Thursday, September 30, 2021

PROFOUND UNCERTIANTY

The most important issue facing me today is where I shall go this afternoon for snackies. Admittedly, that's small beans in the grand scheme of things, a blip in the universe. But on a micro-level, it's rather important. There are some places which I do not wish to visit this week; they've seen enough of me. A rut. Plus I do not want to wear out my welcome.
Factor in neuroses and it becomes a quandary.

Add to that things I have to do while out and about and it balloons.
Plus, of course, there will be a walk and a pipe afterwards.

Being distinctly an un-people person doesn't help.
Sometimes I don't feel sufficiently 'peoplish'.

I have become the man in the Chas Adams cartoon gloating over his supply of tires in his basement. Or the chap getting ready to tip the boiling oil over the revelers.
Two early childhood ideals, in a way.

Maybe just tea and a pastry.
港式奶茶

Observe the human species from a safe distance afterwards. If anyone says something positive about the tobacco, they're probably good people. And may have interesting other things to say. Or not. Not everyone feels the need for conversation, and sometimes communication is better achieved in silence.


You will note that the illustration above is not a careful composition. There is no pastry there, primarily because the simplicity of a tea cup is easy, drawing the accompanying pastry would have been hard. I like the series of ovals presented by the beverage and its container, and adding a textured element (bakery item OR table surface) would have taken far longer, lessening the sanity and mood preserving effect of making the picture. Which took around three hours to do, and required colour choices which occupied the mind.

A very good friend would have spent less time drawing it, and would have shown a contemplative rabbit drinking it. His rabbit watercolours are charming.

I do not do rabbits very well.
It's a failing, I know.

Tea is definite.



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THE PAINFUL DENSITY

Thanks to the internet, I know more about manuls (Pallas' cat), tanukis, coelacanths (see a previous post), the dating habits of American women, and diseases, than years ago I would have thought possible. Manuls and tanukis are fluffy furballs, and in consequence will predictably evoke the "oh how cute" response.
Especially manuls.

An acquaintance, on the other hand, avidly watches videos on youtube which tell him that he's special, ancient aliens created all civilizations, there are nano chips in vaccines to track us and masks don't work it's all a plot by Joe Biden to drain his manhood.
He's nuts.

Years ago I thought he was out of his mind.
Now I know he has nothing to be out of.
No rocker to be off there.



Summa cum laude graduate, youtube university.



Years ago before computers became common people like him would drive around busy city neighborhoods with an entire thesis block-lettered on the outside of their vans. Occasionally they would exit, to wash themselves in the bathrooms of bars and North Beach coffeeshops, after buying one beverage and leaving a fifty cent tip.

The internet has expanded their world. Not made it better or more penetrable. Perhaps once he loses his job because he refuses to get vaccinated he will do likewise.

Until complacency and carelessness do him in.

He's a candidate.




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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

THE MAN. THE MASK. THE MEAT PRODUCTS.

The same old lady with the elegant scarf on the bus came into the restaurant after I had told the waitres what I wanted, and placed an order for food to go. A woman across the aisle awho may have been Hakka or a little tanned enjoying a boba tea with icecream, and the chap with mild hip dysplasia (髖關節發育不全症 'fun-gwaan-jit faat-yuk pat chuen jing') were the only other people there besides myself and the waitress.


I am not a talkative type, and it's not comfortable starting to chat in the middle of nothing. So other than the music (Mandarin pop songs alternating with rhythm and blues and white folks spirituals -- who the heck put this playlist together?!?!) it was silent.


When the waitress presented my bill after I had finished and was ready to leave, what I felt like saying was: 我鍾意呢個餐廳。 你知唔知點解? 因為呢度冇好多鬼佬。 鬼佬常常唔戴口罩,也唔知道如何正確戴口罩。("I like this restaurant, do you know why? Because there are hardly any white people here. White people mostly don't wear masks, and largely don't know how to do so properly"). But like pharaoh's butler, I should not draw attention to my failings. One of which, besides my often horrendous accent, is that I'm Caucasian. Precisely like the idiots outside wandering around spreading disease.


Another reason I like that restaurant is the Hong Kong ambience and slightly off-kilter menu choices. Convenient to have someone else make, less so to do them at home. Plus hot milk tea, because it is, of course, a chachanteng. That being a place that does Chinese versions of Western food, or Western inspired Chinese dishes. Like French toast, cheesy baked spaghetti porkchops, Hong Kong borscht, chicken and fries, bitter melon omelette, and fish fragrance eggplant a la Chinese American restaurant run by Cantonese (sauce is sweet, not hot, and there's meat in it, very un-Sichuanese). Plus sweet and sour pork or walnut shrimp for the occasional Midwesterner who wanders in.

The waitress is fun to watch. She has a pleasant intelligent face, interesting facial quirks, and a sharp tongue. There's a lot to visually unpack there.

So there's that too.
Had a pleasant amble though the neighborhood afterwards. From which I learned that normally Canadian Lahpcheung (加拿大臘腸) would cost around ten dollars per pound, but at one place they're charging $36.00 for five pounds. It would take me two or three years to go through that much. I am disappointed that I cannot go through lahpcheung fast enough.
I feel less of a man because of it.


When I got home there was an urchin running through the halls in his underwear.
Good thing I put the mask back on after smoking.



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EXPERT DATING ADVICE

A conversation on the internet highlighted precisely what is wrong in modern American society; our lack of intellectual avidity. Most people are only avid when it involves crap they can shove into someone else's face. Which, coupled with some regurgitative and superficial knowledge sets, leads to some pretty boring dipwaddism.
It should not surprise you that I am opposed to boring dipwaddism.
This pipesmoking Dutch American is all about keenness.
Are you yourself in any way keen?


Quote:
"Went on a date with a guy I really like. I dressed nice, did my hair, gave him an extensive thirty minute lecture on coelacanths, yet I haven't heard from him. The only thing I can think of is perhaps I did not provide enough information on coelacanths?
Fish people, please advise.
"


My advice: Let him go. Any man that cannot see the charm, even adorability, of a woman who is passionately into scientific subjects or interests that overlap with scientific knowledge is not worth seeing again. And further, he cannot relate to passion, even deflected passion; what does that say about any relationship that might result?


By the same token, if he's a typical American male, he is deeply into his favourite teams, and will if not checked converse for hours on the subject, not realizing that most rational people will be bored to tears after less than two minutes. Who cares about the bloody Seahawks or the Dolphins? Good lord, shut up.

You can tolerate that. Go to a different room, but just make sure he has plenty of pizza, crunchy bits, and beer. Occasionally clean his feeding area, flush the toilet after he's done with it, and let him gibber on.

Perhaps he'll come around to coelacanths eventually?



The couple that de-friended me four years ago were right to do that; they're into sports, and we had absolutely next to nothing in common to talk about. Their lives were self-indulgent, football centered, and fundamentally boring. I stopped going to a particular establishment because the teevee was always on to "the game", and no one spoke of coelacanths. I dread Autumn Sundays at work, because, again, no coelacanths.

Whenever people talk to me about sports I have this dreadful habit of getting drowsy.


I would prefer the magic of living fossil fish.


Suggestion for men going on dates with aquarium staff: read up on coelacanths. And other lobe-finned fish. During the second date, have something intelligent to say about the pseudomaxillary folds, or perhaps the blue-shifted colour capacity vision.
They are nocturnal piscivores.
Notochordic!



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SOMETHING SWEET AND LIGHT

While most of the time I can enjoy the content my Facebook page provides, what greeted me over coffee this morning was a smiling young man, well-fed, dyed hair, selfied with a pipe filled with a cherry flavoured tobacco. The world is not ready for fruitbowl nicotine.
That is to say, I am not ready for that. Screw the world.

I know nothing about this fellow. But if I had a sister, I would not want her to date him. His life-style choices are suspect. Does he rip the wings off little hamsters with his froo-froo tobacco?

Ghastly aromatics have been somewhat popular for decades, because some smokers have always been more into image than any substance. Almost everyone who purchased a long-stemmed pipe after the Lord Of The Rings movies habitually smokes fruit salad blends.

When I smoked one of my Charatans recently, I discovered a ghosting of something too sweet, probably from when I was intellectually curious about a popular product a while back.
A regrettable incident, I'm sure, and I must have wiped my mind clean of it.
Seriously, I question the manhood of any man or woman who regularly huffs cherries jubilee.
The dark musty earthiness of aged pressed Virginias, combined with the tanginess and pinot noir evocation of reds, or the creosote and terpeneol oomph of Latakia, plus resinous Turkish leaf, or fermentive Perique, should in various measures provide more than enough attraction that fruit candy flavours need not be steam-baked into any leaf.
There is nothing intellectually stimulating about cherry.
It makes a good pie. And a lousy tobacco.
The world is dreadful enough.



If I had a sister she'd probably smoke HH Old Dark Fired and Peterson's Perfect Plug.
No fruits, just good tobacco. Perhaps while reading a Marguerite Yourcenar book.
No Tolkien whatsoever.

That's all you need to know about my imaginary sister.



TOBACCO INDEX


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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

LOVELY CRIMSON CHILI PEPPERS

Hủ tiếu đồ biển (海鮮粿條湯 'hoi sin gwo tiu tong), seafood rice noodle soup in the manner of chiu chow (潮州) is a superior breakfast dish in southern Vietnam. Or the perfect lunch in San Francisco. Fresh shrimp, fish balls, fishcake slices, something pork, thin rice noodles, chopped chives, cilantro, sliced green chili, squeeze of lemon juice, broth with a touch of sugar. Other seafoods, if available, could be added. Which in fact is recommended if making it at home.
And, if a barbarian like myself is cooking, thinly sliced mushrooms.
Plus there should be ginger in there.

And, apparently, I am a favoured customer. 老客。

So I was the only person enjoying his food there. Plus a glass of ice coffee. It always surprises the heck out of me when people are glad to see me, because I honestly do not think that I'm a nice guy. It's disconcerting to find out people have ideas about me at odds with my self-image, and it's been happening a lot lately.

While I was smoking my pipe on Pacific Avenue afterwards, three people said hello.
Despite the awful smell of pipe tobacco and seafood soup that adhered.

There I am, just holding my bag of fresh chilies, and people greeted me!
I'm trying to be anonymous here, hiding behind my smoke cloud.
Dressed in a quite unremarkable fashion.



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OH IT WOULD BE SO NICE

Full partial confession: being both severely Anglo as well as descended from a long line of sour Dutch Calvinists, and older than thirty, I naturally disapprove of popular music festivals. The music is painfully loud and very bad ("why don't they sing like Bing Crosby or Frankie Valli anymore?" -- kvetch wail and bellyache), there are far too many people, some of them pungently unclean, and they're all whacked out of their little juvenile minds.
I can't stand Grateful Dead events.
Hate Outside Lands.


"Illicit drug contamination from public urination happens at every music festival."
--------Dan Aberg, pursuant testing of the river at Glastonbury, quoted by the BBC


The easy solution to that problem is to ban beer. No beer, no micturition.

And it should be no problem doing so. Tobacco has already been banned, the gay cigarette kiosks, plus the Swisher Sweets and Flor De Miami marketing tents with their cheerful bunting, disappeared a long time ago, and women are no longer exclaiming "j'adore le arôme du Clan tabac; un arôme unique délicieux mélange pour la pipe" at their studly suave man-toy.

So forbidding spoiled barley soup should be a cake walk.

I disapprove of all excess other than my own.

And I do not habitually drink beer.


I fondly imagine a mass musical event with the well-behaved throng sipping hot tea and occasionally, at the appropriate time, engaging in mixed dancing while not touching.
Because there are children present.


Restraint at all times.




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THE MORE LIQUID DETAILS

Woke up from a dream in which I was repairing a fan with calligraphy on it, when a friend came by suggesting that we get something to eat. No, not our usual Cantonese eatery this time, but take-out from a Vietnamese Chinese restaurant near some diggings for a new building project in Chinatown. The menu was mostly strange gibberish (!), so the waitress -- whom I recognized from the bus to Marin -- recommended something using an idiosyncratic mixture of Cantonese and Mandarin. The plan being that we would take it back to my friend's apartment nearby.
While we waited, we had chilled Vietnamese coffee.

When I woke up, I had an immense yen for Vietnamese coffee, cà phê sữa đá.
Now, in the waking world, I have never seen that friend before in my life, I do not know how to repair calligraphic fans (though I could make a credible stab at it), there is no immense hole in the ground near a Vietnamese Chinese restaurant that doesn't exist, and I do not know if that woman who isn't actually a waitress speaks any Chinese at all, Cantonese or Mandarin.
Which is a good thing; my Mandarin is awful.

I've never spoken with her, but when she gets on the bus I nod in recognition.

Detail of a photo taken by a friend.

It drizzled yesterday evening, as it did in my dream. What I eventually ended up ordering was grilled pork, fried imperial rolls, and sliced sausages, over cold rice stick noodles generously splashed with tamarind water and dashes of fish sauce. With chopped chives and basil. Plus chilies. Which could have been quite good; it's an easy favourite at the right restaurants.
I haven't eaten with anyone else in aeons, so it should have been very enjoyable.

[Bún thịt nướng chả giò: 春捲烤豬肉粉。Dressed with fish sauce (nước mam) and garnished with crumbled roasted peanuts, and tamarind-water pickled carrots, topped with fresh basil and mint. Also contains beansprouts (giá, 芽菜).]



What bothers me is that I do not know whether this non-existent friend smokes, and if he does, what does he smoke? Probably ciggies, maybe even State Express 555 non-filter, which have to be smuggled in from outside the country. Perhaps I should offer him a cigar? Possibly a Nicaraguan, Garcia y Garcia, or Joya de Nicaragua. Or an Escurio from Davidoff.


These are important details, which are strictly imaginary.
I can still taste that Vietnamese iced coffee.



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Monday, September 27, 2021

TOO MUCH OF IT

When little kiddies have too much sugar in their system (thank you, soft drink manufacturers and junk food industry), they run around pretending to be airplanes or invading armies and lay waste to the waiting room. Teenagers on caffeine and trailerparkers on meth are just as bad, and the absolute acme are fratboys on beer and presidents on Adderal. Sensible people recognize this, and arm themselves suitably with rolled up newspapers or cattleprods.

Bad biscuit, down boy!

Which explains why, mostly, I stay away from donut shops.
All of those human types can be found there.
At three in the morning.

Consequently I have seldom mentioned a popular place around the corner from my dwelling, which has a line in front after bars close. Apparently since the old lady died, they've changed things a bit, and my guess would be more sugar less fruit. My favourite item is no longer available in any case so there's no point anymore.

In that vein, I was also determined to avoid a product that many people have gleefully experimented with, which contains a variety of tobacco known for being up to eight or nine times higher in nicotine than what is commonly available.


HH RUSTICA
Nictoniana rustica was the weed which the native Americans smoked. Small quantities were mixed with other stuff, and the resultant combustible was used ceremonially, much like cocaine in Hollywood. It was too potent to have much of a market in the old world, and if it weren't for John Rolfe smuggling seeds of nicotiana tabacum in from the West Indies, the Virginia colony would have had no cash crop in the early years and the entire colonial landgrab of the North American continent wouldn't have gotten off the ground for several more generations.

On Friday I read a bunch of reviews of Rustica, which ran the gamut from "this is great stuff, it made me sick" through "this is great stuff, I had to puke" all the way to "this is great stuff, my life flashed before my eyes and I had a profound fit of existential despair". And I decided that it wasn't my cup of tea, I would pass. So on Saturday I bought a tin. It's quite nice. Tangy. And unlike previous experiments with high-octane blends, it hasn't turned me into a complete rectum for the rest of the day. It's very enjoyable stuff.


The reviewers: floral, like violets, and leathery, like horse manure


A friend reports that he likes small bowls with a cup of espresso. I would imagine that grappa or cognac would also be suitable. I seldom indulge in espresso, besides which you cannot smoke in Italian cafes in North Beach anymore so that would take some complexity to achieve. I also avoid alcohol because it might interact adversely with my medications (from which you learn that I am probably no longer a teenager or in my twenties), so nix on that too.

Throughout the day I drink pu-erh tea. So the alertness from coffee at dawn is maintained till nightfall. Rustica would be great in early evening. Common sense and other people's excellent recommendations suggest smaller bowls, so loading up the big boys with this will not happen. But I did not experience a nicotine jangle, nor any lightheadedness, and as previously mentioned it did not affect my social behaviour.


There is a fecund earthiness from the interplay of the components (rustica, burley, and Virginia) hot pressed to meld. It has an almost perfumy floral quality. Per Jensen and MacBaren's have produced something profound.


Since I do not buy the local newspapers, it will have to be a cattle prod.



TOBACCO INDEX


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Sunday, September 26, 2021

WHEN YOU NEED SUNGLASSES

Today was the Folsom Street Fair, an annual event featuring people in tight leather with horns, rings, and spikes, or people wearing nothing at all except for their jackboots, and everything in between including horse heads and tails. As well as lots of suntan lotion OR leather balm.
It's a popular affair, with fun for the entire family.
Celebrating bondage. And bronys.
Plus that other thing.

I only attended once. Our little organization had a booth handing out informational literature, and we talked to many interested people, most of whom had no pockets.

That was my first and also my last time there.

I was overdressed for the occasion.


The human male body, as was abundantly evident, is not an object of beauty, and bares no surprises, when the only thing it is garbed in is footgear. As many examples there showed.
Very many naked men are middle aged.


A major problem with nudity out and about is that it requires a purse.
A place for your American Express card as well as your cellphone.


Years ago nudists for peace and revolution effectively ruined the 'occupy' movement here in San Francisco because they joined every protest march up Market Street. Surprisingly, there are very few activists who wish to rub shoulders with naked men. Despite them making very inviting targets for pepperspray, and therefore ensuring that other people do not become the first targets if that and baton charges are deployed.

I adore the idea of people protesting entirely naked except for their Nikes, it is very Greek. As a Berkeley man I can only approve. Hail Spartans! Naturally I am sad that so few protests involve nakedness. It's a lack of a classical education among many moderns.


There are no illustrations for this essay. Sorry.
I didn't go.



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WE DON'T LIVE THERE

There are states where less than half the population is vaccinated against Covid: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming. That's eighteen states.

Please notice Montana in that list. That's the state where, because of unvaccinated staff, nine residents in a nursing home died during an outbreak recently. Montana is fine with that; there's a ban on requiring vaccination for healthcare workers. Seventeen staff members at the facility tested positive. Which is fine. Just fine. Governor Greg Gianforte and his fellow Republicans would rather lose a whole passel of old folks and immuno-compromised individuals than allow the precious 'freedums' of their constituents to be curtailed in any way.
"Accidental" murder; what this nation is founded upon.
One hundred percent American.

On average, there are over two thousand deaths in the US every day due to Covid.
Those are overwhelmingly Republicans who are dying.
Unvaccinated.



Dinner last night was quite lovely. My apartment brought home a selection of dim sum items from a trip out to the avenues, and consequently I ate very well and didn't have to fix myself dinner after returning from work. It was totally delicious. Some really yummy stuff.
I feel this is important, and worth mentioning.



Not living in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming, is very good indeed.



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Saturday, September 25, 2021

THE WORSHIPFUL PLACES

People often complain that California has no distinct seasons, unlike the rest of the country. Where the four seasons are: Hot as blazes, Strange, Icy weather, and Fixing to get unbearable. This is wrong. We HAVE distinct seasons! Allergy season, Stupid Tourists season, Tarantula Mating season, and Pumpkinsgiving Drunk season. In the rest of the country (Vermont, Ohio, Appalachia, New York) the colours during Tarantula Mating season are stupendous; here it simply means that spindly furballs will occasionally skitter across the pavement.

California: it's a state of mind. With tarantulas.
Please stay home, no need to visit.

The restaurant where I had delightful porkchops recently almost never gets tourists, because they're off the main drags, and offer a cuisine that does not appeal to those. The interior looks exactly like several eateries in the Hokkien-speaking part of the world (insular South East Asia), as it's plain, straightforward, clean, comfortable, and entirely lacking the ambiantic stage props so essential for Caucasian food comfort.
There are porkchop places at either end of this alley.

As you would naturally assume, it's one of my favourite alleys. In addition to porkchops, there's also a place for delicious Swiss Roll Cakes (瑞士捲 'seui si kuen') at one end. You can also find Swiss roll cakes just a lttle further beyond the other end. The Swiss roll cake is a peculiarly Hong Kong thing; every bakery that caters to HK expats has a selection.
After dark the red lanters above the doorway to the Ma Tsu temple are gay and bright, the hubub from the nearby restaurants on Jackson Street testifying to cheerful company, and the windows of the housing complex on the north corner showing residents in the bosom of their families. Oh, and the occasional unbalanced street person engaged in dubious activities that the children inside the buildings should not know about, because it might call their family's settlement in this strange new world entirely into question. San Francisco's public spaces, long after nightfall, are an alternate universe. Especially if the street lighting is poor.
During the porkchop time of day, dubious activities are not evident.



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Friday, September 24, 2021

A RATHER CUMBERSOME PROCESS

It is axiomatic that after feasting on chocolate -- deep rich dark chocolate -- one will not sleep well. It was from a slumber point of view not a good decision. Interesting somewhat off-kilter dreams. And because of the theobromine and caffeine in the dinner, sheep had to be counted. Forty eighth, forty nineth, fiftieth, fifty oneth ... That sounded wrong. Try a different language. Twee en vijftigste, drie en vijftigste, vier en vijftig ......

Counting in Dutch sounds like hairballs.
Maybe a late night smoke.

More chocolate was ill-advised.


This time of year is tarantula mating season. Tarantulas of either gender live several years. In arid areas where there aren't too many humans, hundreds of males will skitter across the highway, rather like flamingoes but without a synchronized dance, looking for a date.

A tarantula does not have real blood as we know it; instead, the oxygen is transported by a fluid known as haemolymph, containing haemocyanin (which is a copper-based oxygen carrier), pumped through the body by a longish tube (the "heart") through a system of 'sinuses'.

After mating, the male flees before the female gets hungry.


From Wikipedia:
"The body of the California ebony tarantula comes in various brown tones, ranging from light beige to dark brown and ebony colors. Adult females can reach a legspan of up to 13 cm (5 inches) and live up to 25 years of age. The male reaches maturity after 8–12 years and leaves its burrow after that in search for a mate. After spending all its energy on finding a suitable partner, he will die of exhaustion after around 6 months after reaching adulthood."
End quote.

It is not my place to judge whether that's a rewarding existence.
For a spider it may be incredibly meaningful
I shall not judge.



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Thursday, September 23, 2021

FURBALLS AND THEIR WELL-BEING

It stands to reason that marmots, prairie dogs, and other short globular creatures, will often prefer tobacco pipes with striking shapes that express their inner risk-taking human. Such as, for instance, fine briars made by the Kriswill company in Denmark. An enterprise which was founded in the fifties, closed its doors in the mid-seventies, and though the brand continued to be made by a Spanish company till the eighties, has now largely disappeared from view.
To the sadness and lament of furballs everywhere.
Like this handsome intellectual fellow.

Who may be puffing Samuel Gawith's Brown Rope No. 4. As an ironic comment on the damned hobbit wannabees thronging the streets yesterday ("Hobbit Day"), with their Old Toby smoldering in their stupid Gandalf pipes.

Samuel Gawith's Brown Rope No. 4 is NOT for kiddies!
Brown Rope No. 4 is milder than the Black XX, but that's not saying much. It took me less than a year to decide that I was not going to finish the tin and chuck it -- no inclination to jar it for a rainy day -- and despite the pipe above which I own looking remarkably like mister Marmot's favourite pipe (it might be the same), I have as a matter of principle forsworn further experiments with rope.
My Kriswills do not need the frustration or abuse.

The main problem with Brown Rope No. 4 is that although it is a well-made good tobacco product, it hits the medulla oblongata like a tonne of bricks if you're not careful.
Besides leaving the room smelling like old stogey.

It is full, creamy, and slightly sweet. The Kentucky firecured gives it a perfumy depth that goes well with black coffee. Driving while huffing this is ill-advised. It didn't wallop me nearly as much as Peterson's Perfect Plug -- another one of those extremely butch manly tobaccos favoured by hairy savages with small endowment issues -- but any wallops are not why I smoke. Speaking of which, I recently bought another tin of HH Old Dark Fired, because despite the bucket-load of nicotine, that stuff is soft and smooth and can be deeply satisfying.
I gave a tin to a friend once and I haven't seen him since.

No. 4 is good tobacco. An excellent product.
Black coffee. Not tea. No machinery.



TOBACCO INDEX


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THREE PIPE SMOKERS DISCUSS THE IDIOTS

Like most other people, I form my opinions more or less because of what I see on social media. Which often proves that there are large areas of this country where I do not wish to go, and which I despise or sneer at. Texas, Florida, Placerville, and Oakland. For instance.

Many of my FB friends are fellow pipe smokers, of all ages and genders. Although there do seem to be a somewhat large number of pictures of bushy-bearded gentlemen on my Facebook, only a few of them are rabbis or Talmudists.

Some of them are indeed rabbis.
Rabbis mostly don't smoke.


Neil said:
COVID is killing one American every 43 seconds. Just tragic.

John disagreed:
I'm sorry, Neill, but I can't agree that it's tragic. It's unavoidable, and it makes me sad, of course. However, the primary reason the Covid problem exists in the US at this point is because people are too damn stupid to get vaccinated. Those same people are accosting vaccinated, masked people, showing pure hostility to those of us willing to protect both ourselves and others (yes, I was accosted by six unmasked, unvaccinated fools simply because I wanted to buy groceries). Having been also delayed for 8 hours from seeing an ER doctor while in the midst of severe strokes, I can feel utterly no sympathy for the unvaccinated who are clogging our hospitals and severely stressing our medical staffs. For us, their passing may be OK, as it will result in a significant rise in the American IQ. I'm sorry, but hospitals should refuse to admit unvaccinated Covid patients. Health insurance companies MUST stop paying for them. Life insurance companies MUST refuse to pay survivors. The tragedy is that people remain too foolish to get a vaccine, while the consequence of the tragedy is that dumbasses are falling dead.

I wrote:
It is still tragic, but my well of sympathy is mostly dried up at this point. The antivaxxer connected with [ --- ] is still convinced that he's right, and the scientists and doctors are either wrong or part of a dastardly plot. Despite even the rightwing idiots trying to argue otherwise with him. Time to give up on him and everyone like him. We just need to keep folks like that away from children and people with compromised immunities. Dumb as a pile of bricks is a self-induced co-morbidity. I want the elderly fossils I see regularly to survive this (and most of them will; they're not stupid), and if that means that blockheads don't, well, I have easily come to terms with that.

That one thing that unfortunately shows that I am also becoming an old fossil is my irritation at the tourists in Chinatown and young white yuppies on Polk Street who go around without masks, unconcerned at the infection they may be spreading to the small people and immuno-compromised.

[BTW: 'irritation' is the wrong word.]

Rae (probably not a pipe smoker) commented:
It can be tragic when it comes unexpected. But it is not tragic when it was avoidable but the prevention was rejected. I had a haircut yesterday from an unvaccinated young man who is not convinced that the vaccine will not make him sterile! Him: “I want to have kids.” Me: “If you are dead it won’t matter.”



On a related note, there are people who cannot talk on their cell-phones with their masks over their noses while on the damn' bus. Which is remarkable. Many of them are Caucasian, aged anywhere between mid-twenties and senescence, and prosperous looking. A large number of them look like Financial District office workers.
They too are represented in the Venn diagram above.
This post is inclusionary.



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SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Should I go get a porkchop? This is the question in my mind as I dawdle over early coffee before going outside with a pipe for a smoke. It's not that I'm hungry already, but I like the ambiance of the chachanteng where I often get chops. Another chachanteng has different foods, as well as its own ambiance. And I like the staff at either place.

Maybe I should ask for a fried egg on top?

Hot food, milk tea, smoke afterwards.

Got to support the home team.


There are a number of places that I'm glad to see have survived the pandemic. And one of the great things about Chinatown is that there are fewer unstable loonies, and more people wear their masks, than elsewhere in the city. I've always felt secure there, now more than ever. The concern with not getting infected, not passing along disease to children and at risk old folks, pays off in more attention to masking at all times when on the street, which, given how complacent and careless every body else in this city is, is immensely reassuring.

We're all in this together. Folks in Chinatown take that seriously.

The rest of the damned city seems like a madhouse.


So. Porkchops? Or baked seafood rice?

Maybe fried rice stick noodles.



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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

CAKEN SMOOSHERS AND PING PONG BALLS

It should come as no surprise that my favourite cooking show was the Swedish Chef on the Muppet Show. I have never been attacked by chickens, cakes, or rutabagas, but this is something that, when in the kitchen, I am aware might happen.
Surprisingly, I have good relations with chickens.
Generally speaking.

Mostly I cook "quasi Asian". It's quasi cultural appropriation. Totally, lah.
And it's likely to offend some people. Just like my quasi vegetarian, because tofu tastes great with meat and garlic. Or fish paste, chilies, and tamarind.
And anything tastes better with sambal.

[Sambal: hot chili paste, ubiquitous in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, also common in most Dutch and Surinamese kitchens, and related to the Ceylonese 'sambol'. The fundament of civilized life. When the Goths and Vandals sacked Rome, they didn't have sambal. Quod erat demonstrandum.]



Fish, shrimp, and pork go well with sambals, either served with or cooked with sambal added to the pan. The simplest sambal is simply mashed hot chili with a pinch of salt, but more interesting ones are also common.

Basically, sambal for the dish, and serundeng (crispy coconut shreds plus other stuff) for the rice if the dish is a curry-type preparation.


SAMBAL BELACHAN
Shrimp paste sambal

One cup mashed Thai chilies.
Quarter cup lime juice.
Four TBS firm Malay shrimp paste (belachan).

Toast the shrimp paste till slightly charred.
Dump into a blender, osterize briefly, decant.

Keep the kitchen door closed and the window open while making this.


SAMBAL GORENG
Fried sambal

One cup mashed Thai chilies.
One small onion, chunked, or two shallots.
Half a cup warm water.
Four kemiri nuts.
Four TBS tomato paste.
One Tsp. ground coriander.
Pinch sugar, pinch salt, dash fish sauce.

Osterize, then fry while stirring till the oil comes out, at which point the water content will have been substantially reduced. This keeps for a few weeks in the refrigerator.


SERUNDENG BAWANG
Crispy coconut and 'onion' garnish

One cup dry grated coconut.
One finely slivered shallot.
Two TBS. lime juice.
One TBS. amber fish sauce.
One Tsp. sugar.
A few drops Louisiana hotsauce.
Pinches ground coriander and turmeric.

Mix it all together well. Let stand an hour or two. Spread thinly on an oiled baking tray, and roast it for one and a half to two hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, decant it to a skillet and toast it golden brown afterwards by hand. Keeps for a few weeks.


SERUNDENG KADJU
Coconut and cashews garnish

One cup shredded coconut.
Half cup cashews.
Half teaspoon each: ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, sugar, salt.
Quarter teaspoon each: cinnamon powder, dry ginger.
Pinch: mace, cayenne.
Half tablespoon each: Louisiana hot sauce, lime juice.
Dash of hot water.

Whisk all powdered spices, salt, sugar, and liquids till sugar and salt dissolve. Toss everything together to coat, let stand for an hour. Toast, spread out on a tray, for one and a half to two hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit till brown and crispy. Can be kept in a jar with a screw-top lid for up to four or five weeks.


SHRIMP BALLICHAO
Goan "pickled" prawns

One pound shrimp, shelled and veined.
Half cup minced onion.
Half cup chopped tomato.
Two tablespoons chili paste.
Half tablespoon golden sugar.
One teaspoon ground coriander.
Quarter teaspoon ground black pepper.
Generous pinches ground cumin, turmeric, salt, cayenne.
Four TBS each: vinegar, strong tamarind water.

Put everything except shrimp, onion, and tomato in a blender. Fry the prawns a scant two minutes, remove and drain. Brown onions, add the blended spices, then add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring, till thick. Add the prawns and fry till done.


PALAKPAK
Mixed vegetables cooked soupy with shrimp-paste.

Two Asian eggplants, two large green bell peppers; chopped coarsely.
Three to five Roma tomatoes - peeled, seeded, and chopped.
Quarter to half pound chunked fatty pork.
Garlic, ginger, and Jalapeno, chopped.
1½ TBS shrimp paste.
1½ Tsp chili paste.
One Tsp each: paprika, sugar.
Half Tsp each: dry ginger, ground pepper.
Dashes dark vinegar and Louisiana hot sauce.
A squeeze of lime.
Half a cup rice wine or sherry.
Half a cup water or stock.

Layer in a clay pot or casserole. Meat and eggplants first, then the bell peppers, with the tomato on top. Mix all other ingredients, pour over. Raise to boil, turn low and simmer half an hour with the lid on. Let sit briefly ere serving.


RENDANG
Meat cooked in coconut milk

One pound beef, large cubes.
One onion, chopped.
Three cloves of garlic, chopped.
Equal measure minced ginger.
Half cup of mashed Thai chilies.
2 stems of lemongrass.
1 Tsp coriander.
½ tsp turmeric.
Pinch ground cumin.
1½ cups coconut milk.
1 tsp of tamarind mooshed in a quarter cup of hot water.
Pinches of salt and sugar.

In a food processor whir onion, garlic, ginger, sambal, and spices till smooth. Use a little of the coconut milk or some water to facilitate. Coat the meat with this and let it stand a while.

To cook, dump meat and gloop into the pot, add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn heat low and simmer till the liquid has been entirely taken up by the meat - about an hour and a half. Remove the lemon grass. Then raise heat and gild the chunks in the oily residue.


MANOK KUNIT
Yellow curry chicken

Half a chicken, in four pieces.
One onion, minced.
One or two cloves garlic, minced.
A little ginger, ditto.
Three kemiri (candlenuts); lightly toasted, ground smooth.
Two TBS. mashed Thai chilies.
One Tsp. tamarind paste.
One Tsp. each: ground coriander, turmeric, dry ginger.
Half Tsp. each: sugar, shrimp paste.
Generous pinch ground cumin.
A stalk of lemon grass.
One cup coconut milk.
Dash of amber fish sauce.

Gild the onion, garlic, and ginger. Add the kemiri, sambal, shrimp paste, and spices, stirfry till fragrant. Then add the chicken, lemon grass, and coconut milk. Cook till the chicken is tender and the oil starts coming out, about forty minutes. Add the sugar and fish sauce, and cook a few minutes more.


HONG BAK (焢肉)
Straights Chinese "sealed" pork

One and a half pounds of belly pork with skin on.
Half a dozen cloves garlic.
Half a dozen soaked black mushrooms.
Half a dozen slices ginger.
A small piece of cinnamon.
Smallish piece of dried tangerine peel (陳皮).
Two or three whole star anise.
Three TBS soy sauce.
Three TBS brown sugar.
One TBS oyster sauce (or dried shrimp rehydrated).
A very hefty jigger of sherry or rice wine.
Half Tsp. ground coriander (optional).
A pinch of freshly ground pepper.
Oil.
Water.

Cut the pork into large chunks. Rub a little of the sugar on the meat, all over. Whack the garlic cloves with the flat of a cleaver to loosen the skin, which remove. Trim off the hard ends, but do not chop the garlic.

Fry the garlic till fragrant, decant to a saucer; you'll add it back later.

On medium heat, colour the pork chunks well, allowing for a little caramelization. Now add everything else including the garlic, and enough water to nearly cover; the pot should be somewhat crowded.

Bring to a boil, turn heat low, and simmer for forty five minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

Note: the gravy should be slightly thin.



BTW: Unless your housemate is some kind of Dutch, or comes from regions near the Malacca Straight or the Java Sea, you may find yourself eating alone more often than not.
That's okay. You can smoke afterwards.



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PRETEND TO BE SHORT?

The fog is back huzzah thank heavens! On the down side, it's Hobbit Day today, and here in the Bay Area that may mean a plague. Imagine the combination of cutesy-poo Tolkienesque with woke, Vegan, and non-binary. Plus second breakfast.

This blogger does not do first breakfast, vastly preferring existential gloom as the appropriate accompaniment to coffee, so second breakfast would, in my world, be the evening snacks after a late lunch as first breakfast. Third breakfast is a cookie or two, long after dark. And, though a pipesmoker, I eschew Hobbits Weed (two horrid vanilla cavendish tobaccos mixed with cherry cavendish) and Old Toby (a strain of marijuana favoured by deadheads and deadbeats).

Honestly, I have no idea how "Hobbit Day" is celebrated.

Tofu and runic script tattoos?
One of my friends, a proud independent Amazon witch warrior woman, is probably giddy and quite unbearable today, but I haven't seen her since the toy company nearly a decade ago, so it's unlikely I'll be faced with that. A friend on the East Coast with piercings and a bandana is also celebrating. Again, not likely to encounter. And he might be a Vegan.


Do Hobbits even drink coffee?


I'm on my second cup right now. Magic beans. Hobbits start the day with ale and mead. Their life expectancy is commensurately low. Industrial and traffic accidents take out a large number of them. Gandalf himself died in his late twenties, probably from several preventable diseases. Their handle on reality is negligible. They spend most of their time out of it.
Poxy little cretins. Gollum for president!


I never really got into the Lord Of The Rings phenomenon. Nor do I think of Tolkien as some stellar genius or wizard. This puts me at odds with several dear friends, whose emotional development and intelligence is sometimes questionable.




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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

THE MID AUTUMN FESTIVAL

During the hottest part of the day I ventured to a chachanteng where, two years ago, I had suffered immensely from the heat (because my circulation doesn't work so well during a heat wave; my blood is too thick for California, I've never been able to properly explain myself in this climate ... ). That had been an interesting day. I was determined to do it better this time.

Bitter melon omelette over rice (涼瓜煎蛋飯 'leung gwaa jin daan faan'), and Hong Kong Milk Tea (港式奶茶: 'gong-sik naai-cha'). Sometimes my food decisions are boringly predictable.

The twitchy dude was there -- he's probably the cousin whom everyone looks out for, some kind of physical malfunction -- and it became apparent that the staff themselves intended to feast during hot weather. Steamed fish (which looked lovely), three choi dishes, and deep fried pumpkin fritters, plus chicken. Eight people. Their lunch lasted longer than mine.

Over their heads the television showed a travel journalist visiting Pingtan (平潭) in Fujian province, a fishing village with delicious crabs, oysters, and razorback clams. First out on the water. Then in the evening barbecuing the catch on a rooftop with the family. A little girl ecstatic about the prospect of a feast, cute as the dickens in her happiness. And her two smaller sisters. Oh boy, food! Company! People! Deliciousness! Staying up late!

When Chinese people are happy because of food, it's often because it also means togetherness, family, not being alone, a sense of belonging and community.
And all kinds of other good connotations.

When solitary Dutch Americans are happy because of food, it's because it tastes yummy, they can listen in on other people and observe them discreetly, the place where they are eating means something to them, there's no rush, and good heavens this is great with a sploodge of hot sauce. We aren't as social.
Went into Hang Ah Alley afterwards, eventually ending up sitting in Spofford for the remainder of my pipe. The local residents there like to live outdoors in this weather. Afterwards did some shopping, and dragged myself over to a bakery to rest for two hours waiting for the day to cool down. My legs (because of heat and circulation) were throbbing and limp.


I did not need anymore milk tea, nor the pastry. But I didn't want to rely on their tolerance without spending money. Observing the throngs of people (mostly Chinese) eagerly buying mooncakes was quite enjoyable. One of the newest flavours is "fragrant leaf" (香葉 'heung yip'), which is pandan or screwpine, a plant native to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Indochina, whose leaves or essence are much loved as a fragrance or enhancer of other ingredients. Delicate yet intense. Excellent with chocolate, chiffon cake, coconut fudge, and curries.


At the bus stop on the way home had a chat with two young ladies about durian.
Which they love, and I'm on the fence about. It's one of those things.
There are durian mooncakes. Which I have not wished to try.



Today was the mid-Autumn festival. Eighth month, fifteenth day. Togetherness, family, not being alone, a sense of belonging, and community.



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HOW NOW BLONDE COW

When the news says that someone died because a large fat man fell on him from great height, it would be nice if they detailed the victim's last meal. And that it was thoroughly exceptional. Because that would be a happy story. "He really enjoyed the confit of duck as well as the marinated venison chops", and "when he died, it was almost instantaneous!"

All the readers would smile. What a way to go, eh.


In that vein, I encourage the media to concentrate on joyous demises.


Except for Republicans. When they die, it doesn't matter how. They're dead. And the more spectacularly the better. "The former president ingested massive quantities of Adderall and hamberders, after which his lower intestine expanded up into his brain, exceptionally painfully, finally bursting out through his cranium. Fifteen days later he lost consciousness (while still in exceptional pain), and expired in a puddle of gleck. The residential hotel where it happened has been walled off as a superfund site which will take years to clean up."
That would be such happy reading.


The point is that to whom it happens is a fundamental part of how we'll read the story. Which brings me to "missing white woman" news. If the missing woman is a perky blonde, it's not only heartrending, but gets covered by all the outlets. If she's an elderly black woman, or god forbid a natural brunette, it's just a minor blip, filler on page five, with no follow up.

America loves their perky blondes. "She had so much to live for! So much promise! After being an honours student, member of the glee club, and president of the Spofford Academy biochemistry society, she was about to record her first album! So sad!"

Oh, she wasn't blonde? Well, whatever then.

Big fat 'meh'.



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YOUR GOD NEEDS FERTILIZER

An upstanding Christian woman died recently, because she refused to mask or get the vaccine. There is now a go-fund-me page for the funeral. As well as the maintenance of her four young children. To quote the apartment mate: "I think I know how to spot tacky now, AND she spelled her kids' names funny!".

My comment was that at least those names would make wonderful tombstones, and they'd probably all die close together, so only one full-sized plot would be needed.
The savings would be enormous.

Her aunt called on all prayer warriors. There was so much she still could have done on earth, "but God must have special plans for her in heaven.".

God needs fertilizer.



The brain-dead shall not inherit the earth.



On the other hand, soon we will have reached herd immunity the natural way. And that will be worth celebrating.



After several months of similar tales, empathy for these goobers who will not mask and refuse to get vaccinated is down to zero.




AFTERTHOUGHTS AS OF 8:15 AM

A headline: Texas Couple Who 'Didn't Trust' COVID Vaccine Die, Leave Behind 4 Children: 'This Virus Is Real'

Plus a quote from another article: "It is with broken hearts that we share this with you," reads the message dated Sept. 18. "Our precious Xmxx has lost the battle with this horrible Covid. She is no longer in pain or struggling to breathe. Her lungs are filled with the sweet breath of Jesus, our Lord and Savior."

And: Unvaccinated TikToker Who Died of COVID Spent Last Days Urging Followers to Get the Vaccine

Also: How Covid during pregnancy can prove catastrophic for unvaccinated women



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Monday, September 20, 2021

THOSE ARE CERTAINLY ALL WORDS!

There are good reasons, overwhelming reasons, why the rational person might wish to avoid the company of Christians. Not least of which are their well-known habits of burning scientists at the stake, labelling elderly women as witches or ducks and attempting to weigh or drown them, and picking their noses at unsuitable times, like at the dinner table.

That last is as good a reason as any not to break bread with them, and probably why butter knives were invented; so you can stab the filthy Christians.

Before they touch the food.


Oxygen is the purest element of God.


CITE:
OK, the unspoken truth is that we in the anti-masking community believe that Oxygen is the purest element of God. "Ox" is the symbol of redemption, "y" as in the Y chromosome (god the father), "gen" as in genesis or origin/beginning.

Wearing a mask serves as a divider between God the Father and man. Thus we end up breathing in increased CO2, Carbon, being the mark of the beast (6 protons, 6 neutrons, 6 electrons) is the mark of the beast 666. Because of this decrease in O2 and increase in CO2, it will cause humans to behave more diabolical I.e. increased fornication via sodomy and masturbation.

Studies have proven that wearing masks leads to increased homosexual behavior. We believe that this is directly due to the lack of oxygen to the pineal gland.

Anti-breathers are the anti-christ, and in conclusion, we as children of God cannot be associated with such deviance.

END CITE.

Boogers, as should be obvious, also interfere with your intake of oxygen, and must be assiduously removed lest you feel an inclination to masturbate or sodomize.

The best way, if you don't have fingers, is with a toothpick.



AFTERWORD

I can't be a bigot, some of my best friends are Christian! Of course I haven't spoken to them in years (decades), but my actual best friend's oldest brother is a Presbyterian, so if you think about it, my "best friend in law" is a believer!

So there's that.

Um, yeah.




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On the minus side, my feet feel like they've been run over by a steamroller after having been on a spiked hamster wheel, possibly with l...