Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Last year the ABC (ABC大餐廳) on Jackson Street closed down, and while it was never one of my top ten eateries, I had quite enjoyed eating there at least once or twice a month for many years, for a variety of reasons.
Not all of it was the food. Indeed, they did have Sriracha hotsauce, but HK chachanteng menus are not know for excellence and Michelin-quality. Rather, speed, comfort, and convenience. Chachanteng cater to an audience that wants to be fed, and not bothered. The style of food is heavily weighed toward familiar uncomplicated stuff, washed down with strong milk tea, so that you can go out and climb the twenty story bamboo scaffolding again, pick up the kids from violin lessons, and play mahjong all night.

Or, in my case, read the newspaper and then go out to smoke my pipe.

Actually I rarely read real newspapers any more, the last one I bought at the newsracks near my house was the edition that carried the article about a conflagration at an oil refinery recently (煉油廠爆炸起火). The headline had suggested that a chili oil factory exploded, but it turned out what they meant was a disastrous pipeline rupture in an industrial park.
Which did not interest me nearly as much.

The ABC had been around for years, and they still are. They have other locations elsewhere, which it would take an expedition to get to because one does not live out in the avenues or suburbia.
My area is downtown, in the North Eastern part of the city.
Tongyanfau is the closest Chinese neighborhood.
Those other Chinatowns are not.
And they are far.

Their Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice was very decent, likewise the Black Pepper Sauce Porkchop, Singapore Noodle, and Salt Fish Chicken Rice. And, though I had it rarely because of a tendency to gout, I also fondly remember the Baked Curry Seafood Rice, which is a purely Hong Kong dish that most people will not think of as even remotely Chinese.

['gaa lei hoi sin ji si guk faan']

Mild mixed creamy seafood curry on top of rice, liberally sprinkled with shredded cheese and baked under the broiler. Superior with hot sauce.

It's so easy to make you do not need an exact recipe. Per serving, enough cooked rice for one person. On top of which you place slightly precooked seafood, your choice. Shrimp, scallops, crab, cod fillets, surimi, oysters, mussels, etcetera. Add enough curry sauce to cover, sprinkle the cheese over, and shove in the oven for eight to ten minutes till bubbly.

The curry sauce is very English, and almost unrecognizable to a Punjabi. Small cubed carrots and potato, sauteed in butter till starting to gild. Add milk or cream to cover, and enough curry substance to colour but not overwhelm. Cook gently for a few minutes, then add chopped onion and maybe a pepper or two (which is non-standard). Simmer a bit longer.
Instead of carrots, celery and green bell pepper are also an option.
And I prefer browned potato chunks instead of small cubes.

Heavenly with a cup of milk tea at one of the back booths, when the place was crowded and filled with people snarfing down goodies. Even if some of them were Northerners who didn't understand any of this Southern muck, or tourists limiting themselves to everything sweet and sour over fried rice.

The number of chachanteng in this part of the city has diminished, and Chinatown is changing. It's shrinking, becoming more white, and more acceptable to whites.
Immigrants are going elsewhere, we have tech bros now.


Someone recently mentioned the Dragon Ball Bakery (龍珠餅店), Kowloon branch, on Shanghai Street in Yaumatei. That may have been pursuant my flip comment that in most of HK you are never far from a Seven Eleven. There is, in fact, one right next door from the bakery, and another around the corner on Portland Street. Plus one on Dundas Street, one on Reclamation Street, and on Hamilton, and Pitt.

See, that actually proves that Chinatown is nothing like Hong Kong. There are no Seven Elevens here. The nearest ones are in the Financial District, so that the suburbanites won't panic.

In Hong Kong, Seven Elevens are as familiar as submachine guns in Honduras. Hector would know.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Did I watch the State of the Union? No. Unlike Right Wing Scum and Christian Fundamentalists, I have no need to kiss bullshit's arse.

Instead I took a nap.

A complete breakdown of the spew will be available tomorrow, and there is no doubt that the rightwingers at work will be gushing when I go back on Thursday. A few of them will probably be sopping wet in the groin.
I have no doubt that Trump grabbed them right there.
Weak-brained ignorant bastards.

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Little White Nipple Dude asked me what I thought was the best Indian dish. Probably because Indian food is so limited, and he wishes to try it so that he can counter or comment on my opinion. I mentioned the potatoes with fried dried chilies in a toasted cumin butter cream sauce, accompanied by fresh naan, that Jheet Singh used to prepare for me late in the evening. But there is also Roghan Josh, wich isn't really Indian -- the words 'ravgan' and 'josh' are Perso-Urdu, and translate as grease frazzle -- but Kashmiri and partly Afghan. The genuine article is quite different from anything an Indian restaurant does, just like restaurant versions of Vindaloo, Jalfrezi, and Dhansak. Which are meaningless menu terms in most cases.
But without fresh hot roti, all of this is pointless.
Naan, kulcha, rumali, or chapati.

And of course some achaar.

Most northerners would probably want a bowl of yoghurt, lentils ka tarka, and a vegetable dish (sabji) along with, or instead of. And would choose a different meal than a gaura.

Little White Nipple Dude was baffled by the time I mentioned 'ghee' in the toasted cumin butter cream sauce, zoned out entirely when I spoke of roti, and now will probably never talk to me again about Indian food. Which is excellent -- his conversation lacks 'spice' -- but I didn't even get to mention Mirch ka salan, Katal muzaffar, Biriani, Awadhi shami kabab, Navrattan korma, Sarson da saag, Dam pukht, or other delights.

Somehow, I have hobbled Little white Nipple Dude yet again. It's become an unfortunate habit. Because he's a nice enough chappie, and inoffensive.
With far too many fancy lighters which he keeps flicking, to the consternation of his imaginary wife and daughter.

He once snipped off someone's thumb with a cigar cutter.

And dated a girl. Who didn't show up.

A harmless man.

Here, for nearly no reason, is an illustrative video.



It's surprisingly relevant. Life is like that.
His life. Not mine.

Ich habe absolut keinen affen dabei.

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The mid-night snack was snippered Schwarzwälder speck, stalky mustard greens, a dozen fresh red birdseye chilies, and challah croutons, all parch-fried till dark and crusty, with a modicum of salt and spices.
Normally I abjure fresh red birdseyes.
But they winked at me so.
I bought a bag.

For every rasher of bacon you fry up, several Vegan angels die. If you add chopped hot chilies, so do hipsters. Plus the challah croutons, you also hurt and offend gluten-phobes, hysterics, the Berkeley wicca minyan, and any number of moonbeams.

I had ice-cream afterwards. Lactose!

Oh, the humanity!

I should have removed the seeds.

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Monday, January 29, 2018


During tomorrow's State of the Union Address, all eyes will be on an impossibly busty blonde and her orange-faced lover. And several of us will frankly admit that we more keenly await her analysis than any pundits', because she is more familiar with the pudgy-fingered one's thought processes than the standard Washingtonian commentators.
Who are "textbook, and generic".

Now, if anybody thinks I am referring to our very respected president, the leader of the greatest democracy on earth, example for millions struggling to breathe free, they have a dirty mind.

Far be it from me to speculate about his sleazy sexual shenanigans.

Or any of his sleazy shenanigans.

Or Stormy Daniels.

" ... porn star --- $130,000 before the election ..."

Like many people, I had never heard of Ms. Daniels till about a week or two ago. I do not move in rarefied circles. But I'm sure that precisely like Paris Hilton's insides the cognoscenti were quite familiar.

She will not be present anywhere near the State of the Union speech, as she's been invited onto the Jimmy Kimmel show.
Which is much more important.

Rumour has it that Steve Bannon will be lurking about Washington D.C., however, possibly with a Luger P08 or Walther P38 in his shoulder holster, trying to dodge Jews and Freemasons while he visits a former employer.

BTW: Donkey Rump's sleazy sexual shenanigans have already yielded remarkable results: several offspring, Christians creaming in their panties, bigly, AND the Russians are now closer to us than ever before.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018


The other day I told someone that if they were coming back to the parking lot later that night, so that one of them could drive his own car home, they should be careful and keep their eyes open. "Why, is it dangerous?"
I answered with one word: "Werewolves!"

Most people are literalists.

As a direct result, I got to hear in detail about fail-safe survival plans for the coming zombie apocalypse, which will be happening soon. Seeing as those plans did not involve cornering a supply of cookies that would last till it was over, I wasn't really interested.

Why survive a zombie apocalypse if there are no cookies?

Fresh brains are not an adequate substitute.

1662, 1688, or 1693

And related thereto, please picture the following, back in the age of sail: several English gentlemen, after a long stint at sea, land on a small island and get fed a sumptuous feast, the star of which is fine large fatty bird, brined and roasted to perfection. Why, it is delicious! It is the best bird they have ever eaten! Even taking the boring shipboard diet of the past several months into account, they all later agree that this was a most splendid fowl. So the next day they ask their host, a Dutch innkeeper, what was it, where can it be found, they must have more!
He smiles, and says "so sorry, a dodo, and that was the last one".
Subtext: 'No more for you, we ate all the others'.

It's true. We Dutch ate the dodo.
And they were delicious!

We also invented the cookie. I know that doesn't make up for the dodo, but it's far better than a zombie, and not likely to apocalypize.
You Anglos are responsible for that.

It can't be coincidence that zombies entered popular culture at the same time that millennials discovered gluten-phobia, vegetarianism, rawtarianism, and quinoa. Sort of a negative food-fetish, to go along with all that special diet nonsense. Very bourgeois Anglo, very silly.

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How very disappointing! I was quite looking forward to some congee this evening when I return from Marin, but the dried oysters (蠔豉 'ho si') have developed mold! They are now in the garbage, and today's dinner prospects have dimmed. It was probably not a good idea to purchase them during the rains a few weeks ago.....

Still, with slightly over two weeks to go before New Year, there should be an abundant supply in the shops along Stockton Street. Once my work week is over, I'll check that new shop where Ivy's (大發人參海味行 'daai faat yan sam hoi mei hong') was three years ago. Nice big dried oysters!

A neat-o shortcut when making congee is to use the blender. If you're in a hurry, it saves you hours of slow simmering. But I was going to put the oysters to soak in the refrigerator till I came home.
For that there is no make-shift.

This year, what with being a single and solitary man, I think preparing ho si fat choi (好事發財) might be overkill. But hair vegetable added to dried oyster and lean pork congee would be a nice touch.

Simple, too, and in it's own way elegant.

My apartment mate might like it.

Festive comfort food.

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Saturday, January 27, 2018


My fingers still smell like ginger, and my apartment mate won't be able to enter the kitchen for a while. Even if she wanted to. She's currently dozing in her room after what I believe to have been a restful day doing nearly nothing. Which was probably exactly what she needed. What with overtime, she did five very long days this week, and is a little pooped.
I only work four days.
Me no poop.

Anyhow, in preparing my dinner this evening, I used ginger, scallion, chilies, tamarind, and fish paste. Lots of chilies. My apartment mate is Cantonese, chilies are somewhat of a foreign item to her. Which means that the fumes will keep her out of the kitchen till the air clears.

Which wasn't my plan. But if she continues resting in her room, that's actually okay.

Yesterday she subjected me to a long rant about irritating bossy Filipinas at work, neurotics, and nuts. Nearly an hour. I thought it was over when she went to brush her teeth, but a yelp from the bathroom shattered the calm.

"Toad, why is there a small round turd in the trash?!?"

Perhaps I should point out now that without her glasses she can't see very well. Everytime I have reminded her of this, she brings up the time I read the destination on a bus as 'Blitspah', when it actually said '15 Third'. There is NO blitspah here. But it was six blocks away on a cold night, and one's eyes might not fully function 100% at those moments.

What she indignantly identified as a 'small round turd' was actually a cigar butt from earlier in the day. Yes, it does sort of look vaguely turdish, if you squint and the light is just so. Or aren't wearing your glasses.
But to speculate irresponsibly about doddering old geezers taking wild aim with their behinds and missing is not nice, and totally uncalled for.
A fantastic and slanderous calumny. Cruel, even paranoid.
I am not old. We are barely eight years apart.
Both of us are only middle-aged.
Nor do I dodder.

Even from several feet away, it looks like a cigar.
Only a cigar. Unmistakably a cigar.
A very good cigar.

She's never really forgiven me for the time I surprised her with durian. She recoiled, yelling that it was vile and horrible, she couldn't wait to meet my uncle and aunt so she could tell them I was doing alien autopsies, I was a right degenerate, and get that frightful thing out of here! Evil fruit!
Then she moved the refrigerator in front of the kitchen door so I couldn't get back in.

We have a somewhat adversarial relationship when it comes to the kitchen.
I may not use it when she's cooking up something to take over to her boyfriend's place, and when I'm making anything with chilies she stays out. There were a lot of chilies in my tamarind meat noodles soup.
Cut very coarse, and fried till fragrant before adding.
Precisely what she cannot tolerate.
It makes her sneeze.

Dinner was exceptionally good this evening.

And quiet.

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Friday, January 26, 2018


By the time I started on my third cup of coffee I had two pipe tampers and an engraving tool in my bathrobe pocket. All of which had not been there when I got up. This is not normal, and I'm blaming the goblins. Or elves.

One of the gentlemen that I occasionally see blames the Clinton Foundation and the Russians for fracking in Marin, and believes that the government is tracking him using his cellphone, which is why he takes out the batteries when it's not in use. He also eschews electronic watches for the same reason. Trump is part of the secret world government and in cahoots.

If I were a mean sort, I would place a piece of paper under his windshield wiper with the statement "we are listening" in plain block letters, all caps, no punctuation.

I have not asked him about the secret world government to which he made reference, nor for any details about cahoots. It was bad enough that he volunteered the information (at very great length) about the Clinton Foundation, and I didn't want to hear about his cellphone either.

I live in San Francisco.
He isn't unique.

The other evening there was a fracas among the residentially challenged in one of the alleys in North Beach. Earlier, when my friend the bookseller and I had wandered past, the only person there was having a psychotic episode, spreading her spare clothing in an ever widening arc. Naturally we paid it no mind, as the alley attracts that kind of thing, along with artistic types, guitars, and meaningful people.

An hour later, that alleyway attracted five or six flashing squad cars and two policemen cocking shotguns as they hurried in.

They came too late, as the only person still there was a raggedy man having a psychotic episode of his very own.

If you think about it, the main reason to wear a tinfoil helmet in San Francisco is to tune out other people's psychotic episodes. We can frazzle ourselves to bits without any input from Trump, the FBI and their mind-listening devices, or the Russians plotting frack.
We've got elves. And goblins.
And pot is legal now.
We're fried.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018


They're all kind of nuts, but mostly harmless. Except for their mouths.
They had all gone up to Las Vegas for buddy-buddy stuff, bunking together, stripper-poles, cigars, and hail-fellow-well-met intoxication, and they came back chastened, but without incriminating video tapes.
As someone who did not go explained, "they have short attention spans".
Which is true; most of them can't remember what they ate for lunch.
So I'm guessing they forgot to press the 'on' switch.
Or buy batteries before the flight.

Besides, no one really wants to see pudgy middle-aged suburbanites behaving badly. Or any fleshy suburban vintage, really. I envision all of them needing a "Little Dromedary Personal Mobility Scooter" in another twenty years or so, plus help peeing.

Their greatest energy expenditure, and pretty much the only exercise all of them get, is disagreeing with each other, often over minor matters, and stuff they know nothing about.

Hence the following overheard this afternoon:

"I think everyone will disagree with that stupid statement."

"You have too much confidence in them. Sorry."

No, I did not bother to ask what that was all about. I have no doubt the statement was indeed stupid. These men were trying to make a case for creationism two weeks ago, and are still talking about Benghazi. No wonder the dog that accompanies one of them always looks at me with desperation in her eyes. She's heard the same nonsense from this crowd for months and had to endure their lack of intellect every day. She has a very soulful expression on her face whenever we make eye-contact.

All I can do for her is give her a cookie.

She doesn't smoke, so no cigar.

Nor a cocktail either.

No hands.


It's currently forty five minutes past one o'clock in Hong Kong. All day long, the South China Coast has been fifteen hours ahead of us. Aside from slightly warmer temperatures, the weather is much like the Bay Area at present. And also sort of rainy.

But they are fifteen hours ahead.

We'll never catch up.

If I had mentioned this to the men in the lounge, they would have disagreed with me. Without bothering to check anything, because, after all, someone has to be wrong. They are convinced of that.

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One thing I have not failed to notice is that my apartment mate does not spend an hour or two outside smoking a pipe. Which explains a lot. For one thing, she doesn't smoke a pipe, for another, that's why the socks she gave me for Hanukkah are too thin. And in combination with my worn-out shoes, they utterly fail to keep my tootsies warm in rainy winter weather.
The conclusions is obvious: that girl needs to smoke a pipe.
Either we both get to stay in, or thicker socks.

She'll probably clout me if I suggest it.

I have no wish to be clobbered.

Small, but fierce.

Yesterday it rained, and by late afternoon it was getting colder. When I left the house for dinner in Chinatown, naturally my feet got wet.

The grandma that tends the front of the restaurant when her daughter and grand-daughter are out speaks something from beyond Toisan, and though she understands Cantonese, sometimes because of what she mis-heard, she may jump to conclusions. Especially with Caucasians. Consequently I had to correct her before it was too late: 'leung gwa paan kau faan' (涼瓜班球飯) instead of 'leung gwa ngau yiuk faan' (涼瓜牛肉飯).
Bitter melon with fish collops over rice.
Not bitter melon beef rice.
White customer?

[In Hong Kong, the same dish is often called 涼瓜班腩飯 ('leung gwa paan naam faan'). Either way, Americans are not known as great fish eaters ... ]

What dialect is it that turns 'gwa' into 'kaa', and 'ngau yiuk' into 'hoh ngeuk'?
I'm guessing it's peripheral to the country districts immediately surrounding Guangzhou, because most of their customers are either Toishanese or urban Cantonese, some from Hong Kong. She probably speaks better Mandarin than I could manage, because she's always avidly watching soap operas in the afternoon on a small television.

Her little grand-daughter came in while I was happily sploodging sambal onto my fish, and removed her shoes, which were sopping wet. Small and pretty feet. She then put on her mom's shoes (room to spare), and started doing her homework. She remembers me, but does not feel comfortable disturbing 'uncle smelly pipe smoker' when he's stuffing his face.

[Even though it was dark outside, it was my breakfast. I had quite forgotten to eat earlier, and was ravenous.]

Uncle smelly pipe smoker finished his meal, then went out to enjoy some tobacco. It was raining harder than ever. My feet ended up soaked and freezing, and near the end of the bowl tremors were setting in.
All in all, it was a good evening.

Uncle smelly pipe smoker recommends eating in Chinatown.

Food food.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018


On a forum for pipe smokers, a newcomer asked for recommendations on pipe smoking kits for beginners. I did not say what I really wanted to say, namely that such things are pretty damned horrible, and more gimmick than substance. The Danes are the worst offenders because they also provide "filtering crystals" or similar crap.

Buy a pipe of decent quality that feels right in the hand and looks like something which two or three years from now you'll still be pleased to own. Avoid extroverted shapes, instead go for something fuddy-duddy. Also get a tamper (three piece tool), a packet of cleaners, and for experimentation, two or three pouches of a 'house' tobacco, those being mostly the bulk blends from big manufacturers that tobacco shops purchase in five pound bags, repackage with their own label, and pretend that a tribe of enslaved natives they keep in the backroom laboriously make for them.
One decent Virginia and Perique blend.
One decent Balkan.

[Lane, Scandinavian Tobacco, MacBarens, Sutliff, Peter Stokkebye, McClelland, and Cornell & Diehl all sell in bulk to the trade, among others.]

Virginia-Perique mixtures (including flakes, spun cuts, and pure Virginia nothing else) must be smoked slow, on the cusp of going out. Do not heat them up. You can set the pipe aside for a while and relight later, there will be scant flavour degradation. They are subtle, and need thoughtfulness.
If hot-boxed, they'll bite like a weasel.

Balkans are great fun to blow through an entire bowl at a sitting, but the more often you relight the more they taste like a tire fire; only fill up as much as you intend to finish.

Do not smoke aromatics. They burn hot and wet, and there's all kinds of crap in them that should not be added to decent leaf.

Cruise junk shops for pipes that aren't Kaywoodie or Dr. Grabow, which seem to be in decent shape under the gunk. Then read up on cleaning pipes (alcohol, salt cure, buffing, etcetera), plus re-topping (if the rim is banged or worn). Always look up the brands on Pipepedia. When cleaning up used clunkers, fill the heat fissures that become apparent after reaming out the excess carbon with pipe mud (I use a solution of whisky, finely ground soot and carbon, plus a lesser amount of sugar, thinly applied, multiple layers; it has to 'flow'), and above all keep edges sharp -- rims, lines, corners, bevels. You will be surprised at how many pipes will come back from the dead.

If you smoke one or two bowls a day, you will soon need four or five pipes. The initial outlay may seem much, especially if the baby needs diapers and the kid wants a car, but factored over time it will not be extraordinary. If you bought a Savinelli or Peterson for two to four hundred dollars, consider that for a five year period that would only be less than a quarter a day. The same applies if you're only experimenting to see whether you like the past-time, even for only a year or two, at one hundred to two hundred dollars for a half-way decent briar.

But you will need several. Briar needs to rest, the complex chemicals that are deposited in the carbon layer need to break down and dissipate, the moisture created by combustion must have a chance to dry out.

Dunhills, Charatans, or Comoy Blue Ribands will set you back quite a bit. Keep your eyes open, though, because they will become worth it if you continue.

Look at lots of pipe-porn: photos, shape charts, pictures of satisfied people with a pipe in their mouths, old advertising material, pamphlets, close-ups of woodgrain ..... this will, without you even realizing it, sharpen your eye and help form your tastes in shapes and brands.

Try to smoke a bowl all the way down, but don't get neurotic about it; the most common heat fissure is the little crack that can develop near the air hole when constantly relighting to smoke that last little bit at the bottom.
It's better to discard a few soggy shreds of unsmoked tobacco instead.

The past-time should be enjoyable; put the pipe down if it isn't.
If necessary, clean out the bowl and let it rest.

The hardest thing is finding relatives who will put up with your eccentricity. There will always be that prissy Chinese American office manager who says "oh don't light that, we have some cigarettes that the last junior filing clerk left, and go sit over near the blue-print machine with all the other weirdoes". Or someone who will offer you tofu jerky to chew on (it's broccoli flavoured) so you wean yourself of a dependency on the evil people in Big Tobacco.
Avoid gyms and healthclubs. They frown on smoking.
Above all, purchase an umbrella.


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Tuesday, January 23, 2018


After half a year I have finally updated the Pipe Tobacco List. Everything since the end of June has been added, with links and brief descriptions of the essays. This may thrill some people.
But probably not most.
It's obsessive.

The following are now included there:

Saturday, July 1, 2017
Middle aged men taking a leak, and other events at work.
Pipe smokers, cigar smokers, crack smokers.
Futsing with meerschaum.

Sunday, July 2, 2017
Product review.

Sunday, July 2, 2017
Product review.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Janneman: A Netherlandish pipesmoker and ephemerist. In Dutch.
Whom I first encountered on Dutch Pipe Smoker.
Who writes in English.

Thursday, July 27, 2017
Something about a famous pipe brand.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Stonehenge Flake, hot temperatures elsewhere, and geraniums.
There is NO chocolate in this lovely product.
Despite what some people claim.
They're idiots.

Sunday, August 13, 2017
Ten pipe smokers and a tub of hummus.
A meeting of the pipe club.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Everybody has a list of the pipe tobaccos all newbies must try. This is mine, with critical comment, because some pipe tobaccos are vile beyond belief.

Saturday, October 14, 2017
Review of celebrating yet another birthday, which was yesterday.
October 13. Shan't mention the year.
It's not important.

Sunday, October 15, 2017
A screed against the frightful puritans who have taken over our world, and are determined to make us all live better and cleaner lives. Some of us still like to smoke, drink, carry on, and miss bath time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
"The horrid funk of Hobbit wannabees".
Versus neat little beard.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Late night, and a blend I am smoking again.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Answers, recommendations, and frogs.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Late night pub crawl, Latakia tobacco, creosote aroma.
Terpeneols are very important in this essay.
I don't think the bookseller cares.

Sunday, November 5, 2017
A woman taught me more about pipe smoking than anyone else.
I don't know what happened to her and several others.
Last time we met was a long time ago.

Saturday, November 18, 2017
"For a few years I would head over to the cigar bar on a Saturday night to smoke my pipe and enjoy some conversation. But it is very hard to discuss anything except balls when everyone is yowling at the screen and checking their cell-phones, and there are many more people there now, doing precisely and only that."

Sunday, November 19, 2017
Smoke here.

Sunday, November 19, 2017
Brief mention of the pipe club.
Four bottles of wine.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Turkey, neuroses, pipes, and 1Q.
Which is shitty tobacco.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Heatfissures, and re-caking. Pipemud.
Please do not hotbox.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Day off. What others are doing where they are. Coffee.
Books and stuffed animals.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
"Sweet, not dissimilar to Drucquer's Red Lion or the current iteration of Dunhill's Baby's Bottom (BB 1938), pleasant smoking and smooth.
Also spicy, with a nice level of creosote.
And: 'umgebung'.

Monday, December 25, 2017
The solitary badger at Christmas.
We weird white people.

Sunday, December 31, 2017
Pipe tobacco with a hint of clove: J. F. Germain's Plum Cake Mixture, Astley's No. 2 Mixture, and Samuel Gawith's Westmorland Mixture.
All three are very fine products.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Smoke in the teevee room long after midnight.
Do NOT smoke in front of Miriwa.
Angry security guard.

Friday, January 5, 2018
She needs a cigar.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Smoking a pipe quietly by myself late in the evening.
In the downstairs portico of a tavern.
It's raining a bit.

Sunday, January 14, 2018
Pipe club day, little white nipple guy, and the theory of relativity.

Friday, January 19, 2018
Telegraph Hill, a tobacco by Greg Pease.
Late night in San Francisco.
Very good indeed.

Saturday, January 20, 2018
Perfectly reasonable fury at the anti-smokers.
They may cripple me yet.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Several pipes, a few blends, one invitation.


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Other than the three briars which I worked on at home I did no pipe restoration work last week. Other things got in the way, so all of that has been postponed to the coming work week. But on the plus side, the gang of loud and dissolute cigar smokers normally in the lounge was largely absent, because they headed to Vegas for the game, strippers, and sharing rooms.
So I look forward to them sharing embarrassing videos.
Which they will then be embarrassed about.
Cigar smokers have no restraint.

I finally got to try Greg Pease's Renaissance, of which there was a re-issue when some more Syrian Latakia was found. Which was absolutely divine.
It's not a Lat bomb, but more of a delightful Balkan, and reminded me of both Drucquer's Blend 805 as well as one of my own concoctions.
Which I shall bring in for Tom to try next Monday.

Other tobaccos I smoked the past fortnight, while at work, in Chinatown after snacks and milk tea, wandering around my neighborhood late at night or lurking in the portico of the karaoke bar, and surreptitiously lighting one up after midnight while the apartment mate is fast asleep in her room and not consciously smelling anything:
Laurel Heights, by Greg Pease.
Telegraph Hill, by Greg Pease.
Gawith's Saint James.
Luxury Bullseye.

And one of my own mixtures, mostly Virginias, a little Burley, 4% Perique.
Which I shall light up later today after a lunch snack.
One of the old Canadians awaits it.


The recipe dates from two years ago, and I mentioned to Tom that it's a blend of which I love the room note, but as the person on the mouth end of the pipe I don't get to just smell that. Ideally I would tempt some fine young thing or things into smoking it in my vicinity when I'm not in a place where my sense of smell has been deadened by cigars before noon.

A very precise perversion, I'm afraid.

"Come hither, younger person, I have tobacco! Here, smoke this between five and approximately twenty five feet away from me, slowly and silently while reading.
I shall circle around you breathing deeply.
Through my nose!"

Yeah, no. Propositioning anyone like that would definitely get me locked up. Irrespective of their gender, age, or reading preferences. Because, as we all know, tobacco is EVIL. Unlike Marijuana, which California has recently legalized. That's grown by little green men in the Amazon Rainforest, who recycle everything and hug dolphins.

The five and approximately twenty five feet distance is to allow the smoke to interact with the air, which causes chemical changes and yields that lovely fragrance which everyone remembers from when their father came home in the evening, or on weekends when an uncle came to visit .....
Classrooms, study session, the distant sounds of puttering about, the click of chess pieces, crickets in the courtyard on summer nights .....
It's a remembrance device.

You will naturally understand that the smell -- putrid reek -- of medicinal or recreational drug use does not do anything for me. There are no good memories with which I can associate that, weed quite frankly stinks, and the behaviour of stoned people is anything but endearing.
Pot heads act like dingoes.
And smell worse.

Actually, I'll bring in the blend of which Renaissance reminded me all of the coming week at work -- Thursday through Monday -- because I wish Martin and Neal to try it too, as I am keen to hear their reviews. I think they'll like it.
I'll probably be able to finish the pipes I started working on nine days ago.
Stems and a bit of polish.
It's cake.


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Monday, January 22, 2018


There are some folks who are born to sing. And then there are some folks where you go "oh lordy let me take that EVIL microphone away from you". And, honestly, I don't hang around in karaoke bars for the singing. No one in their right mind does. I hang around one particular karaoke bar because it's almost spitting distance from my apartment, and no one objects if I spend a while in the downstairs portico with my pipe and tobacco.

Which, last night, was a no name Canadian of stupendously ancient briar, and Greg Pease's 'Laurel Heights. It's a tobacco blend that makes basic red Virginia sing, better than the chantoosies upstairs.

Who almost uniformly chose off songs.

"Hey O.G., has it been like this all evening?"

"Yeah. Nothing but drunks, weirdoes, and squawling."

I have no idea why he calls me O.G. In Tongan, Oji means finished, over, done with. Which does not apply to me. But to the songs, probably appropriate, or wishful. Lordy, let it be over!

[It's probably short for 'Old Guy'.]

All I could think of for most of the fifty minutes I spent there was that it was nine hours later in Holland, fifteen hours later in Hong Kong. Which meant that some people were just getting up, others were almost ready for afternoon tea.

The entire history of deservedly forgotten music.
For a minimum expense.

One Scotch.

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Sunday, January 21, 2018


In another fortnight, millions of viewers will be watching the Superbowl. In all honesty, I have to say that you are all idiots. American Football is a fairly moronic game, and probably less interesting than watching paint dry.

It's also homo-erotic.

Possibly that's good.

I imagine that several of you will be eating horrid food at the same time.
And drinking beer of some sort.

There is only ONE edible thing I associate with the Superbowl.
Doritos. Goat Doritos.

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What I realized the other night, while eating my late hour snack of stirfried stalky mustard, bacon, curry paste, and peppers, was that there was no one with whom I could share my snack of stirfried stalky mustard, bacon, curry paste, and peppers. which, if you think about it, is sad. But on the other hand, my former significant other was not a person with whom to share stirfried stalky mustard, bacon, curry paste, and peppers
She habitually went to bed early.

At around eleven thirty she would be asleep.

Hypothetically, I could wake her up for stirfried stalky mustard, bacon, curry paste, and peppers. She's in the other room, sleeping, because we've been friends for years, and we trust each other. But she wouldn't like stirfried stalky mustard, bacon, curry paste, and peppers anyway.

Alas, I may be the only person in my immediate circle who likes and would eat stirfried stalky mustard, bacon, curry paste, and peppers.
I also added fish sauce for good measure.

The starch component, in case you are wondering, was challah. She bought it. It's a Jewish thing, associated with the sabbath, wich was yesterday.
No, she didn't make it herself. She's Chinese. Canto-American.
Chinese people by and large do not bake challah.

Neither of us have any reason to keep kosher or maintain a vegetarian or vegan kitchen. That's another reason to appreciate the current apartment mate situation, because in SF the alternatives are drugged-out food phobics who don't do their dishes, and will steal your stuff for crack funds.
Psychos, schizos, and precious people.

She antisocial, painfully shy, not confident around humans, avoids other people, and likely to talk in a Jamaican accent, like Urasmus the one-legged monkey, or bleat delightedly like Angus the she-sheep.
But she regularly buys icecream.
And she's sane.

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Saturday, January 20, 2018


Yesterday afternoon I wandered around with my groceries and a pipe filled with tobacco. Lunch had been cheap and fabulous -- pork siumai (豬肉燒賣 'chyu yiuk siu mai'), chive dumpling (韭菜餃 'gau choi gaau'), spinach dumpling (菠菜餃 'po choi gaau'), and potstickers (鍋貼 'wo tip'), all drizzled liberally with fried pepper oil (辣油 'laat yau') -- and the pipe was filled with one of Greg Pease's lovely mixtures.

So far, so good.


. . .

Raynaud syndrome.

A shocking death-pallor in the fingers. No bloodflow, tingly numbness.
Brought on by cold (!) temperatures.

Per Wikipedia:

The primary treatment is avoiding the cold. Other measures include the discontinuation of nicotine or stimulants use. Medications for treatment of cases that do not improve include calcium channel blockers and iloprost. Little evidence supports alternative medicine. Severe disease may rarely be complicated by skin sores or gangrene.

About 4% of people have the condition. Onset of the primary form is typically between ages 15 and 30 and occurs more frequently in females. The secondary form usually affects older people. Both forms are more common in cold climates. It is named after the French physician Maurice Raynaud, who described the condition in 1862.

[End cite.]

See that? The PRIMARY treatment is avoiding the cold. Which, because smokers in this bitch of a city are chased out into the elements, is utterly impossible. And while avoiding Starbucks is easy, because they suck, one still requires hot beverages. The more so to warm up the hands which are freezing because you folks forced us all into the howling snowdrifts.

You heartless mothers want me to die of gangrene, is it?
Do-gooder health nut scum.

Just for that, I'm not telling you where any of the tasty stuff (豬肉燒賣,韭菜餃,菠菜餃,鍋貼,辣油) can be got.

The fried pepper oil is exquisite.

Please rest assured that any children passing by were VERY impressed by how cool and exciting the whole process of tamping and puffing looked, as well as the dashing beauty of it all, and were suitably awe-struck. They will emulate us hip tobacco fiends when they get old enough to fake legal age, and because you banned flavoured tobacco, they will have no choice but to start with the good stuff: high quality English mixtures or Virginia blends that might contain Perique, with their old-timey fragrances.
The smells that bring back memories.

If any young person were to ask me what I'm smoking, I'll be sure to tell them, and how they can get their anxious little hands on some.

BTW: I don't smoke outside during school hours.
But only when I'm airing out the apartment.
Before the other occupant comes home.

Many little kiddies saw it.
It was fascinating!
Oh my, a pipe!



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Friday, January 19, 2018


Something somebody said elsewhere got me rereading about Old Church Slavonic, the Glagolithic alphabet, and political developments in Eastern Europe, adjacent to the Greek and Roman world, during the Middle-Ages.
Which is the kind of stuff I like to do in the morning on a day off, while the apartment is quiet, and I'm enjoying my first or second pipe of the day.

On working days, the first or second smoke of the day does not take place until I'm in Marin. And even then waits till an opportune time. The chances of reading about Old Church Slavonic or any other remarkable subject is limited there, but I am lucky that smoking indoors is possible.
There are no tobacco-hating poofballs to trigger.
Nor anti-everything Vegans.

Unfortunately, discussing subjects of any interest (to me) is likely to lead either to great blithering bafflement on the part of others ("good lord, what is he on about now?"), OR, but rarely, a flash of voluble insights, like a tidal flood of conversation, that interrupts work and drives others up the wall.

I am sorry, I cannot talk about sports, except to sneer.
And I do not wish to discuss politics.
Not with morons.

Any discussion of antique languages must, inevitably, at some point bring up Bernhard Karlgren, if only as an echo in the mind. There is almost no one I know in the real world who might find this interesting, though several internet friends -- one of whom used to be "real world" until he moved to Boston to be one with beans and cod -- could join the conversation.
They all have their own linguistic things going on.
Several of them also smoke pipes.
Think Venn Diagram.

Dutch, Yiddish, Judeo-Netherlandish, Gaelic, Slavic, Semitische Sprachen, Graekish, Romance languages, Sanskritic oddments, Sinitic tongues, and Maleo-Polynesian. More Talmud, not so much Tolkien.
Probably not a churchwarden in the bunch.
No elves.

One person, not a friend, is a Dutch-able English-writing Jewish Tibetanist language scholar who knows Chinese. I have not "friended" him, because though our interaction terminated on a pleasant note, he is a very private man, and extremely easily irritated by gooberism.

One other is simply an angry Chinese Jew.
No, not FeeBee friended either.

Neither of those two gentlemen will likely ever see this essay. But the able Talmudist in Switzerland, the healthcare professional in Florida, and the tax expert in Boston might. Coincidentally, they also smoke pipes.

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At this late hour, I could go into Facebook to be inspired and outraged, or perhaps visit Bob's Donuts around the corner (inspiterashun, outerage, and SUGAR!). But I shall control myself. Just one more pipeful of Pease's "Telegraph Hill" mixture, plus all the pills a geezer needs, and what transpired at the nearby karaoke joint near closing time.

Three gentlemen. All employees of the place. Let's call them 'Sponge-Bubba', 'Dill-waddle', and 'Tweekitie'. Because I do not wish to be sued.
Slightly drunk but serious; not drunk at all; plastered out of his pants.
Respectively; Sponge-Bubba, Dill-waddle, and Tweekitie.
Argument over shifts, especially Wednesday.
It's chanson-o-riffic!

Myself, I have never been able to get behind karaoke, and only go there so I can lurk outside smoking my pipe and contemplating the mysteries of the universe while streetwalkers, drunken frat boys, elderly Chinese, and transvesties parade past.

TELEGRAPH HILL: A sturdy foundation of Virginia tobaccos, each chosen for its particular characteristics, enhanced with a dab of Perique.
Bla bla bla, and don't worry about earthquakes!

Sponge Bubba is upset about something, and will commit physicality with "L" after he leaves. Dill-waddle has a dog to go home to, and is severely influenced by various medications prescribed following a bad bout with pneumonia. Tweekitie has been there for nearly twelve hours; four hour shift, eight hour drinko.

I'm there just to enjoy the last penultimate pipe-full of the day.

According to various people, I rock that pipe, that pipe is awesome dude, and tudely balls pipe oh yes, plus "hella cool".

Again, that's 'Telegraph Hill'. If your tobacconist is up for experimenting, try one part Perique, one part Kentucky fire-cured, and thirty parts flue-cured, roughly divided between cake, blonde ribbon, and red.
Steam it for an hour, more or less.
Or age it for a fortnight.
And jar it.

[Please note: the proportions above will get you something in the same vein, though less smoky. It's a good start for blending, and you can develop variations from there. For such a product, do not smoke fast, but puff in merest whisps.]

I'm not sure what any of this means. I was actually planning to write about fruity adolescents, but I got sidetracked. A bit.

Adolescents try my patience.

Other men cruise the inernet for pornography and kitten pictures late at night. I smoke a complete bowlful of mostly flue-cured leaf while reconsidering the events of the day. Life is grand.

I bemoan the state of the universe.
You should too.


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Thursday, January 18, 2018


Yesterday I went out for drinks and nibbling with some old friends from the toy company. This post was going to be about that, happily kvelling and stuff, but when I got home last night I went onto Facebook.

Two things.

Numbah one: Circumcision, according to someone, is the equivalent of Female Genital Mutilation.

Numbah two: A dickhead on the internet, don't know who, is convinced that Black, Latinos, (Feminist) women, Muslims, and (Liberal) Jews, are all intent on wiping out my country, my culture, and my race.
And waging total war to effect that.

If anyone is waging war on my country, my culture, and my race, it's the idiots in Trump's America, as well as the traumatized little self-absorbed pussies wailing about circumcision.

Stop thinking about my equipment. I am perfectly happy the way snippity snip made me.

And my culture, for what it's worth, is in no danger of ever being wiped out. There aren't enough pale complected illiterates to turn the whole country into Trailerparkistan.

I had a great time last night. All the members present were circumcised and liberal, and outnumbered by self-confident women who had no interest whatsoever in that aspect of us, OR waging total war against whatever we represented. Two of them are in fact married to white men, about the condition of whose regenerative organs none of us have ever asked.
Their petzlech, country, culture, and ethnicity just haven't come up.

That they are white is just an assumption; for all anyone knows they could be mutilated and angry black feminist lesbians.
Or Muslims, liberals, and Jews.
Of any gender.
Or race.

My culturally dominant cut Caucasian Peter was not mentioned, and that leaves me neither traumatized nor feeling threatened.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018


This blogger is not 'English-monolingual'. Besides English, I also speak and read Dutch and other languages. Which does not mean that I am more intelligent than you, but that my access to other data is a little larger, so consequently I sometimes have a slightly broader perspective on affairs of the world. Because, as has probably already been rubbed in, those canny Netherlanders know everything that is worth knowing and have strong opinions about all of it. Which they will put on the internet.
Please pay attention. At great length.

As is I frequently do, I visited Dutch newspaper sites today.

Two items which Americans really must know.

1. Hawaiians watch porn. Specifically, after the recent missile scare they massively went onto their computers to view smutty business, causing a spike of nearly fifty percent shortly after nine in the morning on the Pornohub site.
It had earlier dropped 77%, because when you are about to snuff it your first thoughts naturally are to quickly shove the kids in the sewer and the cats into a closet, then to consider whether you want to perish next to your smelly brats or pissed-off pets.

[SOURCE: Hawaï kijkt massaal porno na ’vals alarm’ - De Telegraaf.]

2. Young Chinese adults on the mainland are sniffing their cats. The article on the Telegraaf website claimed that this is popular in a particular city named Zhihu, but it turns out that the Zhihu they referenced was actually a popular website named Zhihu (知乎 'ji wu'), and that modern China massively loves felines.
Which is normal. The sniffing part is a bit queer, though.

[SOURCES: Nieuwe rage Chinese jeugd: aan katten ruiken and Across China: China's youth obsessed by cat sniffing - Xinhuanet. See also: Wikipedia.]

All of this makes complete sense.

The world relies on the internet for sex, cats, and Steve Bannon.
At least one of those three, obsessively all the time.
Until the internet I didn't know about them.
Now I can't tear my eyes away.


As a lagniappe, I mention that the karaoke machine at the dive in C'town to which per weekly custom the bookseller and myself went last night was on auto-pilot, and that all the most popular tunes came up. The Hong Kong guy singing about love in a fish tank, the twins with red hair, the choreographic Chinese answer to Lady Gaga, and the soulful love and travel song which starts on a trainstation platform when she asks him if he can actually play the guitar in that case he has next to him.

The sheep song also played.


[SOURCE: 周笔畅(笔笔)《大家一起喜羊羊》.]

The title (大家一起喜羊羊 "Dàjiā yì qǐ xǐyángyáng") is google-translated as "hey everyone with sheep". I am sorry, I cannot do any better than that.
It's perfect as is.

Hey everyone with sheep!

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