Friday, July 23, 2021


There are times I'm glad that I don't live in Delaware. In fact, whenever I think of Delaware, which isn't often, I am mighty glad I don't live there.

"If we provide free [sex acts] for Uncle Pervie, there will be few rapes and few chink broads will be shipped in CONEX containers."
-------Gerald Brady, elected official in Delaware, who probably represents the most educated and enlightened class in that state.

The comments from Gerald Brady come from an email mistakenly sent to an advocate living outside of Delaware. The advocate had shared a Princeton University study that showed how the presence of strip clubs led to a decrease in sex crimes in a New York City police precinct.
Except for the fact that state representative Gerald Brady is a Democrat, in the North East, he's indistinguishable from a Republican. In Texas.

Gerald Brady issued the standard apology, which like all of those apologies was undoubtedly sincere (regret that he had shown his ass) and means less than nothing. "There is no excuse I can offer that explains my embarrassing and shameful words that insulted, stereotyped and dehumanized an entire culture while making light of a serious human rights crisis."

Kindly go screw yourself, Mr. Brady.
You let the side down.

By the way: Delaware has breakfast several hours before I even have my first cup of coffee.
At an hour when civilized people are bleakly staring ahead over hot black liquid (the jitter juice), they're singing and dancing and digesting a heavy meal of pancakes and syrup, eggs, codfish, lobster chowder, and baked beans, or sumpin'. Further proof that they're savage idiots you really don't need. There's probably no decent pipe tobacco there either.
Nothing but bloody Prince Albert and Sir Walter Raleigh.
Smoked by grunting old men.

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Thursday, July 22, 2021


In recent posts here I've been a total bitch about people who do not mask, for which I've caught a bit of flack from troglodytes (whose misspelled commentaries underneath those essays have NOT been allowed through), but I remain sanctimoniously intractable on that score. I'm just counting the days until the idiot anti-vaxxers among my acquaintances croak.

They're all old. They will need ventilators.

From an article in SF Gate:

Wachter (professor and chair of the department of medicine at UCS) gave seven reasons in his email for why he thinks it may be advantageous to mask at gatherings where there are likely to be unvaccinated people who may or may not be wearing masks:

1) "The rate of breakthrough infections is small but very real."

2) "The rate of breakthrough infections with delta is likely somewhat higher than with the original virus; this number is still being debated."

3) "Delta might be more likely to lead to a serious infection than the original virus; at age 63, I’m already in an moderate risk group for hospitalization and death."

4) "Though the chances of long COVID with a breakthrough infection seem to be low, there is no rigorous evidence on this and we certainly have seen mild primary infections cause prolonged symptoms."

5) "I’d guess that the chances of catching and transmitting COVID after vaccination are low (as they were with the original virus), but this too is somewhat uncertain."

6) "Given #5, I see going maskless indoors as not only potentially putting myself at risk but also others – particularly immunosuppressed people, children, and those who have chosen not to be vaccinated."

7) "While the vaccines seem to be holding up quite well, I’m now more than 6 months out from my vaccination and we don’t know duration of effect, particularly with delta."

The pandemic isn't over, many people are not yet vaccinated (children, fools, and two thirds of the state of Alabama), and even if you are fully vaccinated you can still be part of a chain of transmission that ends up killing people. So please mask up.
Screw fools and Alabama, do it for the children.

If you're Alabaman you probably can't read this.
That's okay. You do you.

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Several years ago, when my apartment mate was still my girlfriend, I once smoked three bowls of McClelland flakes in the teevee room very late at night; she didn't notice anything the next morning, and my mouth felt like Joe the Camel had crawled in there and died of the plague. She had been in her bedroom with the door closed, and I had cracked a few windows for ventilation. Flakes, being soft Virginia leaf, are stealth tobaccos.

[Explanations: She used to be my girlfriend. We are still very good friends, and you never give up on people you can trust, who are safe to be around, and non-abrasive. The alternatives are loneliness or living with neurotics and drug addicts, especially in San Francisco. And if she weren't here the stuffed creatures would have far less of a voice. Virginias are flue-cured golden seed stock tobaccos, with a higher natural sugar content than other leaves. Smoked slow, they are ethereal and deeply satisfying, with an old-fashioned aroma of sunlight and summer, very conducive to memories and moods. Like all such things, Vegans and other disapproving puritanical types hate them. Tobacco smoke enrages my apartment mate's eczema, which I did not know until fairly recently. So the apartment must air out for several hours before she comes home. And her door is firmly shut during the day. Her sense of smell is less acute than mine.]

McClelland is no more. That venerable company closed it's doors a few years ago, and the howls of anguish and despair were palpable, even to cynical hermits in San Francisco who avoid other pipe smokers and sneer at their fanaticism. Not that I know anyone like that.

[By the way: I still have a four-year supply of McClelland, which I'm gloating over but not smoking at all; I have moved on, and if I open a tin that's one less in the stockpile. One less! Which would be unthinkable. A disaster.]

Nick at SP recommended C&D Red Carpet, Joe F. from Laudisi a few years ago suggested Yorktown. From the description, Derringer looked good. And Carolina Red was a no-brainer. These things and matters around them connect the months and years.
Please note that the globulous cloisonné owl and the rubber finger daemon in the picture are guardians of the computer table in the teevee room; but other than that play no significant part. Neither does the spraycan of MAN-POWER ("The anti-bacterial Deodorant"), which is a relic from the seventies, and may at some point find use as a threatening device.
All four pipes shown are Petersons.

Precisely what the name suggests. Unpretentious, but richly rewarding. Notes of fruit, earth, herbals, as you would expect from a top-notch flue-cured leaf. Extremely enjoyable.
Tangy, with a lingering sweetness on the tongue.
Gently walloping. It has depth.

Another straight Virginia blend, this one is brightish and creamy. Perfect for a late night stroll around the neighborhood. Grass, hay, and faint hints of Mediterranean herbs and pepper.
If this were aftershave, I'd wear it.

Red Virginias and Perique. The faintest hint of somebody else's house, which they keep clean, but there may be a decadent sachet or potpourri in one of the upstairs bedrooms, probably the lingerie drawer. Heaven forfend, silk stockings or opera gloves.
A broken flake, with a balanced inclusion of Perique.
This is a solid product, and very well behaved.

Stoved Red Virginia mixed with Bright and restoved, then blended with some more Virginia. So it's complex, with a subtle breadth and depth. A citrussy floral ribbon-cut blend, suggestive of Port and dried fruits. Grass, bread, hay. On the milder side.

All four products are excellent, and their fragrances bring back shadows and hidden memories. These are tobaccos that everyone's mythical granddad would have smoked, if he avoided the lure of perfumed toffee-caramel dreck cavendishes with their sweeteners and flavourings.
As a severely disapproving puritan, I abhor all such rancid aromatics.
Cherry Bombe Glacée? No thank you.

"I love the smell of pipe tobacco, it reminds me of my grandfather!"

"Your grandfather was probably a fiend who used Brut aftershave."

What brought all of this to mind was Quinton in Delft posting a few pictures of his early morning walk. Older buildings, sunlight, long shadows from the angle of the rays after dawn. He was at that time smoking Peterson Flake (which used to be sold under the Dunhill marque, though actually made in the Orlik factory in Denmark, which it still is). Summer light in Northern Europe is different, less intense and more silvery. Somewhat subdued compared to California, but it requires an ability to distinguish such things to notice. Quint is a good photographer.
I could almost smell the place and feel the air there.


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Took a long walk with a pipe last night around the lower reaches of Nob Hill. There was no fog, scarcely any clouds. And it wasn't cold. Summer is warming up here. To which I am not looking forward at all, as because of my blood pressure meds it has become harder to deal with extremes of hot and cold. My comfort zone has narrowed.

Obviously, when I've got a pipe in my mouth, my mask is keeping my chin warm. Just in case.
I've had both shots, but I don't know about strangers, and I would rather not be part of any chain of transmission. That always finishes with a dead person at the other end. And wearing a mask makes other people feel safer and more comfortable. Among other things, it says that one is a responsible member of society, willing to play by the rules.

Those who refuse to wear a mask, in what OTHER ways are they dangerous and unreliable? Are they emotionally unstable and likely to become violent? Are they rapists, brigands, or drug-addicted shoplifters? Are they insurrectionists waiting for another January 6?
Like wearing clothing, a mask suggests stability and self-control.
Not wearing clothes in public suggests psychosis.
Selfishness and egocentrism.

We are clearly not all in this together. But some of us wish to conduct ourselves as if we are.

With that in mind, a chachanteng serving Hong Kong eaties with which Caucasian tourists are quite unfamiliar, and will therefore avoid entering, is probably the safest place to hide out from visiting hordes from the savage interior during summer in San Francisco. Yes it's clean. Yes there is food. Yes there are beverages and background music, as well as presumably a bathroom. And there are NO bloodstains anywhere! But the food is unfamiliar.
And the restaurant is therefore utterly suspect, as well as terrifying.
Clearly they don't have Kung Pao, like in Kansas City.
And no General Tso's either!

They have baked chicken cutlet rice. With tomato sauce and cheese.

Which was very good. As was the hot cup of Hong Kong Milk Tea. From my vantage point along the wall I could observe not only everyone else in the room, but also count the people without masks walking past on Stockton Street. Of which eight were Chinese, and one hundred and thirty six were Caucasians. Maskless white people outnumbered the masked individuals enormously. The ones wearing masks were probably San Francisco residents, the others may have been from Arkansas or Mississippi, or other places where people are extremely stupid. Plus rabid freedom-loving individualists who voted for Trump and have complete religious faith in crazy conspiracy theories.

That's perhaps somewhat harsh and judgmental. But as an American, I have the g-d given right to be suspicious and savagely disapproving of other people, AND it's part of my white person cultural heritage as well as my ancestral form of Christianity (Calvinism). Never mind that no one in the immediate family has actually been observant or religious in generations.

The freedom to be harsh and judgmental allows me to despise most of the white people here. My ancestors came over to get away from that lot. Those other folks were stupid and inbred then, as well as into witchcraft and abominable heresies, and they still are.

I fervently wish that all these tourists would visit Alabama instead.
Alabama is very beautiful, and has wonderful people!
Southern hospitality! And familiar food!
Oh it wil be delightful!

It does NOT take all kinds; there are many I could very well do without.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021


Only ONE restaurant in San Francisco is top-notch, according to trip-advisor, and there are three other decent eateries in the Greater Bay Area. This per an article on SF Gate. Which is cool, totally. I've not eaten at any of the four restaurants mentioned: Kokkari in SF, Valette in Healdsburg, The French Laundry and Bistro Jeanty in Yountville.
Nor do I particularly regret not doing so.

A dining experience which requires reservations months in advance does not fit in with the spontaneous "where shall I eat today" lifestyle. As in: shall I go to the place with the waitress who has a sense of humour, or to the place with the tomato porkchops? Maybe the foodery which is cheap and has superior cheung fan? Do I want something fried?

A friend recently wondered what my last meal of choice would be. What, he seriously wanted to know, would I ask for if it was the last thing to eat before death. Logically, I knew that it would be intravenous. And chasing an entire serving of Cantonese roast duck, rice, and Sriracha through a narrow tube would be impossible, and probably pointless.

An enjoyable last meal should be sitting down.

Immediately fatal accident to follow.

Two things: The company during that meal is also extremely important: no Republicans, fundy Christians, perverts, tin foil hat weirdoes, or right wing asshats. Followed by a good smoke. That last will assure that the meal-companions are sufficiently distant that they won't be involved in the immediately fatal accident afterwards.


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Next week I meet my new doctor. My previous regular care physician is currently at a school somewhere in the wild lands (the hot zone of California), which necessitates the change, and while he because of his life experience and background was probably familiar with oddball Dutchmen who've fled the Netherlandish cultural coop and straightjacket, I do not know whether the new person has had the same exposure.

So what impression will I make? What will the new doctor see?

It's at the clinic in Chinatown, so most of the patient demographic will be Chinese speaking (so not linguistically Dutch), and fluent in, or familiar with, Cantonese.

Um, yes, that describes this Dutch American also.

Which is more or less accidental.

Patient description: scrawny middle-aged white dude with circulatory issues, minor heart problems, and eccentric eating habits, who despite all well-meaning lectures still smokes.
[With the assistance of a dictionary. My Chinese stretches not so far (Dutch expression: strekt niet zo ver), but it looks reasonably accurate. Canto pronounciation: 'waan-je miu-suet: sau dik jong nin paak-yan, yau cheun-waan-hai-tung man tai, heng-mei sam-peng, gu-gwaai di yam-sik jaap-gwaan, jeun-gun teng gong la so-yau sin-yi-dik gong-jo, daan ying-yin kap le yin'.]

Also smells vaguely of pipe tobacco and Indonesian food.
['keui jung-kim yau taam-taam-dik yin-tau tong yan-nei-sik-mat dik mei-dou'.]

What isn't in the file, and has no bearing on the scrawny eejit's medical history: eats too much ice cream, likes kittens and other small creatures, has a lot of stuffed animals, collects foreign language dictionaries, and is "pleasantly unpleasant" at times (and unpleasantly unpleasant at other times). Thinks too much of himself.

Does not use Axe Body Spray.

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My friend the whisky loving Parsee lady in South City objected to a recent illustration (steamed pork patty with dried fish and ginger slivers), which she sneered was in the same vein as the painting of bitter melon and fish bits with black bean sauce. She has strong opinions. They're not necessarily correct opinions, but strong. In order to please her picky palate, I offered to do an illustration of Bombay Duck. Which, as everyone knows, is possibly the most popular fish, whether fresh or dried, in the world.

Many Chinese people love carp and yellow croaker, Filipinos are inordinately fond of bangus (milkfish), the French like trout and sole, the Dutch go for herring and eel, Anglo Americans only trust tuna in a can or McFillet-o-Fish, and a billion Indians plus the English for inexplicable reasons snarf tonnes of Bombay Duck, also known as 'boomla', 'slimey lizard fish', 'bombil', and by its scientific name: harpadon nehereus.

It is a remarkably loathsome creature. She was okay with me doing a picture, "only if you post a picture of the actual Bombay Duck without explanation".
I note that she's seen fit to comment negatively about yet another food painting. Maybe she has dyspepsia? It's not that she's close-minded about food -- she eats Hunanese stuff, for craps sake -- but either gout or acid indigestion would explain an awful lot.

The English, whose cuisine betrays a sense of humour if nothing else, prefer it dried and fried, which makes it resemble either crisped rancid bacon OR the piscine equivalent of durian.
It's probably great with beer.
Lukewarm beer.

I posted the picture on Facebook without explanation.

This is what revolted her last night:
Shellfish curry.

Maybe the supply of Scotch dried up. Or having lived in California so long she's developed psychosomatic allergies, like a neurotic white woman. I'll have to ask her about garlic, ghee, and gulab jamuns, and if she verbally pulls up her nose I'll know she's flipped.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021


This just in: a social media friend all the way across the country states that he mainly gets the impression that I always smell faintly of pipe tobacco and Indonesian food.

These are good things.
I've never really thought about it, but that's probably the impression I want people to have.

Smells faintly of pipe tobacco and Indonesian food.
Likes kittens.

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As soon as I exited the building I noticed the change. The bum sleeping near the gutter outside the empty storefront had move inwards, and was now in repose against the wall. I do not know who he is, but I recognized the blanket; thick crusty tan brown. During cold summers in SF the night-time fog dominates, and if you sleep outside a warm filthy covering is a godsend. There are fewer streetpeople than two years ago. Many of the saner ones are now housed, and more or less enrolled in programs that might restore a semblance of normalcy to their shattered lives. Those still living outside have rejected all outreach and fallen through the huge cracks; they were quite loopy to begin with, and are now even more so.

During waking hours they sit on the pavement and stare at the world with empty eyes. Occasionally their worn faces flicker hurt, resentment, or seething anger.

Most of them are non-smokers. Several have dietary hang-ups.
They are all unique individuals.

San Francisco residents either avoid the main streets or have learned to be insensitive to human misery, while striving to save the planet, wales, and spotted fly-catchers, as well as recycle, re-use, re-purpose, cut back on water, wear clothing that shows their concern for the well-being of everyone, and support green non-gmo ethically sourced provisioners. And what luck that many of those also use miracle berries from the Amazon, ancient tribal knowledge, rain-forest nurturing fibres, roots, and herbs!

Bit of a rant there. Sorry. I tend to avoid main streets. Market Street is a pissoir, Van Ness has joggers and drug addicts, and Union Square is awash with suburban droodges, muggers, and druggies. And I've never checked to see if my grocers ethically source bugger all.

I am so glad that people have learned to pick-up their dog's poo.
That alone adds inestimably to the quality of life.
Along with hip yoga pants.

The fog was extremely evident at the top of the hill when I left for the first smoke, and there were mercifully few people about. The occasional dogwalker or jogger, and one or two elderly Cantonese getting their morning constitutional. Not being entirely self-absorbed or dog poo focused, as the yoga-pantsed pet owners and exercise freaks are, they will often nod in friendly-distant fashion, and I nod back.

I'm sure they appreciate my not wearing unique yoga pants OR thick crusty tan brown rags.
It was still foggy when I returned. My downstairs neighbor was warmly bundled in a bathrobe enjoying a smoke. Cigarettes will take far less time than a pipe, and give one the option of not actually getting dressed and leaving the front steps. All over the city, smokers will venture out periodically to sniff the air, dodge the joggers, and sip from the cup of coffee they brought with them on their jaunt. You learn to recognize them after a while.


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An expression I've heard the turkey vulture utilize, when he's being voiced by my apartment mate, and which may date from the years when she was an innocent little Chinese girl growing up near Washington square and which might reflect the realities of childhood in San Francisco which I wouldn't know because I was never a child here and tend to avoid most people of that age even though I generally speaking appreciate their existence if not necessarily their noise because they often say startling things, loudly, and haven't learned to modulate or frame their thoughts precisely like the senile old coot with whom I sometimes have to associate in Marin County (he believes in space aliens and thinks masks and vaccines are all a big plot by the gubmint, and he can't spell worth diddly), is: pyeck them in the naugahydes.
Sydney Fylbert (the turkey vulture) is often so pissed at me for calling him Dumpty-wumps and disputing that he's malnourished because he hasn't had any corpse to eat recently that he threatens to do that to me.

People who pee in the pool should be pyecked in the naugahydes. So should litterbugs. Along with anti-vaxxers, and all those idiot Caucasian tourists wandering around the city and entering places of business.

Such as the hordes of honkies who decided "hey, let's all crowd into this narrow area in front of the pastry cases and ask really stupid questions" at the place where I was enjoying a baked item and a hot beverage yesterday. Sometimes I really hate my fellow white people. And I was trying to get away from them, because if they're wandering around Chinatown in groups they're probably dummies from the interior (anywhere between the Oakland Hills and Perth Amboy) spreading all kinds of diseases, and wrinkling their noses at things we do here in San Francisco. Or suburbanites. Honestly.

The Covid pandemic ain't over, folks. Not by a long shot. Wear your damned masks.
And now is not the time to tourist your asses all over the damn place.

Many of you-all need to be pyecked in the naugahydes.

Very severely.

No, I do not know what "pyecking" is, I suspect it's San Francisco Toishanese children's usage, and I am afraid to seek confirmation. Kick, tromp, strike, clubbed with a baseball bat, whatever. And naugahydes are pretty much self-explanatorily euphemistic for body parts particular to one or both genders, shan't inquire either. Everyone's got 'em.

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Monday, July 19, 2021


In reaction to the British influencer who now identifies as Korean, despite being so white that he glows in the dark and you can read the Necronomicon by the unearthly glow from his pallid Caucasian dermis, I shall henceforth on occasion identify as something else too: a vampire unicorn covered in sparkles. I feel that as an uninfluencer it's the least I can do.

I feel his ridiculous pain.

I also have a prefered set of pronouns, but they're all horribly insulting to other people. You may refer to me as "his majesty". As in "does his majesty wish to wip the peasants?" "Why yes, his majesty indeed wishes to do that; knave, bring me a bundle of sticks for that purpose!"

His majesty is contemplating lunch.
Among other meals.

At some point this week I intend to have some soul food. Cantonese American soul food, as performed by a Dutch American living in San Francisco who knows that his doctor and the nutritionist at the hospital would disapprove, while probably being rather jealous, seeing as they are, in fact, Chinese Americans, and what I propose to eat is bad for the system, because of a whole number of factors. But very delicious. It's the Cantonese equivalent of a hamburger.
Steamed pork patty with salt fish and ginger shreds. Easy to make: take a quantity of ground pork sufficient for one Dutch American and smoosh it onto an oiled plate. Dump a wedge or a few slices of salt fish on top, add ginger shreds, and stick it in the steamer for ten minutes. Drizzle it very lightly with soy sauce, and eat it with rice. And sambal (Dutch American soul food; it makes living among the Anglos and their wussy food preferences do-able).

[鹹魚蒸肉餅 ('haam yü jing yiuk beng'). 鹹魚 = salt fish.]

If you are frightfully Anglo, you may wish to eat it with ketchup and ranch dressing, and in lieu of rice some spongy tasteles bread (a hamburger bun), with limp fries on the side). Come to think of it, you might recoil screaming because in your mind it doesn't look edible, or even like Chinese food, because it's not in forkable chunks covered in glistening gloop composed of soy sauce, red food colouring, lots of sugar or treacle, and a little vinegar, like everything you've ever had at Fishbowl Wok or General Chou's.

I drew it, because a dear friend remarked about a previous illustration "Looks like Kermit the Frog melted into a puddle of yuck".
Which was very likely because she doesn't like bitter melon, and maintains a file called "how can people even eat that?". With mostly white people things, but she doesn't discriminate; all cuisines are probably in there. Including her own. The very first item is undhiyu.

Her reaction to the picture of the pork patty will probably be "no wonder no one wants to eat with you". But she'd approve of the sambal (hot chili paste with other stuffs mixed in).
By the way: Sriracha is a vegetable.

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According to my apartment mate, concerning my love life years ago, I am myopic, Dutch, strange, and desperate. She feels that this explains a lot. Personally, as the subject of this analysis, I feel that this does not give me enough credit for intelligence and good taste. Especially as my eye power, Dutchness, strangeness, and capacity for desperation have without a doubt gotten more so over the years. So you'd think that if, ages ago, they had caused a love life, at this stage in the game I should be swimming in the flesh pots.

I shall, of course, disregard her commentary on these matters.

Myopic, Dutch, strange, and desperate.

Good grief.

All of this was more or less pursuant the upcoming nuptials of her sister in law's niece. Who appears to be marrying a man who is at least a decade older, judging by the photo. As an elderly crotchittant, I can only approve of a picture showing an antique bag of bones and wrinkles finding desperate happiness in his waning years with a sweet young thing.
Precisely like Judith and Holofernes.

I shall go outside to ponder these things while taking a walk with my pipe.
The fog lifted early this morning, there is strong evidence of sunlight out there, it's may be warm today. Upon my return, the apartment mate will have headed to work, and the next smoke will be indoors (with her bedroom door firmly shut, and windows open for ventilation). In the afternoon I'll head down to Chinatown -- there's some grocery shopping I need to do, as well as snacking upon which attention needs to be spent -- and all in all it will be a nice quiet day filled with myopia, Dutchitude, strangeness, and desperation.

Actually, strike that last part. Those last two items. I am neither strange nor desperate, those have never marked my character, and I have no idea where she got that idea. She tends, at times, towards a cynicism. Which contrasts completely with my own sunny disposition and positive attitude toward life.

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Saturday, July 17, 2021


In some parts of the States people are proud that they are not vaccinated. In some parts of the States, manufacturing or using meth and humping your cousin are common, as well as having glandular excretions over a gun collection or a vehicle on cinder blocks. We are a modern first world webbing laid over a dense layer of trailer. Which is why you should stay the hell out of Alabama, Florida, and Texas. Marlboro country.
And wherever the heck they voted for Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Green.

It will not surprise me if someone goes mediaeval at a tourist from the rest of the country on the Golden Gate bus at some point, because the dickhead refuses to wear a mask. Let's admit it, we don't like tourists anyway. And we hate the rest of the country.

Easy solution: ban visitors from coming to California for the next year, stationed armed guards along the borders to keep out overland drivers, and only allow in trucks that have not been through Trump country and whose drivers can prove that they've had both shots -- even then, test them. Also, take covid deniers to court or fine them. We'll beat this yet.

When Trump country sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re idiots. And they're diseased.

The same goes for the suburbs, by the way.

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Friday, July 16, 2021


It's a simple dish, with a taste that little children might find startling and repulsive. So it was altogether a good thing that of the dozen people in the restaurant not a single one was a child, and other than the waitress, none of us were less than middle aged at best. Two of us, in fact, were feeling the mental wear of our years. We kept an ear cocked for one, because she spoke softly and occasionally mumbled to herself, and an eye on the other, because his motions and periodic twitching were disturbing, and he tended to move around the room.

Bitter melon omelette (涼瓜煎蛋 'leung gwaa jin daan' ) is a dish for mature people. And even then. The texture and herbal bitterness of the vegetable have always appealed to me.
And with sploodges of hot sauce, it is very heaven.
I have no idea what the two middle-aged white people two tables over were eating, but they were quietly enjoying themselves, and did not require any attention. Which is good. They had probably made reasonable and well-balanced choices; they looked the type.

Halfway through my meal the waitress had had enough of the sappy Mandarin ballads on screen, and changed to modern era Canto pop, in which the lyrics were more zippy, and the voice-artists were putting on a show. First act: triceratops heads, furry costumes, prancing. On a huge stage surrounded by thousands of worshipful fans. second act: goth squared.

I should have paid more attention, I have no idea what they were singing about.
Probably post-1997 angst and anomie. A pit of the stomach feeling.
Childhood traumas and totally rad haircuts.

Maybe they were lamenting being forced to eat bitter melon as children?
Much like a lot of American songs are actually about broccoli.

You know, modern music would be a lot more intelligible if, like with Cantopop and sappy Mandarin moaning, they put the lyrics on screen so that you could sing along.

I'd much rather eat bitter melon than listen to Curt Cobain.
Or anything by Kanye West or Justin Bieber.
Or dammit Nickelback.

Just sayin'.

Mature taste.

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Thursday, July 15, 2021


Within the first few minutes of being on the internet this morning, I became exposed to Chinese bronzes, and a cat-loving ironworker with tattoos. Both were the results of my pipe smoking. The pictures of Shang and Zhou bronzes were courtesy of a pipe carver of extraordinary abilities in Mainland China, the cat-loving tattooed ironworker is a pipe smoker who appears to be retired, fellow-member of a forum whose average age is approximately me.

Yes of course I scoped out the profile of the ironworker. He commented underneath one of my posts, and one must always have a clear idea of people with whom one gets conversational. Just in case they're skeevie Qanonites or rightwing hosebags.
Which he fortunately appears not to be.

The briar artist in China is a known quantity. Like many such people, he has literary sensibilities and perspective. It's a small coterie, most of whom are, as you would expect, cultured people. In China, pipe artists are rather like seal carvers, a subset of the literati class, with broad interests, trained eyes and minds, finely honed tastes, and relatively sober judgment.
The field does not appeal to pigs.

Zhou glyph

Of course fifty years ago they would have been sent down to the farm to slop the pigs and shovel sh*t, and their tools and work destroyed.

Years ago I used to carve seals. Learning the ancient script was fascinating, as well as figuring out how to fit the characters within the confines of the space at the end of a small stone block. Sometimes a soft spot in the surface had to be dealt with, designed around, and the tension of arcs and curves had to be kept in mind. I seldom carve nowadays, but I still keenly examine examples of seal script calligraphy (篆書).
I have just an extremely minor facility with the form.
And my blades are used for other things.
But the eye is still active.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021


Ideally all the foods I like could be found within a few blocks. And I would be fat as a house.
But while good Cantonese food is not far off, Dutch Indonesian Malay Hokkien and Nonya are virtually impossible to find, and that has always been the case. My first two years back in the States after being in the Netherlands for most of my childhood were years of deprivation, because my grandmother cooked "English" foods. Good, yes, but, well, um.....
And I didn't know what any of the ingredients were called in English.
Which meant that I only gradually found them.
Mostly in Chinese stores.

There are reasons why I live close to Chinatown.
In the most Chinese city in the United States.

One of my favourite grocery stores caters to Chinese from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Which does mean that half of the snacky things are, unfortunately, flavoured with durian, but the condiment and ready made cooking sauce aisles are an unending source of pleasure.
Plus they have a vast selection of noodles.
And they're nice people.

Less than two blocks away from the hospital, half a block from a dynamite bakery, roast duck, fresh tofu, across the street from dried fish ..... if you want to casually blow a few thousand on fancy jewelry you can do that too, and there's hot Hong Kong milk tea at nearby places.
Naturally I go there at least once a week.

No, I'm not overweight.
Kind of scrawny.

Lunch was duck chunks in garlicky black bean sauce, with some stringbeans, and noodles. And sambal udang on the side. The key to a good sambal udang is the correct balance between tanginess and oil, so that it keeps well in the refrigerator for a day or two. The tanginess is provided by both tamarind and lime juice. But it should be a wet dish, Malay style, to colour the noodles or the rice.
Many cooks add finely slivered kaffir lime leaf, which cannot be found fresh here, so I omit it.
I also up the ante as far as chili paste is concerned, because as a Dutchman I lack subtlety.

Sumatran grandmothers do this with stinkbeans (peteh) added. They're probably even less subtle than I am.


One Lbs fresh shrimp, deveined and de-legged.
Six TBS sambal ulek (hot red chili paste).
Three shallots, finely minced.
Three cloves garlic, finely minced.
One to two TBS tamarind pulp.
One TBS shrimp paste.
One Tsp. ground coriander.
A generous pinch of sugar.
A squeeze of lime juice.
Chopped yellow chives (韮菜 'gau choi').

Pour one cup of boiling water over the tamarind, stir mash steep, strain, reserve.

Heat some oil in the pan, add the minced shallots and cook till coloured, then add the garlic, sambal ulek, and ground coriander. Stir, fry till fragrant, dump in the shrimp. When the shrimp are turning, pour in the tamarind water to boil up, squeeze the lime into the pan, and stir in the sugar. Decant into a shallow bowl, and strew chopped chives on top.

Or, for a touch of subtlety, garnish with cilantro.

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If you listened to La Marseillaise this morning (celebrating Bastille Day), you really should also go for Fratelli D'Italia. It stands to reason; they're often in the same play list.
Despite the Italians so undeservedly winning at soccer recently.
Naturally I was supporting the frigid boggy Brits.
How can a person NOT like that country?
Drunken louts, horrid food.

And no wonder they all bail out to the Iberian peninsula six weeks out of the year.

As a Dutchman in the States, I can only approve of people who despite all evidence to the contrary consider haggis washed down with whisky as balanced a meal as their breakfast (many unidentifiable things fried till mahagony several hours before). Acid indigestion and a vague lingering stomach discontent are constants in the Protestant cultural experience.
When I lived in the Netherlands it was often all around me.
After returning to the States, it was everpresent.

Listening to the French and Italian anthems reminds one that despite the leaden weight of a Northern European dominance, there are still places with sweetness and light, olive oil, noodles, and flavour. And hot substances (like sambal, for instance).
Last mentioned not present in Italy and France.
Or England.

Ja maar desalniettemin niet tegenstaande alhoewel mits in tegendeel. And mitsgaders!

[Dutch politician wafflegab that in part or in whole often precedes a self-benefitting denial or data-poor statement suitable for later clarification and obfuscation/denial.]

I am convinced that the reason so many of my fellow Northern Californians supported the Italians this past Sunday was out of sheer perversion, and rebellion against their better natures. The degenerates do not wish to live with the repression and coldness of their family members, they long for warmth and a gay spirit, which, to their twisted uneducated minds, the poor sportsmanship and flagrant flamboyant cheating of the Italian team represents.

No wonder they are pot-smoking deviants.

Sod them all.

No, I didn't bother watching the soccer match. I imagine it must have been very much like the last battle scene in Jurrasic World, with huge carnivores fighting it out brutally, finally ending when the lone velociraptor skips off into the ruined park. Scenes of carnage, savage bloodletting, and mayhem. With appropriate music.

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Stumbling around Nob Hill in the first grey cracks of dawn makes me think that today will not be as frigid as Monday and Tuesday were. I may need to rethink my clothing. No, there will not be shorts and a netting a-shirt to show off my broad manly pecs or the suntan I've been working on while lazing at the Costa Del Sol. Mostly because I've never been surrounded by well-oiled Northern Europeans on a Spanish Beach, nor have I visited the gym assiduously during lockdown. Or ever. A lighter long sleeve shirt, a thinner sweater.

At this hour of the day I'm usually popeling with impatience for my appartment mate to head off to work, so that the serious business of being alone in the silence with my computer, dictionaries, other books, and a pipe can begin.

The concerns of a mature man: Finally paid off both hospitals. Medical insurance paid through the next three months. PGE paid. Internet paid. Cell phone paid. If I had a car payment due, it too would be paid. Enough coffee, tea, and dried noodles to last a while. Plenty of hot sauce and chili paste. Enough tobacco to last me till the next century. See, I'm a responsible man.

Which I was not expecting. And it probably explains why I prefer the company of fewer people, casual non confrontational chit-chat, and the absence of rock and roll, elevator music, or punk. And don't hang out at gyms among the muscle flexing vagrants or yoga practitioners.
As well as not working on my sun tan.
I'm fine being pallid.

My working hours are less than a few years ago, because my employer believed that I wasn't recovering fast enough from the operations (second one of which was an emergency exactly two years ago which had me in the ICU for a week) and cut me one shift last summer. Seeing as my expenses also went down, while not entirely happy living on the cusp of poverty, I am reasonably satisfied with the current situation. We have survived the pandemic. Only a few people I know died in the past year -- non-covid related illnesses -- and most of the businesses I cherish because of their people have also come out at the other end. San Francisco has weathered events pretty well.

Time to go on the internet to circulate silly memes and overload on youtube.

As well as, once this place is quiet, load up another pipe.
Grab another cup of strong coffee.
Read a bit.

And change out of the thick sweater and heavy plaid lumberjack shirt.
The fog has already lifted.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2021


He seems like an unlikeable sort of fellow, until you notice that underneath his gruff nastiness there is a gruff niceness. I suspect that he's actually rather vulnerable. It's a weird Red Cudgel behavioural tendency of some Cantonese men. It's not from seeing too many HK gangster movies, it comes naturally. And it allows someone else to be the White Fan.

In many ways the traditional roles familiar from HK gangster films reflect customary social patterns much more than anything derived from the secret societies. In a way all crime movies are speculative; the codes of conduct come from civil society, and though far more extreme (and more perfect) on screen, the patterns are inherent.

Older brothers must be stern, and maintain distance.

Which, of course, the average Cantonese speaker is prepared to ignore, as they will in all gregariousness respect him for it while paying mostly lip-service to the idea of seniority.

The head of the kitchen in a bakery or restaurant should naturally fall into that pattern.
It's somewhat expected.

All amateurish sociology and anthropology aside, the stuff issuing from that kitchen is exceptional. The little chicken pies are absolutely delicious.
My apartment mate complains that many HK chicken pies are too sweet -- they do tend to use a crumblesome sweet dough -- but she lacks that typical HK taste (not surprising, as she's not from there), and has not swallowed the HK atmosphere and attitudes. Her social environment includes few individuals from Hong Kong, her version of Chinese is not the same, and her "Chineseness" is from relatives long settled in America OR kin who never left Toisan.
Which leaves me as the expert sinologist among the two of us.
And, erm, I'm rather white.

At times dreadfully so.

Which allows me to listen in on conversations in many places, like a delightful bakery where I've been many times before, in which I sought refuge from the cold wind blowing outside. It being colder than average summer weather in San Francisco. The medications I'm on have lessened my ability to deal with extremes of temperature. It's colder now than it often used to be, and when it's too hot it's too much hotter. I blame channel blockers along with not enough subdermal fat. Brother, it's freezing out there.

I find their chicken pies (雞批 'gai pai'), flaky barbecue rolls (叉燒酥 'chaa siu sou'), and egg tarts (蛋撻 'daan taat') quite delicious. As well as in season their mooncakes (月餅 'yuet bing'). These are things to which I look forward when stumbling half bent from the gale up the street, an inspiration to continue my perilous journey in the arctic wasteland that this city is (except when it's too hot). The prospect of a pastry and a cup of Hong Kong milk tea (港式奶茶 'gong sik naai chaa') is powerfully inspiring.
Enjoying such things fuels one for a further venture into the howling fjord out there, lighting up one's pipe and nearly peeing onself from the cold, for a half hour slog while enjoying a smoke.

Mark Twain: "the coldest winter bla bla bla ....."
Which hasn't stopped the tourists.

It takes six tourists from Nebraska or wherever to inspect every pastry in a well-stocked case, and ask questions, before deciding that one of them needs a carbonated beverage and the rest of them are fine, thank you, won't purchase a blessed thing. A Chinese bakery is probably the most unusual adventure they've ever been on. But it doesn't quite beat the Hard Rock Cafe.

Over two dozen non-Chinese came during the forty minutes I was there.
And collectively spent maybe ten dollars.

On the plus side, there are far fewer dangerously insane people about.
It's not a traditional social behaviour in Chinatown.
Unlike the rest of the city.

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In a video I will not show here, a white woman has a tantrum at Victoria's Secret because a black lady is videotaping her ... having a tantrum at Victoria's Secret. It is unknown what the white woman's problem was, but based on what little I know I'd say it was being white.
That seems to be a problem for many people.

"Get her away from me, get her away from me, urrrgh!"
------Karen, while pursuing a black woman

I'm sure we can all sympathize. I too find myself screaming like a crazy person while chasing random black people in feminine lingerie emporia. It's a normal state of mind, seeing as I am white (and male), and like everyone I feel personally threatened by absolutely anything at all when shopping for panties (Bikini Briefs), hot pink or blue and white striped.

I find that both pink or blue and white striped bests highlights my middle aged male physique. Precisely like a manga heroine. It's very tasteful.
All white people should have pink or blue and white striped. It's chic AND zesty.
Especially recommended for bachelors. And pipe smoking gentlemen.

As a side note, many pipe smokers get all anal and neurotic about how to transport their prized briars when not in use -- one friend uses careful washed socks for that purpose, another wraps his in silk scarves, and I myself have an angry red panda backpack (which replaced the Hello Kitty bag) for the pipes I take to work -- but surely feminine lingerie would work as well.
It's worth experimenting with. Soft, and just the right size.

Just make sure it's washed first.

You don't want to be embarrassed at the hospital. When they find out the underwear you have with you for your smoking equipment wasn't clean.
As often happens.

This PSA brought to you by Atboth, redefining 'Panties in a Twist' since 2005.
Please feel free to comment, as I welcome feedback.
Or any attention, really.
I'm white.

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Monday, July 12, 2021


It was still cold and hazy when I left the apartment. From Clay I walked over to Washington, then down to Mason, and descended further at Jackson. Some of the businesses opposite Chinese hospital have finally opened up again. Stockton Street is bustling, everyone except the Caucasian tourists wearing masks. By that time I had finished smoking the pipe, and raised my mask so as to not stand out too much.

At the place where I went for lunch everyone recognized me anyhow (we've all gotten used to a pale blue lower stretch beneath the eyes), and I ordered a bowl of fresh dragon congee and a fried dough stick. Fresh dragon is actually sturgeon, and I suspect it's actually dried. I've never seen sturgeon for sale in Chinatown. The Chinese name, which includes the term 'dragon' (龍 'lung'), may be poetic. 鱘 ('cham'), which specifically means 'sturgeon', uses 寻 as the phonetic element, and is an old character. 寻 ('cham') means 'seek', 'search for'; 'ancient'.

[ 'cham lung yü pin juk']

White white rice porridge, with flecks of green and gilded straw (韮菜 'gau choi'; yellow chives), strands of slivered fresh ginger, small irregular chunks of fish showing white flesh and brownish fattiness. Add a dusting of ground pepper, and eat it slowly because it's still quite hot. It has a soothing complex simplicity. The oil stick (a strip of dough puffed up by deepfrying) soaks up the liquid, and depending on how long you dip it, will maintain more or less of its crispness.
Congee: it's the food of kings, invalids, and poor peasants.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or inebriated late night snack.
Perfect on a chilly summer's day in San Francisco.

The owner's son was not there, nor the previous time. Before the pandemic he would usually be at a back table. I did not ask about him, as it would not seem right to do so, and I did not wish to hear bad news or cause any sadness, though I hope he is well, and will be there again after the vaccination age is lowered to include his age group. Prior to Covid children were far more evident in Chinatown

After dawdling over my milk tea I filled a pipe, and headed out into the cold. On Waverly three young men asked me where Sing Fat was. Southwest corner of California Street and Grant avenue. The Sing Fat Company was a trading house and emporium that survived the 1906 earthquake, and their building is still one of the sights of the city. 舊金山生發公司。
It's unseasonable weather in San Francisco right now. Grey. Yesterday in Marin where I work there was a chill wind blowing, and an old friend who has had pneumonia and chemotherapy in recent months came in from the patio to warm up. Which I could well understand. He was unsuitably dressed, as if he were still 100% and twenty years younger.

With a bit of luck, things will continue to improve, and everyone will be back, soon.
I very much want everything to go well for the people I know.
Health, prosperity, and good things.



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