Monday, May 31, 2021


Dinner was noodles with meat, vegetables, garlic, ginger, chilipaste, and salted black beans. At Cantonese restaurants the most common vegetable for the black bean sauce treatment is bitter melon, which is becoming plentifully available again, but I finished the bitter melon I bought last week, and used small cabbages. I haven't eaten in a restaurant in nearly fifteen months.
Sometime within a month I'll have bitter melon omelette over rice.
I hope that the same folks are still working at the restaurants which I like, because I really don't want change for a while. Stability, and a return to normal, as far as that is possible.

And I like those people. They always treated me with kindness.

It will probably take time for some of us to become social creatures again, comfortable having strangers around us. For over a year we've not really associated with many others, and have developed a quietness that we did not have before.

Hot beverages and someone bringing us plates of food.
Dawdling a while in a comfortable place.
Watching people being people.

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It's probably thrilling, but all I can think is that the Netherlands must be a warm hospitable environment for people with extremely narrow fields of interest. An Italian woman scientist residing in the Netherlands wrote a book about researching spit, which my apartment mate is presently reading. Apparently it's utterly fascinating. So I got to hear about it over her first cup of coffee. One of the things the lady mentions is that the Dutch are excessively fond of custard; supermarkets in Holland have entire aisles filled with custard. In our defense I must stress that dessert is the most important meal of the day. But we also love hot snert, and I am surprised that the author has not said anything about snert pizza yet.
Snert is thick split pea soup with smoked meats.

The dikes were built on snert.

Rembrandt painted it.

My apartment mate has Aspergers more than I do. So I absorbed stuff about spit for half an hour. There's also a researcher in the Netherlands studying the act of chewing -- not strictly necessary if your main food source is custard -- who is sad that when he dies the project will probably not continue. There was also data about the nutritional value of meat on the cusp of going bad (dogfood and Icelandic cooking), as well as enzymes for breaking down grime (spit again). All of which reminded me of Anne Elk and her theories about the brontosaurus.

Whipped custard is good stuff.
We know it as 'vla'. Which unfortunately sounds exactly like 'blah', thus showing a regrettable characteristic of English, that being the negative hue many words have, unfairly darkening the emotional impact of names and terms which to other cultures represent sweetness and light (good examples being 'weltschmerz', 'existenzangst', 'identitätskrise', 'gicht', 'zweifelhaft', and 'gänseblümchen', those being terms which resonate warmly for many German-speakers), or 'vla', 'snert', 'spuugsel', and 'frikandel' for the Dutch. That last is a surpassingly delicious fried comestible for which Dutch speakers in Thailand, Vietnam, and Ceylon passionately long.
And they will rip apart society in their single-minded search for it.

It's not just vla, snert, and frikandel.
There's also herring.

Dutch food could fill a book.
It's better than spit.

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May 31st. is World No Tobacco Day. Which of course I am appropriately celebrating. No, I shall not be attending a grand parade down on Main Street with American flags, gay bunting, and drum majorettes, plus floats and beauty queens or politicians in open-topped conveyances, but setting fire to the evidence. In all honesty, I wish we did all that for National Donut Day (which is this coming Friday), that being the ONLY holiday for the Dutch American community, marking our contributions to the culture and wellfare of this nation -- we invented the donut -- though sadly most people will ignore it entirely. Which is quite heartbraking. There are so many of us, forlorn about the ignorance and apathy, driving our unmarked vehicles through life and waiting by our unlisted numbers for the world to call.

I cannot understand why the beastly puritanical health freaks get an entire day. Surely just an hour of festivities marking their distaste for tobacco would be enough?

Donuts, on the other hand .....

Today I will be enjoying my pipe while hiding out. My apartment mate has the day off, which means I can't smoke indoors, but must go outside and skulk around the neighborhood, risking the opprobrium of little children and well-meaning hippies intent on pestering me into abstaining for the good of the planet, the immense improvement of which is held back by people like me and our evils. We probably don't recycle, and we still require plastic bags for our purchases.

We ripp the wings off little kittens, and flush during a drought.
We are why the world isn't healed.
Those poor, poor flightless kittens!

I am determined to enjoy World No Tobacco Day immensely. The pipe pictured above was in my mouth earlier, while early light crept into the nooks and crannies at the top of Nob Hill, the pipes shown below will probably be deployed between now and teatime.
Because San Francisco turns into a wind tunnel by late afternoon, I probably won't smoke between tea and nightfall -- a victory for the festering puritans -- so that I don't risk ruining a fine briar; strong breezes cause the burning cone to blaze, and lead to burn-outs -- but at twilight the gale lessens and civilized life returns.

I would rather be indoors.


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Sunday, May 30, 2021


Well that's a new one. Per one of the stuffed creatures, I am all scraggly and scrawny like an unwanted chicken. One with wattles that are dried up like an old booger. This does not match my self-image, or , in fact, reality. Perhaps I am not as welll marbled as I used to be, but scraggly-scrawny is not the description that comes to mind.
Also, no wattles. None.

I think he's comparing me to those big chunky Mid-Westerners. The ones with the extra wide seats. If so, it is incorrect. He also thinks that the senior teddy bear (Ms. Bruin) should be his girlfriend. Which is also incorrect.

The bear is her own woman.

"Scraggly and scrawny unwanted chicken, dried up old booger."

I should mention that the critters are all voiced by the apartment mate. So they say things that are in accord with her opinions, but often more outrageously. Consequently, like the late Walter Cronkite, I am outnumbered and often alone in my battle for truth, probity, and rectitude.

It's a lonely struggle, but someone has to fight the good fight.

Can't let these little anarchists control the field.

That way lies madness. And chaos.

A never-ending war.

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Apparently I am not American. It's the way I talk. I've been told it rocks. In a frightfully horrible foreign strange weird un-American outsider maybe we should beat him up invasive repellently alien kind of way. Yeah, okay, no actual violence, but they did make a point of clearly expressing how downright commie I sounded. Dang boy you somekinda freak!

Oh, you're Dutch? That must be it. Urrapeen!

Must be a plot. Totally. Everyone else sounds American.

I've actually spoken English my entire life, written in it too, and I rather flatter myself that I'm pretty good at it. But I know that I should probably not vist Georgia, where two of them were from, or Louisiana (one of them), Florida (a number of other people), or North Carolina (one more person). Or any of the states that border those. Should probably stay out of Texas, Colorado, and Wyoming too.

I suspect they beat people up who sound like me there.

Or refuse us service at gas stations.

Californians don't as often ask me where I'm from, and more rarely in such an accusatory way. Maybe folks here are more used to a wider spectrum of English, maybe they don't even hear the outer space alien taking over God's own earth accent and diction, possibly they're also used to a multi-facetted vocabulary. Could also be that they're more educated.

I was born in California. I've been back here two thirds of my life.
We had American books and spoke English overseas.
Hamberders are my mother's milk.
I am a scaly monster. Tentacles.

Hide the children, dear, aliens are coming to steal our power mowers and gameboys!
Mars needs women. Vital juices. Fluoridization.
Mom, the pie, and baseball.

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Saturday, May 29, 2021


A friend in Canada is despondent because he is single. He is my age, more or less, and quite convinced that the number of women in the world is decreasing at a very rapid clip. I believe that he has set his sights too high. The number of eligible bachelorettes living in an area where wrestling wild bears and moose is a daily task, while hiking ten miles to the general store for a bucket, in all kinds of weather (it snows up there), must, necessarily, be somewhat limited. Especially when the only luxury product available in those parts is a bucket.
It's not even a nice bucket.

He lives in Toronto. Which is filled with lumberjacks up near the Arctic Circle.

I've suggested to him that he should move down here to civilization.
And cultivate a more upbeat attitude.

I too am single, but I'm not a social butterfly like him, and I do not expect a woman to fall into my lap. It might happen, but I'm not going out of my way to get there. I don't shop at the Marina Safeway, I'm not on any dating sites, don't attend yoga classes, and I have no tattoos.

And, quite unlike Seiji Amasawa (天沢 聖司) in Whisper Of The Heart, I do not check books that anyone else wants to read at the library. Nor do I play the violin. So the chances are slim.
It does not in affect my self-image. Unlike my friend in Toronto (a total disconsolation-inducing wasteland), who is smaller in his mind than reality would suggest.

Perhaps it would be more practical of him to start a blog featuring his photos of his meals, which are zesty and exciting. And sometimes look too delicious to eat.

Likely date-material usually loves pictures of food. Unlike the rather sterile illustrations of pipes which show up on this blog. Which only thrills crusty old men who remember the post-war period as a golden age.

[The statement "that reminds me of my grandfather" pretty much kills any idea of romance, as does the fact that it does actually remind people of their grandfather.]

The main reason why more men don't smoke pipes nowadays is because the last male in their family who did, didn't have offspring. Their grandfather remained a childless bachelor till past his nineties, and had to be clubbed to death because he just wouldn't go by himself.

Pictures of Pipes

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Friday, May 28, 2021


If there were phở places nearby that opened early, my post-coffee walk on my days off would often lead there. Second cup of coffee, Vietnamese drip with chicory, and a bowl of noodle soup to brighten the mood and quicken the spirit. I'm particularly fond of broad rice stick noodles (沙河粉), more of a northern thing), but I like the playful overload of Southern garnishes: basil, mint, cilantro, lime juice, bean sprouts, and a dash of fish sauce.

羅勒 (九層塔)、薄荷葉、芫荽葉、青檸汁、芽菜與魚露。

And the smells: ginger, lemon grass, coffee, burnt sugar, salty.
Early morning light slanting in, reflecting off surfaces.
Stainless steel, glass, and ceramic.
The Oakland hills in the morning from the upper levels of Nob Hill are blue undulates beyond the bridge, in the near distance buildings show their shadow faces to the viewer.
Seagulls, crows, wood doves, and small flocks of loud parrots.

On working days there is no time for that.
Nor are any suitable kitchens near.
Lunch in Marin is dreary.

Today I work.

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Thursday, May 27, 2021


The worst typhoon to recently hit Hong Kong was Mangkut in September 2018. I wasn't there, of course, that was the year I was gambling that my medical insurance would kick in before a heart attack by the side of the freeway while waiting for the bus home after work, but in some ways watching horrid weather elsewhere was a welcome relief. Which is odd. Hoping that one will survive is much easier when other people are looking at scaffolding falling twenty stories, or roofs of warehouses being torn off. One tends to be self-centered when facing death.
In fact, I don't really want to be in a typhoon again. And certainly not a monster storm. Never mind the enlightening change in perspective. Watching water go sideways is, in the final analysis, more intellectually stimulating and far less worrisome from half a world away.

It is far better to be an armchair disaster tourist than to actually be there.

A friend lives on the umpteenth something floor of an apartment building in a development on Ap Lei Chau (鴨脷洲). Which is a lovely place to live, as far as digs in HK go, but her elevator went out during the storm. So getting to work was not an issue, if she had wanted to desperately get to the hard copies of shipping and cargo files .....
Though getting home would have been a problem.
Which highlights two things:

1) Have everything necessary on your computer in case of emergency;
2) Always have enough potato salad at home to weather a storm.

Of course if the electricity goes out too, you will be hosed.

I am (momentarily) quite fixated on potato salad.

Potato salad is very comforting.

One can NOT smoke one's pipe outside in a howling gale, because the winds might cause the bowl to overheat and possibly burn out. Getting it lit and keeping it so present huge problems. Plus any available shelter will be occupied by nonsmokers.

But one can eat potato salad. That enterprise is not, or far less, affected by the weather.
Hong Kong is on the whole warmer than San Francisco (current temps: SF 58°F. HK 88°F).
Potato salad is not widely available, but can be found with diligence.
Alas, pipe tobacco is an iffy proposition altogether.
And typhoons remain an issue.
But there are benefits.
Very solid.

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Social media brings forth interesting things. A friend wrote that she was covered with arnica gel and watching crime dramas. Someone wondered if 'woke' was a thing. A lovely recipe for fish mango curry popped up. And one person said "I will consume VAST amounts of cheese.".
As a personal philosophy, that last has a lot going for it.
A typical Frenchman

It's a more European version of the Keto Diet. And just as constipating.

I will consume VAST amounts of cheese!

For some reason, Facebook gave me an advertisement for a talk about the dangers of Vaping. Which does indeed sound like an exciting thing to go to with a hot date. Nothing says romance and a potential future together quite the same way as a shared bullet dodge, don't you think?

I don't vape. I have not vaped. I will not vape.

I've been a pipesmoker since my childhood as a seven year old coal miner in Wales before World War One. Before that, stogies. Alternating a puff with a tug at me mudder's tit.
Took snuff in the womb. Vaping is for kiddie winkies.
Or elderly dead people.

If you're going to practice your peripheral vision, it's also up and down.

It's time for coffee, followed by a stroll.
Good for the digestive process.
Wake this puppy up.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021


Bought several little Hong Kong style chicken pies (港式雞批 'gong sik gai pai') while in Chinatown today. It's been so long since I had these, so I had to. After giving some to my downstairs neighbor, I had one with my tea before heading out for a walk. It's nice to see that my favourite neighborhood is maintaining. Despite the visiting dumbasses who refuse to wear masks because of Freedums and they don't do that where they come from (which is where people are still dying of Covid) and it's a communist plot or sumpin' plus lizard aliens.

Nothing says that all is well like a cup of strong milk tea at the right time.
All in all, in the last year American society has show strong veins of loon. Besides denialism and apathy, there's the tendency on both sides of the political aisle to blame certain groups. Asian Americans, Black Lives Matter, Kommoonees, Jews, Colorado.
Personally, I blame the My Pillow guy and Caitlin Jenner.
As well as the entire state of Florida.
Damned Christians!

It's fun blaming others. While I sit here in my comfortable digs talking to a stuffed Turkey Vulture. Who also likes Hong Kong chicken pies (surprise!) and tea (although he prefers coffee). Especially batshit insane types like the My Pillow Guy.

Not very practical or realistic, though. We all had a hand in the insanity.
All of us contribute mightily to the neurosis.

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The final walk around the neighborhood yesterday evening was after the local bars had shut down, which, because of outdoor drinking, they do at ten o'clock. When I left the house there were hardly any inebriated folks about, I doubt that the gentleman relieving himself against the tree at the bus stop was drunk, but he was probably experiencing the beneficial effect of beer on the kidneys. He was steady on his pins, and didn't even hold on to the tree for stability.
Or he may have needed both hands for direction.
I didn't stop to ask.
The weather had improved somewhat; once the wind dies down in early evening the wind-chill fades. One might almost think that one didn't need two pairs of socks to keep the tootsies warm. Which is something I started doing during the cold season about four years ago. This year it has continued well into what is allegedly 'Spring', a fictitious period here in San Francisco. Because of our climate, some trees bloom twice a year. Once briefly sometime during the third or fourth month, then again during Autumn.

It does not benefit the allergic type. My apartment mate's facial eczema got angrified because the acacia trees had bloomed, and there's pollen and other crap in the air from other plants. For a few weeks the area around her eyes was puffed, red, and peeling. It's getting better.
But something night blooming has been making me sneeze recently.

I keep thinking about places with a reasonable climate, moderately comfortable year-round, with no pesky pollens. I don't remember hay fever or allergies bothering anybody when I was young, overseas, but the Netherlands and Belgium have a climate that has been judged suicide inducing, profoundly depressive, soul-deadeningly awful. Slightly worse than England or Ireland. That accounts for great Dutch painting and insanity, I suppose, as well as Northern European bloody-mindedness, alcoholism, and various typical sociopathic tics.

Spaniards must put up with a lot when those people are on vacation every summer.

Light outside early in the morning is almost Northern European, but there is no wind. It will take a while for the mists to dissipate. There are dog-walkers, a few runners, and elderly Chinese people getting their morning exercise. As regards the last mentioned, I surreptitiously scope out their feet. Are those shoes warm? Are they wearing two pairs of socks? Is there oedematic swelling at the ankles, or perhaps the wrists?

My doctor told me that I needed to walk to improve circulation. Was I getting enough exercise? His face lit up when I answered affirmatively. When I said that I took four or five walks everyday during my off-time, his face drooped at the explanation that this was necessary because my apartment mate was a nonsmoker, who couldn't tolerate the fumes very well (it also worsens her itchy skin). Every walk is accompanied by a pipeful. Of which he cannot approve, even though if I didn't go out for that I'd probably get no exercise at all, stay inside all the time.
And turn into a cabbage. Or congeal.
This morning's walk took me a few blocks up hill, then across for several blocks along the undulating crest before descending again. Past Auntie Jennie's building, past a seafood restaurant, past a coffee shop. Why aren't people in the habit of having seafood stew or shellfish soups for breakfast? You'd think in a city like SF that would be possible.

"It's light out, not freezing, and I've just had my first cup. I think I'll go have Sole Meunière, and Mussels in a butter, wine, and fish stock reduction with saffron, plus some hot fresh crusty sourdough to sop up the juices!"

Sounds like jolly good fun for the entire family. A delightful breakfast!
Which is of course the most important meal of the day.
Especially for schoolchildren.
Growing bodies.
I'll probably head into Chinatown later, before lunch, for provisions.
Maybe some snacky things, and perhaps a fish.

Then a smoke in the alleyways.
Before the wind comes.


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Tuesday, May 25, 2021


Never heard of Yanko Tsvetkov or his 'Atlas of Prejudice' before.
But he hit the nail on the head with this one.
[Published May 21, 2020]

Naturally my reaction is aimed at the blue areas: Goodbye, it wasn't nice knowing you.

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The United States team beat China in Math Olympiad held in 2019, in England. Which was unusual, because one doesn't often think of Yankees as being particularly gifted in that field. And I should mention that my exposure to American high school graduates leaves me quite unimpressed in that regard. I myself learned math in the Netherlands, where math has slid downhill also since their golden age, which was sometime during the late sixties, I think.

From Carnegie Mellon University:
The 2019 U.S. International Mathematical Olympiad team members: Edward Wan, Daniel Zhu, Brandon Wang, Colin Shanmo Tang, Luke Robitaille and Vincent Huang. Credit: Mathematical Association of America.

SOURCE: Carnegie Mellon University -- NEWS

The team was headed by associate professor of mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University Po-Shen Loh, and deputy leader Yang Liu, a graduate student at Stanford University.

What's really surprising is that in the List of countries by medal count at the International Mathematical Olympiad, the United States is second, ahead of over one hundred other countries. And apparently we've hit the highest score eight times.
For comparison: China 21 times, Russia 16 times, Hungary 6, Romania 5, West Germany 2. Korea, Bulgaria, Iran, and East Germany: once each.

That means that France, Italy, Spain, the Scandinavian Countries, plus Africa, South and South East Asia, and Latin America haven't gotten close. Sorry guys, you aren't as good.

Unfortunately I didn't find out about any of this until moments ago, because the press in the United States sucks bollocks big time, and the Europeans don't feel that American achievements are ever worth mentioning.

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In all honesty I had not heard of John Cena, who apparently is famous, until he pissed of the Chinese mainland government by referring to Taiwan as a country. Which, of course, it isn't. It's a rebel territory of the Greater Dutch East Indies temporarily separated from the Netherlands since 1662. John Cena has apologized. He repents. There's a video of him doing so in fairly fluent Mandarin, it looks like. Which must have been a mistake, because the civilized people speak Cantonese or Hokkien, which derive from the Tang and Chou languages respectively.

[Mandarin was developed by China's version of Australians with sheep and goats in the far north, a barbaric area with dust storms, Turks, and bad food. Beyond dumplings and soggy cabbage, there's nothing to eat there. The Szechuanese add chili sauce to alleviate the tedium. Or fermented garlic. That's it. Nothing else. Bad breath country, Poor bastards.]

Per Wikipedia, John Cena is an American Wrestler based in California.
The version of Mandarin he learned is spoken in Gansu.
An undeveloped dusty region.
甘肅 ('kam suk').
John Cena did well to apologize, if he ever wants to eat dumplings and soggy cabbage again.
And hear native speakers of sub-literate goat-bleat Mandarin.
Or breathe swirls of yellow dust.

And everywhere the echo of heathen drums.
Dungan an an an an an!

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Monday, May 24, 2021


Bug drawings.

Murder hornet
Tarantula hawk

Posted for reference.

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Facebook regularly reminds you of 'memories', which you may wish to post again because of their staggering wit, appositeness, or the associated trauma. Sometimes this is good; "Fluffy barfed into my favourite loafers overnight", for instance, which might remind you not to let your pet eat an entire can of tuna, or "gung ho Dolphins" when the local team was on a crime spree in New England. Which probably involved substances and seedy things.
That last is sports related, I do not follow sports.
The Dolphins are a group of men.
Fluffy is a hedgehog.

Accordingly, this morning Facebook reminded me of things I said on May 24 in various years going back to the dawn of time.

Very little in my life is "family friendly". My friends and kin are too intelligent for that crap.

This is the quintessential paradigmatic San Francisco sentence: "Hey sweetie, I need you to move, you've been mooning my customers".

What methodology did they use to measure variance in disease resistance between childhood booger eaters and non-booger eaters?!?

That uncomfortable moment after your parents throttled you in a corn field when you discover that you are not allowed into heaven.

If you're going to sleep in the doorway, at least cover your damned privates. This is SF, we have hungry crows.

Yo mosquitoes! Nice juicy female in other room. Nothing but a dried up old coot here. Eat her! Tasty!

Legally Blonde II: a movie so horrendously icky that it's soul-destroying.

Your bus pass is for surface transit only. The rest requires coffee.

The fish don't bite until you're in past the knees.

Never play chess with a goat.

More significantly (earth-shaking, in fact), on this day in 1595 was published the Nomenclator Autorum Omnium, Quorum Libri Vel Manuscripti, Vel Typis Expressi Exstant in Bibliotheca Academiae Lugduno-Batavae (the "Nomenclator of Leiden University"), listing all authors and their works (manuscripts and/or printed exemplars) which could be found in the library of that venerable institution.

About which I had nothing to say at the time.


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Sunday, May 23, 2021


The end of the work week usually finds me drained. And I am glad to be off. San Francisco is a more enjoyable place than Marin, and to be honest I do not like Marin or many of its denizens. But I do like the turkey vultures circling over the tidal mud flats looking for suburbanites who died jogging out there, keen to pick their corpses bare before the salt and wind dessicates them beyond edibility.

If I had a ton of money Marin is the last place I'd choose to live.

A friend reminded me of roast duck this afternoon. I was surprised, I had not imagined him as a duck lover. And where I live in San Francisco, Cantonese Roast Duck is easy enough to find, Stockton Street is virtually walking distance. There are a number of places there, and I know the differences between them preparation-wise.
In the suburbs, however, decent provisioners are spread far apart, and while I imagine that Cantonese Roast Duck can indeed be found, I do not know where. It might be just one place.
Whether they have an appreciative customer base is a question.
One cannot imagine many Marinites being gourmands.

Most Marinites are sour disapproving prunes.

No wonder pot-use and high-priced alcoholism are rampant there.

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Bill Bushman, responding to news first that Australia was waging war on Emus, secondly to their also waging war on Bunnies, and thirdly to Oakley Boren commenting that she couldn't get the image of Bunnies riding Emus out of her head, created what I believe is probably the best image of Global Climate Change and its likely effect on human civilization: total anarchy, and scenes of post-apocalyptic mayhem.

The beginning of a new world order.
Bill Bushman: the elite Bunny/Emu Cavalry unit.
As featured on Science Babe's FB page.

Pictured: most likely scenario. Please note that fossil fuels are not part of the picture, but I have a suspicion that giant space carrots are.

Our ever-so-cute overlords.

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Saturday, May 22, 2021


Some of the stuffed critters here are very rude. While they refer to my apartment mate as "young-lady-wahini-chickaboom", they call me "old guy". As in "hey old guy, lend me your plasticky thing (credit card), I need to go on the internet and buy something". And I should stress that my apartment mate is only eight or so years younger, so if I'm an elderly fossil,
she's catching up.

'Young Lady Wahini Chickaboom' is demented, but complimentary.
I cannot think of anyone who'd mind being called that.

'Old Guy' is one step above 'Old Fart'.
Staggeringly outrageous.

The little she-sheep is far more polite, identifying me as "the young gentleman". Which is more accurate too. But she is a very sensible and respectful sort of person, despite her youth.

And I should mention that I never let any of them use my credit card. I don't want to be stuck with a banana plantation or a truckload of grass suckeez. This does not stop them from finding my wallet (which contains the card), but seeing as they mostly don't have opposable thumbs (or have access to the computers), I'm reasonably safe there.

Four bears. Four penguins. A vampire hamster. Four monkeys. Two snakes. A froad. A skunk. Two raccoons. Three piglets. Two kung fu hamsters. Two normal size totoros. One small totoro. Several frogs. Hippopotamuses. Two sheep. Two dinosaurs. A lizard, A giant black spider. An octopus. A turkey vulture. A large grinning cat. a small feisty cat. One Hello Kitty. Moussie.

Sometimes this apartment is very noisy. Usually that's on her side.

As you can tell, I am outnumbered.

Good thing at least half of them live in her room. I seldom go there. The most recent time was when I dropped off the turkey vulture, because he wanted company. He gets lonely at night, and on my side the control-monkey (mr. Oyster) keeps screaming "stupid bird" at him.
Which is both mean and insulting.

I strongly believe that we should be kinder to turkey vultures.
They are our friends. Even if they do wish to eat us.
Loveable and elegant little sociopaths.

He actually doesn't want to eat me.
My thighs aren't fatty enough.
I am far too scrawny.
What luck

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Friday, May 21, 2021


The apartment mate is quoting from a book that she's reading, and my head is still groggy with sleep. So what should be rigorously processed is only half digested. I seek to reassure her that her ethnic group can't dance, and in any case they aren't very musical. Besides, they're often dressed in imagined ancient garb, sort of a Protestantish disapproving version of T'ang dynasty robes, when they dance, and no tambourines but those stupid long fluttery ribbons.

"Dancing naked with tambourines is an Irish thing. You aren't Irish."

See, it would be the epitome of cultural appropriation. And without blood sacrifices, or weird druid sh*t, it's just not sincere or authentic. They didn't have those along the Silk Road.
Her response, at this juncture, was to exclaim "oh bugger the silken robe!"

Oh well, if she wants to dance naked with tambourines, who am I to stop her? This is what a multicultural free-for-all such as we have in modern American society leads to.
And far be it from me to voice disapproval.

In fact, ALL of you can dance naked with tambourines, see if I care.
As well as stupid long fluttery ribbons.

I'll just be off in my corner, by myself, gaily twirling with my parasol.
No, I don't know what that book she's quoting from is. Do you honestly think I want to read about terpsichorean ecdysis?

It's six o'clock in the buggery morning and I don't want to contemplate mediaeval Celtic nudists, ergot poisoning, and Saint Vitus' Dance. That's why I'm indoors in my pajamas, so I don't have to see those naked folks out there. I'm sure there are bare-ass people all over San Francisco at this hour, and bully for them, damned freaks, but I'm just trying to drink a cup of coffee and read the news on the BBC website, which given their proximity to heathen Hibernia has surprisingly little (nothing) about Irish dancers thank heavens. Possibly even the English are appalled.

It's very cold early in the morning. We need to rub ourselves with bear fat.
That book sounds interesting. I should find out who wrote it.

Can't make an egg without breaking omelettes.

Bottoms painted blue with woad.

Good grief.

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Thursday, May 20, 2021


One of the few vloggers I pay any attention to is a gentleman from Hong Kong who talks mostly about food, and explains what he's doing while preparing it. Bob叔,who goes by the English handle '煮家男人 Bob's Your Uncle' on youtube.

He's recently spent several months in England, and has been featured on both Arm Channel TV as well as Hongkonger Station.

Cantonese speaker talking passionately about food? Okay, you've got me hooked. Despite the occasional foray into scoring girls (past tense, he's happily married now) or British soccer (meh, not my bag). Or mentioning real estate, office life, and boarding school.

For the record, I do not own real estate, haven't worked in an office since the toy company went north eight years ago, and never experienced boarding school.

In fact, the only points of overlap are food and Cantonese. The last time I did anything soccer related I ended up sore all over for three days (my Latin-American coworkers at a computer company talked me into a friendly match that lasted all afternoon), and I haven't had anything even approaching a love life in the last decade, largely because I find it hard to talk to women about anything other than food, and I live with a Cantonese person whose sense of privacy and security about her living quarters I respect, my own digs are a mess, and let's face it, I am not prime real estate myself. So while I can intellectually appreciate the concept of having another person, of the female persuasion, in my life, the reality is that that is extremely unlikely.

Food, on the other hand ...

Did I mention that my apartment mate is Cantonese?

Food is a Cantonese obsession. We discuss food every day. She says that I am too scrawny and should eat more (which is why there is often bacon or a porkchop in the refrigerator). Sometimes we eat at the same time, though cooking our dinners separately. I doubt that she'd find Bob talking about food nearly as interesting as I do, and she'd probably either critique his dishes or go off into the kitchen to fry up a bite halfway through, besides which she can barely understand city Cantonese having grown up with Toisanese instead -- the difference between those languages is nearly as great as between Dutch and German -- and his segueing into soccer or girls would probably bore her to tears and ruin her appetite.

Sometimes I tune into Bob叔 while fussing with pipes, either ream & cleaning them or just sharpening the rim edges with microfibre pads. It's a good timing strategy for the exact things I'm doing to a piece of briar, and has benefitted a number of old war horses.

One thing I learned is when you are in London, you should avoid Slough and Thamesmead. Both of those districts are horrible and crime-ridden, rife with violence and anti-social behaviours. We've got that here too. Needn't go abroad for it.

Another thing he mentioned is that mainlanders at a buffet resemble locusts.
Which is something I've seen here in San Francisco.
Like fire ants on a cadaver.



Porkchops? Got that. Not Kumamoto (熊本 'hung pun') pork, but it's okay lah. Don't have breadcrumbs (麵包糠 'min baau hong'), but can make 'em. Might do this for dinner.


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Today I'll try to pay as little attention to the internet as possible, largely because of the sheer waves of stupidity rolling in from that direction. Ignoring that is good for my equilibrium.
The alternative is spending too much time fighting the urge to tell many people to go intercourse themselves, especially Pakistanis. And while doing so -- especially to opinionated Pakistanis -- is also good for the equilibrium, one would be tempted to ask them where they live in Fremont, so that one could go over there and forcefully impress upon them what a bunch of festering bunts they are.

Rhetorical question: Why is it that so many Pakistanis hold strong ill-informed opinions about matters that do not concern them? Or express themselves in the most insulting racist terms?
The other group of ill-informed bhainchotes with strong opinions is Republicans, many of whom are loathsomely fundamentalist Christians, but seeing as so many of them can't read English, telling them where to stuff it has little effect.

Instead, after finishing my coffee, I shall head out into the howling gale to enjoy a smoke.
Aged flue-cured tobaccos with a modicum of Perique, in a pipe which a friend gifted me this past Sunday. He knows I have a peculiar fondness for squat bulldogs and Rhodesians, and this pipe perfectly represents the overlap of both those shapes. It will be the second time I smoke it. It still has a suggestion of the Latakia blends which he has enjoyed for decades. I do not mind the ghosting. I used to smoke Latakia blends exclusively for many years, and I still love the fragrance of such products when someone else is indulging.

A squat straight Rhodesian is a perfect book-reading pipe, far more so than a churchwarden or full bent, such as many Gandalf wannabees and hobbitophiles might smoke. It does not get in the way of flipping pages, nor does it require one hand to always hold it. This particular one is an item that Clark Gable or William Faulkner would have liked, although both men are pictured with a straight billiard far more often than anything bulldoggy.

Clean clear old briar of a nearly unknown make. The name stamped into the shank ("London Royal") indicates that the manufacturer was LH Stern (LHS) in Brooklyn. Which I found out by perusing the Reborn Pipes site, which directed me to Logos & markings, from which I quote: "The L&H Stern Inc. was established by Ludwig Stern (1877-1942) in 1911. His brother Hugo (1872-?) acted as vice-president & secretary. The firm moved to 56 Pearl St. Brooklyn in 1920. It closed down in the 1960s. LHS was one of the main pipe suppliers for US soldiers during WWII."

Further data: "First address of L&H Stern: East 10th St. Manhattan, NY.
Address from 1920: 56 Pearl St., Brooklyn 1, NY.
" [Same source].

The entry in Pipedia for LHS is absolutely fascinating.

When I get back my apartment mate will have already left for work, so any further smoking can safely be done with the windows open and her bedroom door closed, before at the latest two o'clock. Which, given that it has been cold and windy, is a jolly good thing.

I feel that it will be fitting to have this pipe with me for my next doctor's appointment at the end of July, as well as my cardiologist's appointment in August. It feels comfortable in the hand. Profoundly reassuring. Totemic. A good luck charm.
Suitable for a stubborn man.


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Wednesday, May 19, 2021


For people outside the conflict zone, one of the worst things is the simple minded British and European blathering about what's going on. Folks on the other side of the pond, who normally despise darkies and immigrants ("those people don't you know"), also have stupid opinions about Jews. Which is not surprising, given their long history of Jesus-loving repression of minorities at home and savage genocides beyond their borders.

Of course there are also bloody-minded Turks, Pakistanis, and Malaysians vomiting repulsive holocaustian sentiments, but one can largely ignore them, because they live in societies which are vicious repressive shitholes ruled by corrupt religious bigots.
They are irrelevant in any case.

The Europeans have regretted their collective failure to completely eradicate the Jews since World War Two, and resent having been "liberated" from that enterprise by the unfortunate entry of the United States into the war, as well as many survivors of their erradicatory efforts skedaddling the hell out when given a chance.

They're still working on the Roma.

Let's see, savage conquest of many Asian, African, and New World territories, invention of the wholesale drug trade, slavery, and brutal extortion of resources. What the Netherlanders did in Indonesia, the English copied in India, the French perfected in Indochina, and the Belgians (started late, caught up) gohverdorrie surpassed in the Congo.
Several centuries.

Maybe Europeans and the British should shut the hell up?

That said, Israel could definitely do with some introspection on this score. Their rightwingers were co-responsible for the Sheikh Jarrah protests and counter protests getting entirely out of hand, as well as a ham-fisted approach to their minorities, and Netanyahu has proven himself a vicious and untrustworthy politician -- surely you remember him making Israel a partisan issue back in 2015? -- more than eager to jump into bed with crypto-Kahanists. This current defensive campaign has far more to do with Israeli domestic politics than any previous blow-up against Hamas (and Israeli domestic screw-ups did indeed play a major role there too), and while within Israel, governance has a reasonable pretense at evenhandedness, beyond the green line that cannot be convincingly claimed.


Hamas, naturally, saw a chance to become relevant again, and uncritically leapt at the opportunity. After all, most of the international community had forgotten about them butchering every member of the Palestinian Authority they could lay their hands on (2007 - 2015). Given that the Quartet was hesitant to lend aid and release funds to a murderous terrorist group (odd, one would've thought that the Europeans had no such scruples), Hamas needs support from outsiders with a bone to pick (Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia come to mind).

The Palestinian National Authority, of course, is delighted to see Gaza getting clobbered, the European and the English support for Hamas is defined by happily indulging in the mothers milk of anti-Semitism, minority university students in the United States can stick it to the man by ganging up on Jews ("whitey"), while left wing Americans (and much of Academia) can show how nicely European-minded they are, as well as Trump-hating, by writing condemnation upon condemnation of Israel and protesting outside diplomatic offices and synagogues. None of the aforementioned actually give a flying intercourse about dead civilians in Gaza, but good lord this is so convenient, as well as politically correct.

On the right in the US, the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Proud Boys, and other neo scum, are fairly silent. The Jews have replaced them as targets, and they really don't mind a bunch of muzzies getting killed. It's all good.

There have been attacks on Jews in Toronto, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and other places.
Here in the Bay Area, Berkeley and Oakland have had anti-Semitic incidents.

I'm entirely not surprised at Berkeley and Oakland.
The East Bay is mostly garbage.

Oh yeah, Facebook.
That too.

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