Sunday, January 31, 2021

PLANS! I HAVE PLANS!

My weekend starts tomorrow, and of course I plan to do things. Great things! Momentous things! Well, other than visiting my bank and smoking a pipe once or twice, I haven't a blessed clue. It promises to rain tomorrow. And, being well past my twenties, I am a realist and realize that if I were destined for greatness, I'd be there by now. So I'm probably going to twiddle on the computer, have hot beverages, and fritter the day away fighting loneliness.


Time away from the cigar smokers is time well spent.


Admittedly, many of my fondest memories are tinged with a discrete hint of cigar smoke. The grammar school to which I went whiffed of it, because the headmaster enjoyed his bolknaks at least three times a day( a bolknak is a Dutch-style perfecto, pointed at both ends, thick in the middle), and the town where I lived when I was a child had cigar factories.
Plus years ago some of my favourite people smoked cigars.

But the world has changed a bit.

Many cigar smokers nowadays are balding middle aged Republicans, or reactionary junior fascists. Or callow Marin-raised entitled jugend.


One decent, very likable, cigar smoker I know is a hospital technician of some sort, always has a few cigars to enjoy on the weekend, and is considerably more intelligent than the balding middle aged Republican yutzes kvetching on the terrace out front today.

There's also a retired photography teacher (quirky sense of humour), and a geologist, and one or two other very nice chaps. But they are all exceptions.


One person of whom I am fond is a lawyer with good taste in cigars, excellent taste in pipes, and horrible preferences in pipe tobacco. And given that people's choices of pipe tobacco are formed by buried memories that they have no control over, I cannot hope to change him.
Smells reawaken mood memories.


The same way cigar smoke brings back sunny days during the first few years of grammar school, the odeur of cow pasture takes me back to my teenage years, long bicycle trips through the Dutch countryside, and roasting coffee is the smell of early mornings in North Beach during the years when I lived near the Caffe Trieste. Jasmine tea? Summer nights reading. Hot tar? well, that's spring in Naarden, a nearby factory, and little fragile reddish flowers.
Fish sauce and sandal incense? Southeast Asia. You get the idea.

I doubt that my apartment mate has it quite so keenly.

Women may be handicapped in that way.

Smells! I have smells!



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ANTIVAXXERS CARE ABOUT THE JUICE

Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles is a mass vaccination site. Yesterday the antivax people shut it down for a while with a protest against vaccination.

If something like that happens when I am in line to get vaccinated, there may be bloodshed. Personally, I think all anti-vax people should be rounded up and thrown into a pit, but unfortunately that's not do-able yet, and besides, the bodies would stink.



One person assured me recently that the vaccine would alter my DNA. Firstly, that's credulous bs, and secondly, it's a bit late in the game to worry about that. Seeing as so far not a single woman has actually been crazy enough.


But it's nice of antivaxxers to worry about my "precious manly juices".
Stark raving batshit bonkers, but nice.
I guess.



In other news: a medical person friend on the other side of the country was experiencing a trauriges alteremudigkeits wust und motzei shabbes gefühl last night.
I keenly feel for him.



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Saturday, January 30, 2021

NOT UNCLE ROGER'S RICE

A few months ago someone alerted me to Uncle Roger and his opinions about fried rice.
I barely watched the videos, because the accent grated. No one I know talks like that.
And, as you probably already know, I speak Cantonese.
Often with people who don't speak English.

Now, I understand that the Uncle Roger persona is supposed to be an 'in' joke. Allegedly many people have a know-it-all Hong Kong uncle with a cheesy accent.
But his version lacks the I don't know I'm trying to remember the right word how do you say it hesitancy, and is too fluent and glib besides.
There's something 'off' there.

Anyhow, I saw a few seconds of the video he did on how to cook fried rice. Can't remember it, so what I did for an easy dinner the other night was probably entirely wrong.
But I've kind of always known how to do fried rice.


炒飯 ('chaau faan') FRIED RICE

First fry the shiznit. Then add yesterday's rice, and peeled shrimp if you want. Some chilipaste, beaten egg in a well in the middle, a few quick turns, and voila. Nasi goreng.

Shiznit in this case, if you are Dutch, consists of minced onion and optionally spek (bacon). Plus, for that typical Dutch meaty taste, nutmeg. If you are Cantonese, green onions and ginger. Anything other than shrimp and egg must be added according to the time it needs in the pan, so somewhere between adding the rice and the few quick turns. A typical Cantonese combination would be dried fish and small diced chicken plus thinly sliced lettuce for a fresh greeny touch, a Dutchman would throw in some chopped cooked sausage and some peanuts, with a bit of something Indo curry flavoured if that is available.
The egg is essential, and a predictable constant.
Shrimp are sometimes metaphorical.

Uncle Roger would probably tell me that it was quite inedible.
But we probably agree on the absence of peas.
Peas do not belong in food.
They're nasty.


If you really want to jack it up, sprinkle cheese on top and shove it under the broiler. Sort of the Hong Kong neighborhood chachanteng approach. With or without a ladle of white sauce or mild coconut curry sauce.Your mainland relatives will be horrified.
As well as mesmerized and intrigued.



Yesterday's version had two kinds of vegetable in addition to the chopped onion, with some garlic and shrimp paste. Plus a squeeze of lemon when plated.



Yeah, I know, this is the second essay involving rice in less than a week.
I'm obsessed with rice. Rice is food.


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Friday, January 29, 2021

ERST WORLD PROBLEMS

For some reason I have a yen for dried oysters (蠔豉 'ho si'). Which should be plentifully available in Chinatown right around now, as pork belly cooked with dried oysters and hair moss is a traditonial new year's dish. New year is coming up in another two weeks on Friday February 12.

[A dish for good luck: Dried Oysters and hair moss (好事發財 'ho si fat choi'). Recipe in this post.]



Dried oysters are also very good in congee (粥 'juk'). Especially with slivers of lean pork (蠔豉瘦肉粥 'ho si sau yiuk juk').


It's been ages since I've had congee. Sure, it's easy enough to make at home, but it takes time, and I'm lazy. Just rice in stock, cooked till the grains are falling apart and the resulting porridge is the right consistency, then dolled up with some thing like meats and salty things for fun. Scallions and shredded ginger added on top. And peanuts, optionally.

Problem is, I don't take much time to cook. It doesn't really seem worth it, as I am the only one who will eat it. My apartment mate has different tastes and eats at different times, I'm not social enough to invite other people over, and I'm not in a relationship with anyone anyhow.


Even if I cooked, as a hypothetical example, lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and a fried egg on top, and Spam, it would be a waste of time and effort. Festive, a feast, but pointless by oneself.

Yesterday's lunch was vegetable curry omelette over rice with sambal.
That's about as festive as a meal gets nowadays.
Followed by tea and cookies.


I'll probably get some dried oysters next week.
Dried ersters keep for a while.
A useful item.



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Thursday, January 28, 2021

MAJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: WHACKJOB EXTRAORDINAIRE

In a long post two years ago, Georgia Trumpite loon and new congress person Marjorie Taylor Green, who believes that killing Democratic politicians is a damned good idea, forwarded the "theory" that the California fires two years ago were caused by PG&E using space lasers to benefit Jerry Brown and the Rothschilds.


"But what do I know? I just like to read a lot."
------Marjorie Taylor Greene


Literacy is wasted on some people.


"I'm posting this in speculation because there are too many coincidences to ignore, and just putting it out there from some research I've done ... "
------Marjorie Taylor Greene


Not surprisingly, she also believes the Qanon stuff.
Because she reads a lot on the internet.
Which is "research".


The Northwest corner of Georgia is a special place.
It's filled with very special people.
Evangelical Christians.
Republicans.
Idiots.




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MINNESOTA: THE BLEAK AND FORBIDDING ZONE

This is something I should know by now: do NOT scope out the profiles of odious people. Yet I will continue to do so, as it's instructive and precautionary. Case in point: the person in question is a Republican, conspiracist, Christian, middle aged, and lives in Minnesota. Probably one of the most repulsive people it has been my pleasure to not meet.

Much like a local politician who has gone all batshit crazy religious nut since Donald Trump wasn't sworn in a second time, and believes that it will yet happen, now repent all you liberal anti-religion abortion supporters!

To quote Ernie: "No Bert, you stupid asshole, there was no storm, there was no kraken. You donated to a conman's grift, and followed his orders. Now you have no money, no job, the conman called you a terrorist on teevee, and the FBI is at the door. Frankly, I hope they put you in front of a firing squad. It was treason, Bert. It was fucking treason."

And it's cold. Feels like Christian Minnesota.


If I had tater tots, ground beef, and canned cream of mushroom soup in the house, I'd make Minnesota Hot Dish to keep warm. It's that kind of weather. Minnesota Hot Dish is their version of Lutefisk at church suppers, because they're too miserable to import proper gluey seafood from the homeland. There is no vegan version.


HOT DISH

One Lbs ground beef.
One chopped onion.
A pinch of salt.
One can 10¾ ounces cream of mushroom soup.
Half a cup milk or half and half.
One Lbs package frozen Tater Tots.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brown ground beef, onion and salt in a skillet over medium heat while stirring. Spread mixture in a buttered baking dish.
Open the can of soup, mix with the milk, and smoosh over ground beef. Layer Tater Tots over that, pressing down slightly.
Bake for half an hour.



Some people add cheese to this, others add frozen corn. Both of those are overkill. But bacon, a generous pinch of nutmeg, plus a walloping sploodge of Sriracha hotsauce, would not be amiss. Optionally, sprinkle some paprika over it before sticking it in the oven.
A side of vegetables is also a good idea; prevents constipation.

Serve with a plate of rice to make it all a meal.

Just imagine you're in Minnesota.
Don't ever go there.

It's like Canada, without the excitement.
And known for food on a stick.




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OUR SUBSTITUTE FOR THE MONSOON

Thanks to John O., a fellow pipesmoker in Athens, Georgia, I am momentarily obsessed with Trinity Cream. Which is also known as crème brûlée. A custard enriched with heavy cream, baked au bain-marie till barely set, with a layer of caramelized sugar on top. And the Trinity College coat of arms burnt into the top with a branding iron.

I am imagining a whole row of leaky old boys quietly enjoying their individual servings in little procelain cups, along with a shot of calming esspresso, before resuming their smokes and newspapers. While German bombs rain down all around them. A brief break from the blitz. Carry on, chaps.

Sounds very comforting on a cold rainy day.
Such as summer in England.


There is no Trinity Cream in this house. It is raining outside, cold within. The pipe is entirely uninterrupted by bombs or desserts, the coffee is strong, and the tobacco is Astleys No. 109 Medium Flake. And it feels like summer in England.
It is way too early to hit the cooking sherry, aside from which I do not drink till after teatime, and avoid alcohol, generally speaking. It's useful for cleaning the gunk out of old pipes that have been thoroughly abused by men who never clean their briars, smoke rancid aromatics, and wear the same underwear every damned day.

I'm just speculating about the underwear.

Boys, no wonder you all look so depressed and overweight when you drop off your pipes for restoration; if you used pipe cleaners once in a while and changed your damned briefs, you would look a lot happier.

Clean pipe, clean tobacco, clean undies, and clean living.
Oh, and avoid those ghastly aromatics. Unless you're smoking Erinmore Flake. As an ironic expression of your unique and ängstliche gemüt, and a mehr religiöser weltanschauung.

Maybe it's snowing and dead birds are falling from the sky.
Which is perfect summer weather in England.
No wonder you're depressed.


Everything smells like vanilla and pineapple essence.
Plus burnt sugar and old underwear.

Even though it's always time for tea, it is not yet time for tea. Perhaps a third cup of coffee. And a snack in lieu of breakfast. Somewhere I have a fresh pack of biscuits.


TOBACCO INDEX


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THE OPEN AIR SANATORIUM

While smoking my pipes yesterday I ventured onto Polk Street too many times. The first disturbing person was having a loud fit, yelling at invisible people in a doorway. The second wore striped leotards, and randomly discarded snack packaging. The third had shorts on. In freezing weather, shorts indicate drugs or insanity. The fourth was a neighborhood loony, dysfunctional and transgender, who applies her kissy-poo lipstick with a trowel.
The fifth stumbled, gibbered, and was insane.

Polk Street provides a rich and complex panorama of San Francisco street life which no tourist should miss -- it's why you came here, pilgrim -- and I can well do without.

I think today when smoking my pipe outdoors I shall avoid Polk Street, and wander around further uphill. Larkin, Hyde, and Leavenworth. Mason. Powell.

The nuts usually roll down to the flat areas.


I may end up in Chinatown at some point.


Far more normal people there.


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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

THE KITCHEN SMELLS A BIT ...

It is cold. This has necessitated periodic visits to the kitchen to warm up. There is now a jar of freshly-made curry paste, good for about a dozen dishes. It is richly complex, yet of a standard taste spectrum. Making it conveniently disguised the smell of smoking.
The warmth of the kitchen kept my fingers alive.
My fingers have not turned blue.
Close, though.


I need fingers that are not stiff and blue for my exercises in neurotic attention to detail, which is what drawing on the computer with the paint program really is. Such as this latest exemplar, a pipe by a Dutch company located not too far from the area where I spent my childhood.
After I prepare lunch, I shall venture out into the blasted cold and wind, braving the elements, to enjoy a pipeful. Assuming that I can keep from shivering. And risking sogginess if I miscalculate when the rain will start again.

So; curry, tobacco, arctic conditions.
Sounds like a plan, doesn't it?

咖喱垃圾面 ('gaa lei lahpsap min') What the Hong Kongers charmingly call "curry garbage noodles": miscellaneous vegetables and meat over noodles with curry flavoured broth.



TOBACCO INDEX


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BAD BEHAVIOUR

My apartment mate has a cold or flu, and, in consequence, spent the day at home. In a horrid mood. Which is understandable, but of course that cramped my style as well as hers. She got upset at me for spending too much time in the kitchen making myself dinner. Our tastes are not the same, so over ninety percent of the time we eat differently. Consequently, rather than eating the dinner I had prepared for myself, I went outside for an hour and a half.

[Yeah okay, I didn't react well. I don't want to talk about it.]



When I got back, my dinner was cold. So were my hands, as I had forgotten my gloves. The combination of rain, icy wind, and Raynaud's phenomenon conspired to give me blue and nearly useless digits. Couldn't use my damned fingers effectively for the next hour or so.

She was back in her room.

I felt angry, and sorry for myself. But I keenly want her to survive, get better, get the damned vaccine, and have a long happy life, because I care about her and cannot imagine life without her, or the voice she gives to the stuffed animals. She can be bad tempered and pissy, but she's an old friend whom I treasure.


The storm outside had intensified by the time I went to bed.
I truly hate winter weather, as it house-binds me.
And I really do like using my fingers.


I had put Syney Filbert outside her closed door, so that he could sleep somewhere warm and comfortable when she found him there, upon going to pee. But two hours late he was still sitting outside, looking forlorn.
Forlorn Turkey Vulture

So he spent the rest of the night in my room under the covers.
I am an asshole, but not a heartless man.



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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

PISSY THUGS IN HOLLAND

According to news reports, the vast majority of rioters in the Netherlands were teenagers. As you may have figured out by now, I am not a teenager. Though Dutch is one of my two native languages. And after watching the videos, I am feeling like an old man, and sympathize with the commenter on the internet who said "kapot schieten die rel-jeugd".
Shoot the riotous young buggers.

One shopkeeper saw on television how the young people destroyed his shop. Which was one of several shops looted and destroyed.

You know, the youth in Holland has it good. There's a safety net that Americans can only dream of. Their healthcare and education are assured, like all first world countries, and the only things that they are missing out on are sporting events and getting drunk in public with their pals.
Poor sodding butterflies and snowflakes.

Unlike American Police Departments, the cops in the Netherlands are less likely to unleash the dogs, bash in heads, and shoot people at random or for idiotic reasons. They are trained to not reach the boiling point too fast.

That shopkeeper who saw his business wrecked was a Turk, who had worked hard and achieved the Dutch Dream. The teenagers were the frustrated middle class jugend.
Upset that they could not go to bars.

A bunch of spoiled-brat alcoholics.


The place where it got out of hand earliest was Eindhoven, in North Brabant province. Looting, fires, violence, and destroyed vehicles. Okay..... I am familiar with that city, I lived in that region for many years, and I like Brabanders. But seeing as what they were protesting against was an "uitgaans verbod" (curfew), and given that the overwhelming majority of the rioters there were teenagers, I feel like I do not know them, or would even want to. And I have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever. These weren't people fighting injustice or oppression. They weren't reflective of high ideals, a great cause, or a righteous struggle.


"Kapot schieten die rel-jeugd!"


Ze kunnen de kolere krijgen, die snuiters. En tussen haakjes, PSV sucks. Echt.
This morning's first walk with a smoke was excellent. Peaceful, quiet, no broken glass or drunken Dutch teenagers lying in the gutters, no looted shops, no burnt out cars. No evidence of any destruction whatsoever. Because this is San Francisco. We don't have misbehaving Dutch polder-thugs here, and other than the pre-pandemic tourists, we've seldom seen despicable Dutchmen or alcoholic juvenile delinquents.
Harly any mis-behaving Europeans.

Clean crisp air, sunlight, and a bowl filled with GLP Stonehenge Flake.



TOBACCO INDEX


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THE SOGGY STUFF BITES

Yesterday was Bobby Burns Night. Which, in North America, is celebrated by hairy men in skirts poncing about speaking in tongues (either reciting Robert Burns' "poetry", or talking with what they imagine is a Scots accent, OR both). It gets worse as the evening progresses.
An inedible substance is served with fanfare.
The bagpipe is badly played.
Whisky is drunk.

The bagpipe, for those unaware, is the Celtic equivalent of the accordion. Very much like the banjo. The inedible substance (haggis) can be described as guts and grits boiled in a bag.

Sheep guts. Stuffed into a sheep stomach.


There is more to Scots cuisine than soggy chopped offal cooked for poor folks out on the moors. Even if you ignore vindaloo and chicken tikka masala, the two great British dishes.


And, speaking of cookery, I have updated my food blog: Cooking with a lizard, which I had neglected for a few years despite mentioning food and its preparation several times here.
Even more stuff will be added soon.

I've also created a new blog specifically to showcase my pipe drawings (done with the 'Paint' programme on the computer), unimaginatively named Briar Pipe Illustrations.
Hardly any text, mostly pictures.

Stuff will be added rather slowly.

For no reason, a bridge in Wales: Pontypridd

In other news, a person named Elizabeth has sent me a letter (computer generated, but made to look like handwritten and personalized) urging me to let Jehovah's Witnessing into my heart. Dear Elizabeth, I am a rabbi with smicha from Yeshivas Chipass Emmess, so your heartfelt plea falls on deaf ears. Have you considered letting Jehovah's Witnessery fall by the wayside? There are so many more heresies than just yours, with better music and food.
I recommend Heavens Gate, it's perfect for you. So spiritual!

Good lord, don't those Jovies EVER give up?
They're as bad as the Scientologists.

The previous occupant of this apartment was on the Scientologists mailing lists. We're still receiving mail from them addressed to him years later.
It goes into the garbage.



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Monday, January 25, 2021

HAGGIS, NEEPS, POTATOES, WHISKY

Tonight is Bobby Burns Night, when sanity-impaired yobbos celebrate the doggerel of Robert Burns and stuff themselves with haggis. Washed down with as much whisky as makes that dish edible. I've made haggis, and consequently do not eat it. And for sound medical reasons abstain from whisky, so my observance of the festival will be sour and disapproving.

All rational people should avoid haggis.
Which tells you what Scots are.

HAGGIS
A sheep's plucks (heart, liver, and lungs) are minced, mixed with oatmeal, spices (salt and black pepper) in a sheep's stomach. The resultant glob blob is then boiled or steamed until done or the second coming. It should be remembered that the lungs need to be simmered a very long time with the breathing tube hanging over the edge of the cauldron draining black muck into a receptacle before they can be considered edible.

What you end up with is a thing that is served with boiled turnips and potatoes.

Why don't you have a hotdog instead?


Same ingredients, better.


The reason why Bobby Burns is lauded is because his poetry is not as bad as Ewan McTeagle. Or William McGonagall. A remarkable accomplishment.

"What's twenty quid to the bloody Midland Bank?"

How about two bob till Tuesday?

Final thoughts: Haggis is ghastly. Probably better than Thanksgiving turkey as cooked by many Americans. Scots whisky is fine stuff, superior to Bourbon by such a wide margin that it might move people to song, except that poetry in the English language is rather drab, which explains the adulation of doggerel-meisters like Burns, McTeagle, and McGonagall. If chanted in the right accent, their verse sounds altogether German, and mercifully unintelligible.

If you're wearing a kilt in this weather, your privates are freezing off. No wonder you need the whisky. Poor sodding bastards. The vikings gave up on raiding Scotland because the climate was awful and the takings were poor. And good lord, that cuisine!


Happy Burns Night, you heathens.



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THE QUESTION THAT STARTS THE DAY

Sometimes context is everything. This is especially so when the other person or people can be presumed to be in the parsha, so to speak. A word may be used that is shorter than complete clarity required, an abbreviation, or specialized. Familiarity with the context or terminology provides comprehension.

Yesterday evening, upon returning from work, I saw a question.


"Does the old boy leak fluid if left untouched for a couple of weeks?"


So I glibly answered: "For a second there I thought you were asking about a deceased relative. In really cold weather, no. As soon as it gets closer to bearable room temperature, yes."

Anyone even passingly familiar with the County Morgue, or Stephen King novels, would have done the same.
It was posed in a pipe group, and it took me a second or two to think of Old Boy pipe lighters. Even though I had handled several of them over the weekend.
The Old Boy manufactured by Corona is a very reliable product used by many pipe smokers. And much loved. I myself prefer matches, however, eschewing fancy contrivances.


Someone else, also a pipe smoker, wrote: "Oh yes. Dribbling is common with age." He appears to be a young man, and might have been thinking of someone special. Other relevant riffs on that theme were "if you give him the remote and a ham sandwich not so much", and "I believe age definitely contributes to my dribbling".

Many of the members of that esteemed group are in their forties or worse. Nothing last forever, both the hardware and the software start breaking down in disconcerting ways as one gets older, and we realize that we should have got the extended warranty. The old boy definitely starts leaking if ignored for any length of time. Leakage is natural. Life is a bog.


It is so refreshing when a youngster picks up the hobby.
Their voyage of discovery is entertaining to watch.
Frustration, joy, fascination, obsession.
Followed by occasional leakage.



The handsome pipe pictured above is older than I am, and of a particular shape which is dashing and refined. It exudes both venerable age as well as high standards of manufacture, attention to line and proportion. It harkens back to an age when good quality products were taken for granted.

I'll probably smoke it after lunch and a cup of tea.
Day off. Should be enjoyable. Nothing planned.
Only reading, smoking, and leakage.



TOBACCO INDEX


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Sunday, January 24, 2021

SOME MINOR COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE WEATHER

One of the things I dislike nowadays is cold wet weather. Such as presently the SF Bay Area is experiencing. My tolerance for low temperatures has decreased remarkably in the last three or four years. And of course everyone cheeringly saying "but we need the rain" can go fly a kite. ESPECIALLY if they're in short sleeves or short-legged nether garments. Such as a horribly large number of the "oh aren't I healthy and hardy!" types, of all ages and genders. Gentlepersons, you have insulation. You're overweight.
I am not.

And you have the luxury of staying indoors for ten hours or more at a stretch. Whereas people like me will perforce have to step outside so that we may light up our pipes. Braving the savage elements. Even with a heavy overcoat suited to arctic climes (Canada), that's still not even half pleasant. The cold creeps up and in, eventually penetrating everywhere. Here, let me clutch you to my bony frame, so that I may share the cold with you, and suck up some of your heat and thus myself get warmer while you have a fit of the shivers.
Your sudden blueness is so cute.

You know, there would be far less hypthermia and pneumonia in the world if you let us smoke inside.

Don't you want the world to be a better place?

What are you, heartless?



According to the weather reports it will be cold and rainy for the next eight or nine days. My fellow smokers might freeze to death. And it will be all your fault.

I've got a heavy coat suited to the frigid wastes (Newfoundland, Petropavlovsk, Nobb Hill). Plus warm gloves. And for three months out of the year I wear two pairs of socks at a time.
So I'll probably survive.

Worst comes to worst I can set fire to a nonsmoker and huddle around the glowing corpse.



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MAYBE JUST A FIT OF THE VAPOURS?

Last night while having a last smoke on the front steps of the building, after a late dinner and coffee, I was treated to the sight of someone emptying his stomach across the street. Which is odd. He was, judging by the conversation he had with his friends at the bus stop he was facing, far too lucid to be drunk. And they were not suffering gastric distress, so food poisoning, if that was what caused it, was not shared. Illicit substances? Again, too lucid.


Before covid that would not have excited my curiosity so much.


But the late night food places in the neighborhood close early now, and in-house eating has been nixxed during lockdown. So the only thing I can think of is vegetarian food. If the three of them had a little dinner party and he was the only vegetarian, that would explain it. He wasn't retching and having convulsions, so it cannot have been a meat heavy meal. Probably tofu, prepared by a Wasp for a Wasp. Or something equally nasty and ill-advised.

Maybe I should have gone across the street to ask.

But even in the best of times one keeps one's distance from random people throwing up. Such as we're somewhat used to in San Francisco. People come here from all across America with their problems just to express themselves by puking, or so it seems, and often they are more than a little bit disfunctional.

We're too uptight to do that.

One of my friends remembers, keenly, the last time he upchucked. Which was two decades ago, and abcessed tonsils were involved. Unlike folks from elsewhere, long-time San Franciscans are a hardy bunch; it takes a lot to make us vomit.


I associate such things with cats and hairballs, or dogs and their intellectual curiosity, or fratboys and pizza. Or vegetarians and anything, really.


Not with calm rational neatly-dressed young men in between two parked cars having a well-modulated (though somewhat too loud) conversation with their equally sane and lucid companions. All of them quite well-behaved.

It's odd. Refreshing even. We need more people like that.



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Saturday, January 23, 2021

IMPROVING NEW YORK PIZZA

Like Trump, I crave attention. But unlike him I haven't been kicked off of Twitter, and do not grab people by the feminine regenerative organ part. Or poo in his incontinence pants because long-time overuse of cocaine, methamphetamines, and adderall bollicks up the lower intestines. I'm not even on Twitter.
I'm an adult.

Instead, I might occasionally post an opinion on Facebook.

Such as:


"New York Pizza NEEDS pineapple. Plus salami and mushrooms."


I actually don't like mushrooms on pizza. Dry heat such as a pizza oven gives yields little grey rubbery things, whereas sauteed to the point of caramelization is perfect. But that's neither here nor there.


And nothing improves Chicago Deep Dish pizza. Except a trashcan.


Per wikipedia, barbecue chicken pizza is popular in California. Strongly suggesting that the aricle "list of pizza varieties by country" may have been written by a Satanist.
From the East Coast.


Barbecue chicken has as much a role on pizza as it does in macaroni and cheese, which is an abomination, by the way. Or peanut butter.


Pineapple belongs on pizza. Along with anchovies and Sriracha.


Do it for the children.



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Friday, January 22, 2021

THE PRECIOUS!

An article on SFGate details some sincere participants in the Capitol Hill riot who came from California. It makes for interesting reading. One of them has a stellar six pack and looks his best when only wearing underwear. One of them was a sweet little boy next door.
And one of them is an expert on eyelashes and skin care.

Fittingly, that last one (Gina Bisignano) is from Beverly Hills, though originally from South Florida, a truly splendid part of the world filled with wonderful people, brilliant pharmaceutical importers from South America, superbly talented golf aficionados, and enterprising émigré legitimate businessmen, bless their hearts.

She knows all about glamour potential, high heels, and satanism.
An alumnus of the Rhode Island School of Design.
Poster child for 2020.



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Thursday, January 21, 2021

A FINE COLLECTION OF LIBERALS

Over the years I've carefully chosen my Facebook friends, and constructed a well-maintained block list as well. The blocked list includes racists, republicans, and various other rightwingers. Plus a large number of Christians. And a few totally repulsive people.

The friends list consists of fellow pipe smokers, book mavens, rabbis, talmudic scholars, foodies, artists, old colleagues, coconspirators, Dutch-speakers (overlap with other categories), pipe artisans, friends from various businesses and familiar haunts. And quite a few general overlaps and insightful weirdoes.

It's an echo chamber, yes, but a deliberately chosen one. I share my opinions, they share theirs, and none of us like a comment string turning into a war zone. Plus the article links they occasionally post usually lead to stuff I want to read.

Not a single one of them is a Qanon fool.

Possibly forty percent are Jews.

I am not Jewish.


The list includes a banker, a diplomat, a few poets, an archeologist, an art-historian, some computer and comic book geeks, several scientists, plus a doctor or two. 400 plus.


I am rather proud that all of them don't mind associating with me.


Their company has been enlightening, and often entertaining.
This is more or less a thank you.
Please cary on.



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IT SMELLS LIKE A BUCKET OF .....

Pork chunks, a little sugar, chilies, and garlic, with lime juice and fish sauce. Not something my apartment mate would touch, being a delicate person of Toishanese ancestry, and at that time appalled by the smell in the kitchen. Which was years ago.
So it's time to cook it again.

魚香燉豬肉片: No actual recipe.
['yü heung duen chü yiuk pin']

Enough pork; plus fish sauce and sugar. Twice as much sugar as fish sauce. And something in the hot pepper category. Today I shall use hot douban sauce (辣豆瓣醬 'laat dau baan jeung'), because I bought a jar of that recently. It isn't very hot, so I need to use plenty of it.

I also have a big bag of small white cabbages.

Lunch should be good.


Come on over to the dark side; we have pork.


Rice takes longer to cook than anything else I've mentioned. Because this is the last day of my weekend, I will make a little bit extra for after work tomorrow or later. On working days lunch is mere subsistence, usually crap from a convenience store. But I can smoke inside, whereas at home I need to mask that odour before the apartment mate (the Cantonese person with delicate sensibilities) comes home.
Currently enjoying the last of the open tin of Tilbury, made for Esoterica Tobacciana by Germain and Son in the Channel Islands. Half a dozen crusty old men in a brick building from the last century who are unreachable by modern communication methods such as e-mail, and rely solely on camel caravans and clipper ships for all news from the outside world.
They're rather old-school. Much of what they make is fruity. But their fame comes mainly from unsauced tobaccos and cult-favourites like Stonehaven, Margate, and Penzance (a leathery pressed Virginia and Burley Flake, the classic English style blend with Latakia, and a pressed full-strength Oriental), as well as Dunbar and Dorchester, Virginias leavened with a slight touch of the condimental leaves. Tilbury was described years ago as having a tin-note remarkably like an unwashed peasant hanging in a mediaeval torture dungeon. It is rather exquisite.


Yes, the door to her room is closed and the windows are open.
I am freezing my butt off.



TOBACCO INDEX


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THE WALKING DEAD -- STUMBLING, STUMBLING, STUMBLING

There are times when I am the least Christian of men. I truly enjoy watching, from a safe computer distance, the emotional and intellectual meltdowns of Trump's true believers.
Here in San Francisco we have such a person, a former Republican candidate for office.


Quote:
"Trump won the election by landslide. Yes, Trump will serve two terms, pray for revival America, love God, love life, love family and love country, re-birth soon."

That person, like many others in that group, firmly believes that the Tribulation is upon us, the Great Awakening will happen soon, fire and blood will descend, and The Divine Plan means for Trump to lead man to salvation. What I quoted above was written less than an hour ago.


The congregation to which that person belongs is not far from here. It is an ugly building.
There are too many churches in this neighborhood. Snowflakes.

Not enough book-lined smoking dens.





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THAT TIME AND THAT PLACE

Having spent a fairly large amount of time watching history being made yesterday on the internet, I also saw some other things. Elderly Georgian men jigging to the Levan Polka, Ivanka Trump rejected, Russian soldiers marching to the Bee Gees, the Marseillaise scene in Casa Blanca, Happy Like A honey Bee, Die Wacht Am Rhein, and plenty other inspiring shiznit.

And Frances Yip (葉麗儀) doing the opening theme to Shanghai Shoals (上海灘) with full orchestral accompaniment.

浪奔,浪流,萬里滔滔江水永不休 ...

[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpVNdL9Wz_M.]


It is used to be the most popular song. Everyone watched the series, and later of course flocked to see Chow Yunfat in movies. To a certain extent, then, it's a signature of a time.



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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

SPAM IS TOFU FOR NON-VEGETARIANS

A passage from years ago caught my attention: "the first tentative married steps of a shy young virgin with Jesus in her heart. The uplift, the end of days. The heavens rain fire and blood; Christ, sin, Eden, rapture, salvation, Revelations, and the damned."
More or less this was a reading suggestion I did not heed.

Someone once also recommended that I should read The Da Vinci Code.
I tried. I gave it my best shot. I got one page in.
Good lord what codswallop.

[Savage kitten gave up in less than a page, the bookseller with whom I abstemiously pub-crawl during non-pandemic times finished the first paragraph. Hah! I got further in than they did!]




A relative positively lauded Memoirs Of A Geisha, and told me that I would really like it. I have never even tried to read it, as Oriental fantasies by jade-struck white men are not high on my list of must-reads.


I've read some Asian American literature. Fifth Chinese Daughter, by Jade Snow Wong, who was a classmate of my mother. The Chickencoop Chinaman, by Frank Chin, a very bitter man. Maxine Hong Kingston. Bette Bao Lord. Gish Jen. John Okada. Amy Tan's only decent book. And a few others.

Asianity, and Chinese-Americanness, are not major cultural identifiers for me. Understandable, because I am not Asian or Chinese. I am a Caucasian American, and a thirteenth generation Dutch American, who lived in the Netherlands as a child because my parents went overseas when I was two years old. My first two languages are English and Dutch. While abroad I also learned colonial Indonesian, plus bits of German, Afrikaans, French, and Yiddish.

I started hanging out in Chinatown after I came back to the States because I was desperate for someplace else, I could find foods and ingredients that I was familar with -- sambal, sweet soy sauce, and noodles -- and no one would accusatorily comment on my "foreign accent".
It was a safe place.

Nowadays, even though I can speak Cantonese and read Chinese, I still look at C'town with Dutch American eyes. But it's a solid part of my comfort zone, a safe place.
Still looking 'in', but with a somewhat better view.
Marginally less 'outside'.


The phrase that gets my dander up is "go back where you came from". Of which I've been the recipient every year, nearly every month, since I returned. Dude, I was born in the Los Angeles area, kindly go 'F' yourself. 食蕉。

Everyone is precisely where they should be.
Where ever they are, they belong there.


In San Francisco I am not a foreigner. Still more or less an observer, but this city is a safe zone.
I do not particularly want to visit the rest of the country, as my exposure to "real Americans" has on the whole not been a pleasant experience.

Their bizarre ideologies are also offensive.
Likewise their drinking rituals.
And their religions.
Sports.



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HABEMUS PRAESES

Of course I watched the swearing-in live. It's a historic moment. And hope has been reborn. As one of my favourite bloggers said " I'm happy he's not on Twitter and beyond happy he's gone a very small part of me wishes I could see him live Tweet this inauguration."

I wish I could see some of the cigar smokers who supported Trump puke into their early morning cocktails right now.

Also, thanks to a Danish pipe maker whose work is solid, I have pre-emptively blocked several people from ever contacting me. All "true Americans". For non-Americans reading this, that means 'retrograde slope-browed hicks' from the red state world. My Facebook blocked list is well over two hundred people, my various e-mail blocked lists are as large.

Joe Biden says he will be a president for all Americans. There are seventy million of them whom I never wish to know.


For everyone else, this is a new day, hope has dawned again, there will be progress, and we'll rise out of this mess and rebuild.

There is much to do.



What with being a petty and vindictive man -- severely flawed, ich veiss, ich veiss -- it is a sincere wish that a number of people do not enjoy this day, and have excruciating stomach acid for the next several years. May their food burn on the way in, and may it burn on the way out. May their lives be damaged, dysfunctional, and traumatic. And may their liquor prove tasteless and disappointing. And toxic to their livers too.

I have never been a forgiving man.




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THE RANCID OLD GLOAT

Despite the momentousness of the day, I intend to get things done. Gloat. Coffee. Gloat. Smoke the first pipe of the day. Gloat. Wash, get dressed, second cup of coffee. Gloat. Read news on the internet. Gloat. Head downtown to my bank. Gloat. Shop in Chinatown. Gloat. Smoke another pipe. Gloat. Head home for a late lunch. Gloat. Read a bit. Gloat. Teatime. Gloat. Another pipe. Gloat. A light snack-like dinner. Gloat. Last pipe of the day. Gloat.

Yeah, that is a lot of pipe smoking.


Currently working through a tin of Astleys and a tin of flue-cured leaf made for Savinelli. Plus a lovely red Virginia. Tobaccos that are old codger blends, if the old codger's tastes are firmly in the gilded past. So not the typical modern-day old codger who smokes Captain Black Grape, or Sutliff Molto Dolce, but an old codger who is still young in spirit.
Not a dessicated old fossil.
Smoking aromaticized shite like Black Grape and Molto Dolce, or any of the other soddenly sweetened candy flavoured crap sold to old fossils and young men living in their mothers' basements, leads to syphilis, testicular cancer, and gonads shrunk to the size of a pin.

As well as incontinence, hairy palms, and a slack jaw.


It is exceedingly likely that three percenters, oath keepers, boogaloo bois, Texans, and other assorted Trumpite incendiarists reek of such aromas. Not only their wetly gurgling briars, but also their macho aftershaves, and their medicated athletes foot powders and jock creams.

[BTW: Gloat, gloat, gloat, gloat, gloat, gloat, gloat, gloat, gloat.]

I may need some coffee to calm down soon.
And a pipe with top notch tobacco.



TOBACCO INDEX


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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

ICECREAM ALL AROUND

Here it is, less than twelve hours to go, and that orange shit gibbon is still managing to piss people off. Except for his acolytes, of course.

Who cannot understand why staffers might have problems ever working again.

Or why all of a sudden My Pillow ain't selling like hotcakes.


Folks, if you voted for Trump, you're dumber than fenceposts. And, like Ellen Lee Zhou, you might be a Fundamentalist Christian. Maybe you even believe that tomorrow marks the beginning of the End-Times and the Tribulation, and you're praying fervently.

Or, like Lauren Boebert, you're a gun nut and seditionist.


Odious chief sycophant Lindsey Graham is desolate, bereft, inconsolable. No longer will he feel those spongy arms around him, the small small hands holding his head still, hear the hoarsely whispered "huge, huge", or enjoy the wondrous bigly covefe that servile obedience to his flabby orange master gave him. If he wants to have any influence at all during the rest of his rancid political career, he'll have to wag his tail for someone else.
It's sad. Very sad.



Oh well. Suck it up, traitors.



I'm not being very Christian.

Sorry.



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MAINTAINING STANDARDS

It is quite possible to live as an Amsterdammer anywhere in the world. But there are limitations, and some compromises have to be made. No starched ruff collars. No herring. No universally available Lebanese Hashish. No smoked eel or inexpensive cheese. Indecent coffee.
No imported Dutch cigars, hardly any gin.

Better weather, though.

After a wholesome Netherlandish lunch of bami goreng, with a spiegel ei and lots of sambal, the thinking man lights his pipe and settles down to read the news.
Shoot. Should have made some coffee or tea before I did this. I'm comfortable and don't want to get up. It will be teatime soon though.

A proper teatime is, of course, at four in the afternoon. And involves sherry as well as parlour games. Plus crotchetty old relatives with gout. But this is far more civilized; pipe, reading material, silence. And no cucumber sandwiches, because one is not peckish.
Just in need of the cup that cheers.
My erstwhile Parsee colleague would insist on a particular way of making tea, as well as the absolute necessity of a cookie. But she was fighting the blonde barbarians in the Operations Department with their Starbucks frappuventis and healthnut protein pastries, and probably needed energy to maintain standards in the face of howling yuppiedom.

If she could have arranged a cricket match and smoking a pipe indoors, she would have. She must have despaired of ever having a cricket match thirteen floors above the hurley burley of the Financial District. Oh, the barbarism!


I hope my apartment mate does not come home soon.
It will take this place a while to air out.



TOBACCO INDEX


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