm alone.

From a leaflet handed out by the London School of Economics Rugby Club during Freshman Week:

On initiation ceremonies: 'We do not tolerate Poly activities that involve faeces, genitalia, and outright homosexual debauchery'.

On the slang term 'gary': 'Ancient terminology of contentious origins meaning to chat up a trollop. Eg. "I'm putting in the gary groundwork with this netball slag".'

On Wednesday nights: 'See off a whole jug of vodka Red Bull, get accustomed to the bouncers' hospitality, and do your utmost to pull a sloppy bird'.

On a committee member: 'He is the fresher who manags [sic] to embody everything the club holds dear: debauchy [sic], hedonism and misogyny'.

On the Three Tuns pub: 'The beer is cheap and the barmaids are often quite tasty. Get to know them in order to ensure rapid service'.

On the Zoo Bar in Leicester Square: 'Nowhere in the world can so many mingers look so appealing. The jury is still out, however, regarding whether this phenomenon is caused by a strange trick of the light or the beer drank post-match.'

On 'hockey, netball and rugby birds': 'Beast-like women who play sport so they can come out with us on Wednesdays and don't let them tell you otherwise'.

On King's College London: 'Strand Polytechnic... Quite simply put they are scum and they will all work for us one day'.


A few sensitive souls unfortunately took offense at the reading material, and the LSE Rugby Club has been suspended for a year.

QUOTE: "The rugby club has since apologised for the leaflet, which also branded female rugby players as "beast-like" and said that "homosexual debauchery" would not be tolerated at social events."


All of this is rather a pity, as Rugby is the thinking man's alternative to American Football. For one thing, it is FAR more butchly homo-erotic, for another the concept of a glowing young rugby player insensate on too much vodka and completely limp in consequence is delicious.

Mmm, hot sweaty man-flesh!

So ripe for debauching!

As a concept, it sounds intellectually thrilling, so I can understand the temptation, though if I were a woman, I should almost certainly abstain. While encouraging bestial British lassies to go right ahead.

Not quite my style, but then if I were a youngish female person, most likely I would resemble your maidenly aunt. Somewhat short and shy, and though quite filthy-minded not very social. With glasses, and restrained habits. Always the perfect lady in my Lula Lu.

I would want the thrill of reading about it afterwards.

Rather than having any personal involvement.

Sometimes text is better than life.

Especially beastly stuff.

In any case, I am delighted that British students are well-informed about debauchery. I had always considered them to be rather bland little creatures, all pink and innocent, and dreadfully inexperienced.
Tea, crumpets, and smoking a pipe by the fire.

Bravo, English scholarly types, bravo.

The brave depraved.

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Friday, December 19, 2014


Much the same way that some American academics refer to Jews as 'filthy kikes' or 'zionist crypto-masons', and African Americans as 'jive-ass jiggaboos', the Australians have their own bad boy intellectuals.
Consider, for instance, Professor Barry Spurr, formerly instructor of versifying at the University of Sydney, who used such eloquent and meaningful terms as 'abo', 'abo lover', 'mussie', and 'chinky-poo'.

Nelson Mandela was identified as a 'darky'.

[SOURCE: Sydney academic Barry Spurr resigns over racist emails.]


Picture courtesy of the BBC.

From all accounts, prof. Barry Spurr is a sterling fellow, and very white.

Just not a man of temperate and considered vocabulary.

But not at all a stuck-up sticky bit!

Or a poofter.

Blimey, it's hot in here, Bruce.

Who is minding the sheep dip?

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When I mentioned the pipe to Brian, his eyes lit up. "Ah, the two sisters". Apparently he had known them in the seventies and eighties, when he and they had been the only ones with 'La Paulina'. A brand which I have never smoked, but which rings a bell. Not a firm and solid bell, more of a half-remembered bell.

There's a lot in the industry which does that.
Nicotine is good for the memory.
A lot of bells get rung.

Pauline had gone to New York, and came back with a perfectly grained Wilke bulldog natural. It turned out to be one of her best pipes.

That was in the early eighties, when the two sisters still ran the place.

Wilke in New York is no more.

Gone by the nineties.

A memory.

The pipe that changed hands today was a lovely little Dublin, smooth natural saddle.


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Thursday, December 18, 2014


Years ago a friend stated categorically that Mandarin was the most civilized Chinese language, especially compared to Cantonese, which she likened to barbaric yawping. Mandarin was refined, civilized, modulated, why, Mandarin was the be-all and end-all of Chinese!

And why didn't that bunch of southern degenerates just submit!

Hah, short stupid stubborn Cantonese!


From a distance of thirty years, allow me to rebut that.

Mandarin is what you screech at rabid dogs. It's a country bumpkin dialect, spoken primarily by inbred savages, who have no regard for manners, and often no shred of decency.

No wonder Hong Kong people despise mainlanders.

It's 100% justified.



Doesn't that sound awful? That's Mandarin, not Cantonese. Mandarin. The national language of China, as spoken by several hundred million people who lacked the wit to learn Cantonese.


Please pay especial attention to the coarse brute venting in the aisle during most of this video. Apparently he was displeased that he and his wife (or girlfriend, or mistress) had not been seated together. Subsequent to his demand for recitification of the problem, either he or a friend threatened to bomb the plane, and some woman -- his wife, his girlfriend, or his mistress -- threw scalding insta-noodle soup in the face of a Thai airline hostess. Because the two couples responsible for this disruption were adamently unwilling to apologize, the plane returned to Bangkok, where the four passengers were arrested and fined.
They subsequently did get back to China.
Where they should stay forever.
They're nasty people.

Upon landing in Nanjing, the four of them caused another scene.

The average mud-spattered Toishanese farmer has more manners and finesse than that bunch. And Mandarin, even when the speaker is in a good mood, sounds like a heathen pig-buttock language. Good lord, how on earth do they keep from slaughtering one another?


For a more "upbeat" view of mainlanders, see the video below. Yes, the captions are a fair rendition of the conversation.
Please note: normal behaviour.




Oh what the heck, one more. This video shows what happens when Mandarin-speakers wish to complain about a delay due to weather.
They're all being as reasonable and polite as they are able.
Doesn't their language sound dulcet?
Sure it does.



The fasten your seatbelt sign should be lit at all times with this lot.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014


They're famous for their hot po lo bau with a pat of butter. As well as milk-tea, and yuen yeung. It's in Kowloon, equidistant between the Prince Edward Station and Mongkok East, just a short walk from either. You know where Lai Chi Kok splits off from Nathan Road? Go east, cross Sai Yeung Choi Street, and in the middle on the left hand side.
Be prepared for a madhouse.
It's very popular.

香港, 太子弼街47號地下

47 Bute Street, ground floor,
Prince Edward (Mongkok), Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Bute Street (弼街 'bat kai') is named after the southern Scottish peerage of the same name, which is principally located on Bute Island in the Firth of Clyde. As with many Hong Kong street names, there is no rational connection with the appellation and the area. Nor with the transcription into Chinese; 弼 means to assist or aide.


The list of items which you really must have is, of course, topped with the toasted po lo bau (菠蘿油: 加一塊凍牛油 'po lo yau: gaa yat faai tung ngau yau'), but not far behind are the little chicken pies (雞批 'gai pai') and the egg arts (酥皮蛋撻 'sou pei daan taat'). You can also have a quick lunch there. Try the saté sauce beef (沙嗲牛肉 'sa de ngau yiuk'), which can be served on regular noodles, macaroni, or rice stick (可配公仔麵, 通粉或米粉 'ho pui gong jai min, tong fan, waak mai fan').

The meat shred and pickled brassica (雪菜肉絲 'suet choi yiuk si') is best with boiled rice noodle (米 'mai').

Their po lo bau is unusual, in that the object represents an earlier stage of development, not changed in over forty years. A thin friable layer of sugary sweet dough above the standard puffy body, firmly melded on and in. Packed with a thick and generous wedge of chilled creamery butter to melt after toasting, it can also be had with a slice of luncheon meat added, or even the saté sauce beef.

In general, a toasted po lo bau with butter and meat or jam is rightly considered one of Hong Kong's most dangerous snacks, a calorie and cholesterol overload.
Well worth eating, with milk tea to drink. Yummy.

Naturally, if it's a warm day, you should have your milk-tea with ice (凍奶茶 'tung nai chaa').


Hot po lo bau with a pat of butter: The short form is 'po lo yau' (菠蘿油), meaning 'pineapple oil'. Butter is called 'cow grease' (牛油 'ngau yau'). Pineapple bun: 'po lo bau' (菠蘿包); a sweet bun with a top layer of cookie dough which expands at a different rate than the rest, yielding a crackle-crusted confection which presents a pleasant textural dissonance. Milk-tea: 'naai chaa' (奶茶), the national drink of Hong Kong, whether scalding hot or poured over ice; strong tea strained through a cloth filter, which gives it a velvety mouthfeel, accentuated with sweetened condensed milk (煉奶 'lin naai'). It was invented at so-called 'tea restaurants' (茶餐廳 'cha chanteng'), which are places where the food is fast, the furniture is rickety, and the ambiance twixt home-town hang-out and fondly remembered cheap date. Yuen yeung: Mandarin ducks (鴛鴦), also the term for a mixture of bitter coffee and sweet milk-tea, which is popular hot or cold.

Both beverages can also be served with the glass standing in an ice bath: 冰鎮奶茶 or 冰鎮鴛鴦 ('bing jan naai chaa', 'bing jan yuen yeung'), which cools the drink down without diluting it.
This is not common everywhere.

We shall not speak of Boba Tea (波霸奶茶 'bo baa naai chaa') or Pearl Tea (珍珠奶茶 'jan jyu naai chaa'); these are very silly things.

Mongkok: Prosperous Corner (旺角 'wong gok'), formerly 望角 ('mong gok'; gazy corner, ferns corner) a once-swampy area now densely built-up, filled with residents, businesses, and shops. Prince Edward Station: Tai ji jaam (太子站), the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station nearest Nathan Road (彌敦道 'nei duen dou').
MTR: Gong Tit (港鐵 "harbour iron"), abbreviation of 香港鐵路 ('heung gong tit lou' "fragrant harbour iron road", Hong Kong Railway). Mongkok East: MTR Station by the Diocesan Boys School (拔萃男書院 'bat seui naam syu yuen'), and the Grand Century Place mall (新世紀廣場 'san sai gei gwong cheung'; MOKO) if you're interested in fabulous shopping, just south of Prince Edward Road (太子道 'taai ji dou') and Flower Market Street (花墟道 'faa heui dou'). For Kam Wah Bing Teng (金華冰廳) head south along Nathan Road if you got off at Prince Edward, go west if you took the Mongkok East Station.

Lai Chi Kok Road: 荔枝角道, a diagonal street named after a village, Lychee Corner (荔枝角村) in Sam Shui Po District (深水埗區). Sai Yeung Choi Street: 西洋菜街 literally, 'Western Ocean Vegetable Street', which refers to watercress (西洋菜 'sai yeung choi') once grown in this area as a commercial crop.

Bute: 比特島 ('bei tak dou'), also 弼島 ('bat dou'); a semi-barren island in Western Europe (西歐 'sai au') with a population of six and a half thousand souls, and a climate which is not salubrious.
Firth of Clyde: 克萊德灣 ('hak loi tak waan') the vast inlet on the south-west corner of Scotland (蘇格蘭 'sou gaak laan'), which is an area of historical significance; the Scots (一個凱爾特的支派) landed here when they invaded from Ireland.

Pickled brassica: snow vegetable (雪菜 'suet choi'), also called plum vegetable (梅菜 'mui choi') is a salt-packed wet winter mustard cabbage frequently paired with fatty pork and used in soups for flavour and colour. The dried version is 梅干菜 ('mui gon choi'). Rice noodle: pasta made from rice flour. Distinguish 米粉 ('mai fan'), which are regular rice noodles; 沙河粉 ('saa ho fan'), also simply called 河粉 ('ho fan'), which are broader and softer; and 米線 ('mai sin'), a Yunnanese specialty that require as much cooking time as Italian Pasta (意粉 'yi fan'). Jam: gwo jeung (果醬); fruit compote.

For an explanation of the tea restaurant paradigm, see: Cha Chanteng. There's a sample menu in that post which might fascinate you.

What, you may ask, brought all this to the front? Well, ask yourself, where would you rather be? Someplace reasonably warm, about to enfold a cold beverage (iced milk-tea: 凍奶茶), or in a frigid and soggy part of Northern California?

At this time of year I am not fond of rain. My feet feel chilled. Hong Kong sounds like a very lovely place to be right now, unlike the islands in the Clyde, such as Bute (弼島), which are part of North-Western Europe.
And Scottish food, let me remind you, is not pretty.

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