Monday, April 30, 2018


Former German chancillor Gerhard Schroeder obviously likes peppery pickles. He is set to marry his erstwhile translator, the lovely Kim So-yeon, sometime probably this year. She is a quarter of a century younger.
There is an age disparity there.

Korean women tend toward a certain decisiveness. And given what Korean cuisine is like, it seems obvious to me that she must have livened up his diet immensely. Imagine a selection of tasty and colourful fermented vegetable preparations next to the obligatory bratwurst. As well as hot sauce.

It's not that woman are or should be the cooks of the family, but the dominant cuisine wins. Kimchi clobbers kraut. Zesty!

I likewise, if faced with a broiled bratwurst, would wish for pickles.

In recent photos, both the seventy four year old and the not yet fifty year old look considerably younger than they actually are. Hapiness, and pickles!
That must be the secret. Happiness and pickles.

I wish the aged bratwurst well.
Her too.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018


Maybe it's the cheese. After pensively chewing some toasted bread and cheese, it struck me that I am a fundamentally boring man. My social life cannot be described as white-hot, more as barely room temperature.
I am not interesting enough to be dynamite.

Nor am I actually a good listener. Apparently that's important too.
Oh sure, I like watching people. But uninvolvedly.
As company, I am vegan-style tofu.
Rather inedible.


Cheese does not normally dis-inspire me so. And it was very good cheese. On sliced baguette, toasted in an iron skillet. Rich, creamy, slightly floral and tangy. An exceptionally likable cheese, which undoubtedly has several friends, despite being but one of many appealing fish in the ocean.
In it's own way, it is a champion.

It was the afterthought to a meal of steamed dumplings.
I had ice-cream between the entrée and the cheese.

My digestive rumbling this weekend was probably more interesting than me. On Friday I used a sambal which was rich with seeds, at least one of which proved indigestible. Yesterday I followed its slow travels from just below the sternum to the dark interior with avid interest, by mid-morning today it had reached a zone with far fewer nerve-endings, or, also a possibility, enzymes, acids, and mucoid secretions had tamed it.
Yesterday's burrito may not have been a wise decision.
All of this has truly been a learning experience.
My mental map of my guts is sharper.
I could draw a diagram.

Of course there's more than just the cheese.
But its charming personality ain't helping.

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Once you reach a certain age, you no longer have to act strictly rational nor behave according to the expectations of others. You are not a young man anymore, gaily skipping down the street and full of beer, but a sober bachelor with a different drum.

It's past three thirty in the morning, I've had a six-hour nap, there's a hot cup of milk tea on the tray to my left, and a pipe in my mouth. I'll be at work again in less than six hours.

I should be outside, because my apartment mate is in her room, asleep, and any amount of exposure to tobacco is harmful and traumatic according to many self-appointed experts.

On the other hand, it's cold outside, and her sense of smell is buggered-up because of allergies. There's pollens in the air!

Nor am I curious whether the cops have rousted the colony of bums at the end of the block under the acacias.

It's only a half-bowl of tobacco (Elizabethan Mixture), in a pipe I've had since early high school. I can remember smoking this in a wooded park in Eindhoven, on a rainy day when I was skipping classes. That time it was filled with Maryland ribbons ("Baai tabak"). And a few months later it was Balkan Sobranie late at night, or, sometimes in the mornings after that first cup of coffee, when it was still dark outside and autumnal fog blanketed the streets of Valkenswaard, and the drifts of leaves crunched underfoot.
Blend 805 or Trafalgar in Berkeley during my college years.
Much other tobacco since then.

[The briar is a French no-name, Lovatt shape, clean lines.]

Besides fine tobacco, the other constant since childhood has been caffeine. Tea and coffee since my single digits. My mother warned me that it would stunt my growth, but she said the same thing about so many other things, and I was already taller than her by my early teens, and a nice hot cuppa is a valuable part of a good breakfast. Or it's an after school wake-me-up, post prandial pleasure, late night comfort, and pre-dawn peacefulness with a last pipe of the day before the final two or three hours of sleep ...

[Never drink flavoured coffee; it's crap.]

I'm sure those five violent-looking crazy types will be gone when I head out in a few hours anyhow. The Chinese landlords next-door will have called the cops on their little settlement, or the Macanese gentleman across the street might have done so (they were right opposite his windows).

It is quiet, so very much before dawn.
There are no mosquitoes yet.
Still too cool.

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Saturday, April 28, 2018


If you were a child growing up in the northeastern part of the city, whether my neighborhood, Chinatown, or North Beach, you would most likely come from a household where a language other than English was regularly spoken. And you might look askance at Caucasians. Because there is a very great likelihood that your primary exposure to the type, or at least the most memorable examples, would be people behaving badly in public.

Entitled, weird, and possibly dangerous.

Whether it's screaming at chimeras, battling demons, fighting, engaging in domestic quarrels, or using the street as a public toilet. All of which made quite an impression on me these past few days. While I didn't mind the psycho having a long, vicious, and loud, argument with a business across the intersection from where he leaped, prowled, and pounced -- a very one-sided event, because the place didn't even know he existed -- or the angry drug-zombie walking past shouting obscenities at himself, there are some things I really wish I hadn't seen. Like the middle-aged dude taking a dump in a Chinatown doorway across the street from a school in broad day light. Or the man on his cell-phone urinating against a delivery van. A naked dude in the park. Or the young techno-professionals being drunk and disorderly on Polk Street. The pack of yelling Chads overturning garbage cans.
Someone throwing a bag of dog poo at a senior citizen.
And several other stellar examples.

All of them white.

The best behaved white people in Chinatown during the day are the small family groups of extremely heavy creatures visiting from elsewhere in the country. Across the hill in my neighborhood, there are no tourists, but we do have slow-moving old folks. The Financial District, of course, is filled with purulent white discharge, but many of them go back to the East Bay after work, so they don't really count.

If they have a cellphone, and sport highly individualistic hair and clothing, the chances of them pulling dubious sh*t are extremely great. Not all of the people like that are white, but certainly ninety percent plus.
They also smell bad and eat too much.

Because I'm a cheapskate and my right leg usually hurts, I never visit the western parts of the city anymore. But it's probably like that too.

I can hear drunken screaming from Polk Street.

White privilege.


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Friday, April 27, 2018


Some light reading while waiting for the fog to lift: bamboo, Oregon, a black woman's breasts in Alabama, stuffed anteater, sun-dried tomatoes, the Negev, insecticides, cold buckwheat noodles (Pyongyang Naengmyeon, 平壤冷麺), Balenciaga, and Hong Kong soup noodles, which are far too salty. Some varieties of noodle-in-soup served at restaurants have more sodium than the three day World Health Organization recommended maximum.

Which surprised me.
Don't drink the soup.

I have a particular fondness for Guan Miao noodles (關廟麵 'gwaan miu min'), and have never eaten Pyongyang style cold buckwheat noodles.
My mother would have eschewed both.

The only noodles allowed into the house when I was still a youngster were spaghetti. Bami and beehoon had to be smuggled in, and like many dubious comestibles were hidden in the cellar, for which one had to descend narrow steep concrete stairs. My mother never went down there because of her lumbago and Ménière's syndrome.

My father and I made good use of that hiding place.
Noodles. Condiments. Spices. Sambal.

A taste for exciting food was set early on. Often try what you've never eaten before, read books that make you uncomfortable, and change your routines. Don't always take the same road home. Oh, and do sneak in some groene haring regularly, despite a certain person's firm conviction that everyone will die horribly of herring nematodes in their guts because the damned natives are crazy and don't know what they're doing.
Groene haring is delicious.

The fog has still not lifted. We've gone from the rainy season almost directly into summer in San Francisco. There is no groene haring here. The cheroot which I started over an hour ago is almost gone, I've nearly finished my second cup of coffee, and am starting to ponder lunch.

Stewed fatty pork belly over rice.
With lots of hot sauce.
Old fire soup.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018


Originally I intended to have pork chops (豬扒 'chyu paa') over rice, but the special today was black pepper sauce porkchops and rice (黑椒豬扒飯 'hak jiu chyu paa faan'), so I went with something entirely different: cheesy white sauce chicken cutlets (芝士白汁雞扒 'ji si baak jap gai paa'), with a choice of either cooked rice (飯 'faan') or Italian (意 'yi') for the starch.
I had eaten black pepper sauce chops a few days ago, elsewhere.
And forgot that cheesy white sauce is far too rich.
But my stomach reminded me.

芝士白汁雞扒 ... 麗晶西餐廳

A bowl of corn chowder, wedge of garlic bread, hot food on a heated plate.
The lunch sets come with Hong Kong milk tea.

One of my favourite foodshows is the one on the Chinese Channel after two thirty. This time we got to see a housewifely-looking chef prepare tea-leaves shrimp, possibly as an appetizer. Big shrimp. Soaked and drained tea leaves. Yellow loaf sugar. Parch the tea leaves well, there appears to be no need for oil. Blanch the cleaned shrimp in boiling water till they turn colour. Add the chopped and crumbly yellow loaf sugar to the tea leaves -- only a little of it is needed -- and place the shrimp on top. Add a small splash water or wine. Cover the pan with a lid for a minute or two, then stir around a bit and decant onto a plate. Serve.

Thoughtfully I chewed my cheesy chicken while considering the shrimp.
I may have been the only person watching the television.
Seeing as there was no one dining with me.

Most single white diners will dine at a bar with a pint, or solitarily at a table while reading their text messages. That seems kind of sterile, and I like to people-watch instead. Or, at the right place, choose the table that lets me watch the Hong Kong television show.

Lunch was extremely enjoyable. And because of how rich it was, required two bowls of tobacco afterwards, smoked slowly, while ambling about.
While doing so it struck me that many American women are clearly eating all the wrong foods. Their metabolism ceased being their friend ages ago.

As I understand it, rice and pasta (意'yi') are far better for you than fried starchy niblets and potatoes. Avoid buttered spuds and salted crispy-doodles, and you will feel much more happy.

Cheesy white sauce, while excellent and yummy, is probably best not indulged in too often.

My ex could probably down a bucket of it with no ill-effect. Her cholesterol is excellent, and she's thin as a rail. She loves bacon, crab, lobster with mayonnaise, fried porkchops, and butter.
Today I envy her.

What the Cantonese call "white sauce" is a Béchamel.
In case you want to do this at home.
Just add cheese.

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At an hour when Adrian in England was observing the depredations of a small barking deer on his shrubbery while smoking the first pipe of the day, Jerome was presumably somewhere outside huffing a post lunch Latakia blend in the vicinity of durian (it's camouflage!), and Tim was staring at the late night window frogs in Florida, this blogger was enjoying Elizabethan Mixture in a Dunhill shell acquired three decades ago.
Last smoke of the day.

After early dinner, after tea, after a snackipoo, and after a nap.

"Sai m-sai tai menu maa?" "M-sai. Siu ngaap faan, m-koi."

[使唔使睇菜單嗎? 唔使。燒鴨飯唔該。]

No need to see the menu, I'll just have the roast duck over rice.

The small barking deer is a muntjac, which originated in southern China and South East Asia, the durian is a frightening fruit which once smelled is never forgotten, and the frogs are the natives of Florida, fiercely competing with the Retirees who have escaped and gone feral there.

Chinesischer Muntjak, Muntiacus reevesi, Zoo Augsburg, from Wikipedia
By Rufus46 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

That muntjac had become an invasive species in the British Isles and on the continent was completely new to me. In Ireland, it is seen as just one more example of British imperialism, mainland Europeans regard them as an unfortunate infestation along the same lines as the raccoon and the giant hogweed ("reuzenberenklauw", heracleum mantegazzianum).
Of these it is least likely to raid your liquor cabinet.

Perhaps I should now point out that pipesmokers, of any type and where ever they may occur, are far less damaging to the environment and almost certainly won't leave nasty welts and burning purple scars on your dermis. We also don't rearrange your garbage in creative ways, devour your shrubbery, and brutalize your pets.

Your persecution of us is ridiculous and unwarranted.

We respond nicely to offerings of food.

Crispy roast duck over rice.

Or porkchops.

Because my schedule got rearranged temporarily, I shall be heading over to Chinatown for lunch in a couple of hours. Twelve thirty or so. After which I shall lurk in alleyways with my pipe for a bit. Little children will look at me in awe, why heavens, they've never seen anything like it! Because men with facial fur and a piece of wood between their teeth are rare nowadays, almost like superheroes or fairies.

There are no health clubs in Chinatown, so no spluttering fitness freaks will be 'triggered'. The tourists and suburbanites are carefull not to ire the local fauna. The colony of rats at the end of one passageway do not mind.
Pipesmokers are remarkably beneficial to the environment.

Elizabethan Mixture: a lovely compound of Virginias with Perique, and perhaps the merest touch of other leaves. It can be stout, even peppery.
But smoked slowly it will stimulate contemplation.

Great with Hong Kong milk tea.
Before and after.


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Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Rest assured, this is for your own good. You will thank me later. From a list that is still growing as we speak, here are culled, for your education, the top thirty sentences to end a date.
Imagine that you are with the man or woman of your nightmares. Your parents set it up -- go out with him, his folks are from our old home town, he's our ethnic group and social level -- or your misguided coworkers, who are worried that you'll die alone with only a cat. And you want it to end.

That's probably something you've already experienced, isn't it?

Just guessing, because I don't know from dates.

But I have a rich inner life.

[Not ranked. Situations may vary.]

1. Is it always red?
2. I forgot my wallet.
3. Take my strong hand.
4. Oh... you wear loafers?
5. I lost a bet.
6. You own a home?
7. I need a Greencard.
8. 12th grade is hard.
9. You have a job?
10. you gonna eat that?
11. Don't worry, he's harmless.
12. I love Justin Bieber.
13. You heard of Amway?
14. I love your extensions.
15. Just tap water please.
16. You have ten minutes.
17. I tied it myself.
18. You're a "before" picture.
19. Now, about my priors...
20. My parents are here.
21. I like christian mingle.
22. Show me your fingers.
23. I plan to work.
24. Your eyes are beautiful.
25. Anyway, before my transition...
26. Have you found Jesus?
27. Hey! Girl or boy?
28. Have you tried cutting?
29. I have 15 cats.
30. I am a vegan.

Please note that the male perspective is given quite a bit more air-time here, and that all clues to identity of the group that grew the list have been removed to protect the innocent and anti-social.
Aspergers is not a requisite for joining, but seems to never-the-less be implicit. Most of the best people have Asperger qualities.
And blind dates are often lamentable.

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Head north, young bird. No, I don't know when World Penguin Day was established, or under whose authority. Nor do I really care.
This is the second year I celebrate World Penguin Day.
I believe the appropriate celebratory dish is herring.
Which is the world's most perfect food.

After breakfast, you should head to the nearest haring kot and order een haring alstublieft, met uitjes.

Here's an illustrative video.



Aim to be the best penguin you can possibly be.
Which for most of us is rather limited.

Barring easy access to herring, such as for instance might happen if you live in San Francisco, the next best thing is probably a taco.
Go ahead: have yourself a taco.
Have two.

[We also need World Squid Day. Two days to eat herring. Or tacos.]

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018


In reaction to the preceding post, in the abbreviated version on Facebook, Markus wrote: "Beersteins and Schnitzel are SO NOT Schleswig-Holstein!
You, being practically a Dutchman, should know that in this particular corner of the old world it's JUST cold and boggy, without the fun parts."

[Markus lives there, south of Bargteheide. It is a very damp place.]
[There is a cat in his house to counter the gloom.]

He posted a video to show what Schleswig-Holstein was really like. Two people in a covered beach sitter, fully clothed, and depressed about the cold grey overcast and rain which marks warm summer weather there. Or maybe they were overjoyed that the season of parkas and two layers of thermal underwear had come to an end. Perhaps they were happy.
Hard to tell. Schleswig-Holstein.

But my apartment mate considers everything between Trondheim and Tyrol to be much the same. And I will NOT show her that video, as it would only confirm some of her worst praeconceptions.

Germany can be easily identified on a map by many Americans. Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark ..... far less likely. Some goes for Austria and Switzerland. Lichtenstein is, assuredly, a fictional place.
Much like Narnia.

And, to a Cantonese American, the key differences are this: Belgium has great food and unintelligible people; Holland has mediocre food and some English-speakers among the unintelligible people; Germany and all of Scandinavia are not known for food or intelligibility ........
Spaetzl, rösti? Geschnitztes gemüse?
Schnippel mit gehackt.

In fact, when you think about it, the only significant thing that sets Schleswig-Holstein apart from Ireland or Scotland is that it's flatter.
With more intelligible people.

Weltschmerz, existenzangst, identitätskrise, gicht, & zweifelhaft.
These are the words engraved upon the coat of arms.
It is their total weltanschauung.
A crusade.

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Monday, April 23, 2018


As one way to boost the tourist industry in Schleswig-Hostein during the holiday season, my apartment mate suggests, similar to the teacup rides at popular amusement parks, a bierstein ride and a schnitzel-und-bratwurst ride. Although the latter might draw the attention of visitors to the local cuisine, which could be regrettable.

Naturally I am keen to see her express an interest in cold boggy parts of the Old World, so I can only encourage these ideas.

She became upset when I explained that French people, in the main, were not flocking en-masse to Schleswig-Holstein during the summer months, even as an alternative to l'Angleterre. With more sensible drivers.
I think she simply likes the name 'Schleswig-Holstein'.
It sounds firm and decisive.

She rejected the Netherlands right out. Hah! How can anyone take seriously some place that's called "Lay Pee Bah"?

We Dutch do have better cheese and smoked eel than Schleswig-Holstein.
But in all honesty that isn't difficult. Anyone can do it.
Käse und Aale. Fromage et anguilles.

Being Cantonese American, she regards all of Western Europe with a certain bemusement. How can anyone take seriously countries with goofy garble-gargle languages? Place names between a cough and a snort?
Though she will concede that they are interesting and exotic.

She speaks English as a first language.
But English is different.

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Only fourteen hours to go before my weekend starts. And already I am sick of people. Which should not surprise you. As a minor anti-social tendency may have already been mentioned.

I like people watching. I like having people around me. But interacting with them is not very high on my list.

It's not that I dislike people, but that I do not feel gifted with an intensive interpersonal interaction skill set.

Animals are nice.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018


While I was in the kitchen preparing myself a tasty supper of pork-fried rice, the one-legged monkey was on the other side of the door screaming "Piiiiig! I can smell it! Delicious piiiiiiiig!"
He wanted some.

We have already informed him of the havoc meat products will wreak on his delicate digestion, but as with so many other things he is convinced that he is right, we are wrong, and when the facts are fully known he will be vindicated.

He claims he's from Jamaica, and very often ate pig there.
While watching movies and drinking orange soda.
In the cinema where he lived.

Reality is not his strong suit.

It saddens him, very profoundly, that the SPCA does not support him in his righteous quest for pig. I explained to him that maybe the pigs are also under their benevolent protection, but he thinks they've been bribed. Obviously, with a share of pig. Quite unfair.

I had no intention of sharing my yummy repast with him.
And wished he had not drawn attention.
The main ingredient .....

The piglet is convinced he'll eat her one of these days.
There will be nothing left but bones and a little red bow.
She panics when he screams about "delicious pig".
Obviously I am of no help in this situation.

When I left the kitchen to let the food cool down before eating, he had already retired to my apartment mate's room for the night.
And later, I ate in peace. It was delicious.

Cooked rice. Chopped chilies. Cubed cooked pork. Smoke-cured bacon. Ginger. Oyster sauce. Hot sauce. A pinch of spices.
And some default vegetables.

I cook bold dishes to cover up the smell of cigars.
My apartment mate is a non-smoker.
It's a sneaky trick

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Saturday, April 21, 2018


My apartment mate is addicted to reality shows featuring rich big-breasted women eating, fighting, and drinking. Because she's Cantonese American, this is not part of her life. She's fascinated. What utter and delicious trash!
These tramps are so vicious! Like ferocious wild animals!

[She also discusses it with her ex-boyfriend on the phone. Surprise, outrage, wry amusement, and utter disbelief.]

I myself am not so enthralled, as in the past I have very often had to work with such creatures -- the country is full of the type, or those who would aspire to that status -- and I know the men who date them.

Of course not all of them have huge breasts.
But gigantic hooters are within reach.
Everyone can have them now.

The rest of the world is not nearly so obsessed with ungainly jugs as the United States, and the same can be said about bacon-cheese flavour on everything, often with Jalapeño chips or barbecue sauce.
All of this is uniquely American.

Big breasts. Bacon. Cheese. Jalapeño chips. Barbecue sauce. Bourbon.

This week I had just two of those. Bacon, cheese.

I think I'm missing something.

On the other hand: black pepper porkchops and rice. Spicy peanut sauce shrimp. Noodles. Toasted French bread. Sliced smoked ham. Fresh chilies. Pork patty. Shrimp dumplings. Pork dumplings. Chive dumplings.
Fried taro croquette. Cookies. A plethora of cookies, in fact.
Did you know we Dutch invented cookies?

In any scheme of things, cookies are better than huge bazooms.
Except covered with bacon, cheese, and Jalapeño chips.
Then maybe the giant troll-dugs are useful.
But I'm just guessing.

Just add tasteful drizzles of barbecue sauce and ranch dressing.

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Friday, April 20, 2018


It looks like spring. And it even sounds like it. No, not the apartment mate clattering around while she prepares herself breakfast, nor the smells of fry food hot coffee, but that rackety bird outside trying to attract a mate.

Loud boastful squawking, and vibrant giddiness.
The little bastard sounds happy and young.
Like all such, it's very irritating.
So early in the day.

By eight thirty she was off to work, so I prepared myself some coffee and retired to the television room to read the internet, drink my Java, and light up the first pipe of the day, filled with Dunhill's Elizabethan Mixture, in homage to Adrian in Oxford who has been indulging in that fine blend an awful lot over the last two or three months.

Yeah man, life is good.

I kind of envy that damned bird. How does he do it? At any hour of the morning I am nothing without caffeine, and if there is caffeine, there must be a smoke. Badly masticated (beaked?) earth worm will not achieve the same effect. It's a natural progression. Coffee. Tobacco. Shower. Another smoke. Toe-twiddly thoughts of porkchops. And only then squawk.

My apartment mate is wide awake the moment she jumps out of bed in the morning -- she animatedly argues with her stuffed creatures as she moves around her room -- and has a typical American breakfast -- except when she wants noodles -- right off the bat. Only sometimes a hot beverage. After which she exercises for half an hour (tai chi). Either one of those would send me back to bed almost immediately afterwards.

Imagine the following monologue: "I ate too much, I wrenched something, my knees hurt, going to nap now .... is there perchance any coffee?"

The behavioural patterns of middle-aged men are vastly different from the daily practices of women. Even though I do not know many women, the few that I am familiar with shall stand in for the many.
It's a representative sample.

Actually, because I like pork chops, or pastry and a hot milk tea late in the afternoon, most of the women with whom I am familiar are Cantonese and work in restaurants or bakeries in Chinatown. So they might be a bit more vibrantly alive and quick-witted than Suburbanites.
But no matter, they're chemically similar.
Morning people, full of beans.
And not pipe smokers.

I can only imagine what living with one in the same bed would be like. At six o'clock in the morning a sharp finger would poke me in the ribs, and a dulcet voice would sweetly lithp: "honey, go fry me some porkchops, I'm hungry!" Then, as I groggily stumble around the kitchen preparing breakfast and setting coffee, I would hear her snoring. She's gone back to sleep.

[I'll set the porkchops aside for later and eat them myself if you do that.]

That's what it's like for the rest of you, right?

On working days I like to smoke a cigar outside one of the local health clubs, because it triggers the morning people there, sanctimoniously working up a saintly sweat. They're glowing with virtue!
They're prigs. Nobody enjoys that.

[It's illegal to smoke at bus stops. In front of the gym is better.]

There are not enough decent eateries in this neighborhood. Perhaps every one else enjoys badly masticated earthworm, but I crave porkchops.

Today I shall go over to Chinatown for lunch.
Porkchops, porkchops, porkchops!

PS: No earth worms were badly masticated in the writing of this essay.
We always chew our food, and only vegans should eat earthworms.

Earth worms are just a metaphor.
So don't get triggered.

We eat porkchops.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018


Dinner tonight was exceedingly simple. Ho gaan daan (好簡單), ganz einfach. Baked satay seafood rice (焗沙爹海鮮飯 'guk saa-de hoisin faan'). Leftover from yesterday evening at the chachanteng. With some bacon (煙肉 'yin yiuk'). And jalapeño (墨西哥椒,尖椒 'mak sai go jiu', 'tsim jiu'). And curry stuffs (咖哩 'gaa lei'). And hot sauce (辣椒醬 'laat jiu jeung').
And some nutmeg (肉荳蔻 'yiuk dau kau').

I really should've added an egg, but I felt it was, at this point, no longer quite as simple as it had once been. No salt, because I didn't want to overwhelm the delicate flavour.

My apartment mate, who unlike my own self is Cantonese, would've added the egg (蛋 'daan'), plus a porkchop (豬扒 'chyu paa') or two. And instead of salt (鹽 'yim'), oyster sauce (蠔油 'hou yau'). She probably would have ommitted the 尖椒,咖哩,辣椒醬,and 肉荳蔻。

I am not Cantonese American, but Dutch American.
Not that there is anything wrong with that.

I think we agree on bacon.

We no longer dine together, but we often eat in each other's company.
Nice, because it is fun watching a pretty woman enjoying food.

I seldom eat with other people.

Rather a pity.


North Point in Hong Kong is where the Hokkiens from Indonesia settled in the fifties and sixties. And Satay ("saté") is an Indonesian concept, not quite interpreted the same way by HK Cantonese as the Indonesians or Dutch would. A flavour, rather than grilled skewered meats with a spicy peanut sauce. I am never sure what to expect when folks who aren't Dutch Indos use the term 'satay', and I angrily reject the cultural appropriation by Thai restaurants which is so common in the Bay Area.
Siamese can't cook worth squat.
As is well known.

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There are times when it is best to not ask any questions, and just hope that the subject under discussion is not in any way related to one's own life.
Because it sounds "complicated".

And possibly on the far side of sane.

"Can I just knee them in the goolies and gouge out their eyeballs?"

When I came home it was to hear her talking on the telephone. From which conversation came the gem above. My apartment mate, though small and almost elfin, is a violent woman. No, not by any means a psychopath.
But she has all the best bloodthirsty instincts.

Plus she's totally Asperger.

This means that when she gets bloody-minded, she dwells upon it. In detail. And the idea of mayhem which another richly person deserves goes round and round and round in her head.


Fortunately, once she got off the phone, we got to talking about tacky white people, skin-tight leggings ("naked from the waist down"), and skinny-arsed men with low-hanging pants that are held up only by an obscene bulge.
We Caucasians dress in a fashion that displeases her. It also displeases me, intensely, but being far less Aspy I can get the images out of my head.

She also finds augmented breasts rather depraved.
About which I have heard too much.
Let's not talk about it.

Low crotch jeans with bony runt buns, the lean stringy frame of a heroin addict, and clothing that stays on by faith alone.
Yes, that we can discuss.


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Wednesday, April 18, 2018


The dumplings were exceptionally enjoyable, and truly delicious with a drizzle of fried oil. Precisely what the doctor recommended. But they faded into insignificance once I left the place, although that wasn't until Grant Avenue. After I finished my very late lunch (5 PM) I lit up my pipe and wandered down the street, casually people-watching.

When I was near Clay and Grant, a woman smiled at me.
A lovely smile. Sweet. Beautiful.
So pretty!

I am a sucker for smiles. And though it was only in passing, and barely glimpsed, it made quite an impression.

It was probably the pipe. You don't often see people smoking pipes anymore. So I should definitely go down there again with my pipe.
Other than that, there may not be anything remarkable about me.

The dumplings, for your information, were hargau, fan gwo, chyu yiuk siu mai, and a ja wu gok. Oh, and gaau choi gau. They make the best gaau choi gau. There was still some chive stuck between my molars.
Fried oil adds a saveur.

And a lovely smile improves everything.

Trust me on this.

In a while I will head out for a late lunch again. Perhaps some jook and a yautiu. And then a pipe. People watching.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Best thing I've seen today: "he's an irrational, explosive, loon, who wants to sell you products that will save your garden by stopping your frogs from turning gay". Please take a few seconds to guess which well-known conservative bloviator this describes.

What's amazing is that so many people take him seriously.

Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity. In a nut shell, they are what's wrong with America. They are a collective cesspool.
All four of them are unstable.

They make millions off gullible pseudo-conservative troglodytes. They're "performers". And other than remarking that I think they're channelling for both Doctor Mengele and Idi Amin Dada, out of both opportunistic AND heartfelt evil, I shan't devote any more time to them.

*      *      *      *      *

The cigar I'm taking with me into the bathroom this morning is an Arturo Fuente robusto that's been in one of my humidors for nearly five years.
It is awesome. Mmmmm! Though it burns a little jaggedy.

How am I going to shave with this thing?

PS.: Russian kool aid tastes like beets.

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He is young, extremely likeable, and looks darling in his trim uniform with the bullet proof vest underneath. As well as being intelligent, idealistic, and developing an unfortunate cynicism about American foreign policy. Reason being that the bullpuckey hypocrisy of American actions in Syria and the middle-east are an unpleasant surprise -- he spent most of his life here and swallowed the guff -- and he's hanging out with amoral bitter middle-aged geezers who long ago left their better instincts at the window sill.

He is running with the cigar crowd.

He still looks like a knight in khaki-hued armour.
Five foot six, bright and cheerful.
But dude! The ironies!

I hope he sticks with it. He's a positive addition to the force. As well as one of the most courteous and cheerful cigar smokers I know. The majority of cheroot chompers are balding disease-spreading capitalist swine, elderly, and keen to rape and pillage their fellow men.

Quite unlike pipe-smokers.

One or two of whom have chosen to live in the hinterlands, either near Placerville or in the boondocks of Oregon and Washington. I myself would find it extremely difficult to dwell in those places, because like a typical transatlantican Dutch-speaker I need a Chinatown nearby, where I can anonymously people-watch, purchase ingredients for my favourite dishes, quietly smoke in deserted alleyways during rainstorms or under the awnings of abandoned commercial property, and scare angelic little moppets after school with my foreign ghost-devil habits and appearance.

My weekend is on Tuesday and Wednesday.
I shall be doing all of that.
With a pipe.

This morning on the way to work, the bus smelled like a hippy orgy. That combination of acrid lemon tanginess and angry skunk, which testifies to the pot-smoking proclivities of the modern inner-city, the tie-dye houseboat dweller of the North Bay salt flats and tidal marshes, their lower-income housing development cousin with the gangsta rap and Bob Marley tee-shirt, and assorted faux well-educated white vagabonds who insist that Mary Jay is therapeutic, macrobiotic, good for glaucoma, and sustainably grown by little green men in the Amazon rain forest who recycle and hug dolphins.

I don't like pot. I don't like middle-aged capitalists. I don't like dicks in the suburbs. I don't like tie-dye, sandals, cargo shorts, BMW owners, the Prius or soccermom van crowd, and very many cigar smokers.
A few pipe-smokers are somewhat iffy too.

The Grateful Dead are bores.

Fudge them.

"Cocaine is only a gateway drug for people who drive Teslas"

Yeah, that's probably true. I know just one of those.
Don't know if he does coke. Yet.

Tomorrow and Wednesday I shall be snarfing noodles with roast duck or charsiu, squirting Sriracha hotsauce on everything, puffing Elizabethan Mixture in briars that are older than I am, swilling cups of strong milk-tea in assorted chachanteng, bingkaa, and kaafeidim, avoiding bloated visitors from the bush (damned-well everything between the East Bay Hills and the East-Coast urban crust), sneering at anyone wearing yoga pants or tight shiny bycicle outfits, or wielding a vape pen, and if possible triggering a multitude by my tobacco, accent, and unmitigatable snootiness.

Steamed pork and gaau-choi dumplings, man!

I am middle-aged pissy guy.
Hear me grumble.

I sincerely wish my Malay American friend well. When he moved to the West Coast from 'genetically impaired America', he probably thought he was escaping hell. Problem is that heaven is fragmented in the swamp of mediocrity here, and he will still have to find the decent places. There are islands, there are reefs. Most people still swing from trees.

I'll see how he's doing in two days.

He should be fine.

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Monday, April 16, 2018


It rained a little bit during the night.

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For the second evening in a row I napped after coming home. This is an old man thing, and I refuse to consider myself anywhere near elderly. But I've noticed that when I have coffee and cookies, aged geezer crap like this is much more likely to happen. A full stomach means drowsiness. Must have something to do with blood-sugar levels, or a slow metabolism.
Too much chilipepper has the same effect.

Perhaps the fossils in the lounge are rubbing off on me. A frightening concept! They are the horrid example that keeps me young. The other day one of them took ten minutes in the bathroom, came staggering out with his fly undone, complaining about getting old. Apparently when you age, peeing becomes a problem. The bladder goes slack, the kidneys won't co-operate, the urethra narrows, the prostate enlarges; dribble dribble drible.

Later on I noticed that he had finally zipped up.
Someone must have spoken to him.


Damned kids get off of my lawn, everything hurts, I need my warm milk, big boobies, it's not the same, I've got a cramp, it's cold, and I gotta pooh.

And repeat. Ad-nauseum. Or hasta cagando.
Rant a bit, why don'tcha.

I do not want to be like that. Maybe my body has different ideas, but no.
Whine, kvetch, bitch, bellyache, and complain. Not me.
I. Am. Still. Young. And. Effing. Vibrant.

Damned kids get off my lawn, everything hurts, I need my warm milk, big boobies, it's not the same, cramps, cold, gotta pooh!

Yesterday, I had a huge-ass carnitas burrito with cheese and salsa picante (added extra hot sauce, because, um, you know ... ) before coming home.
This evening, chocolate hazelnut cookies with confectionery cream sandwiched in between. Same effect: an urge to nap.
Got a cuppa coffee going.

Tonight's stogey is different, though. An Alec Bradley Nica-Puro Rosado, robusto shape. The wrapper leaf is Havana seed colorado rosado, the filler is Esteli, Jalapa, and Condega. Dang fine cigar. Going to have to go outside to really enjoy this. It is quite delicious. Creamy. Mild cedar. Earthy.
A bit sweet and spicy, caramelly, slightly peppery.
A complex and intriguing smoke.
Very Nicaraguan.

I think I'll finish my beverage and head outside. A fine smoke such as this needs time and cool night air.
Rather than furtive puffing before the open kitchen window.
Did I mention that I am young and vibrant?
Because I am, you know.

Not old at all.

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Sunday, April 15, 2018


After a five hour nap I woke up in the middle of the night. While the young people down on Polk Street made ruckus, I was reading about German landsknechte, enjoying some Caledonian fire water, and a cigar with a silly name which I thought would be mediocre. But it turned out quite decent.
Saturday nights, as you can imagine, are a good night to go out, and consequently the perfect time to stay home.

On weekend evenings, the social person heads to bars with flocks of friends, where he or she downs vodka-bulls, yägy shots, and fiery cinnamon whisky.
He or she will yell, puke, and overturn newspaper racks.

The un-social person prefers a digestive nap.

And later, a cigar in the kitchen.

Wide open window.


I cannot quite reconstruct how I ended up reading about post-mediaeval bloodshed, but once you start your lap top thing and hook on to the internet, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, you are lost. A subject about which I had not thought at all in the preceding 168 hours became the centre of my universe. Along with diluted Scotch and a cigar with a ridiculous name.
Peace. Heaven. Holy wars. Nirvana.
Cat-fighting swords.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018


Over the years several of the old-fashioned coffee shops and bakeries in Chinatown have disappeared. Largely they have given way to a different and more modern style of business, the key characteristics of which are fancier pastries, and a marked lack of seating. In those bakeries where people congregate for a bite and a beverage, the coffee is still pretty bad (but very cheap, that's why), the style of baked goods is an echo of the seventies and eighties, and the clientele often has silver hair.
Some modern places have cheesecake and no tables.

Old-school lunchcounter bakeries, with simple Chinese pastries, apple pie, strawberry cake, and a variety of hot savoury items, are a thing of the past. Along with banana cream pie, Boston cream, and daily specials: ox tail, patty over rice, chops, fried chicken, chicken fried steak.

That generation retired.


Years ago I went to the Eastern Bakery, which had a lunch counter where you could read the newspaper while swilling endless refills. Alan Gin and Mr. Fong would often be there, Ted came by occasionally, and Auntie Jenny kept us wired to the eyebrows. The steamed chicken bun (雞包) was totally excellent, the dow sa bing ditto, and their pie and coffee crunch cake were famous. Many years ago they ripped out the lunch counter, I moved out of the neighborhood, and Auntie Jenny retired.
Their moon cakes are iconic.
They still exist.

At Ping Yuen on Jackson, the cream pies were extremely nice, the counter was very long, and the ladies who worked there often got me whacked to the gills by endlessly refilling my cup. I read three newspapers while sitting there, did all the puzzles, frequently studied Chinese poetry or Tang-Sung essays from books I had recently bought at Louie Bros or Jung Mei, and when they closed in the evening I would go to the Great Star Theater to watch Chow Yun-fat or Lau Tak Wah shoot em up in Hong Kong gangster flicks till midnight. Ping Yuen no longer exists, the cinema closed years ago.

Sun Wah Kue was a long-time fixture, with a main entrance on Washington and a door on 舊呂宋 alley. Fabulous oxtail and fried chicken, famous among old-timers for chops, steaks, and orange chiffon pie. The lighting was not good enough to read by, but if you sat in the right place you could observe the people passing by in the alleyway while enjoying some stellar apple pie a la mode. You had to signal for refills; they weren't quite as 'stimulating' as the other two places mentioned. But they had booths, yellowing walls, and their lunches were truly special.
Long gone, long long gone.


The other day I was at a well-known bakery on Stockton around tea-time, listening in on three conversations at once. The spry bird-like woman who is often there, talking animatedly with the silver-haired Burma uncle, a table behind me with a pretty middle-aged woman and three other people, and at the table directly across from me an old gentleman possessed of a lively wit and one of the most intelligent expressive faces I have ever seen.
I hope the woman with the very beautiful hair next to him is his wife.
Or mistress, girlfriend, inamorata, squeeze, or whatever.
But she's probably a daughter.
Shan't ask.

One cup of milk tea (奶茶 'naai cha'), a fresh warm meat floss bun (肉鬆飽 'yiuk sung baau'), and three lively talky-talks around me to hold my interest. One peculiarity of Cantonese folks in conversation is that there are numbers for everything, food will always be mentioned, and everybody has a term. Older siblings, younger maternal aunties, uncles who are father's younger brother, ah sang ("mister dude"), pretty miss ('leng neui'), young female cousin ('piu mui'), previously born person ('sin saang') .......
Lo sai (younger brother), taai lou (older brother).
Taai go taai, ah sou.
Heng jeung.

I had a blast.

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Friday, April 13, 2018


That bright sunshine is deceptive. It's probably going to be beastly weather this weekend. If not actual precipitation of epic proportions, frigid and windy.
The rational man preparatorily fuels himself with chops.
Grilled, and served with sauce alongside rice.
Plus three to four broccoli.

It's a day off, three work-days coming up, and the droning of old fossils off to the side at work is a guaranteed constant.
Because they are overwhelmingly Trumpites, it is most unfair that I have not been provided with a cattle-prod.

Plus a ball gag for the Irishman.


I am getting much better at recognizing what kind of elderly git will take the conversation where you do not want it to go. My coworkers, consequently, yesterday had to deal with two rambling wrecks with bugs up their asses, and a good friend who dropped by to smoke a pipe, quietly at the end of his day, ended up listening to a long rant about the Russians and the Clinton Foundation fracking Marin County, the recent California wild-fires being a Bilderberg plot OR crowd control, how the government tracks people through the chips in their cellphones, and lizard aliens.

While that was going on I was "occupied".

Sorry, things to do.

Indeed, I sympathize with my friend and my colleagues, but heeding the warning signs is a survival mechanism. Have you noticed it's never sweetly brilliant young things that wish to bend your ear, but always the ones who are crazier than bedbugs?

One person I avoid always includes the datum that he's a University of Berkeley graduate in every conversation, as well as a proud mention that he voted for Trump. There is not much else to his discourse other than a repetition of that, irrespective of the subject.

Unfortunately he's roughly my age.
Bad PR for my generation.

I need those chops today.
They're therapeutic.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018


My ex, who is still my apartment mate after all this time, sleeps with a large penguin. He showed up one day, and other than occasionally radiating gloom because he cannot fly, he's a splendid fellow albeit innocent.
The innocent and unreservedly nice critters are on her side.
The unstable faction (total anarchists!) lives on mine.
Her room is neat in consequence, mine is not.
Naturally I blame my fuzzy roomies.
Because I am exemplary.

Well, okay, I'm actually a slob. I see no reason to clean house when it's so unlikely anyone will visit. Both she and I are not what you would call social butterflies, and the creatures on my side might throw dirty socks at any visitors of whom they disapprove. And I would have to apologize.

I am somewhat jealous, though. He and I could talk about herring together, and not being able to fly. As a Dutchman, I know from herring, and I do not fly. The assorted fuzzies are no help in either regard, as they neither grasp the twin heartaches of herring-lack and flightlessness, nor show much sympathy for these afflictions.

Sometimes, late at night, I hear a soft murmuring from that room.
It's probably a large flightless aquatic bird discussing fish.

Herring is a wonderful thing.
Take it from me, I know.

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At four in the morning I am pleased to see stability in the world, but that may be merely my own echo-chamber. Seeing as I have largely insulated myself from the complete idiot crowd over the years by banning, blocking, or unfriending myself from Trumpites, Bernieites, and religious nuts on social media. Along with restrictive diet-types and Amway sellers.
And several of them have done the same.

Think of it as a co-operative venture.

That leaves mostly sane folks.

The readers of this blogspot, however, are a different story. Most of them do not leave comments, but the articles which they read here are in some ways illustrative. One constant over the years has been the essay about the naming-differences in women's underpants, which seems to have been read pretty much every day since I wrote it on a whim eight years ago.

Perhaps all of them live in parts of the world where women's underpants are unavailable. Eastern Europe and Pakistan, most likely.

[There's a lingerie shop on Polk Street one or two blocks north of Broadway which I have not passed in years. I expect women still wear underwear, and one day when the weather is nice perhaps I might have a cup of coffee at a place in the same block. On Clay Street between Grant and Kearny facing Portsmouth Square in Chinatown is a boutique with similar items; I believe there were some pale purple things in their window recently. And of course there is Victoria's Secret, in the Union Square area. No idea where. They've moved several times.]

I myself have little interest in women's underpants, and have not been involved with anyone who might wear such things for several years. Which is regrettable. But on their own, such garments cannot excite much interest. And really, they follow a predictable pattern. There are, usually, three holes. Not four, because that is too many. Not two, assuredly not five.
Insert a Monty Python reference here.

[This post.]

The other essay which always shows up as being popular when I look at my blog stats is the one explaining the Cantonese term for a randy man (ham sap lo) which was penned during breakfast on April 27, 2011.
The term is colourful, evocative, and opprobrious.
I am hard put to find a favourable usage.

[This post.]

It is now shortly after five. I shall go to bed again for a few brief hours of sleep. With my luck, I'll probably dream of underwear.

I mostly think of cheese.

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