Friday, January 31, 2020

I AM NATIVE!

The other day someone pulled the "I'm a native American so I would know" crap. To which my response was "you're so white you glow in the dark". Other than that he lives in Marin County and is kinda spiritual and sh*t, there is not one blessed iota of 'Native American' about him. But it's a convenient excuse for his Iron John tendencies.

I am probably closer to validly claiming 'Native American' than he is. There are some 'Native Americans' in the family woodpile. But so far back that they were just goofy looking Protestants to the rest of the congregation.
Altogether, not even four percent of my racial make-up.
If even that.


So, for the record, I am 'White'. Caucasian. European ancestry, mostly from territories bordering the North Sea. Deeply in touch with the poetic horned Viking and earth-mother ignoring third world colonizer within. My people wielded battle axes and proudly slaughtered our neighbors when necessary. And oh boy did that contribute to our meaningful spiritual development!


Oh, and somewhere along the line we also invented movable type, stainless steel, and hot and cold running water.


The modern restaurant menu would be impossible without them.

You're welcome, and bon appétit.





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Thursday, January 30, 2020

FAIR FOOTERS!

The World Health Organization has declared the Coronavirus a global health emergency. Per the BBC, "At least 213 people have died in China, with almost 10,000 cases of the virus." And "Trump official: Coronavirus may boost US jobs". "US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, has said the outbreak could "accelerate the return of jobs to North America".


"The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries."

------ WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.


So. The asshole quotient just went through the roof. It's good for jobs, and it doesn't matter that there are 213 people dead in China. Y'all ought to be ashamed of yourselves, you're vultures.

Oh, and those folks in France who are now discriminating against people of Chinese ancestry, ces gens peuvent tous aller se faire foutre.


Furthermore, get your damned flu shots.




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IT WAS STILL LIGHT

Two cute small creatures. On was a little girl with a pretty face and bright eyes, the other one was young long-haired dachshund named 'Leo'. They were not in the same place, but I think they would have liked each other.


Counter woman: "Ney oi mat-ah, mui mui?"
[What would you like, little girl?]

Little girl: "Ngoh jung-yi naai yau baau, yi yi."
[I should like the cream bun, auntie.]


She looked adorable when she thanked the counter woman for the cream bun her mother bought her. "Doh jeh, yi yi!" I'm totally a sucker for small lovable creatures. Especially when I'm full of pastry and hot milk tea.

After my snack I enjoyed a pipe while wandering around Chinatown.
Too many tourists dithering about wide-eyed.
None of them lovable.


The little dog was at the Walgreens where I was adding money to my transit card. A small quiet curious beast, friendly, but reserved. I had first seen him when I got off the bus, and then discovered he was in line behind me.
Some pets are a great credit to their humans.
It also works the other way.


One of these days I must try the cream bun.
It's probably very good indeed.

奶油包。




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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

DIFFERENT TASTES

Peculiarities make the man. Or woman. A person whom I knew years ago read French novels and smoked a pipe, but abstained from alcohol nearly entirely because it made her face flush and gave her an instant headache.
No, she did not imitate Tolkien, but probably despised him. She was not a hobbit wannabee, more an independent woman with some rather old-fashioned college man tendencies.

She thought the pipe shapes I preferred rather silly.

But we held to the same tobaccos.

Strong English.


It is quite likely that she influenced me much more than the other way around, and in our sporadic meetings we would ask what books the other was reading, or what movies we had seen; there was no point in talking about pipe tobaccos, because we smoked similar blends and could smell what was being enjoyed. Occasionally: "Nice pipe you've got there." "Oh thank you, it's a Barling."

In remembering her, I distinctly recall that she disliked the pot shape, and had none in her collection.


POT SHAPE BRIAR PIPE, BLACK SANDBLAST, TAPER STEM


POT SHAPE DIAGRAM; SHOWING A SADDLE STEM

Recently I acquired another pot; a black sandblast with remarkable sharpness of grain, of an entirely unremarkable brand. Saddle stem.

She would have hated it.


People may have an overlap in some tastes, while being entirely different in many other regards. Some of my friends probably think that when I'm off on one of my tangents I'm an irritating sort of fish ....
As I likewise consider them when hearing about boats for the umpteenth time. At this point I bloody-well hate boats, but I shan't ever tell them that.
And to an outsider, my apartment mate and I may seem a bit queer. We're not a couple, and she hates tobacco. We don't read the same things. We seldom eat similar foods. She barely ever touches hot sauce (which to me is the essential vegetable component of a meal).

But when you find people with whom you get along well, you must cleave onto them. Friends are precious, and as you get older you become much more aware of the special qualities that some people have.
If you're lucky, you may share interests.


I'm breaking in the new pipe with a Virginia - Perique blend. Sofar, it sings.
I used to smoke nothing but Latakia blends, but years ago I switched.
Possibly I'm less of an impatient blister than I was as a young man.

My preferences in tea, literature, art, and people, have not shifted very much, but have broadened considerably.



AFTER WORD

This post is more or less in tribute to a fellow pipe smoker who passed away yesterday morning, John Harden (Matches860). I never actually knew him (opposite ends of the country), but over the years I encountered him a few times on the internet. A good and kind man. He had many friends.
Entirely different tastes in pipe tobacco.

May his memory be a blessing.




TOBACCO INDEX


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AN EPISODIC PSYCHOPATH

When I got on the bus yesterday, an elderly white guy of the whiny bitch type angrily demanded of the driver when Muni would finally do something about the bums who regularly hang out at that stop (Clay Street at Polk, heading East). It was untenable! Every day they were there drinking and smoking, cussing and frightening legitimate passengers! The bus driver mumbled about it being up to the police, for non-emergencies call 311.
I kept my mouth shut, because I can tolerate the situation.
The elderly Cantonese who wait there ditto.
It's that entitled white dude.

Indeed, it IS an issue. But the city ain't going to do squat. It would take police and social workers away from more important things, and two or three crazy people getting blotto while huffing cheap ciggies in the same spot every day is less trouble than the agitated psychos that will end up in the emergency room at SF General and attack nursing staff if unattended for too long. The city is probably hoping that a number of those people will die of pneumonia on the street this winter, and stop being a problem.

One of the newer psychos was involved in a loud argument with a sanitation worker. Of whom there are too few, and we should value them.


東華醫院

I got off at Mason Street and headed toward Chinese Hospital. My plan was to alert the folks in the clinic that some of my meds needed refilling, then head to lunch, returning later to pick up the pills at the pharmacy upstairs.

They were, however, miles ahead of me. The pharmacy had already been notified, the prescriptions could be picked up. At the pharmacy everyone recognized me. One of the meds had not been flagged, they would check on it, could I wait?

Well, how about I return in an hour or so? What I didn't mention to them was that I would have lunch, then wander around for a good long time smoking my pipe, which I have been told now by over a dozen concerned individuals at the hospital is bad for me and I really must quit.
No need to upset them on that score.
Just quietly enjoy.

[Finally had the bitter melon omelette over rice which I had been wanting since last week, when San Pan Mei on Stockton turned out to be closed for New Year.]


煙斗佬

I really cannot speak too highly about Chinese Hospital. Extraordinary care, competence, and consideration. I'm still alive, and given how warmly I am treated there, I should wish to be sicker and older, because I really like all the people with whom I come in contact there. If I live long enough that will undoubtedly happen. But they will make sure it isn't soon.

I'm nearly back to 100%. My vibrancy has returned.

Thanks to Chinese Hospital, I am now quite full of piss and vinegar.
It's like 2016 through 2019 never happened. This is going to be a good year.

[Walking is still a bit problematic, especially in cold weather. Probably circulatory issues in my legs, particularly the right one, but we'll get to that eventually. A pipe smoker must go outdoors nowadays, and keep moving.]


精精神神 ...

A few hours later, when I got back to my street, the bus stop psycho had taken over the sidewalk and was arguing with himself.
Needed careful stepping around.
Later in the evening, while having a smoke on my steps, I noticed the same man wandering in traffic and yelling. Not intelligible words and phrases, but it sounded threatening. Occasionally he would punch an invisible person just above his head, or gesticulate theatrically.

Very possibly off his meds.

He was still doing his thing when I left later for the weekly late night jaunt, but asleep when I returned. He'll be an obstacle for the office workers at that stop right about now, and will likely be fully alert when the elderly Cantonese go down to Chinatown.



Final note: I have reached the age of being called mister. Sin saang (先生). Which is NOT how I feel. Even "ah sook" (阿叔 'uncle') seems far too formal, but "lou yau" (老友) and "daai lou" (大佬) are both a bit off. My name with sin saang appended is startlingly new.




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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

OFFENSIVE CHRISTIAN PROPAGANDA

On one of my favourite groups, where I expect to see nothing but food posts, the Christians insist on hosting 'watch parties'. It's a group that was and should be strictly interested in a category of Indian cuisine. Anglo-Indian. Yet today there's some crap there which the admins have not yet removed, specifically something about Lourdes and the virgin Mary.

Yeah, no, I fail to see the connection.

Mother Mary please bless my pots and pans?

Perhaps it's time to start poisoning the Christians?


I am normally not a very tolerant man. Christians of any type are not my favourite people. Which is putting it mildly. If it were up to me, no religious organization would be tax exempt, and many churches would be besieged, bulldozed, or torched. Especially fundamentalists and charismatics.


Fortunately the non-religious posts still outnumber the Jesus-freaks. So what dominates is indeed culinary in nature: Naan, mutton korma, dosa batter, biriani, whole wheat dhuram atta chapati, roast beef, Bengali fish curry with cauliflower green peas potatoes and Bengal carp katla fish pieces, samosas, green masala beef curry, curd curry, beetroot fry and chilli beef, chilli duck fry, small prawns masala and aloo paratha, pomfret fry, prawn fry, bittergourd fry, shrimp fry, taro fry, beans poriyal, sambar, rasam, papad, ambot tik tarli (sardine) curry, mutton chop with potato, fish curry with brinjal & potatoes, duck fry, butter chicken, dumpling stew, murg mussallam and palak puris, ball curry, kachoris with aloo sabzi & ‘methi ki chutney’ (fenugreek seeds cooked with dried mango slices), Mediterranean mackerel cooked in banana leaf, lamb Casserole with dumplings, fried coconut chicken gravy with rice, and baked honey chicken legs.


Bugger the Virgin Mary, let's eat!




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THE ALIENS AMONG US

It all depends upon your perspective. While other people may find the daily news depressing, this blogger, being an unquenchable optimist and a cynic, finds it all immensely uplifting and cheering. And indicative of his fellow humans' remarkable penchant for imagination and embellishment. I blame my childhood, during which I was surrounded by Jews, Free Masons, Bilderbergers, The Trilateral Commission, Illuminati, and Catholics.

Yesterday someone I have known for years blamed the Catholics for the empty beer bottles in his parking lot. If only the Catholics taught their children not to litter their host country, it would not have happened.
Their fault! Those damned Catholics!

This does not compute.

Fantastic.


A conspiracy theorist somewhere probably agrees whole-heartedly with him, and has an internet site devoted to spreading these beliefs.


If I had a parking lot, I too would blame the Catholics.

In an ideal world, there would probably be more parking lots, so that all the feral Catholics would have places to drink their beers. While discussing deep matters. Such as universal domination, the Treaty of Tordesillas, and why the Jews, Free Masons, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Trilateral Commission, all conspired to create the Wuhan Corona Virus.

I've never been much of a beer drinker.

It's a flaw in my character.

I have eight legs.




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Monday, January 27, 2020

DON'T STEP IN A PILE OF DERSHOWITZ

The boys in the back had the Trumpeachment on today, so any rational conversation was impossible. But on the other hand, somebody out front had Darth Vader's Imperial March from Starwars playing on permanent loop. So there was enough zaniness to keep one from going completely batty.

Minding elderly cigar-huffing yutzes is not as onerous as you might think.
I actually like the boys in the back. Like many animals, dogs for instance, they each have their own distinct personality. The fact that they are dysfunctional moral cripples does not distract from their intrinsic cuteness.

Okay, they smell a bit. Comes with the territory. Kinda like a kennel full of polecats or pooh-baboons. But being a pipesmoker whose nose decreases in sensitivity as the day progresses, I can sort of put up with that.
And so far none of them have soiled themselves yet.



These are all self-made men. The shoddy workmanship shows.



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WHAT'S IT LIKE?

A friend sung out the praises of his burrito, which was big and thick and juicy and could stand on it's end. Why, it was the best thing ever! Just packed with goodness. No, he wasn't making a sexual comment, he really liked the burrito. Which is quite understandable. When I'm hungry, a burrito de carnitas con salsa picante, cheese, Spanish rice, and no beans señor! can easily pull me away from many things. Don't even need beer.

Yet I seldom have one.

A good burrito is hard to find. And given where I live, a joong bought in Chinatown will work just as well. Fatty pork, peanuts, a salted egg yolk, and a slice or two of lahp cheung enfolded in glutinous rice, wrapped in bamboo leaves, and steamed for a few hours. Just add a few drops of soy sauce. And a sploodge of hot sauce.
Very messy heaven.


I shall not tell you what it reminds me of.


Plus they keep, and they can be reheated in the microwave. Buy two or three. They're easily found on Stockton Street.


Embaklutjo.




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Sunday, January 26, 2020

NICE BUTTERY SHORT BREAD

Always argue with your turkey vulture. What with being a carrion-eater (or, as he puts it, "disposal expert") his ideas of rational conversation may be a bit askew, as well as his familiarity with normal creatures, such as the cat, the sheep-ess, the teddy bear (aka "head roomie"), and sundry others.

No, Sydney Fylbert, we do NOT need anyone "disposed of". And no one here plans on being a corpse anytime soon. Yes, this shortbread is delicious, but I do not know what cadaver it may have come from.


There is no facebook page for this shortbread where we may leave our condolences. But it's very thoughtful of you to think of that.


In other news, one of my friends is distressed that he missed one of the X-men movies. Something about "continuity" and "Marvel Universe". Blah blah blah. I haven't a clue what he's on about, and it's quite possible that his life encompasses a strangeness that I can only guess at.

I have not seen ANY of the X-men movies. Or the Batman movies. Or the Superman movies. Masked turtles, Captain America, and Wonderwoman.

Now, if they made movie about "The Dynamite Dutchman", a superhero crime fighter from my ethno-cultural group, I might go see it.
Backstory: having lost his parents at a young age, our hero decides, when he graduates college, to devote himself to bringing white collar criminals and Belgians to justice. Like all such heroes, he dresses in spandex with a bright shiny neon colour scheme, accented by bright coloured underpants worn over his flashy skin-tight get-up. His special powers are accounting, higher math, linguistics, waterworks, and clog-dancing.
Special food: Herring.


The only super-hero to which I ever paid attention was The Tick.
Now there was a true all-American idol for the ages.


Artwork for TICK COMIC CON EXTRAVAGANZA #1 
[Wikipedia] artist: Ben Edlund

All your Arthur are belong to us!

Spoon!




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LEI SI 利是

One of the freebees that some businesses will give out when new year comes around (my bank, for instance) is extra paperwork. As a result, I now have multiple calenders, and several different kinds of red envelopes for use if and when I hand out lei si (lucky money). And I don't know how I feel about this. Calenders are a potent reminder of mortality and death, bills coming due, the finiteness of everything, and lei si is customarily given by parents to their as yet unhitched children and equivalent kinfolk, and by businesses to government officials. It's not just older people gifting the young, but in a normal social context always married people to kids.

Note: in a bar or karaoke lounge, the owners, whatever their age and status, are "married", the customers similarly are "singles". The same holds for bosses vis-à-vis employees, gang leaders and their juniors.

So I have no idea when I'm ever going to use these red envelopes. I am a Caucasian, and consequently no one in their right mind realistically expects me to hand out lei si. Besides, I am quite single, and do not have any kids of my own, nor any young relatives who expect red packets at certain times of the year (the youngest kinfolk are in their teens and over a thousand miles away), and though I do know a few kids in Chinatown (because if you know people you also know kids) they are all accustomed to whites being inexplicable cheapos and not clued-in to the right way of doing things.



Sadly, I cannot expect to receive any lei si either.

You know, what with being white, and not being part of a social network with all the right traditions for this time of year. And of an age at which at which most people will assume that I'm hitched, or probably would not want to be reminded of being single, peculiar, and possibly damaged or deranged because otherwise I would and should be married by now.

White people are goofy anyway, and stand apart from normalcy.
Not aware of the proper way of doing things.
Kind of like space aliens.



Yeah, if I were married and had kids, I'd probably be wondering why I'm a magnet at this time, and where do all these little outstretched hands come from, good heavens, they're all over the place!

安康興旺,心想事成 ...

恭喜發財,利是逗來!

Instead I'll just hide behind my veneer of occidental inscrutability for the next few weeks. As well as my abnormal singleness. I am so white I glow in the dark, also a monumental cheapo, and I don't know how things should be done.





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Saturday, January 25, 2020

AN EXCELLENT START

Chinese New Year started a few hours early yesterday. The restaurant on Stockton Street where I wanted to have lunch was closed, not reopening till the twenty seventh. Many shops were shutting early, some already shuttered by tea time. And there were explosions.

In my neighborhood some Chinese dingbat was setting off things that sounded like heavy artillery. And I say Chinese dingbat, because even though there are tonnes of white dingbats here, and a few black dingbats, and perhaps a Mexican, only a Chinese dingbat would cause that racket.
It was altogether frightfully irritating.
Too close, and too loud.


Conclusion: evil spirits have Asperger's syndrome. Why else would loud explosions chase them away? This blogger wishes to express profound sympathy with the evil spirits. The next few weeks are going to be hell.

細老婆餠,杯奶茶。

Lunch was different than I planned. Two chicken buns and a spring roll. After a suitable interval a small snack ('lo po bing') and a hot beverage ('yat pui gong sik naai chaa'). All over C'town people were rushing home, here and there offerings were being burnt along the curbs. Darkness falls soon after five, still, but it's not as cold as it had been. Spring is coming.

Chicken buns are very tasty. Just add a little bit of soy sauce. And some chilipaste, for luck. Because it's red. Festive. Good colour! Trust me.

新年快樂,萬事如意,身體健康,年年有餘。

Have a happy and prosperous new year.




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Friday, January 24, 2020

CHACHANTENG SYNDROME

Quandary: statins counter levels of lipids in the blood, but also decrease serotonin, leading to an increase in obsessive and neurotic tendencies. For which the solution is more cheese, more bacon, more fatty meats .....
And eggs.

Which means that the thus medicated person must head to a chachanteng today in order to be truly happy. Lord knows that I don't need to be any more obsessive and neurotic than I already am.

Yes, you can all stop giggling now.


茶餐廳

For the unaware, a chachanteng is a Hong Kong style restaurant where you will enjoy things like porkchops on top of spaghetti smothered in cheese (蕃茄豬扒意粉 'faan ke chyu baa yi fan'), Portuguese chicken rice (焗葡國雞飯 'guk pou gwok gai faan'; a base of egg-fried rice with mild coconut curry chicken and cheese baked under the broiler), macaroni with fried egg and luncheon meat in tomato sauce (鮮茄牛肉午餐肉煎蛋通粉 'sin ke ngau yiuk ngau yiuk jin daan tong fan'), baked curry seafood covered in white sauce and cheese (咖喱海鮮芝士焗飯 'gaa lei hoi sin ji si guk faan'), won ton and porkchop noodle soup, French toast HK style, HK club sandwiches (公司三文治 'gong-si saam-man-ji'), and my current favourite, bitter melon omelette with a pile of rice (涼瓜煎蛋飯 'leung gwaa jin daan faan').
That last item is NOT covered with cheese.

All of these things are great with gobs of hot sauce.
And, conceivably, a rasher or two of bacon.

[A few explanatory notes: 番茄汁 ('faan ke jap'): tomato sauce. 白汁 ('baak jap'): white sauce. 芝士 ('ji si'): cheese. Statins (他汀類藥物): commonly prescribed cholesterol lowering drugs.]

The reason why they're called a chachanteng (茶餐廳 "tea restaurant") is because you can get tea beverages there. Hong Kong milk tea (港式奶茶: 'gong-sik naai-cha'; strong tea with sweetened condensed milk), lemon tea, mixed milk tea and coffee (鴛鴦 'yuen yeung', "mandarin ducks"), etcetera. Chinese style tea is served primarily to rinse your utensils.


唔該加一兩片培根 (煙肉)


Due to a change of schedule, I shan't be working on Superbowl Sunday, but an extra day in the preceding week. So my plans for February second at the present time include heading over to a favourite chachanteng for lunch precisely at kick-off time for a satisfying hour or two with food that makes me happy, and hot Hong Kong Milk Tea.

No noise. No loud screaming. No yobbos snarfing chili and pizza.

Even the rest of Chinatown will probably be quiet. No tourists. No fastidious visitors holding their noses when they see me smoking a pipe.


In an ideal world, Hong Kong chachantengs and Bombay Irani cafes would be combined, and pipe-smoking would be encouraged on the premises. This is NOT an ideal world, I shall have to spend time outdoors with my trusty briar, but at least I'll be well fed, and safe from the sports fans.


Football is an idiotic sport, and tourists are unnecessary. Tea, tobacco, and hot sauce ("sambal") are worthwhile and essential.

I'll probably have a selection of bulldog pipes with me.
I plan on enjoying myself immensely.




TOBACCO INDEX


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Thursday, January 23, 2020

NORMALLY IT SMELLS SULFUROUS

Normally, on work days, I get to hear the cigar huffing boys in the back room spewing their opinions about the state of the world. By 'boys' are meant middle-aged men, and by 'spewing' is meant saying stupid shit in a dumbass fashion. Which they can't help, as they are, almost to a man, blithering Republican yutzes.

Fans of the orange-faced Russian asset.

No, not Christians, thank god.

They're a faithless bunch.


Not the worst Republican cretins I've ever known -- that dishonour rightly belongs to a berserk Russian woman, an argumentative Polish woman, and a senile gun-nut lawyer -- but pretty damned horrid.

Today, because they did not wish to discuss the light shining on Republican malfeasance, quislingism, and chicanery, they talked about other things.
Digestive tracts, prostates, and pores.


I'm fairly sure that all of them have prostates. To be certain, I'd have to check, and that curious I am not.




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A STAMPEDE OF UNICORNS

What the gorilla needs to understand is that it is better to get duffed up a bit by the sheepess than to get ripped open by the teddy bear's claws. Which perfectly illustrates the dynamic in this household at six o'clock in the morning. As well as the interpersonal relationships.


This blogger will insist, in the face of such evidence, that he himself is the sanest and normallest person living here. And will offer that the gorilla clearly has screws loose. As do four or five other people.


When the unicorns panicked, they all accidentally killed each other. Speared in the rears. Sparkly blood everywhere. How tragic.



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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

NEWS FROM WUHAN

To the classically educated, the news that Wuhan is the epicentre of the new corona virus outbreak is of course terrible news. Wuhan, a city of millions, an industrial hub lying at the confluence of the Yangtze and the Han rivers in Hupei, is best known for prominent mention in a famous football supporters' song, which is the first thing that came to mind. Football, called 'soccer' in America, is massively popular all over the civilized world. And in England.


武漢

This entirely changes the dynamic. Bans on traveling in and out of Wuhan will have enormous repercussions, especially for British soccer fans.
Chinese New Year just won't be the same.

Wuhan is also were China's first industrial haggis plant was established, by Scottish Presbyterian missionaries. Burns Day remarkably falls on the first day of Chinese New Year this time around. Plan accordingly.


我們愛長江

[SOURCE: We Love the Yangtze.]


We love the Yangtse, Yangtse-Kiang,
Flowing from Yushew down to Chingkiang,
Passing through Chungking, Wuhan, Woo-Kow
Three thousand miles, but it gets there somehow.
Oh! Szechuan's the province and Shanghai is the port,
And the Yangtse is the river, that we all support.

We love the Yangtse, Yangtse-Kiang,
Flowing from Yushew down to Chingkiang,
Passing through Chungking, Wuhan, Woo-Kow
Three thousand miles, but it gets there somehow.
Oh! Szechuan's the province and Shanghai is the port,
And the Yangtse is the river, that we all support.


Haggis is called 肉餡羊肚 ('yiuk haam yeung tou') in Chinese, and your Burns Supper would be incomplete without it.
There is no substitute.
Mercifully.



Please note that the intro voice-over is incorrect; the Yangtze (揚子江、長江; 'yeung ji gong', 'cheung gong') is NOT the Yellow River (黄河 'wong ho'), which actually lies much further north. Chinese civilization (and football) started in the Yellow River Basin nearly 4 millenia ago, but at that time the Yangtze region was not yet part of China. The river is associated with the Liangzhu Culture (良渚文化 'leung jyu man faa'), which may have been distantly ancestral to the realm of Chu (楚 'cho').
And that's a different kettle of fish.




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THE DARKNESS!

When I was still young I became somewhat fascinated by bats. About which there are, surprisingly, not very many books. Though assiduous research in libraries provided a wealth of information, and the Encyclopedia Britannica also had many fascinating articles.

They still interest me to this day, but I no longer am as obsessed.

There used to be bats living in the spaces between buildings right next to each other in this neighborhood, sheltered by the few inches of clearance. There probably still are a few here and there, but obviously in this weather one will not see them.

From A Narcoleptic Panda comes this adorable photo.




Baby fruit bat. Mangoes and bananas will probably keep the darkness happy.
Everyone needs a little darkness in their life.

Insectivorous bats have more interesting noses and ears, and tiny inconsequential eyes. Altogether, there are over a thousand kinds of bats, occurring world-wide in almost all habitats.

Bats are a reason to visit Texas.




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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

GOSH, YOU LOOK SO ....

Fermented black bean sauce dragon profit fish. Rice. Soup, garlic bread, milk tea. That was the plan. But on the way there, a regular informed me that they were closed for a few days. Which is very sad. Enough to give a man an anxiety attack. Which lasted all of two or three minutes in front of the old telephone exchange on Washington. While it drizzled, and my fingers turned blue.

So I had a bowl of congee and an oil stick up on Waverly instead. Screw it. Gotta be flexible.

Thoroughly enjoyed smoking a pipe afterward.

Bus back to my neighborhood.

Tea time.


In the past I enjoyed inclement weather more, but nowadays I am out in it too often, what with not smoking in the apartment during the afternoon so it doesn't stink here when my apartment mate returns. A non-smoker. And one cannot smoke in the cafes and bakeries anymore. All over the city there are men with pipes staring out over Waverly, disconsolate in the rain.

But at least the women and children no longer whiff of nightclubs and low dives. What with the tobacco smell not being in their clothes and hair.
Go ahead, sniff them.

Clean, huh?!?!


A new meme on the internet says that 'pipesmoking is the new sexy'.
Which I find hard to believe, because it isn't working. Must be a hipster thing. Along with bushy beards and the severe Protestant preacher look. Those are probably the only people who find it sexy, and thankfully I wasn't jumped by a stray hipster desperate for random tobacco reeking nooky.
I abstain when in areas where hipsters congregate.
Just in case, you understand.

So, no pipe smoking in Starbucks, bookstores, tattoo parlours, or barber shops where straight razors are used. Aged Virginias are almost guaranteed to turn them into animals. A man wouldn't want to be responsible for a wave of hip werewolves roaming the city, unable to control their bestial instincts.
Good pipe tobacco is a gateway drug; that's why we must keep it away from children and the weak-minded.
And the hipsters.


On the bus back, I was enchanted by a little boy making sure that his mom knew that it was a racing car. Cutest little tyke. And considerate!

媽咪,那邊有位,媽咪坐那邊!
["There's a seat there, Mommy, you can sit!"]

Normally I do not particularly care for Mandarin speakers. But he truly was cute as the dickens. With his little toy car. Brrm brrrm!
No, I didn't go over to sniff him or his mother.
I'm sure neither one of them smoke.
Fairly sure, that is.



TOBACCO INDEX


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WE WILL NOT RISK LAS VEGAS

As is their wont, a few of the boys went off to Las Vegas to watch sports, gamble, and huff cigars, among other depravities. Which made the place peaceful and quiet, except for the hours of the ball game, when the usual displays of intemperate behaviour, Tourettes, and religious terms coupled with fornicatory vocabulary were rife. As they also must have been in Las Vegas where the others were.

Being a perfectly nasty sort of man, I envision cigar-themed Speedos and group photos of saggy old rightwingers lounging at the pool. My own rich imagination leaves me traumatized.

Remarkably, many of these hufters are married.


Now, I like cigars once in a while, but it's not my life style choice. Briar pipes for smoking tobacco are more gentlemanly, and to me personally far more rewarding. Aesthetic objects that evoke memories of light and mood, the weather during certain times, and smells that call back deeply buried data sets. Contemplation, comfort, and faces. Sort of a light-spirited aid to the intellect. As well: solace during hard times.


You might find me on the outskirts of a social event enjoying some semi-solitary down-time, far away from the group giddiness. Good times, bad times, and times of intense living.

Note: Photo stolen from Rick Perry's post in 'JUST British Motor Cycles'. No, I have no idea where he got that picture of me engaged in my daily rounds, collecting debts as the credit and collections man during my youth, delivering the mail, comforting the sick and dying, and generally being nice to cats while writing the great Dutch American novel. It's a mystery. Must have been one of those early cell-phones, only black and white snaps.

Back in my day, Vegas didn't exist. We made our own fun.

Pipe smokers are, generally speaking, calmer and more rational than the typical cigar aficionado. Far less flighty or inclined to unstable behaviour.





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Monday, January 20, 2020

TWO PARTS CORIANDER ONE PART TURMERIC

Lunch today was curry fishball fried rice stick noodles. Home cooking, of course, because even though the substances are almost universal, what with a huge part of humanity eating rice stick noodles regularly, curry stuffs being available even in deepest darkest Yorkshire, and fish being balled in a large part of the world, curry fishball is typical Hong Kong and Indonesian, and the idea of frying it all up together with noodles is sort of Chinese Javanese mixed with hungry Dutch university student.
Especially with shrimp dew and sambal.

An evocative dish. Coriander and turmeric. Garlic, ginger, fermented seafood product, lemon grass, galangal, coconut milk, citrus juice. Anything with fish must have turmeric and chilies, which suggest that coconut milk would be a fortuitous addition, in which case some potato chunks are a good idea too. Garlic and ginger are naturally necessary, and scallions add a nice touch, especially as curried fishball is very Hong Kong.


咖喱魚蛋炒河粉


Rice stick noodles easily come to mind as the starch.

The pinch of dried flounder powder was genius.

Next time, sliced green chilies.

And more lime juice.




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HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE THIS?

Dutch American heritage can be celebrated with clog dancing and donuts. For Chinese New Year everyone goes to Chinatown and stuffs themselves with chow mein, chopsuey, and egg rolls. Bagels and lox are Jewish.
Brats, beer, and kraut, German. Also super-size pretzels.
Corned beef and cabbage, St. Paddy's.
Nachos, May fifth.


Plus apparel and trinkets.


How do you observe MLK day?


Please don't answer. Anything runs the risk of being patronizing, white privilege, cultural appropriation, or passive-aggressively racist.
It's a danger zone, don't go there. And okay, boomer.



It's a bit of a quandary.




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Sunday, January 19, 2020

WHERE ARE YOU REALLY FROM?

The problem with visitors from elsewhere in the country is that they make assumptions about us which gall. Such as that we're all undeserving aliens who stole their place in the sun, somehow robbed them of their birthright, talk funny, should not have voted, and that we voted wrong.


"No, where are you REALLY from?"


Many of us were born here, and if we weren't United States citizens we would not, and could not, vote. This is a large country with a diverse population. Deal with it.


Let me guess, you come from Trumpistan?
The vast interior. Between the Oakland Hills and the Atlantic. The kinder gentler, more gun-nut and syphilitic country.

We've heard about you people.




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A MAN EATING DUMPLINGS

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is visiting Burma. Mistranslations of his name on Facebook in Burma are causing consternation. And some hilarity.
No, I shan't put the translation here, because this is a clean blog, suitable for families and sensitive people, and I don't want to be banned on the mainland.


The mainland is very dear to me.
Burma far less so.
It's a ...




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Saturday, January 18, 2020

IN ALL HONESTY ...

When I ordered my grilled pork and rice, the person I knew was talking with the friend with whom she had lunched. About things in her life. "How old is he?" She was unsure. "I don't know." "how long have you been married?" "Oh, maybe twenty five years ... "

I've known her for several years now, and she is fairly alert and awake. So her uncertainty about her husband's age and the length of their marriage may have been due to her years, but more likely a typical Chinese mental block. The marriage does not seem to be the best thing to have happened to her.
A quarter of a century ago she was probably despairing of ever getting hitched. She's a petite woman with a kind face. Maybe she spent too much time living to actually have a life.

There is frequently a frantic quality to Chinese women who think in Cantonese rather than English. They expect things of themselves that they have never learned to question. It also infects their English-fluent sisters.
But often far less so.

I've noticed it occasionally with my apartment mate.
Sometimes that Chinese-ness crops up.
Which disturbs her.


The lady who runs the place remarked that I had not been around for several weeks. Well, yes. The food is good, and I like the place. It was an oversight. I claimed to have been far too busy. One of her staff remarked that I spoke Cantonese superlatively well. Which I don't. My ability is one step above crappy, but that's it. Most of the time I guess by context what the other person meant, which I had done earlier at the bank.

Was my wife Chinese? No, I am not yet married. The construction "not yet" agrees with the Chinese presumption that getting hitched is the normal thing to do, which everyone understands. Oh, was I seeing someone? No. Then really I should go to the mainland! Or perhaps I should kau the third woman working there, she too was not yet married!
How perfect!


Um.


I am flattered that they think I'm marriage material. Did I already mention "expectations" and certain presumptions? As a man of this age, and this income level, and this ethnicity (Caucasian, and so white I glow in the dark, you can read a book by the light reflected from my cold pale dermis), perhaps I am not an ideal mate for your unmarried employee, quite likely "Ngo m-ngaam keui" (I would not be suitable for her).

I didn't say any of that, though. I changed the subject.

She's cute and intelligent looking, but she undoubtedly thinks and dreams in Cantonese, which I don't. There would be problems of understanding, entirely aside from the fact that dating is something I do badly.

Besides, I'd have to explain a number of inconvenient facts. The apartment mate. The stuffed creatures. The pipe collection, the tobacco stockpile. Several hundred books. The lack of kin in California.
The goofy foreign languages.

The fact is that pride, stubborness, Aspergers, laziness, and a lack of singular drive, have had a combined effect on my life and lifestyle which makes me a horrible prospect for any reasonable woman.

I am just not marriage material.
But I guess I look okay.





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Friday, January 17, 2020

THE INEDIBLE BITS

A friend asserts that the average human weighs the same as twelve hundred and fifty bananas, more or less. Which is very useful information, and I have long suspected him of missing important screwdrivers in his toolbox. Something which is not uncommon. At one banana per week, it would take you twenty five years to eat that many.

It is after eight on a Friday morning in January, and my stuffed creatures are all warmly tucked in. I am not. It is cold. And I'm already wondering what to have for lunch. Lung lei fish with garlic black bean sauce comes to mind.

After yesterday's eight hours of conversational chaos at work, I am looking forward to some quiet time.


Lunch, pipe, wander around, let my mind reconstruct, a few minor grocery purchases, tea, and another pipe. If it rains, shelter under an awning, either opposite the hospital, or down on Washington Street across from the ginseng place.


The countdown to New Year has already begun. Stuffed rats and mice, cute cartoons of rats and mice, candies shaped like rats and mice. One famous cigar brand has a limited edition 'year of the rat' stogie, and at least one pipe carver had done a rat in briar, with a tobacco hole in it's back. I shall not purchase anything like that. I am not vested in symbolic fetishes.

I might actually buy some bananas. One bunch is four tenths of a percent of the human body. More or less.

Thanks to an Orthodox Jewish friend I now know things about some internet tropes I did not wish to know, and an artist friend who makes great bunny rabbit illustrations linked to an article in which soft tissues and dead people were mentioned, also data I could have done without. The internet age has broadened our horizons and enlarged human knowledge, but some of this stuff should have remained hidden.


An Arizona legislator (Sylvia Allen) introduced a bill to ban any mention of the word "homosexuality" from schools. There is no better way to ensure that kids will find out all about the subject in the modern age than that.
She's clearly an idiot, who has not heard of the internet.
I bet she doesn't know about bananas either.

The average Christian is solid fat from the neck up.
It keeps them from drowning in a harsh world.

Sie können dort nicht anhalten.
Das is bananenland.




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Thursday, January 16, 2020

RAINY WEATHER MAKES BRAINS SHRIVEL

Sometimes ones friends resemble meatballs. Little fatty meatballs covered with brown gravy. And by that standard, the gentlemen in the lounge huffing their cheroots and screaming vituperation about The Democrats do not qualify. Though I can well imagine them slathered in hot gravy, lava hot, hot enough to separate their flesh from their bones in little steaming raggedy strips. One or two of them probably belong in jail, along with the Virginia Nazis arrested for plotting violence and breaking sundry laws.

So obviously there were no sports on the telly.
The slug-mutants were antsy.

The shifty suburban retired cop finished almost an entire bottle of bourbon while huffing his cigars, getting louder as the afternoon wore on, then went out to possibly commit vehicular manslaughter in the rain.


[There are many more of these people in other parts of the country, and though they all benefit from California's modernity and conveniences -- and marked lack of tornadoes, Texans, and dumbass rednecks -- they hate it here by golly, and really should move back to the holes they oozed from. They would be happier. And calmer.]


R the Subcontinental liberally puts up with their nonsense, and tolerates their insane ranting. Warty stirs up sh*t whenever he can -- as a retired doctor he finds the displays of psychoses scientifically interesting as well as entertaining. R the Caucasian is too old to slut around and risk STD's like he used to do, which I would guess is a cause of severe disappointment to the man; it has soured him and turned him into a Trumpite. D the Bald Pervert needs the crap slapped out of him by Colin Kaepernick and Greta Thunberg, and C.o.D has become a father recently and has no life.

As for the esteemed member of the judicial branch, someone mentioned that his wife has the balls of a snake. So he has his own problems.

Being an equitable and even-tempered pipe smoker myself, I tend to ignore whatever those boys are discussing. No matter the subject. And have no interest whatsoever in their zany antics.

Don't mind me, boys. Let me have my cup of tea and leave me alone. I'll just engage in rational conversation with whichever liberals (fellow pipe smokers, mostly) might seek refuge from the weather.


I love my fellow humans.




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OLD GOAT

What keeps this blogger going is snacky things, enjoying his tobacco pipes and books, and a dirty mind. It is quite possible that the last mentioned is a survival mechanism. I would be far less lively without lascivious thoughts. Milk tea, baked goods, and Virginia blends aren't enough to survive on.
Or get me out of the house much.

One the other hand, an attractive woman carrying a platter of cheeses and a stimulating beverage, boy howdy!


College graduates, fromage, and cake. The secret to longevity, an Academy Award thank-you speech, improved circulation, and a description of heaven.
All rolled into one.




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