Monday, August 31, 2020

SILENT AND GREY

Left the house shortly after seven o'clock with a pipe and a stick. The verb use by some people for walking around aimlessly while smoking is "lunting", derived from a sixteenth century Netherlandish word for the smoldering taper ("lont") used for relighting one's clay, should it have gone out while ditheranting on the bolwerk (boulevard) where one is thus engaged. From this we can shper that sixteenth century gentlemen were also forced out into the grim and gloomy cold of a San Francisco morning, to walk the blasted heath of Nob Hill while the morning fog still lingers and the chill pierces.

Which may account for the violence endemic in Golden Age society.


Fortunately, I do not smoke clays. Did so experimentally for a while long ago, but they do not yield a satisfactory experience compared to briars. Terry has mentioned three woods that were used for pipe manufacture during the war years when imported briar was scarce, specifically Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron, and "Mission Briar", that last being Manzanita from California. Additionally, olive wood, cherry, pear, strawberry wood, and walnut have been used, as well as boxwood occasionally.

Of these, I have only experienced cherry wood (extensively) and olive.
That last yields a buttery smoke of some depth, but with the narrowing of the taste spectrum one should expect from everything except briar burl, including corncobs (which perform marvelously with Burley blends.

There are over a dozen corncobs on a tray in front of the teevee, and several cherries near the bookcase to my left. Every young man going to college should have a cherry wood pipe in addition to his Peterson System Standard, a straight billiard, and an old blast. Plus a tweed sportscoat (seersucker in summer) and a blackthorn walking stick.
Also, a large capacity tea-pot.


I rarely smoke the cherry or corncob pipes. They're fun for lurking about down near Sue Bierman Park in the Embarcadero area, listening to the wild parrots in late afternoon.

This year I will probably not wander down there much, because of the limitations imposed by the pandemic, which has halted habits a bit.

Haven't worn my tweedish coat in a while either.


Planning to spend part of the day restoring an old Berkeley pipe from several decades ago which recently came into my possession. Nice old wood of a hard appearance, in decent shape despite the grime of ages. From Drucquer & Son, dating back to the Shattuck Avenue store.


Nah, didn't wear a tweedy item this morning. Could have, but I decided "screw it all, I'm not changing", and went out in my pajamas and grungy grey flannel bathrobe instead. Which, given the temperature, was not the right decision. Fortunately I had a walking stick and a bloody-minded attitude to keep me warm.

Need to fire up the tea pot; it's still cold.
Some heat and comfort are required.

The towers at the top of the hill are still hidden.
Shrouded in the mist.




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Sunday, August 30, 2020

A MENTAL TRAILER PARK

You can't spell "asshole" without Oklahoma. Actually you can, but why would you want to? Had someone from the great state of Oklahoma visit where I work the other day, and he exemplified everything you've ever heard about the place. And several other things.

Sadly, the state and the musical have NOTHING in common. We should've allowed the musical into the union instead.

I am fortunate that I get to deal with a vast array of people, but honestly, not being particularly social, I'd rather not.


Yesterday two women drove their car down the wrong direction on my street. For two blocks. California, in many ways, is much like Oklahoma. Fancier bells and whistles, though.


Without rhinoplasty, butt implants, and botox injections, reality would be very challenging for some folks.

Cover your nose. Please cover your nose. Or I may have to break it. In several places. I'm a fastidious man, and I'd hate to get your blood on my clothes. It would enrage me, and I'd be forced to break various other parts of you to calm down. How's your health these days?



The more I deal with humans, the more I prefer stuffed creatures.
They are, on the whole, more sensible.

Less stupidity.




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THE VICTORIOUS HUNT !

Animals crave sustenance, but are themselves not always good judges of same. As experiments with rats and drug-laced water bottles, or frat boys and pizza, have proven. Heck, let a herd of suburban soccer moms loose near a pitcher of margaritas and watch the mayhem unfold, or tourists from the rest of our country inside a place where sweet'n sour pork and kung pao shrimp can be prepared for their delectation.

So also birds of prey.


Sydney Fylbert, the majestic turkey vulture in the photo, is proud of his hunting skills. He has caught breakfast! Now we can breakfeast!

I haven't the heart to tell him it wasn't alive. Ever.

Or that he'll need fingers to open it.

He looks so pleased.




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Saturday, August 29, 2020

CHINESE BRIAR PIPES

It has been far too long since I featured pictures of the pipes carved by Chinese artists. Today Mr. Shi (石先生) expressed a keen interest, so once again, here are photos of several briar masterpieces.
The carvers all live in the mainland.
Photos from Facebook.


EAGLE FANG




GAO JIE




LIU ZIFENG




CHEN CE (陈策)




HUANG JIAJI (黄佳奇)





Gorgeous works by stellar craftsmen.

Previous posts featuring beautiful Chinese pipes here: CHINESE PIPE ART - August 1, 2020 and here: CHINESE MASTERS OF BRIAR - July 15, 2020.


Their works are tributes to the material.



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Friday, August 28, 2020

NEEDS MANGO ESSENCE

A friend in the heat (65°) of deepest, darkest Norway, surrounded by the hairy wild native Stavangers, is smoking Haunted Bookshop these days, and it's giving him existential angst or something. Which I can understand; it's a rather nicotine-rich blend.

My doctor would immensely disapprove.

I myself, freezing in San Francisco (it's summer weather), haven't touched that product in years, though it's a blend of which I approve.


There are many things which meet with my approval though I myself do not indulge in them or partake in any way.

Generally speaking, and in no particular order:

Dutch Calvinism as a cultural manifestation
Rampant Homosexuality
A woman to cuddle
Vindaloo
Lip stick
Zen Buddhism
Modern Orthodoxy
Beefsteak
Bourbon
Hello Kitty
Squiring young ladies to the prom
Up to twenty percent Perique
Cholent
Presbyterian Mixture
Gateau Saint Honoré


That's just a sampling.


Things of which I do NOT approve (also just a sampling):

Flavoured coffee drinks
Spousal abuse
Republicans
Wussy foods
Aromatic pipe tobaccos
Vanillin
Pepto-bismol

I'm still on the fence about pineapple on pizza. It has not been shown that that is heresy, and I doubt that one will go to hell for practising it. Same goes double for Erinmore Flake. And haggis.


My first exposure, years ago, to American decadence and depravity, was typical American teas, including Berkeleyite herbal crap with no actual "tea" in the brew. You know the stuff. It proves beyond a shadow of doubt that there are sick people on this side of the Atlantic.
You people would put tofu in haggis!


I like to think of myself as a perfectly average heterosexual bachelor living a grumpy life surrounded by plague carriers and deviants.
I've got too many books, and no cat.


Still inexplicably single.
Not a Vegan.




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Thursday, August 27, 2020

EVERYONE LOOKS HUGGABLE IN THE DARK

No, I'm sorry, I am not tweaking my nipple in excitement. Nor even scratching it slightly because in this sudden heat it itches. And in no way am I coming on to you. It's just that I keep my pipe tamper, fully extended, in the left-side breast pocket. Having a hard time finding it. Yes, you are attractive. Those cheekbones! Indeed, you are quite the looker.

There's just one minor problem. Very minor.

No, there isn't somebody at home.

You are the wrong gender.

Masculine.


This pipe is not that big, and isn't meant to send a message of any kind. And it isn't even entirely filled, I only put in a half bowl when I left the house for an after dinner walk.

Dried meat, fatty meat, tomatoes, scallion, ginger, noodles suitable for bami, but direbus in stock rather than digoreng. Plus garlic, green curry paste, and hot pepper. I should have remembered to look for kasturi (limo kalamunting, kalamansi) to squeeze over it when done, to give it a slightly asem taste. But no matter, it was delicious anyway.

The lithe young man looking hopeful may have mistaken my happy after-glow for something else. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, but if he had been a young woman I would have been more pleased.

Romantic doe-like bedroom eyes.

At dusk, any mature man looks like a sugar-daddy.

I am not that sweet.


Of course in the foggy half-light just after daybreak, we all look like a Gothic horror. It's the cobwebs.


This morning's first smoke was uneventful, no admiring glances, no grouchy mom-things and their precious, no he-man butch joggers gaily spreading droplets as they passed. No delightful young things.
Of either the right gender or the wrong one.

When I left the house my apartment mate was eating coffee icecream with a fork. That accounts for the scratch marks in the tub.
There's nobody here but us unattached folks.
It's like living with a frat-boy.

But she doesn't eat pizza for breakfast.



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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

THEY ALL DRINK THE PINK LIQUID

Far be it from me to make fun of a prominent religious authority getting his jollies by watching his spouse being banged by the pool boy. I have come to accept that in a large part of this country -- especially the Bible Belt -- kink is the new norm. In fact it was always there, but it's more accepted now.
Jim Bakker was just the tip of the iceberg.

Much of Fundamentalist Christianity is the iceberg.

It's why Kellog's Cornflakes were invented.


Actually, Fundie Xtianity and horrid breakfast cereals are both twisted and uniquely American phenomena. Neatly dumping neuroses about bowel regularity and perverse obsessions into the same bed.
Which also explains Veganism.

And that's precisely why there is an entire aisle of indigestion and constipation remedies at drugstores. It's for penance after being sinful with late night pizza or gorging on hot-pockets. Because American religion and the American diet are loaded with guilt and intestinal blockage. I would ask my friends for confirmation of this theory, but in all honesty I do not wish to know about their guts or how they abused themselves, and whatever queer Protestant cult they adhere to or fled from is not my concern either.


In any case, the man of god mentioned above keenly observed congress between two people while fingering himself and lecturing everyone else on morality for several years, and after some necessary public repentance and crawling through the ashes will arise a new man, to resume his role as arbiter of religious good taste and spiritual education.
For which he will be praised.


It's all between him and two other people.
An entirely private matter.
Family values.

Lifestyle.



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WAITING FOR SUNLIGHT

A quiet foggy morning in SF. Except for the sound of drills and saws nextdoor during construction (started at seven thirty) and noise from the ongoing Van Ness Corridor improvement two blocks away, a project that started several years ago and was supposed to be done by now, but is currently over budget, over deadline, and providing employment to the second generation of brawny men with big muscles.


Left the house for an early smoke at around the time the crew next door fired up the drill. The woman who sleeps in her window across the street was drowsily looking out, the tenant next door to her was at his computer, one or two elderly Cantonese were at the bus stop. It's gotten slower out there in the last few months; dog owners have finally realized that Spot and Fluffy do not need to pooh quite so early, and almost nobody takes the bus to work downtown anymore. And some people have moved out of the city, because if you cannot party all night at bars after eating well at local restaurants, what's the point of living in San Francisco?


Well, chess games. Better here than in Stockton or Modesto. Admittedly one can play those alone, as rigorous intellectual exercise, which my late brother proved by studying the games of the masters, and all it takes is a quiet room and time. But playing with oneself isn't done much.


Wait, strike that last comment.


Pipe smokers do it all the time.


Nearly everyone does it now.


Later today I'll head over to Chinatown for necessary food purchases. And maybe some dim sum from Kam Wah (金華點心快餐 'gam waa dim sam faai chaan') on Stockton Street, near the vegetable shops and around the corner from a grocery store where I get condiments, packaged foods, and many types of noodles.

They're all still open, their business has slowed down a bit, probably, but one must patronize them; one wants the local businesses to survive until the Trump Pandemic is over.
It's not their fault that the United States has largely acted stupid and selfish in this crisis.


"Thoughtfully, the badger puffed on his pipe while studying the board. The remains of lunch were on the floor, pecked at by a stuffed turkey vulture.
A cup of hot milk tea was on a little tray on top of a stack of books.
"


The ever-hungry Turkey Vulture

[Note that the turkey vulture keeps me company during the day, but curls up with my apartment mate in her room at night. Because I twitch too much and smell bad.]

Actually, I never did play very much chess. It seemed pointless because my brother kept beating me at it. But I dutifully have a chess set in the apartment, just in case his spirit visits.

The cats had learned not to bother him too much while he moved the pieces. They'd just drape themselves over him and doze, occasionally stretching while careful not to touch the board.
There are no cats here.

But there are stuffed animals and a pipe smoker.
So he'd feel right at home.



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THAT THING THAT THEY DO

Over on Reddit, which I know courtesy of George Takei, some of the discussions are a little bit "ew". Much more "ew" than I need.

See this link: Fetishishishishmagora.

Ew.


Cite:

“We’ve been quarantining together and have been having a lot of sex, which I love, but it’s been getting a little weirder, I guess?”

“He sends me a lot of hentai and says he wants to try things out that are depicted in it which is fine. But he’s also been buying me outfits (which I do appreciate) and they’re very much like anime themed? Japanese schoolgirl, cat-girl costume, etc. etc.”

“I know he’s being more open sexually with me but it all feels kind of… gross? Like he wants me to do all of these things because I’m Asian?”

“Anyway the other night he asked me to ‘act cuter’ in the bedroom and to speak Japanese to him in bed. I was really offended by this because while I’m Asian I’m not Japanese.”

“I don’t think he means anything weird by it, but I want to tell him I’m not okay with the things he’s been doing but also I don’t want to shame him for being more open sexually with me.”

“I just want to feel like he wants to be intimate with ME and not with Asian Girl #7, if that makes sense. I don’t know how to explain this to him though?”


End cite. 

Ew.


Not that I'm into that, but I have to wonder if there are people out there who put on horned Viking helmets when they're in the bedroom and demand "bark Teutonic commands at me, Helmut" or stuff like that.
Or ask their better half dress to like a Dutch milkmaid.



Yeah, um, no.

Ew.



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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

THE SECOND CUP OF COFFEE

There is a stuffed turkey vulture sitting on the pile of clothes in the chair near my bed. He did not watch the clownfest at the Republican National Convention yesterday, as he has better things to do; he is on top of my wallet, specifically, and is trying to hatch it. Which is metaphorically a rather Republican thing to do. My wallet, my money that is in there.
He insists that it is his, he found it.

Like him, I did not watch any part of the proceedings. Everything I need to know about adulatory screaming is being discussed on the internet. Instead, I spent time drawing the pipe below using Paint on the computer, with the television off.


It's much better mental exercise than Republicans.
Better for one's emotional state too.

Yesterday morning I took care of some medical bills. Which, if you do not live in the United States, you probably don't have, unless you also live in the bottom percentile of countries. America is the richest third world country, with some tracings of first world overlaying coastal areas, but the vast interior is populated mostly by screaming savages, who for largely verkrampte Puritanical religious reasons believe that a healthy workforce is not something of which Jesus would ever approve.
If you have health issues, you deserved it.
And you should have bought a gun.


But enough of the moral lecture, we live in the best country on earth; California. Specifically coastal urban California. So we should be happy.
The Southern States have more Covid clusters, lots of bad haircuts, packed grammar and high schools teaching sweaty children all about intelligent design and abstinence during a pandemic (hardly any math), fratboy universities with keggers, grease, plus floods and hurricanes.

The Midwest has bland food, religion, and typhoid.


Maybe what the Midwest AND the South desperately need are 'Parsis exchanging recipes', and 'Anglo Indian Cooking', both of which are in short supply there but reachable by internet. Life would improve, the ghastly digestive issues that plague them would lessen or disappear (except for heartburn caused by Kansas chili, barbecue, and lutefisk at their church suppers), they'd feel more positive about the tractor breaking down and the trailer park getting blown away with all the meth labs wich provide much needed employment and chemical happiness, and crazy catlady Kimberly Guilfoyle summoning daemons on national teevee.


Strong coffee is all the Jesus anyone needs.


Dammit, there's ashes all over my computer because I knocked over the pipe I was smoking. Yes, I was happily puffing away indoors, despite the woman who lives in the other room disliking tobacco odours. She's at work now, her door is shut so her undies and teddy bear won't reek of my fumes, the windows are open and there is a pot of herbal muck on the stove to disguise the smell. So by tea time all traces will be gone.

The turkey vulture won't betray my sins unless I forget to feed him.
He's preoccupied with my wallet. His "egg", he says.
And looking mighty hungry.


Recent pipe drawings, the tools to sanity:



Sanity may be slightly overrated.




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Monday, August 24, 2020

THE BOLD SMELLS

Sometimes the supply lines for a favourite product are haphazard, and you have to range far afield to restock. That, I suspect, is why so many people have found an essay I wrote a while back about a brand of jarred spice: Koon Yick Wah Kee Curry Powder. I myself am not heavily vested in said product, though I use it often enough. Thai curry pastes are also very useful, and any dish with flavours like that can be modified by adding more coriander seed powder, or cumin, or turmeric. In addition to chili paste, lemon grass, ginger, garlic, and other items. They are shortcuts.

Key thing is that the result be tasty, and you remember what you did.

Cooking really is being able to make the same mistake twice.


Routine and repetition are good things.

No-name bent bulldog, with a taper stem

Mister Sieuw, taking a walk, asked me if I were going to get some exercise. Meaning, I suppose, was I planning to talk a walk myself with my pipe. Well, yes. And no. I had already done so earlier. It's been warmer lately, we had a cold summer, and the weather has improved to the extent that wildfires have increased, much like last year, and both sunrise and sunset are spectacular. What the entire world must have experienced after Krakatoa exploded in 1883.

Keen travelers all over the United States are saying "honey, let's visit San Francisco this year, the sunsets are so beautiful, so romantic".

The hotel industry would keenly welcome visitors.

And nearly everyone speaks English.


Earlier today, while out jaunting about and enjoying the strong smell of woodsmoke, plastics, and mobile home parks going up in flames, I puffed on the handsome briar pipe pictured above, replacing smoke in my somewhat irritated nostrils with ..... smoke.

Futility takes talent. One must exercise it often.

Yesterday the air was more peppery. We kept the doors closed at work, and the aircon on. At times the view was obscured by veils of smog, sometimes the reek of someone's favourite housing development would be noticeable (mmm, paint, precious possessions, and sheetrock), and by the end of the day I was more tired than I needed to be.

No appetite in the evening for the past two days. Might have something to do with the heat and smoke.



I'll get some more exercise after I've had breakfast-lunch-tea and fed the turkey vulture. Walkies, with another bowl of Red Virginia & Perique, contributing my own soot and particulate matter (microparticles) to the miasma outside. Owning it and taking control of it, as it were. It will be cooler, and the fogginess rolling in will make it more breathable.

[Breakfast-lunch-tea: Today that's andouille with bitter melon and tomato in a pan-gravy containing green curry paste and ripe red chilies. And a cup of tea.]

I've had the pipe pictured above for decades now. Good smoke, though small. It is to my mind jes' piss-elegant.




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WISCONSIN POLICE

The police naturally uphold the status quo; it's what they were hired to do. So when the police in Wisconsin shoot a black man multiple times in the back in front of his children you have to wonder how thoroughly wrong the status quo in Wisconsin is.


Many things at that time were probably not clear to the police, and the fact that the black man in question was, apparently, the good guy also seems to have escaped them entirely. But none of it would have mattered anyhow, because the police, in many parts of this country, are trained to shoot black guys first, and ask questions later.
There are a number of reasons why the police might shoot someone.
Blackness seems to be a major one.


It should not be this way. If you are not outraged, there is something wrong with you.
Maybe you're too white. Maybe the status quo is working well for you.
And perhaps you want it to continue thus.

And really don't care.



And maybe the entire shitcan deservedly needs to be burned down.




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Sunday, August 23, 2020

PLAY BALL!

Since school re-opened, I had not seen the man who swore that kids could not transmit the virus and that it was all a plot by the Democrats to steal the election. Several of his employees have children. And the internet is full of schools shut down for being Covid hot spots.

Yesterday the dumbass didn't even say 'hi' to me, and kept yacking about sports. I which idiotic subject I have no interest, so of course I stayed out of that conversation.


Take it from me: ball players cannot transmit the virus.
Re-open the ball parks and bus the fans in.
Americans need overpriced beer.




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A TIME AND PLACE

The best line on the internet after dinner the other evening was "of course she doesn't have milk, her breasts are in the wrong place". No, I shan't give you the context. And it was a good thing I had already eaten, or there would be green curry noodles all over the place.

I really wish that there had been illustrations, even though I am glad that there weren't.

It probably would not challenge you to imagine the wrong place for breasts. Several wrong places. And please, go ahead.


This essay is not about that.


Stop thinking about breasts!




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Saturday, August 22, 2020

SOMEWHAT MORE ANGULAR

This time last year I had been out of the hospital for a month, and was starting to get back into things. Not quite recovered, but well on the way. Which, of course, now I nearly entirely am.

The constants in the past twelve months have been Leslie Cheung clips (張國榮 'jeung gwok wing', a famous Cantonese actor and singer; he passed away seventeen years ago), egg tarts (蛋撻 'daan taat'), an excess of tea (both hydration and stimulation), ogling the opposite gender when appropriate (no, I don't have sunglasses), and smoking my pipe.


Another pipe:


Leslie Cheung was a complicated individual. Discreet about his homosexuality, he frequently played the male lead in romantic roles, and most viewers didn't have a clue. Consequently many women adored him. His Hong Kong fans thought that he was totally dishy, if they were female. And wanted to be like him, if not. A very handsome man.
In action movies, there was an electricity about him.

Sadly, he was a cigarette smoker.

Leslie Cheung, 12 September 1956 – 1 April 2003.

But he made it look good.

An elderly gay friend was heartbroken when news came of Leslie's death. And I could easily sympathize, even though at that time I did not realize he was a gay idol. All I could think of was Leslie as Ah Kit in A Better Tomorrow II, or with Anita Mui (梅艷芳 'mui yom fong') in the movie Rouge.
And all the poor desolated girls grieving for him.

He was stellar in A Chinese Ghost Story.
倩女幽魂 ('sin neui yau wan'), 1987.


Mui Yim-fong (梅艷芳), Anita Mui, starred in over forty films, and was also a popular singer. Her demise in 2003 was likewise deeply lamented.

Anita Mui, 10 October 1963 – 30 December 2003

The movie "Rouge" (胭脂扣 'yin ji kau') is worth watching.
And re-watching. It's beautiful.

Leslie and Anita in Paris

Gosh darn it, both of them were so nice.
They look happy together.


Daan Taat have always been a favourite snackipoo. And I had lost maybe thirty pounds over summer. Unintentionally. At my near-all-time scrawniest.
I have since gained back about ten pounds (not only because of daan taat, but those helped), ladies, and I look fine! Well, probably not as good as Leslie, but lets talk about him somewhere else.

The excess of tea is, probably, most evident in the texts on this page.
I am a gibberant man.


This time last year I was also considering the pan-seared king flower fish (封煎王花魚 'fung jin wong faa yü') at one of the eateries in Chinatown. But I've never had it, as I eat alone, and a whole fish requires at least two people to do it justice. 王花魚 is actually 黃花魚, which is pronounced exactly the same, but four strokes 王 is simpler to write than twelve strokes 黃 ("yellow") so it's contextually okay.

Both pipes shown above were fond smokes from Spring through the end of Autumn when the rains came. Then they went into one of the boxes, and didn't enter the regular rotation again till about a week ago.

Yes, I still ogle the ladies. I'm careful not to show that. But it's a largely pointless activity despite my enormous skill at doing so.
I do not look like Leslie Cheung.

Thin Protestant lips.




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Friday, August 21, 2020

THEY ARE SO SMART!

It isn't often that I think my fellow Americans are out of their goofy little minds. Strike that, it IS often, practically every damned day. But ever since lawyer Bob offended all right-thinking people in our little activist community by his paranoid e-mails screaming that Obama was going to take away his guns and nuke the world, it has become evident that many of us are batshit crazy, and should not be allowed on the internet unsupervised, or even out of the house by ourselves.


Strangest line on the internet today:

"President Trump was asked if he agrees with QAnon supporters who think that he's secretly hunting down thousands of Satanistic, deep-state pedophiles and cannibals so they can be executed for their crimes."


I left the grassroots group of which I had been member for years largely because of lawyer Bob and his fellow-travellers. It's almost a guarantee that he voted for Trump, and actually believes that there are thousands of cannibalistic satanist child molesters in the government.



Global satan-worshiping pedophile sex ring?



I guess there's just no hiding from the good Christians, huh?




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Thursday, August 20, 2020

THE SAVAGE BEASTS

When you step outside you immediately notice the smell. It reeks of smoke. And I swear I had nothing to do with it. One fully loaded pipe can not turn the sky over Nob Hill pinkish grey. Per the news reports this year's wild fires are already worse than last Autumn's conflagrations, and it's only just started. Everyone expects PG&E to announce more energy shutdowns to cut encroaching branches, argue that they need more money despite paying executives enormous salaries for their massively incompetent management, and accidentally turn off essential lights at retirement facilities, hospitals, and emergency services.

Meanwhile, there's smoke everywhere.
But it's not tobacco-related.
Healthy, organic.


So it's probably fortuitous that I smoke mostly Virginias nowadays, which are "stealth" tobaccos. Latakia mixtures with their terpeneoid fragrance would trigger stressed-out puritans in the neighborhood.
I don't want to upset the poor dears too much.

That is to say, there is no pressing need to start the day having a screaming match with a self-righteous twit.


San Francisco Caucasians are, as a rule, easily triggered by other people doing things of which they disapprove (for whatever imaginary reasons), and which they consider primitive and somehow morally suspect. Like tobacco usage, for example, or buying a coffee beverage at a corporate chain which they themselves refuse to patronize.


Or purchasing extra soft toilet paper.
Which is sinfully wasteful.


"Your bottom does not need pillowy comfort, but thrives on non-gmo recycled wood pulp and splinters, because it's so pure and clean and saves the dolphins in the Amazon. Be more considerate of other people, you irresponsible jerk!
Think of the planet!
"


"Eat less meat and plastic, you'll excrete less!"


I'd like to assure everyone that I'm conscientious, because after all every cash crop I consume had contributed massive amounts of oxygen into the environment before it was harvested, but that likely will make no impression on them. They are happiest when they're furious.

Sometimes, shopping is a pain in the sphincter.


Undoubtedly the great international toilet paper crisis of a few months ago was caused by activists buying all the toilet paper and setting it free. Now vast herds of toilet paper roam the dessert and wilderness areas, thriving, fullfilled, no longer consigned to a horrible fate.


Here's a non-exploitative cat picture.


That ought to make the Karens of the world happy; everybody likes cat pictures on the internet, warm fuzzy feelings and all that.

One of the other tenants has adopted a kitten, which I encountered in the hallway. And that calmed me the hell down.



The pipe pictured above was another one of the restored and brought back to life briars. It's a good smoker.
Soothing.




TOBACCO INDEX


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A STREET FAIR WITH PONIES!

Something a friend circulated on FB yesterday reminded me of one of San Francisco's most beloved cultural events. And also made me think of Mexicans. Those poor terrified Mexicans! Sad.

It's a street fair to which I've only been once. Summer street fairs are one of the pleasures of living here, though some of them have been rather a madhouse.

But this one has ponies and interactive games and beer and yummy food and rides and cotton candy. So it's fun for the entire family!


Bring the kids, bring grandma!


The Folsom Street Fair. It's bondage, fetish, nudity, and people in horse costumes. Plus corn dogs. Sunday, September 27, 2020.


The one time I went was when we had a booth there with informational brochures and flyers. Which proved quite popular, though few attendees had pockets to put them in. No, I didn't offer anybody my pockets.
A gentleman would have.

The head of our little group had gaily suggested that we do this, and many of the other members of the committee simply heard "street fair" and thought it was a splendid idea. I went along with it because I knew the other side wouldn't be there. Oh, and I wanted to see the faces of other group members when they realized what was going on. All around them. In the hot sun. For which more sunscreen was required than most people normally use when out in public.

What I wasn't expecting was submissives got-up like ponies, wearing full-head masks, pulling chariots and being whipped to go faster by their masters or mistresses got-up like nothing on earth.
The movie Ben Hur had nothing on this.
Despite the bronzed muscles.

The gentleman with a lovely feather headdress on the sidelines showed his keen appreciation by being touched. That means something different in this context, by the way. Other than the feathers and dancing moccasins he wore nothing else.

I also wasn't expecting the terrified Mexicans. They were manning a hamburger stand and were fully dressed -- along with myself that made nearly a dozen of us clothed types -- serving hordes of hungry people. You know, in Mexican villages you seldom get to see so many naked Gringos, and almost none of them have feathers, chains, or realistic horsehead masks.
I'm just guessing at that, though. Enacting Moros y Cristianos may have changed quite a bit over the years. Beloved manifestations of local culture must remain malleable in order to maintain relevance.
Especially in modern times. Strive for inclusivity.



Besides myself our booth was staffed that morning by an Orthodox Jewish person with bad legs who had to sit down all the time, face-level with things he never wanted to see. When he was finally relieved by another volunteer he went to the back and tried to wipe his mind clean with single malt and marijuana, and I thought he had succeeded in doing so until a year later the chairman and I suggested doing Folsom Street Fair again, when he practically jumped out of his seat.
Remarkable for a mobility impaired man.
Bondage has benefits.


There would be a suitable illustration here, but we're a family blog, so the only safe picture I can show is the pipe I will be smoking in a little while.
It would go great with studs and black leather straps.



I smoked both this and the Peterson Rathbone that day.
They seemed appropriate for the occasion.


I suspect that in addition to the bits, bridles, chains, spurs, straps, and studs, MAGA hats will be popular this year, worn creatively.
Smoking might be banned, though.
Because of the kids.




TOBACCO INDEX


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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

OILING THE MEAT

A day or two ago my apartment mate and I had a discussion about milk and cheese. As a person of mostly Dutch ancestry, and as a prime example of whitey-whiteness who has lived where dairies are a common form of animal husbandry, I am the nearest thing to an authoritative source of information on such subjects to my apartment mate, a San Francisco born woman of Cantonese derivation.

Toishan, where her family has roots, is not known for milk or cheese.

What animals can be used for such puposes, she wished to know.
And which ones were common?

Cows, of course. Plus goats, sheep, horses, and camels.
Not the canines or felines domesticated by man. Wilder animals, such as wolves or lions never. Though perhaps there is a market there to be developed, for the bodybuilder healthfreaks.

In Pakistan, and parts of India, water buffalo are a source of dairy.

Milk, ghee, yoghurt, and paneer.

No Brie.


In much of the lactose intolerant belt (most of South East Asia all the way into China and Japan), the production of Brie and Camembert has historically been at a low ebb. The water buffalo is a work animal and commonly a rural family's most prized asset.
And also, on occasion, eaten.

Good meat.


RANDANGAN

A tougher flesh than baby cow, and therefore best prepared by braising or a long slow simmer, randanged in the pan by covering with coconut milk and cooked over a low fire, regularly stirred, until the water content is almost all gone, the oils have come out, and the meat is a dark brown. It will thus be tender and delicious, and keep for significantly longer than most other cooked foods. Rendang.

Malaysian rendang is wetter, Sulu variants use a spice mixture (palapa) containing pounded charred coconut, and in Holland it is usually quite saucy and somewhat bland.

Almost any meat can be randanged, not just karbouw; scraggy farm-yard chicken, elderly Dutch milch-cow, mutton, goat. Even eel or pork.

The Dutch term for palapa, by the way, is bumbu.

The version of Rendang below is somewhat spicier and drier than what is common in the Netherlands.


RENDANG

One onion, chopped.
Half a dozen cloves of garlic.
Half a cup mashed hot chilies (sambal ulek).
A thumblength ginger (in lieu of galangal).
One TBS ground turmeric.
One teaspoon each coriander and cumin powder.
Two pounds of meat cut into large chunks.
Four to six cups of coconut milk (three cans).
Three stalks lemon grass, bruised.

Nutmeg and lemon zest.

Put the onion, chilies, garlic, ginger, and spices in a blender, whir till smooth. Add a little of the coconut milk if necessary. Salt and pepper the meat, rub with oil, and brown a little in a pan. Add the spice puree and cook while stirring for five minutes or so, then inundate with the rest of the coconut milk and add the lemon grass. Put to simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, till all the liquid is gone and the oil has separated, which will take a few hours.
Then raise the heat a bit, add a generous pinch of nutmeg and some grated lemon zest, and "fry" the meat till dark and toasty.

It's not complicated, and as you can see it's the process that matters. We usually serve it with glutinous rice, and wedges of cucumber on the side. Along with a few other dishes. Plus beer or sweet drinks for the young people, and cigars afterward.

Many Dutch recipes add shrimp paste and some mashed kemiri nuts to the bumbu. This is quite unnecessary; in lieu of shrimp paste in the dish, have fish sauce on the table, along with a wedge of lime or two. And kemiri nuts are only useful if you make a wetter dish, what is called kalio or krewa. Krewa manok (chicken kalio) is the same process, but much saucier because it is cooked for a shorter length of time.
Krewa talo uses hard-boiled eggs.


Leftover rendang can be kept at room temperature for several days, and many weeks in the refrigerator. Excellent for dolling up your instant noodles when you are sitting in the teevee room at the computer in your pajama pants and an old tee-shirt late at night.


The fragrance of cooking rendang will slowly perfume the air well beyond the kitchen, and likely drive your vegan neighbors mad.
Which is altogether a good thing.




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AFTER MONSOON SEASON

The Indonesian Chinese downstairs neighbor lady rang the doorbell and asked if my apartment mate was in. No, she wasn't home yet, was there something I could help her with? No no, just let my apartment mate know that she wished to tell her something. Okay. Can do.
I am capable of communicating.

It turns out that the neighbor had been a bit tight these past few months, and my apartment mate had helped out. There was now money coming in again, but she hadn't wanted to discuss any of this with me, because she was afraid that my apartment mate's "husband" would beat her.
By "husband" she meant me.

My apartment mate assured her that that would not happen, in fact I was a very generous fellow, and we weren't even in that kind of relationship.
Not husband and wife, nor lovers, just old friends. Also, her money, her choices. And both of us have our own funds.


My downstairs neighbor probably has some strong cultural memory of us Dutch imperialists being utter brutes. It's a generational thing.

Actually the generous person in this household is my apartment mate. After all, she described me in very positive terms. Which I cannot imagine myself deserving. Well, I suppose I don't beat the workers in the cane fields or withhold the measly pittance salaries of the peasantry on my tobacco plantations (Sumatra coastal strip OR central Javan Regencies; either would be nice), nor do I EVER request the colonial constabulary assist me in my ongoing battle to civilize the headhunters, convert them to Christianity, and in the process of doing so seize their lands for rubber planting.
But calling me "generous"? That's a monumental stretch.
Only because of insufficient other opportunities.
Anyhow, kudos to my "generosity".
Brownie Points!
Yay!

[Besuki tobacco: Banyuwangi, Bondowoso, Djember, and Panarukan.]


I'll admit to being a Dutch cliché. Linguist, Asian languages, scriptural knowledge, a very great familiarity with spices and colonial cash crops.
I might have made a decent "Assistant Resident" somewhere in the sparsely populated interior. But not a very effective one.

Yep, stereotypical Orang Belanda.

And I smoke a pipe.
Perfect.



"LETTER TO MY BROTHER GOMPERT"

I'm sorry, my area is rather miserable, and the harvest failed this year as well as last. If you decide to visit I shan't be able to offer you more than a cup of watery tea and a dry crust, perhaps sago gruel. And a dried fish, maybe, if it's a festive occasion. Malaria is endemic, the natives are barely literate, their religious scholars extortionate and indolent, and the last water buffalo was stupidly cooked up for the headman's wedding.
We are poor. How are Josephine and the kids?

This morning I went swatting around the perimeter of the kota, armed with a cane in case the wild men approached. A local sheikh greeted me, while expressing his envy of the fine pipe I was smoking (made for an American Company in New York, nota bene!), and a raggedy holy man reclining on the pavement prophesied grand things as I passed by. One or two members of the better classes or their ladies where out and about also, enjoying the cool of the day before it would be too hot to stir. I generously bestowed a shiny copper stuyver on a passing mendicant.


The rest of the letter to dearest Hendrik or Adelbrecht details how the latest fashions from Paris cannot be found here, how the local toko sells bucket loads of liquor because there are so many drunkards, and why do so many of these simple people have tattoos all over their bodies?
Enclosed please find a cunningly made frippery.
Charming in a primitive way, useful too.
Very much like a betelnut container.
For cheroots or some such.



KELAMBU

In actuality, the only thing vaguely "Dutch Colonial" about either of the occupants of this apartment are that we have mosquito nets. Because the bugs love her (a tasty non-smoker), and I tend to drive bloodsuckers out of my room with snow pear incense, her net is up most of the time.

Dutchmen are inedible.




UNCONNECTED AFTERTHOUGHT

The smoke from the wild fires up north is colouring the sky, the sun's reflection on shiny surfaces (cars, windows) is a bright copper hue.
The air to the east is pink and dense. Smog.
It smells like faint incense outside.
Tangerine sunlight.




TOBACCO INDEX


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