Thursday, January 31, 2019


There seems to be a whole tribe of airduct service persons. Sofar, numerous Steves, and at least three gentlemen named Stan, have tried to solicit my business by phone. Stan (pre-recorded) even had a guilt trip ready. "If you care about the people close to you..." Fudge off, Stan.
I don't have airducts, I breathe methane.
I'm a lobster alien, okay?

As G-d is my witness, Stan, I will never use you or Steve's services.
I'll tell everyone how both of you leave trails of slime behind.

Y'all suck.

If you care about the people close to you... You will keep them away from air duct service men. Never let your daughter date Steve or Stan.

Airduct technicians were spewn from Satan's rear.
They are a parasitic life form.

I'm a little testy, because I have to abstain from tobacco use for a day before my procedure till two days afterward. Nicotine interferes with healing, even though it staves off Alzheimers and improves the mental well-being of the patient. I enjoyed one pipeful this morning, before lunch.

Airduct technicians are frikkin' lousy for the well-being of the patient.

All of Stalin's goons were trained airduct technicians.
Trumps inner circle are airduct technicians.
These are known facts.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019


Leftover quesadilla, chopped sausage, salsa, Sriracha, and a little curry paste. Squeeze of lime. It's better than doing you-know-what. And no, I do not go up to random attractive women to dreamily lisp those words. Though maybe I should.
My non-existent love life would change immensely if I offered quesadillas.

It would probably go from bad to worse.

From just zero to negative.


My apartment mate has decided that when I come home following the angio- plasty/stent, there should be roast duck. And far be it from me to turn down such a lovely idea. My cardiologist would probably advise that I lay off the rich meats as part of both recovery and life style changes to avoid future medical issues ....
But, to be honest, I haven't had a grease burger in years, and naturally tend toward a high vegetable content.

So a bit of roast duck, then, to celebrate a major life event.

Besides, if I were to tell my apartment mate that I should instead have boiled vegetables and tofu, she would be horrified. "What daemon has possessed you", she would exclaim, "to make you sound like a Caucasian yuppie?"

She's Cantonese American, and often quite utterly appalled by white people and their food-related neuroses.

I was in the food industry for several years, so I am too.

My imaginary love-life includes no vegetarians.
Or gluten-phobic individuals.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019


When I came home my apartment mate was whacking chicken and ranting about Trump. The two activities are only incidentally connected, but both require vehemence, even a certain amount of energy.
That chicken, though already gutted and plucked, and quite naked and helpless, deserved every clop with the cleaver.

Meantime, I fixed myself a cup of coffee.
As I usually do after work.

Ranting about our dearly despised president is way too intellectual for me until at least an hour or more after I've had that coffee, and the most complicated thought in my mind at present is wondering which pipe to smoke after the quesadilla I intend to have at The Tower in a while.

One thing I read today, in a quiet moment, is that it is not advisable to take viagra when on nitro-glycerin for the heart. Two things must be mentioned, namely that while what the doctor prescribed are nitro-glycerin patches, JUST IN CASE angina occurs (which it hasn't yet), so that's a milder dosage than a pill, and also that not only do I not have any viagra in the house, the idea of taking it has never even crossed my mind.

Even before the prescription for nitro patches.

What baffles me is that it had to be said. Like a warning to not get pregnant while taking blood pressure medications, or the statement on a box of cigars that "use of cigars while pregnant may harm you or your child". What kind of person thinks "oh, I'm having a heart-attack, I had better get ready for sex", or "good gracious, I'm in a family way, I should enjoy a box of stogies"? Maybe my fellow citizens are crazier than I thought.

But, I suppose that like the caution on a skin cream I saw years ago ("do not apply directly to anus"), such things must be stated explicitly now on every conceivable product that fits certain definitions, or appeals to a certain demographic.

Basically the type of person who snarfs multiple bacon cheeseburgers. Before engaging in sexual behaviour.
It should probably be on those bacon cheeseburgers instead. Do not apply these directly to anus. Use of these patties if pregnant may harm you or your child. Don't have nookie while snarfing these junkfoods. Or at the very least use a napkin to wipe the bacon grease off your face.

And avoid the man using viagra. He may collapse at any moment.
Even if he does share your passion for bacon cheeseburgers.
It ain't worth it, girl. That hard-on is deceptive.
Go on; have a good cigar instead.

These are all First World Problems.

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All things considered, yesterday was pretty darn exhausting, but I got to say shitty things about some of the people we all know -- a few to their faces -- and I listened to bagpipe music when I got home.
So it wasn't all bad.

Somebody asked me last week, if, after my angioplasty, when my heart-function had improved, I would be a kinder and gentler person. In a word, no. Just as mean, but with more energy.

I can actually be a rather decent sort, to the right people.

With some folks that comes naturally.

With others not so.

There is no great urge to be all sweetness and light.

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Monday, January 28, 2019


Explaining Ranma½ to another adult, one who has never explored the wonderful world of Manga, is nearly impossible. And did not make any sense whatsoever.

Ranma½ is about a boy (Ranma Saotome) who went to China with his father (Genma Saotome) to further practise martial arts at the Forbidden Springs training ground, but both of them failed to read the warning in the guidebook that falling into any of the springs transformed one into the creature that drowned in it years before. Consequently Ranma becomes a girl, and his father becomes a panda. The way to change back into their original forms is by being splashed with hot water.

Whenever they're doused with cold water, they change shape again.

Years ago, Ranma's dad had pledged his son as a husband to one of Soun Tendo's three daughters, so that the Tendo Martial Arts tradition could continue for another generation. In the first volume of the tale, Akane Tendo gets stuck having to eventually marry what she thinks is a skeevy pervert (i.e., a typical teenage boy), though that won't be till years later, after both of them are grown up.

One of Ranma's martial arts rivals also went to the Forbidden Springs, and now becomes a small black pig at the most inconvenient times. Akane does not know about this, and finds the pig a delightful creature.

That's Ranma½ holding the pig in the illustration.

The Manga tale is about martial arts, insanely curvaceous girls (all of whom are super violent, OR psychopaths), strange situations at school, and a perverted old man who steals feminine underwear. Pretty much everyone is dysfunctional, except Akane. Who tends towards kick-ass fury at times.

Very effectively.

Teenage boys might read it for the neat-o-keen illustrations, middle-aged men read it for the character development and existential issues.

Women read it because it's about female empowerment.

Forceful and operatic man-clobbering.

It speaks to them.

The first exposure I had to it was years ago, in one of the bins at the second hand bookstore when I was pricing Asian language books, the episode where Ranma in his female form) is getting clobbered by a gibbon wielding an iron teapot. Both of them are wearing kimonos. Very formal. The first chapters had been translated into Chinese, and I ended up purchasing the entire series at a store in Chinatown, over nearly year's time, as new volumes were released.

It has since then also been translated into English.
Compelling literature from Japan.
It's about life.

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When I woke up it was with a crystal clear memory of a dream, in which the background music was the Piña Colada song. Now, most of the time I do not have late seventies pop music playing in my head, nor actually any music at all. And this weekend what should have mentally repeated was Bandiera Rossa, which is the Italian Communist anthem.

Which I played for illustrative purposes on Saturday.
To insult the reactionaries in the back.
Who did not recognize it.

The Piña Colada song references classified ads looking for lust.
A very last century concept.

If you like Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain,
If you´re not into yoga, if you have half a brain;
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape,
I´m the love that you´ve looked for, write to me, and escape.

Yeah, no. That first line is repulsive. If you like Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain, and furthermore fantasize about naughty behaviour that is guaranteed to get sand everywhere, I am not someone you wish to know.
And that's mutual. Please don't write.

Made with rum, coconut milk, pineapple juice, and a maraschino cherry, the piña colada is almost guaranteed to give you a horrible hangover at the same time as it makes you drunk. A sickening concoction.
Suitable for kids.

Three ounces of pineapple juice.
One and half ounces cheap rum.
One ounce coconut cream.

Blend with crushed ice.
Decorate with an umbrella.
Add a maraschino cherry on top.

On the other hand, Bandiera Rossa evokes a nice mood.
Perhaps the evisceration of reactionaries.

If you like stirring songs that suggest that the best thing to do in these times is to march on the mansions of the super-rich with pitchforks and torches, and then gun the bastards down or string them up, you may be a bit loopy, but your heart is in the right place.

We might have a cup of milk-tea afterwards.
In a warm dry place. No rain. No sand.

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Sunday, January 27, 2019


On the bus back from C'town four little girls sat next to me eating shrimp chips. They spoke in mostly Cantonese, with the occasional English word thrown in. Like the word "share". Of which, evidently, they did not know the Cantonese equivalent. The oldest child may have been five years old.

When I was her age, I had not even discovered shrimp chips yet. It wasn't until my parents introduced me to Indonesian food that I first ate kroepoek (krupuk). Shortly after that I also discovered sambal and seroendeng.
These were all happy discoveries.

Little tykes offering each other crispy crunchies are adorable.
But they need napkins. Otherwise they aren't perfect.

Chomp chomp chomp chomp.
Nom nom nom nom.

蝦片 'haa pien'; krupuk. 分享 'fan hurng'; sharing. 好味 'hou mei'; yummy.

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So the apartment mate (my ex-girlfriend, less than nine years difference, but she's Chinese American, and consequently has NO wrinkles, and looks sleepy early twenties at best) has promised to pick me up on Friday after stent-implanting, and is planning to introduce herself to the nurse(s) as my adoptive granddaughter. And tell them all about the time I was an Elvis impersonator, back when records were still 78 rpm. To quote what she said last night: "ooooh, this is gonna be fun!"

[Stent: a device that goes into an artery and re-opens or re-widens it, thus getting the ticker back up to speed, and reducing the chances of heart-attack or stroke. The whole process is "minimally invasive", and often takes less than thirty minutes. Valium may be employed to keep the old farts having this done limp, rather than thrashing about and demanding their blinky toy.]

I'm beginning to have second thoughts about this whole thing. Even though I myself am going to piss off the nurses every two or three hours by asking "so where did you say the smoking area was?"

And then informing them when they're snarling that "more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette. In a repeated national survey, doctors all across the country, in all branches of medicine ........ ".

'..... were asked "what cigarette do YOU smoke, doctor?" Yes, not surprisingly, the answer was 'Camels'. Why don't you try Camels, Nurse, to see what a difference the smooth rich taste of Camels can make to your smoking enjoyment?'

"So where did you say the smoking area was?"

Anyhow, I am not old enough to have an adoptive Chinese granddaughter. It would convince everyone that I am a skeevy old prick, rather than the kind-hearted and generous dude I really am.


Not scheduled for work today, because I'm opening up for four days in row, before my procedure on Friday. So I'm thinking in terms of porkchops, and a few cups of Hong Kong Milk Tea in C'town, as well as a pipe or two while wandering about there. My apartment mate is a non-smoker who works a normal nine to five weekday schedule. Which means I cannot smoke in the apartment this weekend; she would most strenuously object.

Sambal on everything. Virginia - Perique at a slow smolder.
Caffeinated hot beverages. And pastry or two.
A discreet spot of whiskey after dark.

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Saturday, January 26, 2019


If there is one thing that this pointless thirty-five day shutdown makes clear, it is that Trump, McConnell, Graham, and Manchin, are slime. And that, at this point, Pelosi has them by the balls.

Of course their repulsive qualities were obvious far earlier, but it takes the Repub masses a while to notice such things, seeing as they voted for a serial philanderer, liar, draftdodger, and bankruptee, believing him to be Jayzus, and they keep voting for that robber from Kentucky, and the screeching hysteric out of South Carolina, but the combination of gun nuts and evangelical bullshit has always proven more alluring than common sense or acceptance of reality.

You know, Duck Dynasty kind of people.
Conservative and stupid.

Fundamentally opposed to those masturbating pot fiend atheists, as they image all their enemies and neighbors to be.

Well, now that Trump, McConnell, Graham, and Manchin have been publicly emasculated, liberals will force abortion and the homosexual agenda on their followers, along with miscegenation and recycling.
Plus mixed schools.

The reactionary yutzes in the lounge are in pain. Far be it from me to not rub salt into their wounds. Like everything, it's all about them. Poor babies.
They are, as usual, largely in a state of denial of their man's despicability, verging on blithering ignorance, even idiocy.

Here's a picture of their spirit animal, to which they can wank.

A rabid hagfish.

High-functioning dingoes.

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Friday, January 25, 2019


A cure for diabetes being circulated on the internet (so you know it works!) advocates eating lots of fruit to start the day, at least two pounds of cucumbers every evening. Abstaining from dairy products.
And do not take any medicines.
Plus, beets are magical.
Three day cure.

Three days!

Ketoacidosis. Renal failure. Chronic inflammation. Necrosis.
Ulceration. Brian damage. Amyotrophy.
Blindness. Coma.

And an eventual failure to breathe.

Allegedly beets and apple cider vinegar decalcify the pineal gland, which is your third eye.

While you are slipping into massive organ shutdown, your "third eye" will be ever so useful.

To the best of my knowledge, I do not have diabetes. And I'm fairly sure that this "diet" would give me a massive case of the shits, besides driving me to insanity, drink, and a lust for beefsteak or roast duck, by day three.

To repeat: diarrhea, psychosis, whisky, animal protein.

A little bit of research on the internet shows that beets are the new kale, and have great unquantifiable karmic benefits for people with diabetes (and / or high blood pressure), which, I'm sure, my doctors will have comments about.
I just have to find a way of bringing this up conversationally without them giggling and thinking that I've finally lost it.
But you have to add apple juice (or carrot juice, the magic scrolls ain't quite clear in that regard), and at least a teaspoon of cider vinegar.

Plus, probably, turmeric, and organic honey.
Again, two pounds of cucumbers.

That's a lot of tzatziki.
And souvlakia.

The twenty first century middle class is nuts.

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Thursday, January 24, 2019


Tomorrow night is when many people in the English-speaking world outside the British Isles will be eating a dish of compost, in celebration of Scotland's most celebrated poet. No, not Ewan McTeagle, or William McGonagall, both beloved by thoughtful types, but Robert Burns, who wrote shitty doggerel in gibberish.

The dish that will be served is Haggis. Sheep offal mixed with oatmeal and pumpkin pie spices, boiled for several hours in a nominally cleaned sheep's stomach, served with a puree of boiled tubers, and a waste of whisky.

[A Scottish dish that consists of the heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep minced with suet, onions, oatmeal, and seasonings, boiled in the stomach of the animal.]

In lieu of what they could be eating. A good French Ragout or fricassee.
Or modern Britain's two national dishes: Chicken Tikka and Vindaloo.
Both of which are much devoured by drunken Scotsmen, btw.

Some of my friends will engage in this custom, performed with grim cheer every January 25th., in a rather ridiculous ritual with like-minded types.
Boiled sheep guts. Speeches. Bagpipe "music". Whisky.

Several will be wearing scratchy woolen skirts.

And, heaven forfend, there may be recitation.

I begrudge them their very queer festivity.

Primarily because I am a sour and disapproving sort, but also because I hate quaint dialect usage and bad verse. The vulgarity and pretentiousness of the event get on my nerves, much like little children putting on a play, bagpipe music is best outdoors in any case, and I have made haggis.

Anyone who has ever made haggis is disgusted, or should be, and will gladly chuck Burns Night for solitary drunkenness and a corndog.

Almost anything can be made passably edible by hotsauce (Sriracha), but it is doubtful that Haggis will be improved.

It would be a waste of hotsauce.

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The last smoke of the night, after a long nap, was brightened by the presence of a small calm fluffy dog, several boisterous coke-heads from a nearby well-known beef restaurant, and a person who suggested that while recovering from various medical procedures (and medications to keep me quiet during events) at the hospital one week hence I should find an attractive nurse.
That last idea has great appeal.

"Hello, miss, would you like my jello?"

Surely all medical staff like institutional cuisine? There can't be any other reason for putting up with decrepit folks? Free jello!

Yes, this may work.

If they're going to keep me overnight for observation, after installing the coronary stent, it would be a good idea if I had a little dance routine and some jokes, so that they have something damned well worth observing.

"Patient slept. For fifteen hours. Did not eat his Jello."

Otherwise they'll maybe poke me with a sharp pointed stick, to see if, like a washed up on the beach jellyfish, I'm still alive.

"Turned once in fifteen hours. Weaponized Jello."

Sign up here for free Jello.

You want it.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019


Spent all day immersed in Larsens. Enjoyable. Yeah, my doctors would disapprove, because Larsens are tools for smoking. From Pipedia, W.Ø. Larsen "was one of the most famous tobacco shops in Copenhagen, with a beautiful store located on Copenhagen's famous "Walking Street." During the flowering of the Danish pipe in the '60's, they first began retailing pipes by such carvers as Sixten Ivarsson, Sven Knudsen, Poul Rasmussen, and Brakner." Teddy Knudsen, Tonni Nielsen, Jess Chonowitsch, Peter Hedegaard, et mult altres. Plus Former (Hans Johnny Nielsen).

I know. Surrounded by sin. Because tobacco is evil.
Unlike marijuana, which is green and pure.
Grown by deeply spiritual people.
Who hug dolphins.

Apparently a large number of famous Danish artisans were beset by crippling alcoholism. Which is not surprising, because they lived in one of the most depressing climate zones on the planet. Gloom, overcast, rain.
Fog, dampness, cold. More overcast. More rain. Constant drizzle.

Even a giddy stoned dervish would feel suicidal.
Northern Europe. It's a bloody bog.

Quite unlike the Netherlands.
A sun-drenched paradise.
Positively tropical.

I used to live in North-Brabant, near Eindhoven. I know of what I speak.
Dutch-made smoking pipes are stodgy and unimaginative.
Altogether very Protestant.

More beautiful things get made in awful climates than anywhere else.
It's the unrepressed drang for beauty of desperate people.
Cannibalism and art go hand in hand.

I like Northern Europeans.
They become charmingly human once they see sunlight.


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If you are paying attention, you know that the Chinese New Year is coming up. You may have heard happy tinkly songs featuring the phrase "gong shee, gong shee, gong shee nee", and seen stands along Stockton Street with red envelops, dried fruits and candies, colourful new clothes.
Plus candies, plum branches with blossoms, flowers.

Very well then.

New Year's Eve is on February 4th this year, New Year's Day February 5th.
And you probably wish to prepare for it.

So here are some helpful essays:

A long informational essay with everything you need to know.
Written Jan 30, 2011

The one dish which, to the Cantonese especially, embodies the New Year's Eve family feast. And many other celebrations.
Written Feb 1, 2011

If you really want to please everybody at the feast, serve sea cucumber. It's a marvelous textural ingredient, and soaks up flavourings nicely.
Written Oct 1, 2011

Be sure to clean your house before New Year's Eve, and don't sweep for several days afterwards (to avoid sweeping out the good luck), hand out or receive lots of leisi (Ong Pao), and hang good wishes written on red paper in the appropriate spots. Oh, and set off explosives! Nothing says New Year like a jolly good racket, with red firecracker scraps everywhere.
Have oranges on platters in the main room.
Wear clean new clothes.

Happy New year.

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The waitress had to repeat it several times. Not that the two old ladies were hard of hearing, just that what the young woman said did not compute. Mow tong yuen! What on earth is this world coming to? No sweet dumplings in thin syrup! Mow tong yuen.


Glutinous rice balls filled with sweet paste, in liquid.
It's a good cold weather snack.

She kept saying it, they continued not listening. At last they understood, and disconsolately got up and left. Much like the two old geezers, one of them in a wheelchair, who had asked for egg custard tarts (蛋撻 'daan taat') earlier.
The restaurant is a chachanteng, fairly standard model though improved, and those often do not cater to the sweet side.

I was enjoying a remarkably delicious chicken curry and rice.
Also a good cold weather snack. Totally yummy.
Post errand breakfast and lunch.
With milk tea.

I did not ask for anything sweet.
Sriracha yes. 甜品 no.

That location years ago was a bakery restaurant, and did have sweet things, though I do not know if they ever had tong yuen. There is a new place down the street, one block away, that does have tong yuen (I've seen people eating those there), but it's closed on Tuesday.


What was showing on their television was a demonstration by a bald white Mandarin-speaking dude of how to make Russian Style Meat Balls.
His shiny hairless head was suggestive.

俄式手工肉丸子 ('ngoh sik sau gong yiuk yuen ji'), which are probably also superlative in cold weather, but I cannot read Chinese subtitles that fast, so I do not know. They contain flavoured ground meat, and minced onion. There was a demonstration of how to mince an onion. Very helpful.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019


Yesterday the middle-aged delinquents in the lounge were discussing the 2020 candidacy of a local politician, with the usual inane insights and immaterial "facts" one expects from them. The problem with both sides is that each overlooks huge character flaws and moral failings on their own side, and pick on the tiniest issues on the side that, by instinct and gut feeling, they oppose.

In all honesty, I do that too. I find Donald's hairstyle repulsive, and despise his manners, morals, and lies, as well as his amoral whore-like opportunistic subservience to coal, evangelical slime, the Russians, and Saudi thugs.
But I seldom say a negative word about Feinstein's coif or Pelosi's teeth. Giuliani looks like a schoolyard thug and acts the same, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham are savages who would sell their own mothers to the Turks, and I shan't criticize either Jerry Brown or Gavin in Newsom for their sometimes "holier than thou" utterances and occasional eccentric clothing choices (gentlemen, there are always cameras near you!).

See? Both sides are imperfect.

Though not the same.

Kamala Harris and Beto O'Rourke are already positioning themselves.
Donald Duck has been quacking about 2020 since he got elected.
The spineless Republicans are all with him. Of course.

It's going to be a very long two years.

But there is a better way. An English solution.

Catapults, cows, rabbits.

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One of the things I now have, prescribed just in case of emergency, is a packet of nitroglycerine patches, which the instructions say to slap onto "hairless" skin. If angina occurs, or a heart attack. I am a white man.
Probably the only totally hairless area is my forehead.

Um. Yeah. No?

Chinese New Year is coming up. Nitroglycerine equals boom.

There must be some way to subvert this.

Blasting caps?

You know, I could be the most impressive juvie down on Waverly, if there's a way to set these things off.

"I'm sorry, doctor, I had to blow up that trash can".
"It's New Year!"

There are, at present, so many things I'm NOT telling my apartment mate.
Nor am I telling my relatives, because I don't want the fuss.
Pills and nitroglycerine would make them worry.
And they would "lecture" at me.

She doesn't need to know about the Nitroglycerine in my backpack.
What's normally there is just pipes and tobacco.
It's a Hello Kitty backpack.

Somehow, I suspect that my apartment mate, if absolutely necessary, would be able to lay her hands on mercury fulminate. She's very capable.

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Monday, January 21, 2019


So a bunch of white boys wearing MAGA hats, who were demonstrating against women controlling their own bodies .....    Okay, whatever their excuses, they've already lost my sympathy. I cannot feel for these dudes. That they and their high school now face death threats plus insulting and hateful activity, nun, ehrlich ist es mir ganz scheißegal.

Oh by the way, they are from Kentucky.
That says a lot.

Kentucky is, by any measure, a shit hole.

Represented by Mitch McConnell.

Who is a shit head.

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There were two sporting events on the television at work yesterday. That means four teams, of whom I know nothing, and two victories presumably, that I could not answer any questions about. Football, I believe.

I'm fairly certain the Super Bowl is in two weeks.

Only because of scheduling details.

If I were forced to watch televised sports I would likely fall asleep. Or run out screaming. The only part of yesterday's broadcast I noticed was the commercial for something I misread as "Turbo Laxative".
Which I am sure was wrong.

Still. There really ought to be such a product.

It would make this American life so much more interesting for witnesses.

Sports fans would not have to miss a second of the game.

Or ever dial a friend for a play by play.

Use Turbo Laxative.

Be happy.

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Sunday, January 20, 2019


My cardiologist tells me that the stent will probably solve all my issues.
Now, personally, I thought that a sparkly young lady with nice kissy cheeks, expressive eyes, a wicked sense of humour, and no goofy food hang-ups or tattoos would work, but if a stent will do the trick, I'm game.

Intellectually, though, I still like my idea.

In this city, finding a woman who doesn't have food allergies either real or imagined, is okay with gluten, non-vegan, and doesn't say "eew that's icky" when faced with something outside of her culinary comfort zone (like eels, lamb, or freshly killed Bambi), and hasn't had meaningful inscriptions or butterflies put on parts of her body, is darn well impossible.

A coronary stent is much easier.

I am a practical man.

The stent, however, will not talk back at all. It cannot hold its own in a conversation. And it lacks a sense of humour. These are all important things, if only because a woman ("sparkly young lady") might, for instance, say "I'm sorry, I wasn't listening, this chapter holds my attention, dear".
And turn again to her book.

I am not as interesting as a book.
Which is something I regret.

On the other hand, the medical device will not utter a single word of protest when I light up a bowl of tobacco. Samuel Gawith's Saint James Flake, or Greg Pease's Stonehenge, or Rattray's Old Gowrie.

From which I deduce that stents and other medical devices may not have a sense of smell, or are fairly casual and accepting of odoriferous stimuli.
And I suppose that they can be comforting.

Within the fortnight I'll possibly find out.

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It has become glaringly obvious that many of my fellow humans are not able to use perspective and any common sense when they watch television or read things on the internet. Fox News understood this years ago, and happily gives their own demented spin on everything, one that accords with their radical agenda. Other news organizations likewise offer interpretation.
The best are still the mainstream sources, the worst are, like Fox and the Russian state broadcaster, determined to twist malleable minds.

Backstory, motivations, nuance, and crucial details.
All of this goes missing for many people.

Sadly, the only things that they seem capable of dealing with are the immediacy and cuteness of cat pictures.

Very well. Here is a cat.

This cat tortures puppies and tears down the rainforest.
He believes that humans are a waste of time.
There is no grass in that pipe.


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Saturday, January 19, 2019


California at times reminds one of elsewhere. Over a week ago, during a downpour, I remarked to a cigar-smoking gentleman that the horrid weather resembled Holland in mid-summer, especially the afternoon when a market merchant's eel boxes overflowed on the central square in Valkenswaard and we ended up trying to scoop the desperate creatures out of the gutters before they all escaped down the drains.
The Dutch love eels. No, not as pets.

The rain reminded me of that, but not the temperature.

The other day when the precipitation drummed on the corrugated iron of the awning under which I sheltered with a pipe, it recalled South East Asia.
Again, not the temperature.

On Thursday, when I took public transit to a doctor's appointment, we passed by several trees downed or damaged by Wednesday evening's storm. Because of the terrain in San Francisco, some of the most beautiful trees, decades old, have not been able to grow a deep and durable fundament, and remain lightly anchored. Almost nothing here has a buttress root system.

Ficus, kapok, and durio spp. do not thrive in this climate. We're not as frozen as New York, but in the wet season we're still rather beastly. Too cold for tropical timber. The trees that do thrive here seldom house ghosts.

Fig trees (pohon waringin), especially, are prone to supernatural occupancy.
The trailing aerial roots, once they hit the ground, become a dense barrier of columns or supplementary trunks. In Indonesia, the pontianak is said to hide within, though many specimens house spirits which are protective of the locality, and some hide the ghosts of saintly people associated with the locality's Islamic traditions or witch craft and daemon worship.

Light incense near them for good luck.
Especially if gambling.


Obviously, we need to plant those here, for our lottery tickets.
Which are San Francisco's most popular folk religion.
Ahead of veganism, crystal healing, and pot.
We'll burn sage. Instead of sandalwood.

Oh wait. No. Sage is purifying. We are all about heterodoxy here.
So we don't need that. The more muddled, the merrier.

Cold wet weather. Cabin fever, addlement.
A constant need for warm beverages.
The season of our discomfort.

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Friday, January 18, 2019


Lunch yesterday at the Washington Bakery and Restaurant was porkloin and egg on a bowl of rice, which is one of their new Thursday lunch specials: 豬腩蛋飯 ('chyu naam daan faan')。 They are updating the menu for a more contemporary fit.

It was very good, but I really wish they would bring back the baked Portuguese chicken rice (焗葡國雞飯 'guk pou gwok gai faan'), one of the old stodgy chachanteng dishes that, in its Hong Kong interpretation, was both completely inauthentic, and yet completely real. Portuguese chicken rice, Hong Kong borscht (羅宋湯 'lo sung tong'), French toast (西多士 'sai do si'), and spaghetti (意粉 'yi fan') as the starch option with a multitude of things, plus hot milk tea (奶茶 'naai cha'), almost define the perfect Hong Kong chachanteng.
That, and the club sandwich (公司三文治 'gong si saam man ji') with fries or potato salad, plus a selection of dishes finished in the broiler, often with cheese on top.

A chachanteng (茶餐廳) is a unique institution, which is in both decor and menu variable and often quirky, as it provides fast food, comfort food, old favourites, and eccentric interpretations of Western and Chinese dishes. Almost Blade Runner meets Clockwork Orange.
With shades of Tampopo.

Many Caucasians won't grasp the concept, and most mainlanders will not understand the nomenclature on the menu. Food snobs may hate it, and Anthony Bourdain would have totally dug it.

For some people it's a beloved change of pace, a break from cooking rice plus soup and sung (餸) in a cramped apartment, for others it's the working man's lunch spot, or a place for a quick bowl of noodles (sometimes with Spam and fried egg on top). Plus a high-octane caffeinated beverage.

Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice exemplifies all that, as well as what your doctor may hate about your dining habits. A base of egg-fried rice, with cooked chicken and potatoes in mild curry sauce ("Portuguese Sauce", 葡汁 'pou jap'), and a sprinkle of cheese, shoved under the broiler till bubbly and golden. The mild curry sauce is, nevertheless, fairly rich, as there is coconut milk in the blend. If the right balance of greasy-salty-flavourful is achieved, it is heaven on a plate. I have often thought that the only thing missing from the Hong Kong production is two strips of bacon, but some chunks of sauteed chouriço would do the same.

Hong Kong style Portuguese sauce (葡汁) is a low-heat curry gravy, light on the coconut milk, thinned with a little chicken stock.

Chinatown is slowly becoming more mainland Cantonese and Mandarin. Things are changing. And successful change means, perhaps, that there will be losses, along with improvements. Less 'kongish', more modern.
Portuguese sauce and baked dishes may disappear.
Or be totally reinterpreted.
Change is good.
Can be.

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Thursday, January 17, 2019


As it turned out, we didn't do the angiogram or the stent today. Just in-depth consultation, explaining what the heck is wrong, next steps and how we are going to approach it, and what the various options are. Then, two weeks hence, the angiogram. Plus Valium to make me receptive and limp.
And then, if necessary and useful, a stent.
Which is a great possibility.

And I should mention that today is Day Two of the additional medicine, and now, more than for the last several months, I truly feel full of piss and vinegar again. The next two weeks should be a cakewalk.

Today's lecture about the evils of smoking was incidental, and mild, rather than fiercely hectoring. The good doctor probably realizes that a pipe or two is more of a comfort at this point than would make the additional stress worthwhile. But he did mention that it was not good.

Because of the many hours at two hospitals being poked and prodded, food since Monday morning has been a bit of an afterthought. A few dimsummy items on Tuesday. Rice porridge and a dough stick Wednesday.
A bowl of rice with pork and egg today.

But there are cookies nearby.

And a cup of coffee.

Sometime this evening, after a nap, I'll head out for a last smoke of the day at the Tower. It's not raining, but cold enough that any anti-smokers should be home, warmly abed, clutching their tofu for comfort.
Nice, non-threatening, gluten-free tofu.
Such spiritual! Such blessing!
Karmic radiances!

All of my prescriptions say not to get pregnant while taking them. This paints a picture of American womanhood which is somewhat disconcerting. What on earth are you ladies up to while so young?
And still fecund.

[This blogger is male and middle-aged. I cannot get pregnant, no matter how many double bacon cheeseburgers I snarf. And I haven't snarfed them in years, btw. I am not a Clemson Tiger.]

Never mind. Don't answer that.
What. Ever.

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My apartment mate has called in sick today, it's that nasty cold that's going around. Makes one sound like a leaky radiator system, steam heat, drips, and eruptions. Now, I hope she feels much better in a few hours. But I will not be around for most of the day to fix her soup. Not because it's one of my work days, which it is, but because for most of the day I myself will be at the doctor's office (heart specialist) having something snaked into a vein with subsequent injection of a radiographic contrast agent.

All of this sounds fascinating. Together we will watch the x-ray movie.
There will be (probably) some lidocaine involved.


The results will determine three possible courses of action:
A) If there are serious blockages, the cardiologist might do an immediate procedure, such as balloon angioplasty and stenting.
B) Coronary bypass surgery could be scheduled, a surgical method for restoring blood flow.
C) If the angiogram shows plaque build-up that does NOT require immediate attention, the doctor will review the images and study the case before coming up with a plan of action.

Life style changes and further medication, in any case, are part of the programme. And in all honesty, I am not looking forward to any of this, but the alternative is not appealing either.

And, of course, there will be a vicious lecture about the evils of tobacco. During which I shall likely be fondling a briar pipe in my pocket. For symbolic comfort's sake, a pouch of something smokable will also be there, and the pipe cleaners and a tamper are also coming along.

I'm thinking a Peterson System Standard.
It's quite the most pipish shape.
Unique and serviceable.

Yesterday afternoon my doctor sounded quite upbeat and positive about the whole thing. Confidence inspiring. By mid-evening, mild panic was setting in, however, which altogether was irrational. Still. I am not looking forward to most of this day.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019


Ended up at Chinese Hospital again today. Appointment with a specialist tomorrow. But, rather than dwelling on medical issues, let us focus instead upon the hamberder feast our beloved president hosted on silver platters at the White House. Wow. Such .... whatever the heck that was. He probably enjoyed gorging on "hamberders". And all of us liked the pictures.
Photos of the piles of hamberders gave much joy.

"Great being with the National Champion Clemson Tigers last night at the White House, because of the Shutdown I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders etc. Within one hour, it was all gone. Great guys and big eaters!"

"Due to a large order placed yesterday, we're all out of hamberders.
Just serving hamburgers today."
------Burger King

Not only are the photos of the event staggering, the mental images are too.
And please imagine the gastric distress from so many greasebombs. Even if there were over a hundred people at the event -- including White House Staff and Lackeys -- that's ten congealed berders per attendee.

An ocean of Pepto-Bismol (Bismuth subsalicylate).
Nursing mothers should avoid taking Pepto.
And people prone to constipation.

Anyone dining at the White House could use dietary advice.
As well as a selection of condiments.
Sriracha at least.

Per Wikipedia: "Bismuth subsalicylate is the only active ingredient in an over-the-counter drug that can leave a shiny metal oxide slag behind after being completely burnt with a blow torch."

Shiny metalic slag. Okay.
"Medical issues".

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As per ancient tradition going back to when Noah exploded the Hindenburg at Golgotha, my friend the bookseller and myself crawled pubs in North Beach. Ending up at a place where a whole bunch of decent and relatively nicely behaving young Chinese people of both types (Mandarin-speakers and Cantonese) were drinking and singing karaoke.

The very least that should be said is that it was better than an e-commerce yuppie Marketing department on a night out. Better singing, better public behaviour. No staggering drunks you wanted to stick a blade into.
Obviously, we were the only Caucasians in the place.

It should be stressed that neither the bookseller nor I sing in public. Although when crossing Broadway we did parlando quote the Knights of the Round Table song from a famous religious movie.

I deeply regret that there were absolutely no Mandarin oldies in the line-up.
It was mostly soulful Canto-pop, with far too much Andy Lau.

At one point an 'Older Brother' type sang.
Which was quite unmemorable.

Did you know that there are several dozen songs entitled "情歌"? All of which are vastly different? And each of them is nauseatingly sappy.
Again, too much Andy Lau (劉德華 'lau tak wah').

In life, there is too much Andy Lau.

His movies are good.

I forgot to offer the bookseller a cigarillo when we left.
I feel bad about that.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019


As you may know, the purpose of the Nuclear Stress Test is to see how your blood circulates in the heart and major vessels, and how it all responds to stress, in a controlled environment with medical personnel standing by, just in case everything goes wrong. Which, in most cases, it doesn't. Part of the whole shebang is introducing a radioactive isotope into the blood, then a while later mapping out everything with a gamma camera.

It's a way of seeing potential problem areas, and acting preventatively.

The stress part can be done chemically, which means that your flabby old body won't be jogging and quivering on a treadmill, but will be lying flat, and a nasty substance which makes your heart pound is injected into your veins. Followed, shortly thereafter, by something that calms the system down again, while the first substance loses it's effect.

That, more or less, is roughly what I've gathered from the words of the professionals involved in conducting it, as well as the internet.

What I didn't know is that it meant sitting around for hours.

Or lying flat, also for long periods of time.

I already knew about the needles.

And I hate needles.

Chinese Hospital SF

One of my earliest clear sentient memories, absolutely vivid, is of being chased around a doctor's office somewhere near Naarden when I was barely three years old, for the purposes of torture (a flu shot).
Throughout much of my childhood, hypodermics popped up with disturbing frequency, flu shots and other innoculations. Since my late teens I have as much as possible avoided the damned things.
A series of visits to the dentist over a decade ago was eased considerably by the humour of the master of ceremonies, a swab of topical anesthesia, and subsequent jabs I did not notice.

I am not a sensitive man. Just phobic. As well as neurotic.

The bad news, when they released me to go get lunch, was "no caffeinated beverages!" At least not until much later, after everything was done. I had not had coffee or tea since morning yesterday, and I am, as are most people, the 'coffee generation'. Cranky without caffeine. As some might say, damned impossible to deal with, and easily irritated to boot.
A pain in the gand for people around me.


Leung go chu yiuk siu mai (兩個豬肉燒賣), leung go po choi gaau (兩個菠菜餃), yat go lo mai baau (一個糯米包). Two steamed pork cups, two spinach dumplings, and a glutinous rice ball with savoury stuff mixed in. Plus hot sauce and a drizzle of soy. It was, after fasting since late morning yesterday, absolutely divine. And the pipe filled with Sutliff's version of Brigg's Mixture afterwards, while standing under a corrugated awning of a shuttered store opposite the hospital was extremely enjoyable. Of course the only thing missing was caffeine, but two hours later I had a cup of gong sik naai cha (港式奶茶,一杯) and a chaa siu sou (叉燒酥,一個).
Hot milk tea and a flaky charsiu turnover.
Followed by another smoke.

And, because I was in Chinatown already, I dropped by my barber and got a haircut. So I am now fully restored, and I look ten years younger.

If any nice young ladies want to drive my blood pressure up, you will be pleased to know that I am full of piss and vinegar.

As well as fuzzy and huggable.
Like a forest creature.
But trimmed

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