Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Moments ago I saw a post with the words 'yoga', 'essential oils', 'juice cleanse', and 'kale'. It more or less dealt with medical matters, and fortunately the author wasn't taking those cited concepts seriously. Evenso, some readers objected. The words 'gmo', 'gluten', and 'apple cider vinegar' were angrily utilized.

Herewith a short list of terms which attract more internet comment than seemingly anything else. With comment.

All natural
Something that costs more.
Of or pertaining to the final part of the digestive tract. Either that or a neurotic compulsive behaviour.
Neurosis and ignorance combined.
Anti-gun legislation
Highly necessary, because America's fascination with weapons is childish. A subject which will get you killed in Texas.
Often a pre-condition for genius. Just make sure that the child has lots of fascinating science and history textbooks, maybe even a musical instrument, and access to painting supplies. Books on logical problems and mathematics are also a very good idea.
A lovely city on the East Coast, where the musical 'Hairspray' is set.
Beauty tips
Yeah, no. Red lipstick can be striking, and for the rest just wash occasionally.
The place where ICE detains people, and where children are brutalized with Republican approval.
Underwear, usually female is meant. Rather than lurking in Macy's, teenage boys of all ages head straight for the internet.
This is NOT cured by natural means. Apple cider vinegar has NO effect. The medical profession ISN'T hiding the cure. GMOs and modern agriculture are not the causes, love and a vegetarian diet will not cure it.
I like cats. Particularly when they are assholes.
Carolina Reaper
One of the hottest chili peppers there is. It's an amusing concept, but probably won't ever be a regular part of my diet. For a while Habaneros were a frequent inclusion in my meals, but I've scaled back because anything beyond a sustainable capsaicin level makes it impossible to appreciate the standard hot sauces and spices. I'm perfectly fine with Sriracha and normal sambals, and chopped Jalapenos for crunch. I have no need to prove my manhood. I've seen enough dumbasses do that by adding stuff beyond their normal heat level, with unpleasant results. Oh, such machismo! Idiots.
Hippie bullshit.
Christian singles
Yeah, no. I have no wish to pursue this concept, or know any of these people.
A process, usually based on chemistry, biology, or therapy. Not magic. Not Vegan. Not miracle food. Not gluten-free.
Essential oils
Hippie bullshit.
Global warming
Real, happening.
Gluten free
The improvement in crops due to selective breeding and modifications in a lab. Probably the solution to world hunger, numerous dietary deficiencies, over-use of fertilizer, and ridiculous farming practices by hippies. 
Green coffee bean extract
Hippie bullshit.
Gun laws
Highly necessary. Except in Texas. Let those f*ckers kill each other.
Hello Kitty
Something of which I approve. No, not on my underwear. But as an ironic gestalt.
Icelandic bee honey
Something of which I also approve. No, not on my underwear, but as an ironic gestalt.
An imaginary friend, ultimately derived from Babylonian and Sumerian deities.
Not the subject of a rant by Lebowski, but the moron who is now in charge of Britain.
Juice cleanse
Something useless, and possibly dangerous.
Not a superfood, but when sauteed with garlic, ginger, and bacon actually rather tasty. Not a suitable ingredient in shakes. Unless you add bacon.
Cute things that grow up to be cats. Helpless for the first few weeks, then curious and wobbly.
Kushner Cos
Slum landlords in Baltimore.

A necessary good. Without them you'd be working long hours for starvation wages, have no future or voting rights, be illiterate, and very likely in jail for uppityness and saying something.
Mass shooting
Something caused by gun nuts.
A disease for which there is a vaccination, which is totally safe, effective, and highly recommended by people who don't have their heads screwed up their back passage.
Source of chilies, corn, salsa, avocados, and stupendous graphics.
One of the most vile places on the planet.
Mitch McConnell
A vile human being.
There are two times during the average day when I am naked. In between finishing my morning wash and putting on my streetwear, and at the end of day after brushing my teeth and going to bed. This is not abnormal.
The pure and wholesome state of pipe tobacco without artificial flavourings and humectants, provided all processing has been done by a responsible company. In the past, Hendrik Taconis Tabaksfabrikant (Oldenhove and Leeuwarden) produced a thin ribbon Maryland tobacco which was so clean and pure that children could stuff it in their clays, at present one must rely on Pease, Sam Gawith, Cornell & Diehl, Daughters and Ryan, L.J.Peretti, and Germains (esoterica). But note that some of these brands also cater to perverts, so read up on their products first. Smokers of aromatics are the larger part of the business, unfortunately. Scandinavian manufacturers also make some fine products, often available in bulk at your local tobacconist.
Especially in college towns.
Simple ribbon-cut Maryland ("Baai Tabak") is hard to find nowadays, but almost nothing beats a good Virginia blend, or a mixture of Virginias and Perique. Samuel Gawith's Golden Glow, Best Brown, Saint James Flake; Greg Pease's Union Square, Regency, and Stonehenge(!); Esoterica's Dunbar and Dorchester, and of course Elizabethan and Dark Flake.
Also try Orlik's Golden Sliced.
Natural healing
Complete & utter bullshit. All healing is a natural process, frequently aided by sound nutrition, bed rest, and well-researched chemistry. Without at the very least aspirin, penicillin, vaccines, blood pressure medications, and artificial insulin, plus dentistry, life in the modern world would still be nasty, brutish, and short.
A jolly good thing.
See Mississippi.
Why is this dipshit running again?!?
Hypothetical. At my age, something I think about.
Thermal underwear
Might be a good idea.
Not something I think about.
Most white people shouldn't even think about cooking this. It's best with garlic, chilies, douban jeung, and fatty pork. A vegetarian version can be made with salmon.
A lying vulgarian of extremely low morals.
Absolutely the most addictive nicotine delivery system there is, often made deliberately appealing to younger adults who never really matured by the addition of candy flavourings. Similar, in that regard, to aromatic pipe tobaccos, and on the same level of depravity.
Vladimir Putin
A man with severe psychological defects who rules a country marked by severe psychological defects. McConnell, Trump, and Kim's handler.
Seriously? You know that there are ladders, right?
What the British talk about in lieu of sex.
Hippie bullshit.
Yoni egg
One of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard about.

There are many other words that start discussion and acrimony flowing, but the ones listed above are more than enough to ruin any conversation.

What with being all sweetness and light, and an amicable sort of man, agreeable and whatnot, I never talk about such things.

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The number of foreign students at American Universities is, roughly, around a million, of which one third are from mainland China. And a number of these are not sympathetic to the protests in Hong Kong. This blogger would guess that that is because they've been long accustomed to sneer at Cantonese speakers along with all other overseas Chinese out of a mistaken sense of superiority.

Which shows when they wander about in Chinatown.

It did not used to be like that.

In the past, before Mainlanders arrived, the sneering outsiders were always Taiwanese, who also thought that speaking Mandarin and being superior were charming and divinely inspired. The Taiwanese have gone native here, their United States born children sometimes still speak Mandarin, though they often wish that they could actually also read Chinese -- one reason for "Northern" style eateries to have menus with a lot of English and pretty pictures is so that they can cater to those people -- but since then Mainlanders have discovered that an easy escape route during the next crackdown on corruption is to have relatives in America.
Hence large numbers of fuerdai (富二代 'fu yi doi') on college campuses, and precisely like tourists, descending on nearby Chinatowns.

That, partially, accounts for all the bubble tea places.

This blogger can think of at least five such establishments, where Mandarin is spoken, Cantonese just isn't understood at all, and most of the patrons are of very limited character development. But "expensively" dressed and equipped.

More hospitable places insist that their staff be trilingual.

That usually means local people.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019


The sparrow-like old Cantonese lady beckoned me over, her table had space, and everywhere else was occupied. And when I call her "sparrow-like", that's meant in a good way. Spry, active, full of vim. She likes people, and adds a civilized friendly air to the place. She's one of my favourite folks at that bakery, and has a sense of humour. No, I do not know her name. Names get revealed very gradually, in passing. I still refer to one of the regulars as 'Burmese Uncle', because he's older than me, and though of impeccable Toishanese antecedents, he lived many years in Burma.

There's also 'Luzon Auntie'.

Earlier I had picked up my medicines from the Chinese Hospital Pharmacy, got a haircut, done some errands, and bought essential supplies. Couldn't find sambal badjak, settled on sambal udang instead; shrimps fried with chili paste till nice and stiff. With a layer of congealed palm oil on top.

Also acquired a box of tea. Rickshaw brand black tea bags (車仔紅茶包 'che jai hung chaa baau').

"The Rickshaw Black Tea is a refreshing and strong aromatic cup of tea which is ideal for your hectic lifestyle, as it clears and calms your mind leaving you feeling composed."

Cleared mind? And composure? That sounds right on target. I can definitely use mind clearance and composing, as the past few weeks have indeed been hectic, lifestyle-wise, oh boy!

Normally, my lifestyle does NOT include fighting sepsis for four days in the hospital. And it's good that I only had one appendix, which I am glad to be rid of, instead of a whole cluster of the things, like a bunch of grapes.

['laan mei']

Anatomically, the appendix is the "orchid tail". And also totally useless. Sometimes the infected little bugger needs to be removed. Urgently. It's an evolutionary mistake. If inflamed and untreated it may kill you. But as you can probably tell from this essay, I am still very much alive. That's courtesy of Chinese Hospital, which is staffed by intelligent patient people with a high tolerance for crusty Dutch American men. Sofar, they've saved my insignificant life twice.

So, still kicking, despite all my bad habits. Such as smoking (aged Virginia, three pipes today!), often indulging in high-cholesterol snackies (高膽固醇嘅零食 'gou daam gu seun ge ling sik'), not getting nearly enough exercise, sambal made with palm oil (棕櫚油 'jung leui yau'), and other vices.

Like drinking tea instead of water throughout the day.
Water is the tofu of beverages.

Having a refreshing and strong cup of tea right now.

If I were still the man I was, I would also have a chilled shot of Genever, it being precisely the overlap of teatime and the cocktail hour, but I abstain from alcohol because of my medication.

The Sparrow Lady, a friend of hers, and I discussed betelnuts (檳榔 'pan long'), which are a bad habit that I never acquired, but incredibly common in South East Asia. I bet my doctor is glad I didn't; some of his Mandarin-speaking patients probably did. Taiwanese.

No idea how the subject came up. Something in relation to Mao Zedong, studying dictionaries, and the Dunhill store that used to be on the corner of Stockton and Post, Union Square, nearly thirty years ago. The precise train of thought left the station while I was still on the platform.

Is my mind clear and calm?
You can bet it is.

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The wise man, if he has monkeys, always makes sure they are happy. Especially because one of them will otherwise hold his wallet hostage, and another is one of three assistant substitute head roomies if the sheepess (the stand-in head roomie when necessary) is on vacation.
Of course one of the monkeys lives in the wise man's bed, near all the heaped up books, and is currently pretending to be 'Gorillacula'. The other one is over in the young lady's room, muttering 'neeb, neeb' to himself, and looking very pleased with his new striped garment.

Both of them came from the company where I used to work. One of them lived in the product development lab until Halloween of my first year there, the other one quietly lurked in the Marketing Department, and came home with me when we left that building. The idiots in Marketing had forgotten all about him.

No, neither of them have issues.

My apartment mate and I respect both of these individualists.
Even though one of them claims the Teddy Bear is his.
We've tried to explain the inherent sexism.
Ms. Bruin is her own woman.

It's a learning process.

Yesterday I bought some bananas for them. Not the usual type, but a bigger fatter kind that I found in Chinatown. No idea how they taste, as I myself am not overly fond of bananas. I suppose I'll have to try one soon; the monkeys do not report back, but make greedy snarfing sounds when they eat. And bananas are a good source of potassium. I am marginally low on that according to lab reports.

Per Wikipedia:

Potassium levels influence multiple physiological processes, including:
  • Resting cellular-membrane potential and the propagation of action potentials in neuronal, muscular, and cardiac tissue. Due to the electrostatic and chemical properties, K+ions are larger than Na+ ions, and ion channels and pumps in cell membranes can differentiate between the two ions, actively pumping or passively passing one of the two ions while blocking the other.
  • Hormone secretion and action
  • Vascular tone
  • Systemic blood pressure control
  • Gastrointestinal motility
  • Acid–base homeostasis
  • Glucose and insulin metabolism
  • Mineralocorticoid action
  • Renal concentrating ability
  • Fluid and electrolyte balance

Which all sounds like mighty fine stuff indeed. But only the monkeys would know. They are experts on the noble banana.

As part of my continued effort toward recovery, I walked fourteen blocks in total yesterday. Not much, I know, but five days ago eight blocks was hell. Of course that may have been because it was Polk Street, which is inhabited by unique and artistic individuals, who are, many of them, the centres of unstable karmic disaster zones and drama clusters of stupendous magnitude.

It's an open air psych ward.

More today.

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Monday, July 29, 2019


Discussion earlier today with Dutch tourists from Venlo. Remarkably, they had never even heard of durian, pudding made with which was in fact within ten feet of them. I didn't bother asking what they had eaten there, seeing as curiosity had pulled them in, but comfort zone limits undoubtedly kept them on the well-beaten track. As it likewise did me. Milk tea, and once I was by myself again, a club sandwich with French fries (公司三文治同薯條 'gung si saam man ji tong syue tiu'). Toasted bread, fried egg, lettuce, melted butter, tomato, ham. Po. Tay. Toe. Sprinkle salt. And Sriracha hotsauce, which in lieu of other sambals nicely delimits my personal comfort zone.
Much like no durian pudding marks that of tourists.

Can't blame them. Durian is amusing, but who would think of South East Asian stink fruit as something to try when visiting the United States?

I recommended they go see Mission Dolores, Golden Gate Park, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Asian Art Museum (Avery Brundage Collection) for jades, bronze, and Chinese paintings. North Beach, Mission District. Avoid the wharf. Other than the predictable gotta see tourist sites, that's it for San Francisco, especially when you have three kids in tow.
Chinatown ain't really worth seeing. It's a neighborhood.
That doesn't mean the natives are "colourful".
They live there. There are shops.
You know, food 'n stuff.
Barbers, banks.

My bank is there. The pharmacy where I'll be picking up refills tomorrow also. As well as my barber (hair getting a bit long and Bohemian, need a trim). The bakery where I'll have a hot beverage and pastry after running errands tomorrow too.

As usual, I'll be avoiding anything durian.
So will pretty much everyone else.

Might buy sopropo. And look for a jar of sambal badjak, either at the grocery with the pretty boss, or the well-stocked place with the old granny who speaks a dialect I can't identify, but can, sort of, understand.
Neither place is in any way "bezienswaardig".
Unless you're food conscious.

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In a previous post I spoke disparagingly of Tiki drinks. Perhaps quite unjustly. Mr. Bender cited the Mai Tai in their defense, and it should naturally be mentioned that a Fogcutter, properly made, might put a Texan under the table.


Two ounces plus white Rum
Less than an ounce Gin
Less than an ounce Brandy
Two ounces orange juice
One ounce lemon juice
Heavy dash almond syrup
Half ounce sherry

Shake all together with ice except for the sherry, decant into a suitable glass with the ice cubes, and float the sherry on top. Vic Bergeron's recipe added a sprig fresh mint as a garnish, which is totally unnecessary, and on a hot day would only get up your nose and irritate you.


Two ounces white Rum
One ounce dark Rum
One ounce Curaçao
One ounce lime juice
Heavy dash almond syrup
Dash bitters

Shake all together with ice, strain into a suitable glass. Again, whatever cocktail garnish you prefer will undoubtedly be irritating, so you might as well omit that.

I was thinking of including a recipe for a Singapore sling here, but after reviewing the ingredients I realized that it's effing well nasty. So no.
No sling.

A zombie instead.


One and a half ounces light rum
One and a half ounces dark rum
One and a half ounces Curacao
Two ounces orange juice
One ounce lemon juice
One ounce lime juice
Two ounces pineapple juice
Heavy dash of grenadine
Dash of bitters

Shake over ice, serve in a suitable glass, and optionally float a jigger of 151 rum on top. Something silly as a garnish. Perhaps a naked Barbie Doll.

The Tonga Room at the top of Nob Hill is, of course, the tiki bar to end all tiki bars, and well worth a pilgrimage. Suitable for bridal showers (went to one there once; a fondly remembered experience). But for regular summer drinking, any bar where 'Bubbly Doctor Delgado' (a beloved neighborhood mixologist known for keeping people limp and happy) prepares drinks is appropriate. I have every reason to believe he starts his morning (afternoon) with one of these and a bowl of fruitloops. Fruit juices and cereals. Healthy.

I myself absteem, both regarding booze and breakfast cereals.
Coffee and a good pipeful of tobacco, or a cheroot.
Damned well a puritan in my old age.

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Several Republican politicians, with the support of the older stiffer members of their constituancies, have made "white America" or a "whiter America" central to their election campaigns. I too dream of a day and age when the only permissible toppings for toast are A) Anchovy spread; B) Sriracha hotsauce or similar sambal type preparation; C) Marmalade; D) Italian preserved meats, like good salami. And of course, every body should enjoy a nice chicken curry for Sunday dinner, and stay the heck away from the church, because, you know, rowdy ignorant people go there.
Folks we don't talk to. Those people, dear, not our type.

Vulgar public displays of religion.

But I am guessing that ain't the program they're aiming for.

Coffee, tea, and good food are not a white American heritage. The white America of which they dream ate Spam, Jello molds with chicken meat and chopped olives, and canned yam delite. Served on check tablecloths, with tiki drinks and grape soda. That America's greatest achievements were tuna casserole and cocktail umbrellas.

Their America created 'steamed broccoli'.

Lord knows I don't want that living next door to me, there's enough Christian trash nearby already. Steamed broccoli!

Tell you what, guys, I promise I won't visit Florida and Oregon -- pretty much the default white people heavens anyhow -- provided you all keep quiet and stay home. And you need not worry about a brain drain. We've already got plenty of educated people. So you have nothing to fear.


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Sunday, July 28, 2019


Student activists, in response to the polite police warnings of force (red banner) and tear gas (black banner) pictured in the previous post, have their own polite statement.


That's three useful phrases that belong in your updated guidebook:

Stop Charging or We Use Force: 停止衝擊否則使用武力 ('ting ji chung gik fau jak si yung mou lik').
Warning Tear Smoke: 警告催淚煙 ('ging gou cheui leui yin').
Stop Charging or we Unfurl Umbrellas!!: 停止衝擊否則開遮!! ('ting ji chung gik fau jak hoi je!!')

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Hong Kong is largely a literate society. Hence these two flags used by the Hong Kong Riot Police.



There's an aesthetic here.

Chater Gardens. Chater Road. Queensway. Hennessey Road. Causeway Bay. Pedder Street. Connaught Road Central. Police Headquarters in Wanchai. Sogo. Percival Street. Yee Wo Street and Jardine's Bazaar. Connaught Road West. Tonnochy Road. Des Voeux Road West. Yoshinoya shop, Sheung Wan. Island Pacific Hotel, Queen's Road West. Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun. Eastern Street. Cleverly Street. Western Market. Wing Lok Street. Morrison Street. Shun Tak Centre. Arsenal Street. Infinitus Plaza Shopping Arcade. Rumsey Street. Wing On Centre. Man Wa Lane. Hillier Street. Queen Victoria Street. Sheung Wan MTR station.
Jubilee Street.

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Sometimes simple things are the most appealing. Bitterness, crunch, heat. With rice. Well, I can imagine some of my friends substituting pasta for rice, with the default pasta sauces they automatically go for -- cream, chives, bacon bits, garlic, and parsley -- which is also good.
But a mound of rice speaks to me.

['Leung gwaa jaa choi jin daan']
Bitter Melon Preserved Mustard Omelette

3 eggs.
Pinch pepper.
1.5 TBS water.
2 TBS preserved mustard (榨菜 'jaa choi'),  minced.
2 TBS oil.
Quarter to half cup thinly sliced, soaked, and drained bitter melon.

[Or you could blanch the bitter melon briefly in boiling salt water.]

Beat eggs with pepper, water and preserved mustard. Heat wok over medium, when hot add the oil, then pour beaten egg in.
Let cook about half a minute, then strew the bitter melon into it. When the omelette is a golden on the bottom, take two spatulas, carefully lift and flip over. Let cook till set. Dump onto plate, serve hot. To be cut up with a serving spoon or just ripped apart by flying chopsticks.

You will note that omelettes are as good a reason as any to actually have a decent non-stick frypan; it does make things a whole lot easier.

Sriracha or sweet Thai-style hot sauce (or both) are good with this.

Sardines or baby oysters, in a modest quantity, can be added. Or stirfried with hot red chilies ("di sambal goreng") as a side dish. Add roast peanuts.

In any case, strong coffee or Hong Kong milk tea to drink.

Bitter melon (momordica charantia) is called 苦瓜 ('fu gwaa') or 涼瓜 ('leung gwaa') in Cantonese, karela in Hindi and Urdu, peria or pare ('pah-ray') in Indonesia and Malaysia, ampalaya ('palaya') in Tagalog, and sopropo in Sranangtongo. It is a cucurbit. Cut it in half and scrape out seeds and pith, then slice, and soak in salt water to remove some of the bitterness.
Middle Americans will probably hate it.

NOTE: The quantities given are for one person, and there may be left-overs. Just double it if you have a family, and be sure to have the sardine or oyster sambal goreng, so that there's enough food for everone.

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Here it is, two weeks after my visit to the emergency room, subsequent surgical actions, and five days stay in the hospital, and it is perhaps time to take stock:
Still have pain. Often. Off antibiotics.
Recovering nicely, but still weak.
As well as considerably frustrated. Inaction, lack of energy, and driving myself up the wall by reading about food. Especially the latter. Food is life, food is living. Shan't be heading into Chinatown for a while yet for lunch. Though milk-tea and a small pastry will be on the schedule, because it forces me to exercise; yesterday I walked quite a bit -- kemarin berjalan sepuluh blok, membeli satu kek (檸檬味的瑞士卷蛋糕 lemon flavour Swiss roll) di kedai roti yang favorit. Sangat melahlah, lambat lambat itu!
I need a break, but only mentally have a huge appetite.
Still. Thinking of food.

[Cramps after eating, and hardly any appetite. But from the day I returned home hot sauce and sambal have been on the table. Because food has to taste good. It's damned well pointless otherwise. Life is too short.]

Stuff I will prepare in the second half of August:

Chicken chunks ,spices, simmered with coconut milk, and potatoes.
With split green chilis floating on top.

Crustacean creatures served in a spicy coconut gravy.

Meat, tomato coconut gravy, hot spices.

An Indian-style pickle, hot, sour, and semi-sweet.

Pretty much self-explanatory.

A meat curry with whole eggs and chunked potatoes, no coconut.

A vinegar-based pickle.

with garlic, ginger, and a little tamarind.

Potato chunks, ghee, dried red chilies, garlic. Plus cumin, coriander, turmeric. Like Jheet Singh used to make.

You will please note that there is no large fried presence. So it's healthy!

The ideas came from an Anglo Indian food forum, the actual execution will be rather Dutch Indonesian and dependent on ingredients available locally or already present in my larder. Several of these dishes will include shrimp-paste.

There will also be bitter melon, long beans, small bokchoi, and diverse sambals, plus keffir, and crunchy spicy garnishes. Maybe even something as complex as soto ayam, but probably avoiding that other Dutch favourite: rendang. Just too much chili and santan.

Current list of supplemental substances: Metoprolol Succ Er 25 Mg., Aspirin Ec 81 Mg., Amlodypine Besylate 5 Mg., Clopidogrel 75 Mg., Atorvastatin 80 Mg., Losartan hctz 100-25 Mg., Tamsulosin Hcl 0.4 Mg., Magnesium 250 Mg. .

Coffee, tea, and Chinese date water, are constants.
Though less than before; I'm taking it easy.

I have cigars and pipe tobacco.

Pizza and hot sauce.

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Saturday, July 27, 2019


A relatively new phenomenon is the Lennon Wall (連儂牆 'lin nung cheung') concept as has sprung up in Hong Kong near the Central Government complex. Poems, songs, squawks, and personal messages, ranging from a few words to long texts, all within the format of stickie notes. Named after the John Lennon wall in Prague in during the late eighties.
It's a means of expressing opinions and disagreeing with the authorities.
More high-minded than just rude graffiti, more literate too.

Imagine what would happen here in San Francisco if we did the same. For one thing, it would be filled with mis-spellings, and for another, every point made would be side-tracked by some dweezil writing about gluten, veganism, or the evils of vaccination. For a third, there would be obscenity everywhere.

[Canto: 'pin pin dei hoi faa']

It would be both a frightful eye-sore and an exercise in offensive ego-mania.
Largely because the e-commerce yuppies that have taken over the city are superficial, mostly ignorant and uninformable, and staggeringly immature.

Anonymous public text has a better tradition overseas.
Fewer emoticons or private parts.

There is a version of the Lennon Wall near where I live. That wall used to be the mural along the north side of the building that housed Big Apple Discount Market, which in parts still exists underneath the bizarre flyers now posted all over, for the bafflement of passers-by and folks waiting for a bus. I've met the man responsible for much of the content there, who refers to it as his 'shrine', although other than his own diminished sanity it is quite unclear what he is commemorating.

Any conversation with him, or the dysfunctionals and winos sitting in the bus shelter alongside, is predictable and uncomfortable. This is San Francisco, we have people wandering around in public who require different medication than what they actually consume.

I can walk over to the intersection, and more often than not, day or night, the sounds of emotional unbalance and alternative interpretations of reality will be clearly audible, not necessarily from intoxicated people outside of bars.


What I miss, from not that long ago, are the raccoons who would sometimes lurk in branches of the trees near that bus stop, or wander past further up. Several years ago late at night I passed a raccoon licking its privates in a driveway one block over. He raised his head and looked at me, I looked at him, and when he had made certain that I had no interest in his balls, he resumed his pleasurable task. Just a short neighborhood resident with fur, minding his own business.

I do not object to people like that.
There should be more of them.

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Saturday's scheduled illegal gathering in Yuen Long lasted far into the evening, and involved over two hundred thousand people. Remarkably, they didn't burn the town down. As most readers will know, this was in response to the attack on home bound people last Sunday by rural types and goons, connected to clan villages in Yuen Long and encouraged by certain local politicians.

There was much tear gas. Baton charges by the police. Pushback by protesters. Flung heavy objects. Sponge grenades.

Ten thousand were expected, well over a quarter of a million showed up.

Seventeen people were injured.

A police van was trashed.

Some merchants closed for the day, others kept their doors open, because as a number of them indicated, shutting shop would increase the fear and serve no purpose. All in all, from accounts I've read, it was a remarkably Hong Kong performance all round, with police clubbing people as they felt necessary, protesters hitting police with anything at hand in defense, missiles flung at long lines of cops, volunteer first-aiders tending to the wounded, and bottles of water handed around. Determination on all sides along with gallantry, courage, and sheer rock-hard stubbornness.

“When you act cowardly, then you will lose for the rest of your life.”
------University student Elise Cheung

And, of course, some of the locals were in a violent mood. One person was slashed with a knife, the perpetrator overpowered by witnesses. But it must be mentioned that the march included many Yuen Long residents protesting last week's pro-mainland thug attack in their community, and determined to show on which side they stand.

香港人,加油; 平安去,平安返。

'Bravo, Hong Kongers; go safely, come back safely.'

By early afternoon, MTR trains from Hung Hom to Yuen Long were packed with protesters, which situation continued, essentially, to midnight. Students, young adults, lawmakers, regular citizens, and university functionaries in civilian capacity, as well as volunteer medical and safety personnel. Many black clad individuals with staves and umbrellas. Hard hats and face masks. More than three thousand HK police officers were deployed to maintain public order at the protest site, a herculean task given the numbers.

Note that two of the clan villages toward which protesters planned to surge are quite close to the MTR station in Yuen Long; Nam Pin Wai (南邊圍, right next to the station, and Sai Pin Wai (西邊圍), somewhat further along. A third clan village, Ying Lung Wai (英龍圍), is barely a stone's throw away. All three are in Yuen Long Old Town (元朗舊墟 'yuen lung gau heui'), which under normal circumstances is well worth visiting, though presently it has a reputation for being controlled by triads and Beijing sympathizers (collectively: 東頭約 'tung tau yuek'; "the East Head Alliance"). And note that this might merely be an urbanite calumny against salt of the earth ruralists.

Early on, the police secured the entrances to Nam Pin Wai, where the greatest triad presence was seen last Sunday.

Yoho Mall and the main road (元朗大馬路 'yuen long taai maa lou'), scenes of much of the demonstration, are one the other side of the tracks from the villages. But by late afternoon, teatime, hundreds of protesters with iron poles and home-made shields faced off against police guarding Nam Ping Wai, accusing the force of protecting organized criminals within. Tear gas was fired a number of times. The confrontation continued, with more crowd control methods, and sometimes considerably less effective actual control, throughout the evening.


'Police warn of imminent tear gas.'

For the next several hours, Long Yip Street (朗業街), Eastward from Long Ping (朗屏) to the north of the MTR line, was the scene of numerous charges and counter charges, teargas, pepperspray, sponge grenades, rubber bullets, umbrellas as both shields and striking devices, and projectiles.

Inside the MTR Station (元朗站), protesters fought the police with improvised barricades, and fire extinguishers.

The day's events had started shortly after three p.m., and largely ended just before eleven o'clock, when the remaining protesters returned home.
Gauleiter Carrie Lam was, of course, not in attendance.

One of the primary reasons for this protest was the clear perception of police and gangster collusion (警黑勾結) at last week's violence. And that, for many of the participants, was a good reason to show up in greater number than many other recent protests in Hong Kong recently.


There is of course a time difference between here and Hong Kong. Three thirty in the afternoon, when the ruckus got well underway, was just past twelve midnight in San Francisco. Eleven at night, when it can be said to have ended, was 2 PM.

Fifteen hours.

SOURCES: SCMP, Washington Post, Reuters, BBC, FB, private messages, blogs.

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Friday, July 26, 2019


Over the past week, the reports about Cantonese villagers in Yuen Long attacking people with iron bars and wooden staves (baseball bats) at the MTR station have excited some attention, but scant informed comment, in the international press. Largely because the outside world thinks it's just an interesting manifestation of political discord somewhere exotic, but does not have much deep interest in details. But also because the concept of "walled villages" is far from foreign heads.

Walled villages (圍 'wai') in HK are an interesting phenomenon.

Here's an article from the South China Morning Post precisely about those zones in Hong Kong's more rural hinterland.


Yuen Long violence exposes the turf mentality of Hong Kong’s walled villages

To the villagers, the Yuen Long attack could have been understood as self-defence – against the anti-extradition and increasingly anti-Beijing protests that have spread from the city centre to the outlying areas of Hong Kong

Isabella Ng
Published: 4:00pm, 26 Jul, 2019

The brutal assault in and around Yuen Long station on the West Rail Line by a mob of men, most of them from walled villages and some with triad backgrounds, has exposed more than a schism between the anti-extradition black shirts and pro-police white shirts. More importantly, the attack on Sunday night shows a deep, long-standing division in Hong Kong between urbanites and villagers – especially the older indigenous people – in terms of their sense of belonging and ownership of place, and of governance.

For the longest time, Yuen Long was a rural area inhabited only by the indigenous Cantonese and Hakkas. Although the district has been urbanised in recent years, acquired more modern landmarks like Yoho Mall and opened up to outsiders (urbanites and even expatriates), the indigenous people maintain a turf mentality that hasn’t changed much since the 19th century, when the British took control of the New Territories but encountered strong resistance from the villagers.

Some of the indigenous clans trace their roots in the New Territories as far back as the Song dynasty. The clans ran their villages like fiefdoms and to this day, the villagers hold fast to this sense of responsibility for managing their territory, in stark contrast to how urbanites usually rely on the public authorities.

You see this in the way the villagers organise themselves, into village councils and other associations. And this is the mentality that led to some indigenous people taking matters into their own hands and beating up train passengers in Yuen Long.

To these villagers, the assault was an act of self-governance and self-defence – against the troublemaking outsiders in their midst, against the anti-extradition and increasingly anti-China protests that have spread from the city centre to the outlying areas of Hong Kong. Historically, the walled villages could not be entered without permission. Traditionally, the villagers are known to be pro-China and pro-establishment, except if and when the small-house policy created to compensate the clans is in jeopardy.

The Yuen Long incident was not simply a gang attack. According to reports, it involved more than one gang and more than one village (including those in the rural sub-districts of Ping Shan, Pat Heung and Ha Tsuen). To these assailants, their action was more a defence of perhaps their core value: “This is my home, don’t trespass.”

These rod-wielding men’s assault on alleged troublemakers and perceived intruders from downtown suggests the villagers still feel a sense of ownership of every inch of soil in Yuen Long, even though the rural-urban divide in Hong Kong is blurring. This is their home and no one is to trespass, never mind that the very land under their feet now belongs to a property developer or has become a transport depot teeming with innocent people.

The police’s handling of the incident – some police stations shut their doors, officers arrived late and failed to take prompt action against the assailants – was not simply a matter of insufficient manpower, despite the police chief’s suggestion. It was also an example of the New Territories’ feudal legacy: the police have a history of sidestepping direct confrontation with the indigenous people.

Of course, the younger generation of villagers might think quite differently from the older generation; video footage of the attack suggests the assailants were mainly middle-aged.
Undeniably, times are changing. Although the villagers were known to be chauvinistic in the old days, they have become friendlier and more hospitable in recent years, as more village houses are sold or rented out to urbanites and expatriates.

But if the older villagers’ entrenched idea of fiefdom is unchanged, it might affect livelihoods in a Yuen Long that is becoming increasingly commercialised and accessible by public transport. After all, if outsiders do not feel welcomed, who would patronise the shops and restaurants that rely on such business to survive? The villagers’ turf mentality, if unbroken, would seriously affect urbanites’ perception of Yuen Long as a safe and welcoming space.

The violent attack on Sunday night should be taken as a chance to re-examine not only the governance of Hong Kong, but also the rural-urban dynamics that could be vital to Hong Kong’s future development.

Isabella Ng is assistant professor and associate head of the Department of Asian and Policy Studies at The Education University of Hong Kong. She is also the author of the newly published book, Hong Kong Rural Women Under Chinese Rule: Gender Politics, Reunification and Globalisation in Post-colonial Hong Kong

SOURCE: Yuen Long violence - Isabella Ng - SCMP

This article will be relevant to anyone interested in Chinese enclaves in South East Asia and to a certain extent in North America, as the insular "our turf" mentality occurs in all Southern Chinese communities.
And understandably so.

Urbanites and Northerners, in one sense, are merely a foreign overlay.
If you are Cantonese, then speaking Mandarin is a clever trick.
When only Mandarin, um, you've failed at life.

And native born "English onlies", are, of course, never really people, except to their parents, who often find them inexplicably flawed.

Note: This article posted here in its entirety because I find it useful and insightful, and intend to re-read it several times along with further reading elsewhere. If I did not do so, I probably couldn't find it again.

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In an editor's column from two ago, the editor of the magazine writes about the local possums threatening his father. Which is almost believable, until you realize that they were armed and writing hate mail.
Erudite flea-infested hate mail.
Okay, that puts them so far ahead of the usual redneck as to be from another planet. Space possums taking over the backwoods of America.

And very possibly horning in on the methamphetamine trade.
An all-American industry if ever there was one.

See, that's why we need to solve the opioid crisis. Because otherwise them smarty pants outsiders will control our addictions, just like they do with coffee.

Starbucks: filled with Europeans, Colombians, and rabid furry vermin.

Your coworkers are already in thrall, enslaved.

They'll pay any price.

This blogger, in keeping with his hatred of addictions, like bad beer, junkfood, and enterprises from Seattle, has not set foot in Starbucks in years.

Instead, I will at times smoke a bowlful of tobacco after a nice cup of tea, while peacefully enjoying the absence of people on cell phones.

I am addicted to absolutely nothing at all; I lead an almost monastic existence.
Purity and light. And guacamole.

Yeah well I am enjoying a mug of strong hot Celebes right now as part of waking up, and will step onto the sidewalk shortly for a small cigarillo, also necessary, but I am not in thrall to bupkes. This is normal behaviour, rest assured, and normal folks all over the city are doing the same.

There are baristas abusing patrons withing three blocks in nearly every direction.
Unwashed and weeping junkies. Barely alert. Desperate.
Poor, poor fools.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019


First time back in Chinatown after a week. The last time I was there, I was stumbling out of the Chinese Hospital (東華醫院 'tung waa yi yuen') after five days of having an appendix removed and medical staff attending to me, this time was to stumble in for a follow-up appointment. Let's just say that I was glad to be back, over the past seven months it has become a familiar and comforting place.

[Back in January I first stumbled in, with blood pressure around two hundred, and a few other things wrong. I'm much better now, but I wasn't planning on severe appendicitis, peritonitis, sepsis. That has bollicksed things a bit. Can't smoke my pipe for another few weeks. Have to take it easy. No soccer, heavy lifting, or screaming angrily at rightwing idiots.]

As I mentioned to one of the lab staff when making an appointment for sometime in September, I figured that if any one had experience dealing with stubborn old codgers from somewhere else, they would.

And while some of the Mandarin-speakers there are a little afzijdig, even afstandelijk, the Cantonese speakers are all extremely nice people with whom it is easy to converse.

Well, the Mandarin-speakers too. But seeing as we only have English as a mutual tongue, that makes them a little foreign.

An exception being my regular care physician. Because he's Chinese from Indonesia, there is much that we have in common.

What I probably do not need is a helpful pamphlet entitled 糖尿病護理 ('tong niu peng wu lei'; "diabetes care"). It is a very handsome and nice looking multi-page explicatory publication, and would in many ways be fascinating, but as I can look all that stuff up on the internet with no help, it would be quite wasted on me. Save it for them as really needs it.
Sugar pee illness protection management.
No sugar pee illness yet.

Due to a whole number of factors, sugar pee illness is a issue among almost all minorities in this country, and particularly among the elderly.
Humankind is an animal that snacks, largely on stuff it should avoid.

I wonder if toast with Sriracha qualifies as an unhealthy snack, or is sufficiently "nutritious" that it's considered food.
I'm voting for the latter.

In any case, it's what's for tea today.
My mother would not approve.
Dad likely might.

I deserve praise for omitting the anchovy paste.
In lieu of "Gentleman's Relish".

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Yesterday my apartment mate came home from work, announcing "I bring sausages". Now, as the book seller whom I haven't seen since the ninth of this months will attest, sausages are a great and glorious thing. And medical staff involved in my recovery want me to resume regular digestive processes in full as soon as possible. All week last week, until they kicked me out of the hospital, they anxiously inquired about my eliminative progress. It was a bit disturbing.

In the evening, my employers called up to see how I was doing. I did not mention my guts at all, or what was going on there. There is improvement, and I should be back at the job in slightly less than two weeks.

Sausages speed up well-being.
I just want you to know that.

Might have some milk-tea in Chinatown tomorrow, after my appointment at the hospital. After which I shall come home and grill some sausages.

Rice, chutney, sambal.

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A few countries have issued travel warnings for their citizens visiting Hong Kong, due to the frequent unrest and occasional riot.
Which is quite ridiculous.

CITE: "After the Yuen Long clashes, Japan and South Korea’s consulates in Hong Kong have issued travel warnings or alerts on Tuesday, with the former warning of indiscriminate attacks in various communities in the New Territories. Other countries, including the United States and Britain, had previously issued such warnings."
End cite.

CITE: "The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which has for some time been advising its citizens to maintain a “high degree of caution” in Hong Kong and Macau, kept the same level of advice."
End cite.

SOURCE: foreign decisions to upgrade city’s security status - SCMP.

Okay then, here's my warning: White people, don't act so beastly drunk and obnoxious, especially away from Lan Kwai Fong. Even I would kick you aside violently if you fall down puking drunk. Putrid dumb asses.
Yellowish people: You'd be surprised how alive the war still is.
Don't get drunk.

And, for everybody, a word of advice that holds worldwide: avoid areas where demonstrations occur. That's not what "tourism" is supposed to be about.

As in all cases everywhere on this planet, do not act like the typical mainlander on a buying spree while abroad. It's uncouth.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019


Over on the Anglo Indian food page, there is a long discussion about Irish Stew. Which is mutton chunks from the shoulder or neck, onions, root vegetables. Plus parsley. The meat is browned a bit, as are the chopped onions. Potatoes or other root vegetables are added about halfway through the slow-simmer with liquid phase, so that they won't fall apart during the long cooking. The parsley is added at the end.

Upscale heresies cooked in America may add more vegetables, plus beer or brown stock, as well as thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf.
And roux. Which is slightly pointless.

The key element is long slow cooking to tenderize the elderly sheep or packmule. Plus incorporating the pan-crusties into the broth. Salt and pepper may be used, and are in fact recommended.

As it turns out, most Anglo Indians know it because of their nanny, or a relative, boarding school, the nuns, and just generally their environment.

It should therefore come as no surprise that a group so diverse in origins and home-environments as the Anglo Indians will have so many strongly held and often thoroughly justified different opinions.

Because I am a Dutch American without a drop of Irish or Indian ancestry, living in San Francisco, California, and being culinarily influenced most by Dutch Indonesian food, Indian Restaurant food (having worked at a local Desi restaurant part-time for close to a decade and a half), and Chinatown Cantonese (socialization, environment, and chachantengs), naturally I too have many strongly held and often thoroughly justified different opinions.

About Irish Stew.

[FYI: waking up this morning involved a strong beaker of tea made with cardamom pods, some sweetened condensed milk added. No, not "chai". Masala naai-cha. Chai is weak slopkettle you get at Starbucks, along with that vanilla crap.]

Irish Stew, properly made, needs garlic, ginger, hari mirch (green chilies), a piece of cinnamon, coriander powder, dhannia ka patta (cilantro), and a jigger of Sriracha hotsauce, perhaps a dash of Wooster, pinches sugar, nutmeg, and fenugreek, and should be served soupy, so that crusty sourdough bread and/or a mound of rice are appropriate with it.
Fresh sambal on the side, as a condiment.
Plus homemade achar.

Sambal is the absolute sine qua non.

Something else which adds considerable flavour is being permanently pissed-off at one of the Irishmen you know. As one naturally is.
Because he's an idiot.

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The title of this post is incorrect. What I did yesterday was wash, replace the bandages (in the process ripping out hairs), and go down to my bank. Read news. Then read about the An Lu Shan rebellion (安祿山; 安史之亂), which nearly destroyed the empire over a period of roughly than a decade. As good a reason not to trust Sogdians as any.

The tax base was destroyed, along with many useful public works, and the toll was frightful. Two thirds of the population snuffed it.

So, mostly reading. Tangential to re-reading about the T'ang Dynasty (唐朝 'tong chiu'), during which some of my favourite poetry (唐詩 'tong si') was written.
Often simply called 'regulated verse'.


Brief excerpt from Wikipedia, for clarification: "The representative form of poetry composed during the Tang dynasty is the shi. This contrasts to poetry composed in the earlier Han dynasty and later Song and Yuan dynasties, which are characterized by fu, ci and qu forms, respectively. However, the fu continued to be composed during the Tang dynasty, which also saw the beginnings of the rise of the ci form.

Within the shi form, there was a preference for pentasyllabic lines, which had been the dominant metre since the second century C.E., but heptasyllabic lines began to grow in popularity from the eighth century. The poems generally consisted of multiple rhyming couplets, with no definite limit on the number of lines but a definite preference for multiples of four lines."
End excerpt.

Semi-rhyme, full rhyme, non-rhyme, full rhyme.

Altogether much less tiring than public transit when you are recovering from an appendectomy, with resultant aches, pains, and tiredness. More public transit today, and tomorrow; medical appointments in different directions. And naturally more news reading, plus history and revisiting old poems. Each day is a little better, and I expect to be fully in the swing of things again by August.
Until then, I shall make the best of it all, and read a lot.

No excessive behaviours this week or next.

Ya man, there's the hect of it all.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Background, for those new to the internet: Two days ago protesters and regular people returning home late at night were set upon by well over a hundred white-shirted goons with sticks and iron bars, resulting in forty five people including a pregnant woman needing emergency medical attention.
This happened in Yuen Long (元朗), New Territories(新界). Local village leaders and politicians appear to have been in the know, and it looks like the white-shirted goons may have been connected to Nam Pin Wai (南邊圍), one of the local walled clan villages.

Since then, plans have been made to take the protest actions directly to Yuen Long. There have also been on line calls to trash graves and clan properties in revenge.
End background.

"A list of targets, including the graves of the parents of rural leader and pro-government lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu and ancestral halls in rural communities, had been circulating online since Sunday."
End cite.

SOURCE: South China Morning Post article.

Okay, y'all have lost your frigin' minds, haven't you? I can think of NO better way to alienate your fellow Hong Kongers than by causing a civil war. Which, make no mistake, this would do.
Destroying government property is one thing. And maybe probably justified when you can't get anything through the thick skulls of Legco members (香港立法會會員) and the police.
Everything should tell you that destroying local graves and clan halls, however, is monumentally wrong.

The last time it was sticks, kicks, and iron bars.

Next time, cleavers.

And, proactively, the covering up or damaging of public security cameras beforehand.

That's something you taught them.

I have some sympathy for your cause, but I cannot see you winning this one, or even making ANY valid points. And if you damage graves and clan halls, the rural population will forsake and physically attack you, eventually you will have no place to hide, your brutalized bodies will end up being tossed into sea, you'll be ratted out, and those of you who leave Hong Kong shall have no place to go.
The overseas Chinese community will make no sacrifices on your behalf.
And I know your English is not good enough to blend in.

Whatever you do in Yuen Long, it had better be “peaceful, rational and non-violent”.

Interestingly relevant terminology:
官黑勾結 ('gun haak gau git'):Official and Triad collusion
官警黑合作 ('gun ging haak hap jok'): Official, Police, and Triad cooperation

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An article in the BBC mentions that the Malaria virus is developing multi-drug resistance in parts of South East Asia, and there are worries that this might spread to Africa, where most of the world's Malaria cases occur. Malaria kills about half a million people per year.

Cite: "Malaria parasites resistant to key drugs have spread rapidly in South East Asia, researchers from the UK and Thailand say. The parasites have moved from Cambodia to Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, where half of patients are not being cured by first-choice drugs."
End cite.

SOURCE: Resistant malaria spreading - James Gallagher, BBC NEWS

Cite: ""This highly successful resistant parasite strain is capable of invading new territories and acquiring new genetic properties, raising the terrifying prospect that it could spread to Africa, where most malaria cases occur, as resistance to chloroquine did in the 1980s, contributing to millions of deaths," Prof Olivo Miotto, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University of Oxford, said."
End cite.

Well that's just ducky!

Even though here in the San Francisco Bay Area malaria is not an issue, mosquitoes can still be a problem. My apartment mate keeps a mosquito net around her bed because her skin and blood are appealing to the insects, whereas though I have mosquito nets of my own I have not deployed them in years.

She is Cantonese American and petite = Tasty.
I am Caucasian and smoke tobacco = Icky poo.

Because mosquitoes seldom bother me here in the North West sector of the city, and I'm a dab shot at clouting myself in the head to kill the little buggers, normally I don't worry about them. I just light up a stick of snow pear incense and chase them elsewhere. Which happens about four or five times a year.

But let us look at Mosquito Borne Ailments in the United States.

Horrible joint pain. Takes several weeks. Florida and spreading.

Also called break-bone fever. Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas. Spreading.

Tropical belt, not an issue in the United States.

Humans, horses, other animals. Fevers, sometimes sudden intense fever. Headaches, sometimes severe enough to be excruciating. Possibly coma, seizures, and death. Possibly permanent brain damage. Charming. Swampland, Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

Symptoms similar to Eastern Equine Encephalitis mentioned above. Occurs nationwide, more common along the Gulf Coast. Rare.

Infrequent, localized.

West of the Mississippi, from Canada to Mexico. Rare.

Symptoms between mild and flu-like to seriously encephalitic. Nationwide. Rare in drier cooler zones, grossly under-reported.

Fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis. May not prompt a medical visit. Lasts for weeks. Looms on our Southern Border.

Many if not most of these diseases are spread by the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and the Yellow Fever Mosquito (Aedes aegypti). Mosquito Season is year-round in San Francisco, peaking during "Indian Summer". West Nile, Zika, and Yellow Fever have not yet been found here, nor Malaria. West Nile and Zika are becoming worries in warmer parts of the Bay Area.

My advice, for what it's worth: Mosquito nets and White Flower Lotion (白花油 'pak faa yau') on wrists and ankles, if you are of Asian origin or have reasons to believe that you are tasty. Otherwise, use tobacco and snow pear incense (雪梨香 'suet lei heung'). Remove any sources of standing water, install fine mesh screens, and avoid marshy areas like Market Street, The Tenderloin, and Florida.

Burning spent tea leaves also works, I've heard.
Probably not recommended in drafty rooms.

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