Thursday, October 31, 2019


One of my coworkers has found a clever way to avoid the lines at Starbucks as well as at chachantengs. Instead of a triple soy peach, framboise, and vanilla-caramel latte, or a refreshing cup of Hong Kong Style Milk Tea, he starts the day with a high-octane energy drink purchased at a convenience store or gas station.
All the sugar, guarana, and caffeine he needs, none of the yuppies.
Personally, I think he'll die of diabetes before he's forty.
Or a brain embolism, from the gluten.

Actually, I'm not too worried about him. He's married, and has children.
So the college years will kill him before the canned poison he imbibes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I, on the other hand, am not married and have no children at all. So there are no future educational expenses to worry about. And I start my day with strong coffee and a cigarillo out on the steps of my building. Where, the other day, some hosebag gave me agida about smoking during a spare the air day. At six in the morning.

Six. In. The. Morning.

That is the same soft-in-the-head vandal responsible for pasting a wall full of berserk homemade posters where there used to be a lovely colourful mural of groceries near the bus stop, so I could piss all over his life's work if I wanted to. He calls it a shrine.

Instead, I'll simply vote yes on Proposition C.

Per Ballotpedia:  
"a yes vote is a vote in favor of this initiative to do the following: 

  • authorize the sale of electronic cigarettes and other nicotine vapor products in the city;
  • partially overturn 2019 city laws designed to ban vapor products not reviewed by the FDA (which currently includes all e-cigarette products) and flavored vapor products;
  • require additional licensing and permitting for businesses selling vapor products, including online sales;
  • enact additional age verification requirements, including scanned IDs, and maximum product sale restrictions; and 
  • enact rules regarding the advertisement of vapor products with regard to minors.

A no vote is a vote against this initiative, thereby leaving in place city laws designed to ban vapor products not reviewed by the FDA (which currently includes all e-cigarette products) and flavored vapor products starting in 2020 and leaving current regulations and restrictions on vapor product vendors and advertisements."
End cite.

My fellow citizens are too uptight and judgmental, in several politically correct ways. If your grandma wants to blow out something that smells exactly like the barista's abortions, let her. You do know that the entire city reeks ferociously of pooh, pee, and pot, don't you? A little bit of rancid raspberry steam won't do any harm, and can't even compete against the tonnes of Chanel and Aramis you blisters wear to work each day.

Neither will tobacco at six a clock in the morning.


By the way, more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarettes, and to maintain your youthful girlish figure, reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.
In a repeated national survey, doctors all across the country, and in every branch of medicine ....

As far as vapes go, the world is crying out for an essence flavoured with bergamot, neroli, lavender, and accented with oakmoss and vanilla.
A truly masculine scent, but soft enough for a woman.

Peach vanilla strudel is for sissies.

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Years ago, at the toy company where I worked, we had a pumpkin carving contest between departments. The Marketing department, headed by a truly evil man, slashed the throat of a stuffed monkey who was already missing a leg, and had him hanging out of the mouth of a monstrous toothy gourd.
They called their creation "too curious George".
I think it won a prize.

Later all the pumpkins were dumped on the kitchen table. At the end of that week, because of fruit flies, they were going into the garbage.

Being a sensitive man, I rescued the monkey.
Took him home and sewed up the gash.

After cleaning him up he was good as new. Well, minus a leg. Which, and he's convinced of this, he thinks I ate, with ketchup and mustard.

I keep telling him it was lost during a series of experiments in the product development lab (true), and that I had nothing to do with it. His early life was traumatic. Go ahead, furry dude, blame religion or the government.
Or Eric, Tricia, and the werewolf. Not me.

If I actually were to eat a monkey leg, it would be with garlic, onions, and hot sauce, NOT ketchup and mustard.

When shopping for produce, I often purchase lemons. Sometimes I do not use them in time, so they dry up, and become little shrunken fragrant balls.
Which, at this time of year, one can easily carve a bit, so that they look very much like Edvard Munch's "Scream", as if they were tiny pumpkins.
That's the extent of my Halloween observance.

There's a row of these things in the teevee room.
Where the monkey is not allowed to go.
For very obvious reasons.

The only good use of ketchup and mustard is to put those little packets you get from the fast food places into trick-or-treat bags in lieu of cigarettes.
Healthier, less gluten, non-gmo.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019


There was no transit to Rồng Thành today, the fires in the frontier zone north of Khu Vực Vịnh precluded travel. Fortunately they served sandwiches and hot drinks in the departure lounge, so when passing the counter I ordered lunch. "Siu chyu yiuk bau, tung kaa fei, m koi." A song by Cheung Kwok-wing was playing. Everyone remembered the lyrics, even after years.
Except, of course, for a tribal person looking for the bathroom.
All these tribals need to use the bathroom.
Many of them don't know how.

Charge him for a cup of coffee. It's two dollars.

The tribal could not believe that they would want money for his service.
He expressed frustration in his own language.

Rồng Thành: usually known as Má Lâm Thành Phố (麻林市). Huyện Má Lâm là một quận trong tiểu bang 'Giā' Châu (加州), Hoa Kỳ.


Lofaan tribals come here often, with their baggage, odd clothing, colourful beads, tattoos, and perfumed unguents. They peer and poke at the goods for sale. Some of them take fruits without asking, and it requires ten of them to decide whether or not to buy anything. Then every one of them needs to occupy the toilet. Do they do that back where they came from?
Such tiny, tiny bladders!


And they smell skeevy.

After eating I wandered about for a while, past bins of dried goods, fresh snow pears, and fish. Red robe, yellow croaker, sturgeon head. 紅衣,黃魚,鱘龍頭。 The latter is only $2.98 a pound, the rest of the beast $7.98. In Singapore it might be the other way around; fish head curry is the national dish, next to chili crab, laksa, and roti John.

There's also one shop that sells wild boar.

Red robe (紅衣 'hung yi'; Odontanthias rhodopeplus) is the crimson-hued swallowtail, a fish from the Gulf of Tonkin and further south. They can be steamed or braised. Or rub it with with rice wine, salt, and grated fresh ginger, then let sit for half an hour, and fry it simply on both sides.
Serve drizzled with dark vinegar.

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As part of the entire gestalt of the PG&E electricity shut-off (PSPS), many top officials, company spokesmen, highly placed wombats, and helpfully sensitive bureaucrats in front of recording devices, have advised us to remain calm, don't panic. Remember: it's only a temporary thing!
Please don't grab for the pitchforks and torches.
Truly a minor inconvenience!

And, to paraphrase one important person, stop calling PG&E workers in your neighborhood names! They might not come back!

Far be it from me to encourage any violence as a response to our electronic overlords. Without them, posting essays on the internet from the security of San Francisco, where we have no naturals dangers, would be impossible.

As a contribution to public mental health, then, I wish to draw your attention to this soothing video.


[SOURCE: Approved for Humans Recording.]

Please remember that PG&E CO. has ONLY your best interests at heart! The streets surrounding the PG&E complex (Beale, Mission, Market, and Main), though easily accessible by public transit, and mere walking distance from BART stations (Embarcadero, Montgomery), are NOT suitable for riots and mob violence, and engaging in such behaviour would be destructive and set a bad example to the impressionable young.

Plus there are logistical issues.

Instead, think calming thoughts about wheat grass and gluten-free.
Be at peace with the universe. Consider your navel.
Things are so much worse everywhere else.
Exhale softly. Center yourself.
"First World Problem".

Like almost all San Franciscans and other Northern Californians, I approve of the sacrifice of our utility company executives.

It's for the children.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019


There's an advertisement on television based on the premise that people just cannot recognize the language of the Netherlands. Which is probably correct; when I speak Dutch to someone, another person will ask what that language was that we were using.

This man is very bendable, and he needs a hug!

It shows a business conference with a translator who speaks passable Dutch. A person familiar with the Netherlands will automatically find several things bizarre, the very first one being the idea that a translator is needed; Dutch people overwhelmingly speak decent, even excellent, English, the younger generation has probably been familiar with the tongue since their early teens. Pop songs, television programs, textbooks, and technology combined have left them limp but bilingual.

Deze man heeft een knuffel nodig.”

Knuffel means 'hug', in case you were wondering. The subtitles clarify the haphazardness of the translations.

As you probably understand, translation requires more than mere conversational ability. Even conversation often requires more than that.

A textbook that introduces the American student of Netherlandish to the term “knuffel” is a wondrous thing. There are not many contexts in which that word will be used. Remembering it until it is time to inappropriately use it, even if one forgot it's exact meaning, is talent.

That translator needs a supportive knuffel.

He's an idiot of genius level.

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A good friend in the academic/anthropologic/ancient digging world forwarded a meme about Indiana Jones and realistic story lines versus what Indy usually does, which reminded me of Chinese urinals.

In a martial arts movie set during the Chien Loong years (Qianlong Emperor 乾隆帝 'kin lung tai', 25 September 1711 – 7 February 1799), one of those things was underneath the abbot's bed, and got used as a missile, hurled back and forth, during a fight scene. The humour being that nobody dodging it, catching it, or flinging it, wanted it to overturn or crash.

Years ago at a Chinatown shop catering to the tourists, some customers saw a row of those things. They were the cheap countryside version, slabs of coarse earthenware, and angular. They didn't know what those things were, neither did the shop staff. Perhaps they were meant for tea?

I could understand why none of them were familiar with the item in question, it's not part of the urban bedroom landscape. Though very useful.

Chinese Urine Bottle, 251 C.E., Nanjing, China
By John Hill - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Makes a great paperweight. The versions on display at the shop were coarse earthenware, low-fired, and heavy. Not suitable for tea, even if you were "inventive". And in the dark. The merchant that bought them for sale to the tourists probably did not know what they were either, just saw them and recognized that they were old curiosities, and unbeknownst to any elderly relatives decided that they were worth one hundred and twenty dollars.

You could also use them for your long-stemmed oil painting brushes, or, and it would boggle the mind, storing your bundle of cheap plastic souvenir chopsticks on the dining table. Keeps the brocade tablecloth from sliding.
Which you bought during that same vacation.

So useful!

If there are any antiquarians or know-it-alls among the dinner guests, they should kindly keep their mouths shut. As a simple courtesy to their hosts.
Really, it's absolutely the polite thing to do.

And that's excellent sweet'n sour pork.

My compliments to the cook.

It was a lovely meal.

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One of the most popular posts here in recent times was a long disquisition on people whom I may have offended (including Filippinas and cigar smokers), entitled 'I am fluffy'. The title may have lured furry freaks and animal lovers.
Which I did not intend; furries are weird.

From furry definition, Urban Dictionary: "As with any hobby, most furries are normal people just like anyone you'll meet at work/school or going to/from work/school or anywhere. Then there is the small percent that are hard core fans and have taken what for most is a hobby and perverted it (sometimes in an all to literal sense)."
End cite.

There's lot more there. Some of it is disturbing.

Does this look like a pervert to you?


It is not politically incorrect to make fun of people in between species, at whatever stage of their transition. Even if they are galumphing down Polk Street during Halloween in their dinosaur porn star persona.
Take off those velour scales, ya freak!
And cover up!

Which I saw over the weekend. This year, Halloween started on October 25th, Friday night, and has continued in fits since then. It will reach a peak this Thursday, and there should be spurts and bursts all the way through the evening of November 3rd.
Dies tertio.

I very much prefer the fairy-like young women with gaping fake bullet holes all over their bodies, and the sparkly unicorns in rainbow colours.
At least they remember that Halloween is for kids.

Not just perverts with candy.

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Monday, October 28, 2019


Lunch today was an adventure, what with the electricity being out. Because PG&E knows they've got us over a barrel, and clearly wants to screw us. If they go down, we go down. Which means we're now officially living in the Third World. Unlike the folks in Alabama and Mississippi.

No power means no microwaves, no telephones (because the cable company got everyone to switch to their service), no refrigeration (so a delicious tuna salad sandwich was right out), no chilled beverages, no McDonalds (inedible anyway), no tea at work, and nothing but chips, crackers, and preservative-laden cookies.

No, I wasn't looking forward to a tuna salad sandwich, but I would've liked being able to look at it and then decide to abstain.

On Saturday I enjoyed a delicious burrito, while the power in Marin was still on. A welcome change from the alleged edibles at the local convenience store. And I wonder what the gentlemen who run that place ate themselves today, given that their refrigerators and microwave were also out. So no dhal, no makai di roti, no murgh makhanwalla, no rajmash, no sarson da saag, no luchadar paratha, no achari maans.

No dabbawalla.

Everyone's emergency survival kit should have these four items: Bottled water. Spam. Dry biscuits. Stool softner. One of the regulars told me he believed that he had thought of everything. Until he discovered that the coffee beans were not ground. No coffee till the lights go back on.

I advised him to get stoolsoftner.

I left Mississippabama before night fell. Fixed up eggplant curry with koftas and chilies, over rice stick noodles. Plus coffee.

Here in SF we still have power. We can watch the coming hunger games in the rest of Northern California on our teevees. While noshing on bags of microwave popcorn, and frozen pizza.


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Other than the folks who run the place, there were a number of individuals there whom I knew from previous visits. Teapot Uncle. Older Brother Cock's Comb. The Man Who Looks Like a Pervert. The Man Who Actually IS a Pervert. And it is because of that last one that I shan't say where it is, because you might want go there, purely out of unwholesome curiosity.
Which I absolutely discourage.

I am, if nothing else, all about wholesomeness.

There was also a little girl there, singing the happy noodle yum yum song. Which goes something like this: "noodles, yum yum, yum yum, so happy! Noodles, yum yum, yum yum, so happy! Noodles, yum yum, yum yum, so happy!" And it eventually irritated the spit out of her older sister. Who had already finished her own plate of noodles, and was looking at her phone.
Which intellectual pursuit the little girl was sabotaging.
Because yum yum noodles made her happy.

"Stop doing that, it's irritating uncle."

That was in Cantonese. The little girl looked at me, upset. I mouthed "keui kong fai waa, she's lying", whereupon the tyke beamed. The older sister was still looking at her phone, and did not observe the conspiratorial exchange.


On a whim, I ordered a plate of noodles. So that I too could sing the happy noodle yum yum song. Noodles, yum yum, yum yum, so happy! Noodles, yum yum, yum yum, so happy! Noodles, yum yum, yum yum, so happy!

The noodles were okay. Though not, strictly speaking, yum yum
But I didn't mention that, and sang softly to myself.
The little girl heard me. As did her sister.

So happy.

None of the people I knew there observed this. They were too busy yacking, hepped to the gills on coffee and tea. Which was why I went there.
I had not intended to eat noodles.

嘩,呢啲炒面好味嘅, 眞係! 啊伯好鍾意啊! 咁開心。

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Sunday, October 27, 2019


For much of the past week I was in my underwear. And, when not at work, and after my apartment mate had retired to her room, only in my underwear. Because of the heat. Believe you me, not a pretty sight.
No man is beautiful after his early thirties.
Unless you're drunk.

If you went to a dive bar in Chinatown, you might well have ended up that way. And wearing only underwear. At Northern Station. Where they're still wondering about your account of events.


Photo: Alex Nicholson / SFGate

[SOURCE: How a 33-year-old Chinatown dive bar gave us one of the city's most beloved figures: Mama Candy.]

Okay, who let the press know about this place?

When the Loma Prieta Quake hit three decades ago, Candy Wong went across the street and borrowed the generator. At nine o'clock that evening, when all of Chinatown and North Beach were dark, there were four places open for business. Stinksy Rosie (not its actual name), Sam's Burgers on Broadway, and the Vietnamese place next door to Sam's.
All three had gas grills and candles.

Bow Bow was also open. That generator. Lights. Music. Ice. Chilled drinks. Booming business. Till the cops shut it down because martial law or sumpin'.


I never go commando. Unless I'm in my pajamas or showering, underwear is always in play, along with relatively clean overwear, and at times outerwear.
I must clarify this, because I do want you to get the wrong impression.


There was one time a man came into Bow Bow wearing only his underwear. Candy threw him out, because there was nowhere he could stash a wallet, and she didn't know him.

Well, no visible place. Tidy Whities do not have pockets. And these were tight and somewhat worn. Honey, I don't wanna know where your money is, but if it's near your Marlboros, keep it there and shove off.

No shoes, no socks, no slacks, no way.

Unless we know you.

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On Thursday and Friday it was too hot for comfort, and sensible people in the Bay Area would have vastly preferred to be naked, with easy access to walk-in refrigerators, where they could commune with their pals the frozen sides of beef. Today, and for the foreseeable future, it's sweater weather.
The freezing wind drains your energy, and maybe you should rub yourself all over with bear fat before going out.

Just remember, climate change isn't real.

Honestly, dear republicans, we encourage you to walk around naked.

Precisely as G-d made you.

The human body is a thing of beauty.

The power in much of the Bay Area is still off, with no reliable word as to when it will be back on again. Meanwhile, down in the Financial District, bums are setting fire to trashcans to stay warm, and workers being paid overtime at PG&E (77 Beale at Mission Street) are laughing at them and sneering while eating croissants.
Widows and orphans in Marin and Sonoma are desperate for heat, warm food, and shelter.
There is no place between the Bridge and Oregon with fresh sushi.
The situation is getting tormentuous there.
We need chocolate.

Slight hyperbole is to be expected.

Because my apartment mate is home today, and staying warm by cooking up a storm in the kitchen, this blogger because of sheer necessity bailed out to Chinatown, seeing as I needed a place to smoke where doing so wouldn't piss-off a Cantonese woman. Well, one Cantonese woman.

The frigid wind would have driven me indoors, but instead I shivered in an abandoned doorway, later in an alley with the sound of mahjong tiles coming from what had been a framing shop years ago, then under a metal awning of a store for rent. In the afternoon the windtunnel effect that the down-slope areas experience picked up, smoking my pipe was hard.

I sought refuge in a bakery where the eggtarts are excellent, the milk tea is good, and patrons agreeable. No smoking, but no freezing either.

In the Financial District, after tea, strong winds blew empty plastic buckets past me, smacked parked cars with flying fast food containers, soda cans and similar debris, and swept intersections clean, leaving sharp objects and filth heaped behind windless corners and in sheltered nooks.

Cut the second pipe short when I saw a naked fakir.

No, I do not like this weather.

We need more naked republicans glistening with bear fat here.
And well-fed croissant-torpid PG&E employees.
They're combustible.

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Conversations among cigar smokers tend toward strange. They're not the only ones, of course, and as an example I present this overheard snippet: "he was a beautiful child, how did he end up looking like this?!?"
Which I didn't wish to overhear.

Never-the-less. Three active speakers. Cigar-huffing men. One Nicaraguan Toro, two Dominicans of different brands and shapes.

"So, are you responsible for all the empty liquor bottles I keep finding?"

"No, I'm not the only one swilling booze here. There's also Ricky."

"Oh yeah, he does appear to be becoming an alcoholic."

"A wife and five kids."

"So, what liquor do you like, Eckerman?"

"Oh, mostly Scotch, but I hardly drink anymore."

"Huh? When did you stop drinking and beating your wife?"

Eckerman averred that he hasn't stopped drinking and beating his wife.

In actual fact, Eckerman does NOT beat his wife, and never did. He loves her very much, and he's a gentleman, despite his liking cheap Dominicans and similar trash. The reason he seldom drinks has to do with his delicate digestive system, which is why he also avoids delicious hot sauces, fresh chilies, salsas, spicy condiments, and achars. If the cigar is too bitter, or contains a lot of ligero leaf, it will also stress out his tum tum.

This is the same man who starts the day with two or three energy drinks, which taste nasty, and are the equivalent of liquid crack.

His stomach has an unpleasant personality.

As a pipe smoker, I get to listen in on stuff like this. I am a neutral witness, and an impartial observer. I am not gathering material for a doctoral thesis.

Today, due to Pacific Gas and Electric shutting off the power to two million people in order to keep the shareholders from being sued and losing their money, or perhaps it's part of an experimental mob control project, or a snit on their part because we don't appreciate them enough and want to see them all strung up after prolonged torture, I shall not be seeing any of these men, and I am "enjoying" an additional day off.

Enjoying is not the right word.

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Probably because this phone is listed as a land-line number, which is unusual and even eccentric in this day and age, it receives a number of pre-recorded mercantile ("scam") calls that it does not wish to get.

Policemen's Benevolent Associations.

Healthcare options for the very old.

Republican political campaigns.

You have won a free thingy.

Air duct cleaning services.

That last one is more frequent, and thus more irritating. Rather than angrily screaming into the receiver at a machine, I simply hang up. I will never have my air ducts cleaned. Primarily because I'm perfectly fine with how my throat and bronchial tubes work.

"Hi, this is James, from your local air duct cleaning company ... "

You know, James, Jimmie Boy, I may just book an appointment to clobber you upside the head. I have a two-by-four with rusty nails, and I know exactly where I can get a vat of acid.

James, do you have lingering childhood traumas?
I can make those come back every night.

Hi James. What are you wearing?

Pursuant thereto, an internet query tells me that although acids can dissolve a body, sulfuric acid being mentioned in particular, for a quick fix of James, his brother Stan, and the benevolent policemen who keep trying to guilt-trip me, lye might be better, and is probably faster, even if not as thorough.

I present this information for self-helpers.
Write your own thrilling mystery.
Happy Halloween.

Oh James .....

Sulfuric acid, Wikipedia
Hydrofluoric Acid, Wikipedia
Lye, Wikipedia

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Saturday, October 26, 2019


All over Marin the lights are going out. Starting this evening, probably lasting for 24 to 48 hours. Which scarcely affects me, even though I work there. Nothing I do requires refrigeration, and I reside in San Francisco. But I feel for those people. Unless you keep the water in your hot tub above a certain temperature, things start growing in it.

The wife of one of the boys in the backroom thinks that without electricity the taps in the bathroom won't flow. So she's filled up the tub, and hopes that will last several days. She does not understand how gravity works.

I feel for her too; I hope she paces herself.

All day I've been warning people about the Zombie Apocalypse. Looters. Werewolves. And Okies playing banjo music. I have also been threatening to sell matches, aspirin, and batteries, for thirty dollars apiece.

All in all, I am probably the very last person you want anywhere near you after an earthquake or during a civil war. Not a warm supportive person, possessed of an inappropriate sense of humour.

Marin County, as everybody knows, is the interface between the marijuana grown in the emerald triangle and the hipster city of San Francisco.
So it really is the worst of both worlds.

Some folks today have mentioned the possibility of torching and looting the mansions where the executives of Pacific Graft & Extortion live. Naturally that sounds like a splendid idea to me. And those addresses can probably be looked-up on the internet.

By Loyset Liédet - This image comes from Gallica Digital Library and is available under the digital ID btv1b84386043/f476, Public Domain,

Peasant revolts are thrilling, and have my fullest support. Plus they always end so well, and afterwards everybody gets ice cream.

Oh wait. That requires refrigeration.
Which needs electricity.


There's a generation out there that never knew a life without cellphones. Their juice will run out. By tomorrow evening they'll be hurting.
No Facebook. No twitter. No text messages.
No Siri. No Alexa. No Uber. No Lyft.

It really will be the Zombie Apocalypse.

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Friday, October 25, 2019


The most enjoyable article I read in months mentions rat poop. It turns out that rats placed in "an enriched environment" have consistently far better mental development and naturally better poop than rats in a boring place. As the training of the rodents to deal with certain difficult tasks continued, "all of the rats' faeces showed increasing dehydroepiandrosterone and decreasing corticosterone".

The first hormone mentioned is a stress marker, the second helps control stress. This information comes from 'Teaching Rats To Drive Tiny Cars Helps Them Relax, Scientists Discover'.

"...the mastery of a complicated skill can reduce levels of stress"

At my apartment mate's office there are a number of Filippinas, earning good money, undeservedly, who are totally stressed out because basic computer skills are so difficult, they just can't do those things, they've never done this before, it's too hard. They have tenure, they've stopped learning.

These women irritate my apartment mate, and I should mention that as a Cantonese person with Asperger syndrome she automatically learned these tasks, just like she mastered trig and solving plumbing issues. That's just how her mind works. Which I take for granted. She hasn't perfected changing the light bulbs in the ceiling fixture, because she is a shorter person, and both my height and my arm length are greater.
But bulbs don't require brains.
Just a ladder and long arms.

This research suggests that if Filippinas were put in rodent operated vehicles (ROVs) they would become better people.
Test their poop just to be sure.

"more challenging and enriching lifestyles lead to more complex neural networks"

One could also assume that life is better (though much more complex) if you are surrounded by Cantonese people who are on the spectrum, as well as long-limbed Caucasians, but that may be an unwarranted simplification.

Key quote: "Understandably, this is a pretty complex task for a rodent to learn, requiring all manner of cognitive, motor, and visuospatial skills they wouldn’t usually employ together. Nevertheless, after some practice, they were able to successfully navigate around a narrow arena towards a tasty reward, a super sugary Froot Loop cereal. "

SOURCE: Teaching Rats - IFLS

The women with whom my apartment mate works could be a lot happier if they were "incentivized" with Froot Loops. Which I shall suggest.

"It's easy for you; you're Chinese!"


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Thursday, October 24, 2019


It got hot today. Over ninety Fahrenheit. One of the few days we've turned on the air-conditioning (at work), unlike the Deep South where Mary, one of my fellow pipe smokers, lives. She and several of her Deep Southern friends and kin discovered that their aircons were on the fritz back in April or March, and their discomfiture was palpable from across the country.


The Deep South where they live has a subtropical climate with long, hot and humid summers, and short, almost non-existent winters. Temperatures in the South average about 81°F in March. The only thing that alleviates the tedium of sweating your privates off is, apparently, the ghastly weather during hurricane season; from May to January.

Our hot weather here in San Francisco will last a few days.
Theirs is well nigh endless.

I'm imagining women in mini skirts twelve months of the year, and men in Speedos. Well, not Mary's husband -- there have been photos on Facebook pages and social media showing him fully dressed, nicely too. Plus I don't think they make minskirts in her size, in case you were wondering, and both of them have a good sense of style -- but from Central Arkansas all the way to Miami, people are badly dressed. Minimal amounts of fabric.
Daisy Duke pants on the men at best.

Skin the hairy beach-apes and make coats out of their pelts!

Okay, sorry, the heat is getting to me. My apartment is still hot as blazes, and it's affecting the other person living here too. She's more talkative than usual. And she had a horrid day. This heat is going to last till Sunday, and most of SF lacks airconditioning, because we don't normally need it.
We don't have hurricanes.

"My blood is too thick for the Carolinas, I have never been able to properly explain myself in that climate."

Good thing it's only a few days. Several weeks of this and San Franciscans would loose it. All those Speedos and miniskirts hurt our souls, we're too uptight for warm weather.
I myself am wearing slacks, a denim shirt, plus clean underwear right now, but if my apartment mate weren't around, I would be slouching around in raggedy boxers, bare chested. And totally white trashing it.

It's ninety degrees in Atlanta and Tupelo at present.

Oh wait, looking at the wrong map.

That's Manila.

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Something the other day left me with an incredible longing for a tropical refreshment that I don't actually like: es katjang, shaved ice with sweet red beans. I actually prefer my red beans mashed and baked into a biscuit.

Es katjang featured in an account I wrote of my stay with a Chinese family years ago. It was mentioned in passing. It's on this blog under the rubric Talk Story, where there are over a hundred tales. Some based on actual events, some less so. A few are fiction, or fantastic autobiography.

A number of them talk about kids. And quite a number are not quite suitable for children. Rereading some of these I realize that I actually like children.
If they have already developed a personality and character-quirks.
A little exposure to the small blisters can be quite enjoyable.

Among my own favourite tales here are the following:

Eight Legs Cafe

Eight is More Than Enough

The Life Unlived

Something Familiar

Drink Milk

We Like Stinky Man

Don't Offend the Rabbit!

A Celebration for Turkeys

Got Soup?

Small Friend of Penguins

That last one mentioned is what prompted this post. A cute little Chinese girl, penguins, and nice cold treats.

The tale below also has a cute little Chinese girl. The reaction of one of my readers years ago was incredibly encouraging.
Thank you, Tzipporah.

We Want Charsiu!


Again, I don't actually like es katjang that much, I would rather have es Shanghai, which is more complicated and colourful, almost decadent. Fresh papaya or mango chunks at the bottom of a tall glass, with mixed fresh and canned fruits on top, generous shave ice, red syrup, and sweetened condensed milk. The old fashioned version had grapes in heavy syrup, far less fresh fruit.
It's basically an Indonesian version of halo halo.
Years ago it was still popular.
Very Chinese.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019


When I issued an apology yesterday evening, after lunch, for my recent horrendous posts about several people, almost all of whom are dubious folks anyhow, one reader seized upon it to ask "So what were you eating that resulted in this totally tone-deaf apology?"

Well, upping the bloodsugar level improves the mood immeasurably.
So it actually doesn't matter what I ate.

But in fact it was a tasty sandwich at the Washington Bakery and Cafe just below Grant Avenue in Chinatown. Something they've recently introduced, which is not at all good for you. But it's exceedingly tasty, and even Jonathan, the target of the half-donkeyed apology, would love it.
If he didn't keep kosher.

With thin-cut french fries

菠蘿豬排包 'po lo jyu paai baau'.
同薯條 'tong syu tiu'.

The cut of pork is boned and battered, so not an actual chop, as the standard Chinese name would suggest, but what in Hong Kong is called a cutlet (吉列 'kat lit'). A term which shows up on nearly every chachanteng menu.

Putting one of those things in a sliced pineapple bun is from one point of view sheer culinary heresy, and from another it's staggeringly brilliant.
Personally, I am of the latter school of thought.

It was utterly delicious.
Made me a believer.

PS.: There is no pineapple (菠蘿 'po lo') in a pineapple bun. It's called a pineapple bun because of the appearance.

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Sometimes people have to get in touch with their wilder and more ethnic side. Such as the other day, when an Aztec and a Hawaiian were talking far too long about spirituality and mysticism in my presence, and you can well imagine what that did to my mental state. Seeing as I am so white I glow in the dark, and consequently devoid of any spirituality whatsoever. Or mysticism. My culture substituted caffeine for both of those.

As a reminder of my wilder side, here are two recipes from the bush.
Where I have never been, and considering the prevalence of deadly mosquito and fly borne ailments, will probably avoid ever visiting.
But I digress. To the kitchen! Time for lean striped meat!

I would substitute water buffalo or wild horse.
Others might choose turkey.


Two pounds of zebra, cut into chunks.
Two onions, chopped.
Half a dozen tomatoes, peeled seeded and chopped.
One pound of spinach or chard, washed and chopped.
One cup of Myembwe sauce (moambé sauce, nyembwe sauce, or canned palm soup base aka sauce graine).
Juice of one or two lemons.
Garlic, ginger, chilies, minced.
Olive oil.
Pinch of salt.

Mix the lemon juice with garlic, salt, and chilies. Rub meat with this and let sit for an hour. Brown the onions in a large casserole, then add the meat and brown it also.
Add the tomatoes and water to generously cover, simmer for about an hour (longer if it was a tough old beast). Then add the chopped greens and the myembwe sauce, and cook till the vegetables are soft.

Serve with fried plantains and fufu or rice.


Two pounds of zebra, cut into chunks.
Two cups of crumbled roasted peanuts.
Two large onions, chopped.
Juice from one or two lemons.
Half a dozen chopped green chilies.
Plantain leaf – one or two whole leaves.

Cook the peanuts, meat, and onion with a little water for about twenty minutes till stiff. Take a plantain leaf and pull off the central rib (cut across the rib, flip the edge of the blade underneath the rib, and pull). Trim the leaf to a large rectangle. Sprinkle some salt on the leaf, and place the meat mixture on one side. Flavour it with the lemon juice and chilies. Now fold over all ends to make a secure package within several layers of plantain leaf, and tie it up like a postage parcel. Place on a rack in a large pot and steam for over an hour.
Unwrap at the table and serve with corn mush.

Like Jamie Oliver and Jollof Rice, this is blatant cultural appropriation. Tough. If something is worth doing, it's worth doing. Just be glad I'm not wearing baggy Nigerian Kinte cloth pants and a white kungfu jacket.

On second thought, that would be appropriate.
A snazzy personal style statement.

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Someone came to read, and left a comment I very much appreciate in my letterbox, pursuant the previous posting here.
To whit: "U R FLUFFY!.....and you used to love zebras too, as far as I can remember.
Very sorry to read that the savage kitten has left, but I'm very delighted to notice that you are just as crazy and funny as centuries ago.

Um, the zebra thing? A friend requested that I post recipes for zebra meat. Having briefly been involved with an outfit that sold bush meats, I obliged. And since then, many readers from England visit regularly, because after mad cow, they discovered that they loved zebra too.

Savage Kitten and I are no longer a couple, but we are still friends. The split was painful, but the relationship was no longer working for her.
It took me a while to get over it.

She has since then disassociated herself from the man she saw later.

That thing lasted quite a few years.

I have not seen anyone since our connection ended. Men in their middle age are, surprisingly, NOT considered a dream catch. That is to say no one has nibbled the bait, and at this point I seriously doubt that anyone will.
The bait is dangled occasionally, but the pool lacks piranhas.

I did subscribe to a dating site for a while, which was an eye-opener. What women want is a strong silent vibrant athletic adventurer of financial means, who will take them rafting down the Amazon and trekking in the Himalayas. With a dog, without tobacco, and preferably a vegetarian.

Given that I am an opinionated grouch who is perfectly happy NOT rafting down rivers or climbing all over a frozen wilderness, don't have a dog, smoke a pipe, and enjoy meat -- and will not change those habits -- a relationship seems extremely improbable.

I need to find someone with both bad eye-sight and a poor sense of smell.
Who is both carnivorous and fluff tolerant.

A likely candidate will likely NOT be found among the following:

Jonathan. Filippinas. Cigar smokers. Marinites. Alabama. Midwesterners of Dutch descent. Midwesterners in general. Pete Hoekstra. Christians, Protestants, Calvinists. Indian computer scammers. E-commerce yuppies. Coke fiends. Lindsey Graham. Sherlock Holmes. Kate Sears. Hong Kong rioters. White people who sing. Some pipe smokers. Fujianese. Kids.

Hippies, artistic types, spiritual people, wheat grass freaks, gluten-phobes, sages, shamans, psychics, crystal healers, eastern mysticism devotees, vegans, alternative medicine men or women, people who have had great epiphanies, or folks who write meaningful poetry, deadheads, potheads, white people with Chinese tattoos, anti-smoking nazis, anti-vaxxers.

Germans, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Italians, Spaniards, Walloons, New Yorkers, Malays, Pakistanis, Turks, Russians, Vikings, Burgundians, Icelanders, English, Irish, Welsh, Scots, and Gujaratis.

On the other hand, Hello Kitty freaks ARE a possibility.

Because I'm kind of crazy.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019


It struck me while eating lunch this afternoon that in many of my recent essays here I have been unkind (though not necessarily unjust) in my remarks about a number of people.

Cigar smokers.
Midwesterners of Dutch descent.
Midwesterners in general.
Pete Hoekstra.
Christians, Protestants, Calvinists.
Indian computer scammers.
E-commerce yuppies.
Coke fiends.
Lindsey Graham.
Sherlock Holmes.
Kate Sears.
Hong Kong rioters.
White people who sing.
Some pipe smokers.

Hippies, artistic types, spiritual people, wheat grass freaks, gluten-phobes, sages, shamans, psychics, crystal healers, eastern mysticism devotees, vegans, alternative medicine men or women, people who have had great epiphanies, or folks who write meaningful poetry, deadheads, potheads, white people with Chinese tattoos, anti-smoking nazis, anti-vaxxers.

Germans, Frenchmen, Dutch, Italians, Spaniards, Walloons, New Yorkers, Malays, Pakistanis, Turks, Russians, Scandinavians, Luxembourgers, Icelanders, English, Irish, Welsh, Scots, and Gujaratis.

And others.

What can I say? I've been grumpy and intolerant all my life, and if I have not mentioned you yet, I probably will.

On the other hand, I like puppies. And kitten. And raccoons.
That should count for something.
Penguins too.

Underneath my bitter and cynical veneer, I am actually all sweetness and light, and just filled with warm regard for my fellow man.

I also like long moonlight walks on the beach.
With my pet hyena.


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In a Facebook discussion, a respondent took offense to my accusing him of being a Trumpite for years. Please note that I could have focused on his bad taste in liking the Grateful Dead, but I didn't. I restrained myself.

Calling him a Trumpite was totally accurate.
And that is a serious problem.

His musical insanity isn't.

I know a great many people with absolutely horrendous preferences in music. My apartment mate, for instance, likes both Madonna and The Spice Girls, but I have tolerated that, much the same way she tolerates my walking around barefoot when she thinks of feet as being the ugliest part of the human body. Damned well repulsive.

Much like the Deadhead sub-culture.

So I merely responded with the laugh emoticon when he wrote "you are literally Hitler".

What I should have done was answer like this:

"Jonathan, I have long suspected you of being harmlessly insane, seeing as you live overseas and are often unaware of events outside of your own potheaded slice of Shangri La.
I would point out your several personal failings, such as your dislike of Kurds and love for Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Alex Jones, but it is now time to head into the poo room and poo the poo of the just, precisely as you should do too. Go poo, Jonathan, go poo. And then inspect the errors of your ways. Stop pooing on my Facebook page.

"And stop channeling the Huns!"

"Damned hippie!"

But I do not want him to then discuss his bowel movements at any length. I'll just assume that he eats his veggies like a good boy, stays the heck away from gluten-free and wheatgerm, and doesn't stuff himself with bacon cheese burgers at every opportunity like so many damned overseas Americans trying to show solidarity with the homeland.

It is now time to go shave and shower.
And think wholesome thoughts.

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The food was good, no doubt about that; but what I remember perfectly was that the waitress spoke perfect Antwerpen dialect with her coworkers and the customers, and city Cantonese to my companion. Yes, that was during the years when I was involved in a relationship. My companion, Ms. Savage Kitten, did not speak city Cantonese, but her parents home town lingo, Toishanese. Which I do not quite understand. It's dense.

What with being white and only halfway conversant in city Canto, HK style.

Similarly, deep Antwerpian dialect Dutch is ... "difficult".

Subtitles help. As with the Scots.

When I returned to the States years ago there had not been many Chinese in the Netherlands, but of course years later those few adventurers that had been there had established families, had children, settled, flourished.
Here in San Francisco we count it as quite normal that people of Chinese ancestry should sound like New Englanders or Valley Girls; we take it for granted that many of them are "long time California", as are the Okies, Italians, Irish, and many others. I just wasn't mentally prepared for Cantonese speaking fluent Dutch. Native born.
Second, third, fourth generation.

The lovely waiter and waitress at the mussel restaurant on the Tweede Helmerstraat at the Eerste Constantijn Huygensstraat in Amsterdam, who spoke fluent Dutch and English to the customers, and Cantonese to each other, well, that may have been a fluke. But the mussels were delightful.
I remember that very well.

It is a sin not to recall the food at a good Flemish restaurant.
But I was distracted, my language quirk took over.
A Canto speaking Antwerpsch.
How marvelous!

Last night I had a dream that involved both Antwerpen and Hong Kong. Plus trams filled with unintelligible English people. Quite naturally, the dream ended with seafood. If you are Dutch, Flemish, or Cantonese, you will understand why that had to be.

No, I never eat fish and chips à l'anglaise.
I learned that lesson years ago.
It can be abysmal.

Here in San Francisco, if you like seafood, decently prepared and not overdone, you are better off going to a restaurant where everyone, both customers and staff, speaks Cantonese. Not American English.

Post Scriptum: The Shanghainese and Fujianese are also excellent fish cooks, but often their food is a little too oily. Cantonese is best.
There are no Dutch or Flemish restaurants.
Which may be a minor pity.

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Monday, October 21, 2019


So. I am a very tolerant and agreeable man. Earlier today I listened to cigar smokers being themselves, as well as a stoner who needed a new stem for his Sasieni. When I came home, my apartment mate had to vent her spleen about the precious oh so precious Filippinas at work, women who per their own assertions are more competent than in any objective sense, and therefore pretty damned incompetent and a pain to work with.
Which I too have done.

One of them always took great pains to highlight my errors and mistakes, real or imaginary, in hopes that I would end up dismissed, and her brother in law could get my job. Two others, at a law office, could never remember my name, because I was slightly below them in payscale, but could remember the full names, plus nicknames and middle names, of ALL the two hundred plus billing partners, AND their executive assistants.
And spouses and children.

Those are just three examples. There are many more. Working with Filippinas can be mighty educational.

Though tolerant and extremely agreeable, I would prefer never to work with Filippinas again.

Philippine Americans, on the other hand, are a different kettle of fish. Those can often be delightful to work with. The key difference is whether they were reared here and worked hard to get an education, or were reared there, told that they were special all their lives, and got an "education" because of family money and influence. Honest people, or privileged class.

Anyhow, I've said too much about Filippinas already, and I'm probably gonna get stabbed by one of them once I set foot outside the front door.

Likely someone whose uncles are in government.

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