Tuesday, May 31, 2022

SNERT AND FRIKANDELLEN

It is a commonly acknowledged fact that Dutch tourists are desperate for edible food. Back in the stone age, before they discovered air travel and Thailand, they took a six weeks supply of comestibles with them when braving the Spanish wilderness on an arduous yearly voyage to a camping location deep in the Costa Del Sol. Canned peas, teabags, soup, sausages, and even bread. Because surely edible food could not be found elsewhere. Every Netherlander knew that Italian and French food gave you the runs, good lord how did they survive?

For a few years, Dutch visitors to Thailand and elsewhere lamented that there were no frinkandellen there, and scoured the internet including this blog for recipes. They were desperate. Now there are recipes on youtube, and they can make it there.
I no longer get readers looking for frikandellen.

It is not likely that they'll next search for bloedworst ("boudin noir").
Nor are they desperate for boterkoek like mom used to make.
Or raw herring. Which is also detailed here.

Last week a Dutchman asked me where in San Francisco one could get Frikandel.
Sadly, it is not available here.

We're just as bad as those Spaniards, Italians, and French.

There is nothing to eat in this city.


Sometime later today I'm heading across the hill for lunch in Chinatown, where not a single restaurant serves frikandel. No wonder there are so many lean people there. Because, given a choice between fish flavour eggplant, ma po tofu, concubine chicken, dragon tongue fish with blackbean sauce, various dim sum items, won ton soup, garlic porkchops and stirfried mustard over noodles, charsiu pork, roast duck, steamed fish with ginger slices, or tender greens with shrimp, on the one side, and frikandel speciaal met friet on the other, there is logically speaking only ONE possible solution.


Dumplings. I'm thinking dumplings.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

AN ANSWER FOR EVERTHING!

Tobacco use ensures adequate social distancing. At all other times when outside, wear a mask. The Bay Area is experiencing a renewed Covid surge. Besides, nonsmokers smell bad. And don't kiss random old people. Fragile imune systems, you know.

As a reasonable solution to the assault rifle problem, I propose putting a health warning on guns: "This device may damage your health and that of people around you, which is known to the great state of Texas." The same text should be put on schools.
There. Problem solved. Everybody happy.

If your violent incident is in the Red States, mention Jesus.
Likewise with any and all sexual opportunities.
Also festivals or swap meets.

If you have just turned old enough to buy beer legally, Jesus.

Practise 'thoughts and prayers' during quiet parts of the day.
And when you're operating heavy machinery.
Or meeting with friends.


Also, to keep your little kids busy, there's this:
Professional cooking tip: Put mayonnaise in everything. Innovative American cuisine at its finest, and keeps your innards lubricated.

Plus pickle juice. Healthy!

Coffee?



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

SUCH LIKEABLE WHITE PEOPLE

During the lockdown I made sure to get up early, so as not to fall in the rut of sleeping late and sitting on my ... donkey ... all day. Which meant that, because of timing, I'd see 'auntie with the cheerful pistachio-hued hat' regularly, resolutely tromping down the block, then back up. Walkies. After a while we'd wave at each other. She is no longer limited to this block, and now ranges far afield, her legs and endurance having improved immensely. I still often see her around, but it could be anywhere within a five or six block radius.

Like many elderly Cantonese ladies in San Francisco, she is five feet tall or less.
Other than her surname and her morning exercise I know nothing about her.
My Cantonese is not quite good enough for easy conversation.

The pandemic has been harder for the elderly than for many others, as it limited their social life and made them stay at home, so walkies were probably an excellent idea in that regard also. The folks with walkers and canes were really hit hard. I would have loved to have seen more of them on the street, but instead there were runners, people with dogs, roaming street people and thugs, and one fellow who would sweatily exercise with weights and various heavy devices on a corner up the block, without a mask. Mostly white people.
Even during lockdown, many of them did not wear masks.
Now of course, none of them do.

I have a cane with me when I'm out and about on my days off, but that's primarily to present a very real threat of a clop upside the head to certain types if that proves desireable, rather than an ambulatory-aide. So you won't hear the click-click-click of the tip on the pavement when I approach. Instead, perhaps a grouchy grumbling noise as I curse the huge numbers of white people gaily breathing out their moisture droplet laden vapours without masks, or clusterforking all over the sidewalk so that a sensible man has to go into the path of oncoming vehiclular traffic to get around the plague carriers.
Which undoubtedly also plays a part in elderly Cantonese getting their physical exercise out of the way so early in the morning, before Johnny Alabama or Werner the European and their brood wake up and amble out of the motel (maskless) to snap photos and purchase trinkets on the way to wherever the guide books told them to go.


And because they are on vacation, they usually don't get up early enough to be a pest during my first walk of the morning with a pipe. Unless they're heading toward the bridge, Sausalito, or Muir Woods. When there's hordes of them. Without masks. On the bus I take to work.

So obviously I enjoy my days off. As these are very likely less dangerous.

Mind you, I am not a racist. I like my fellow Caucasians.
Many of my friends are Caucasians too.
The nicest people.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Monday, May 30, 2022

IT IS NEITHER THIS NOR THAT

The proportions are okay, but the lines aren't as taut as they should have been. The little bird part turns out to be harder than I expected, and I am not pleased with the result. The heart underneath could also have been more incised at the line junctions.

These are all major details. Though if it was engraved on a seal stone, it would pass, what with the issues I have mentioned being much smaller.

Phonetic nan (𦰩󠄂), next to a short tailed bird (隹), over a heart (心).
Filed under the latter. Twenty three strokes.
戁 To fear or stand in awe (of).
Pronounced 'naan'.
不震不動、不戁不竦 'pat jan pat tong, pat naan pat song'.
Not trembling or moving, and neither scared nor hesitant.

The citation above is from the Book of Songs (詩經 'si king'), which was compiled over two and a half millenia ago.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

CULINARY NOTES: STEW

There are times when going through a dictionary of Chinese characters yields some rather delightful mental images, especially when you are aware of archaic forms of the characters. Those being the forms incised on tortoise shells and scapulae for divination purposes, which gave birth to the words engraved into the casting forms for bronze ritual vessels and enscribed in records, carved on stone, grooved boldly into stellae.
Under 鼎 ('ding'; tripodal bronze cauldron, cooking vessel), one will find 䵼 ('seung'; to cook, to boil, to stew). Which, because it's both complicated and no longer used, will not be in many dictionaries, and therefore allows the reader scope for fun re-interpretations.
Especially when taking the phonetic element into account.

Which sounds like sauce, jam, commanding officer.
A general of the army.
ELEGANTLY COOKING A GENERAL IN A BRONZE STEW POT.
AND REDUCING HIM TO SAUCE.

Twenty four strokes.

Shows up in old commentaries as well as descriptions of ritual stuff. Basically a fancy word for "boiled". I think I prefer my version.



Ten generations ago one of my ancestors was a general in the revolutionary war. I do not know what happened to him afterwards, or how his remains were dealt with.
Perhaps I should research that.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

THE BALL PIT SMELLS

Almost all movie titles can be improved by adding the phrase "from outer space" after it.
The cheesier the better.

Frat House Blood Orgy - From Outer Space.
Daemon Baby Killers - From Outer Space.
Hail To The Thief - From Outer Space.
The Battle Of The Biggles - From Outer Space.
My Mother The Midget - From Outer Space.
Sound Of Muzak - From Outer Space.
Gaycula - From Outer Space.

The Clinically Insane And Mentally Unstable U.S. Representative From Georgia's Fourteenth Congressional District Promoting Far-right, White Supremacist, Antisemitic, and Completely Bat Shit Conspiracy Theories; A Horror Story - From Outer Space.


"They (the gov't) want to know when you’re eating. They want to know if you’re eating a cheese burger, which is very bad because Bill Gates wants you to eat his fake meat that grows in a peach tree dish. So you’ll probably get a little zap inside your body and it’ll say "No, no, don’t eat a real cheese burger, you need to eat the fake, the fake burger, the fake meat from Bill Gates".'

"They probably also want to know when you go to the bathroom and if your bowel movements are on time or consistent."


Featuring an all-star cast, on ice.

Fun for the whole family.


Trigger warning: This Post Processed in a facility that contains nuts.


Heading out for the first pipe of the day.
Quiet neighborhood, three day weekend, decent weather.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Sunday, May 29, 2022

THE OLD BOYS

Sometimes the coarse-mouthed old farts I babysit are a trial. After the past few days I am glad that I don't have to see them or hear their foul vulgarities and vicious tongues for a while. These are not sane men. They seriously need counseling. More importantly, they need straightjackets and ball gags. I would also suggest applying a cattle prod, but eventually their incontinence diapers -- many local Tumpites probably wear those -- would give them horribly pooh cankers if not changed, and their wives would not allow them into the house unless they were thoroughly hosed down.
An electric shock would make them loose control.
Sooner than necessary.

But please imagine a normally priggish and immensely self-satisfied pudgy Marinite male wearing a straightjacket and stained trousers jumping up and down and screaming hysterically through his ball gag while being sprayed with the garden hose.
Cold water, clammy skin, discoloured clothing.

There was an entire flock of wild turky vultures wheeling above the tidal marshes north of Sausalito the other day. Possibly some Marin Republican got chased into the swamp by his nearest and dearest, because even with the straightjacket and ball gag he was unbearable. There was just no living with him. His teenage heir chased drove him out, beating him savagely with a length of rubber hose.
While he breathed his last, weeping because Trump won and the democrats stole the election, sunny boy was raiding his filing cabinets and snorted all his cocaine.
He knows now he should've drowned the brat at birth.
The bad seed is strong in this one.


In the case of the vile old boys in the backroom, I suspect that their wives are often drunk by noon. Except for the Dublin dingo, who is divorced.

The hot tubs are all drained and boarded over, because drunken suburbanite house fraus might otherwise accidentally drown, sinking insensate beneath the water's surface.



You know, there are times when I'm glad that I don't live in Marin. Hard to imagine, huh?



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

SOUTH OF THE FIVE RIDGES

The right leg of the head thing was tweaked a little, which is orthodox -- it's attested in the sources -- and the south character is not, as you might have expected and may have been taught, a sheep under a roof, but a set of chimes hung on a rack as might be used during ceremonies in the great hall. But other than that, it's not a particularly surprising set of seal script characters representing more or less the entire area from the five mountain ridges all the way down to below the red river.

The great southland, where people went to escape incessant war and the brutal exactations of feudal lords. As well as later getting away from the salt tax, snooty northerners, and rigid orthodoxy.

嶺南
LINGNAN

All in all, malaria was a small price to pay.

Settlers, brigands, smugglers.
Enterprising and hardy.
Remarkably, they wrote great operas about the generation after generation defense of the northern frontier, hardly anything at all about their own adventurous exploration and conquest of the jungles and swamps, or the bugs and poisonous things.

Possibly because literacy meant having the proper sensibilities and adhering to the accepted forms and norms. And the north, the Central Plain (中原 'jong yuen), was the homeland, as well as the heartland of civilization, whereas the southern edge of empire had no clear cultural definition.

Eagle wood, kingfisher feathers, pearls.
More rice, tea, and lacquer.
Lychees.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Saturday, May 28, 2022

STUDIOUS LITTLE FELLOW

The news is always depressing nowadays. As you would expect. But despite all the blah mellow-harshing blurble from every outlet, there are still cheery things.
Such as a bat at the library.
Happily asleep in non-fiction.
Charming.


Do bats snore? One imagines soft little regular rumblings emanating from the little brown bat (myotis lucifugus), barely audible. The sleeper was decanted into a box and subsequently released in the wild later. Perhaps animal control fed it a juicy mealworm before doing so.

In lieu of a mini-donut.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Friday, May 27, 2022

A LIGHTHEADEDNESS OF BEING

When I have to think in Dutch I'm rather a weird fish. So I wonder what that table of young Dutch tourists thought at the bakery. When I came in they were occupying the central table, so I sat at the table in the corner near Henry, who happily pointed me out to them as the white guy who speaks Cantonese and then had to explain that he was from Guangzhou, as were most other people there -- which may have confused the Netherlanders, because most Europeans have only the foggiest notions about the geography despite having traded at that famous southern port for centuries -- shortly after which I had to clarify to him that they were in fact Dutch, not German at all, because most Chinese have only the foggiest notions about European languages that sound like aggragations of hairballs being coughed up, as Dutch, German, and the Scandinavian languages do. And also the various Slavic tongues.
Actually, most Europeans sound somewhat harsh, gutteral, and hairy.

毛球 ('mou kau').
[中文解釋:在動物胃中的毛髮結成一團緊密的斑點事物,稱為 "hairball"(毛球)。]

When Gene Coon and David Gerrold brainblossomed Klingons in Startrek, and Mark Okrand invented their language (克林貢語), they basically created intergalactic European.

"Oh stewardess, I speak Jive ... "

After doing the what-up-dog shiznit in Dutch, and explaining that the best place to get Cantonese food was probably down on Kearny, I happily tucked in to my snack.
Fun, don't often get to speak Dutch, but, erm, well, yes, precisely.
Nou ja, je weet well, he, tja. Dus dat.


The place seemed so quiet and empty once they left.


Ended up conversing with a delightful Anglo Indian couple later, in a civilized language. Directed them to the same place on Kearny. They wanted lobster (the Hollanders had asked about frikandel, sorry, no, nowhere in this city), and we stayed until closing.
Which I never do. I'm normally rather careful about that.
People need to go home after a full day.
One shouldn't be a bother.
EUROPEAN BRIAR SMOKED AFTER TEA TIME

Earlier, while shopping, I discovered that there is such a thing as Mexican Chicken Tomato Flavour potato chips: 墨西哥雞汁番茄味薯片 ('mak sai go gai jap faan ke syu pin'). Which I bought for my apartment mate. We haven't opened them yet. I wonder what they taste like.

We already know that the 'American Classic Flavour' (美國經典原味 'mei gwok ging din yuen mei') are quite good. Got those also. No fried crab flavour this time.

Upon reflection, I hardly ate anything yesterday.
Didn't get out of the house till late.
Pastries and milk tea.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Thursday, May 26, 2022

STRANGE DREAMING

Yesterday I overdid the caffeine, nicotine, and general intellectual frustration. This meant that my sleep was more fractured than usual. And filled with dark blobs. A very large part of this was that the company I was among had some screws loose. Plus the effect of bloodpressure pills on sleep and subconscious images is well known. Tertiarily, the tobacco that I've been stuffing in my pipe (Palmetto Balkan, From Cornell & Diehl) brings back memories of my teenage years -- mostly the good parts -- including streets, alleys, and walls.
Eastern North Brabant; the light and shadow that was there then.

Total effect: semi psychedelic.
Somewhat disturbing.

Got up several times during the night to listen to Mandarin oldies. Twenties through the fifties. Not my era. Some lovely jazzy numbers, as well as plaintive ballads. These were the tunes to which I listened during the decade when I lived in North Beach, and although there were some very pleasant parts that was a time I am glad has passed.

I would not want to be the man I was then.
STRANGE DREAMS

Nor would I really want to meet that man.

But I keenly appreciate the people who not only met him, but also tolerated him. Particularly the bookseller and savage kitten (at that time identifying herself as 'Kermit The Frog', before she told me her name) stand out, as well as 'Lord Drummond', whom I taught how to make Kung Fu tea. George and Rotorhead, both ex marines. Rotorhead got shot out of the sky over Beirut during a little misadventure there. Even Duke Giro and the psychopath on Romolo Alley, both of whom have disappeared (which is probably fortunate).

There were also the people at two bookstores in Chinatown. One of which is largely defunct at this point because of the pandemic, the owner of the other one seems to have retired.


Savage Kitten was my girlfriend for a long time. We never got married, and for reasons which I still don't entirely understand she broke up with me several years ago. She is presently my apartment mate, a woman I trust around my stuff. We share some interests, and sometimes food, but we're different in many ways. There are times when I am not a very easy man with whom to get along. She does a stellar job in that regard. It's probably a good thing that her Aspergers prevents her from noticing several things about me.

I'm fairly sure my Aspergers occasionally makes me a blithering idiot.
And considerably more than average insensitive at times.

I remain grateful for the patience.



AFTERWORD

It was during the North Beach years that I became intersted in Chinese Seal script, Bronze Script, and and Oracle Bone Script. It is therefore fitting that the drawing above is the illustration here.

First character: 怪 ('gwaai'; strange, weird, peculiar), heart as the radical under which it will be found in the dictionary, next to a phonetic compound originally homophonous with ghost, daemon, or supernatural entity (鬼 'gwai'; a being of frightening appearance with a tail or trace emanation behind it).
Second character: 夢 ('mung'; dream), a sentient human, shown by the eye (with eyebrows) and dangling body over a bed, which was replaced with a moon (夕 'jik'; evening, dusk) indicating night in later script.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

FEEDING THE TURKEY VULTURE

One of my friends enjoyed my recent slew of Chinese sealscript stuff very much, which pleases me no end. Another one wonders at the usefulness of so odd a knowledge set. Does it have any worthwhile application, or is it just like J. R. R. Tolkien's Elvish or Startrek's Klingon? Well, yes and no. Sealscript is one of several things that scholars have always appreciated, particularly for its appearance and insight into the origins of the Chinese writing system. And both seal and bronze script brush calligraphy in addition to being beautiful and sometimes exceedingly elegant can also be used to lend graphic gravitas to enterprises, literary expression, and objects or paintings that are suited to the book room.

Sometimes businesses would advertise themselves with signboards in sealscript, diplomatically aiming for a certain class.

The possible uses even in the modern age are endless.
Such as feeding the turkey vulture. This morning when I was preparing for work Sydney Fylbert perched on my bed loudly squawking that I needed to bring back some fatty inner thighs, bring back some fatty inner thighs! He believes that there must be tonnes of those at my work, and surely I can whack one of the doddering old fossils over the head and harvest the choicest meats? Nobody will miss them! Perhaps it's "bring your turkey vulture to work day", and he can come along to point out likely victims. It will be enriching for everyone.

餵鷲仔食
['wai jau jai sik']
Feeding the turkey vulture

I have, several times, explained to him that doing as he suggested would get me in trouble. And yes, all of those tiresome old farts do have nearests and dearests who would wonder at their absences, maybe the old codfish ran off with a voluptuous temptress and is even now spending junior's college funds best call the cops to file a missing person report and get the ball rolling on tracking him down for child support or gaining access to his assets as well as any insurance payouts if he "accidentally" croaked.
SYDNEY FYLBERT LOOKING HUNGRY

Anyhow, when I got home I fed the little fella. He's belching happily as we speak.

From the point of view of a man who plays with graphics, the thematic echoing of curves and line directions, angles and spaces, in seal script "drawings", can be infinitely engaging.
It's visual pleasure that I can't really explain.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

WINNERS OF THE CAKE AWARDS

Yesterday evening I realized that one of the main reasons I prefer to hang around mostly in Chinatown, and it's an enormous one, is that because when I speak Cantonese I get treated like a normal human being instead of an unstable loony. My apartment mate and I were discussing the crazy shiznit we've seen on the streets in San Francisco, and I indicated my firm belief that it was overwhelmingly due to a white or black state of mind.
Karen and Crazy Eddy come primarily in those two colours.

Likewise Brad and Janet the heroin addicts.

And most of the damn' potheads.

Overwhelmingly.


If you speak Cantonese, you may be presumed to know how to behave properly, and it is likely you will adhere to civilized standards. If you only speak English you could very well be batshit crazy -- many English-onlies are -- and there is a much greater likelihood that you'll have a dangerous temper tantrum or hallucinations. In San Francisco.

The local Chinese certainly assume that that is the case.

And in all honesty, so do I.



I think that modern American society, especially here in San Francisco, is filled with entitled dickheads improperly raised, insuffiently aware of their responsibility to their fellow citizens, and/or inadequately medicated. That used to be just a New York problem.
Now it's nationwide.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

HOW WE WON THE WAR

Because I'm on the schedule for tomorrow I tried to get everything done today. And did. The veritable peak of efficiency. I'm a "necessary task god". You may now light incense.
A logistics genius too. I pat myself on the deserving back.

Early lunch. On Thursdays the soup is corn chowder (粟米忌廉湯 'suk mai gei lim tong'), on Wednesdays vegetable consommé, and on Tuesdays Hong Kong borscht (羅宋湯 'lo sung tong'). That latter, plus the garlic baked porkchops (蒜蓉焗豬扒 'suen yong guk chü baa') and rice, and a cup of milk tea (一杯港式奶茶 'yat pui gong sik naai chaa'), prepared me for the hike over to the office building as well as the subsequent jaunt to a smoke-filled room.

The porkchops were excellent. I had forgotten that.
Maybe I'll have them next week also.
In lieu of 龍脷魚 ('lung lei yü').


You know, sometimes I wonder what Chinese people think about us Caucasians. There was an old woman wearing next to nothing, nipples hardly covered, asking for a cigarette outside on the street, a chap who looked like Gandalf gibbering and gesticulating at Grant and Clay in Chinatown, and a drunk rolling around one block further down. Nine people on the bus back home in late afternoon had no masks on, and of course they were all white too.

Perhaps the local Chinese wonder if we're ready for adulthood yet, and how on earth we won the war.

That's what I often wonder also.

佢哋準備好成年了嗎? 到底如何佢哋贏得咗戰嘅
['keui tei jun pei hou sing nin le maa? Dou dai yu ho keui tei ying tak jo jin ge?]

Of course, I usually wonder that in Dutch or English.
No wonder we invented penicillin. And intivirals. White people (especially tourists) spread disease. That's how Covid became an issue, and why it remains an issue.
Nuking Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas might slow it down.
Just like Trump suggested with hurricanes.



Two of the three tasks I needed to do involved native Chinese speakers, only one required English. And riding the bus required English, because there are so many of those people.

Also on the plus side, I got to smoke among an agreeable bunch of people. We were saying farewell to one of our number, who is moving up to Seattle to get off his feet after more than forty years. Which is understandable, but we'll miss him.
Good conversation. Kirsch, we concluded, is virtually useless. As is liquer based on Bourbon. However Grey Goose vodka is excellent for cleaning tobacco pipes. "But you could add tonic and ice cubes." "Or use it to clean pipes!"

I enjoyed both of the briars pictured above during the afternoon. One of which conceivably contributed to our winning the war. My father smoked it as a bomber pilot with the RCAF.

Porkchops and borscht may have also played a role. But tonic probably was a factor in blackwater fever among the men, both during and after the war.
The jury is still out on the part vodka played.
It's a partisan question.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

WE NEED CHERRY TREES IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The one-legged monkey and the little blue sock sheep are contesting fiercely over who said it first, and which version is the real version. The intelligent middle-aged Dutchman is staying the hell out of this conversation, because it cannot end well. That's in her room. The turkey vulture is sitting on my bed, clutching my wallet, and telling the young rooster about the wonders of the salt flats (his native environment, where he's never been).
So the apartment is relatively peaceful.

At some point I'll have to jank my wallet out of his grasp. Whereupon he will wail "my baby, my baby!" And castigate me as a cruel heartless brute.

Which I probably am.


See, my wallet contains things that are very dear to me. Something by means of which I can prove that I exist when police or bank employees ask for my bonafides, stuff with which to pay for a hot cup of milk tea, reminders of medical appointments, and such like.

No, there is no prophylactic device (in its little foil pack) in there. For two reasons: A) There would be nothing left but slimy green powder by the time it ever got used, and B) Too bulky. Besides, I like to keep my wallet a classy place. I've got respected former presidents in there. Any suggestion of sex would only hurt them. History tells us they were abstemious men, not concerned with procreative acts. And that we should model our behaviour on theirs.
Probably best to carry around an axe in case of cherry trees.


If little boys and girls were taught to chop down cherry trees whenever they felt certain urges, teen pregnancy would be far less. Stands to reason. George Washington and Ulysess S. Grant didn't become pregnant as teenagers. Cherry trees. Neither of the Adams, or Roosevelts, ever utterred the word 'gay'. Cherry Trees.
Nixon avoided becoming a crook.
Cherry trees.

It was after cherry trees were taken out of the schools that we ended up with the three worst Republican presidents ever: Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
We need those cherry trees back in schools.
And hospitals. And prisons.


Be sure to bring this up at town halls and election rallies.
Your fellow citizens will appreciate it.
Cherry trees.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Monday, May 23, 2022

MEANINGLESS OLD WORDS

We often speak of Chinese as being 'ideographic' -- that is to say the written characters represent ideas or concepts -- but in fact that is not accurate by a long shot. In all versions of Chinese there are written characters that represent sounds more than ideas; that which is expressed is the sound, and only by the sound do we know what is meant. The two written characters of lute (琵琶 'pei paa') or bat (蝙蝠 'pin fuk') have no actual meaning other than their sounds, they are not used separately for anything else. The radicals do not necessarily add meaning, but merely serve to identify the complete characters as parts of the musical instrument category and buggy whatchamacallit categories respectively.

The two characters illustrated below are perfect examples.
They don't exist as useful words other than combined.
They are almost never needed anyway.
鄋瞞 was a barbarian territory during the bronze age which no longer exists, having long ago been subsumed. It is mentioned in the Spring And Autumn Commentary (春秋左傳) as well as the writings of the grand historian.

Almost nothing is known about Souman or its people.
Even the ancient writings hardly speak of it.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

A TIMID CHARACTER

Some words in the dictionary are nearly useless. For example, an obscure word for an animal that is commonly known by other names, such as 'mintikin' for ant. And although charming and empowering to use in conversation and in a paragraph, once or twice, it is irritating when used any further, being merely a "literary" affectation and oddment.

Mintikin shows up in The Brothers Karamazov.

The only time I've used it is here.


Archaicisms, dialect, and obscure literary fragments. Also numerous items in Chinese dictionaries. Under the 臣 radical we find the unusual character 臩 (Mand. Guang, Cant. 'gwong'), defined as: startled, embarrassed, shy; scared to the point of running away. Reference: 臦 and 囧 and note that the latter is, appropriately, an emoticon for embarrasment or helplessness. Used as the personal nomen of a court official tasked with admonishing a territory under King Mu. 穆王閔文武之道缺。乃命伯臩申誡大僕之政。
From the 周本纪 (Book of Zhou): [When King Mu came to the throne, the Spring and Autumn Period had already passed fifty.] The king's way was declining, and King Mu, Min, lacked the way of civil and military affairs. He ordered 伯臩 to admonish the government of Taishou.

And that's pretty much the only place you will find 臩 because it was not a commonly used word for over two millenia.
Calligraphically it has symmetry and great elegance.
But other than artistically, it is useless.
In seal script it rocks.



NOTE: I found this character while stumbling through the dictionary, and had to research it.
I like the way it looks in seal script. But I cannot think of any use for what I found.
Curiosity value, maybe transcribing old stuff, that's it.

I often stumble through the dictionary.
It's fun.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

AND NO LOUD NOISES THIS EARLY PLEASE!

My apartment mate woke me up at five in the morning to tell me all about the menstrual period. Which is happening. And she's calling in sick today, because it is uncomfortable.
It's her first period in almost a year. Apparently menopause is a spotty process.
She is surprised. Well okay, I can understand that.

Some men are queamish discussing such things. I think most of those dudes are American, because y'all goofy. When I was in highschool, as a reward, because we had all been good little fifteen year olds, they showed us a French movie in which one of the significant plot elements was a juvenile who in the middle of a lovely family celebratory lunch with distant relatives discovered that she was bleeding -- it was her first period -- and everyone sought to reassure her, this was a good thing, and she was allowed to drink a glass of wine like the grownups. Yay, she's heading into adulthood, here have some red wine! My high school class was mostly male. And we were wistfully envious. She got wine. How nice!

At five in the morning after several days work I really needed a few more hours of sleep. But okay, she's bleeding, and months ago she gave away most of her pads because she didn't think she'd need them. I offered to go to Walgreens to get her more. Once they opened.

Again, and I stress this, American men who have gone through football practice in between school prayer and handling chainsaws in woodshop at their highschools, where butch manliness is stressed and pounded into them, are squeamish about this.
Dissecting frogs and fetal pigs is one thing. But the menses?

Your sisters handled it, what's wrong with you? Bunch of wussies.

It's because a period didn't happen that you are here.

I do not squeam. Are maxipads okay?


Given that my apartment mate doesn't like alcohol and wonders why people drink it, and because of various bloodpressure meds I don't indulge anymore, there is no wine in the house. There is a bottle of cheap bourbon under the table in the teevee room which I use for cleaning old tobacco pipes I'm restoring, but it's highly doubtful she would have wanted a shot of that at five in the morning, what with not being blonde and Waspy.

Anyhow, she'll be okay soon. Problem is that today I cannot smoke inside at all. I had loaded up one my pipes with Palmetto Balkan at work yesterday, intending to smoke it once an old friend dropped by as he often does on Sundays, but he never showed (probably enjoying the beautiful sunny weather with his elderly cat and the coyote who wants to eat that cat in the backyard), and somehow I got distracted, so I put a tampion in the bowl to keep the tobacco from falling out, and planned to smoke it in front of the computer this morning.
Guess I'll wait till tomorrow.

[A tampion, in this case, is a spiral coiled scrap of kitchen tissue or paper put on top of the tobacco.]


Need to go down to Chinatown to visit my bank anyhow. So I guess an early lunch, then after a long smoke I will milk tea and a pastry, followed by another pipe. She's bleeding, so I can suffer a bit. It's only a minor inconvenience. The main thing is to make sure we have enough drinking chocolate of a brand she likes. I've heard that women need chocolate at moments like this. Something about theobromine and comfort levels.
I myself rarely drink chocolate, and I wonder if they carry her brands at the nearby specialty food store three blocks away. What are her brands anyway?

Also, Almond Joys. She likes the whole nut.
I'm more of Mounds man myself.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Sunday, May 22, 2022

THE FIFTH DOG

A peculiar neurotic habit I have when waiting for the bust to work is counting how many dogs being walked I can see, as well as little kiddies and their adults who are unmasked. If they're Caucasian, ninety nine times out of ten neither the tykes nor the irresponsible adults are covered. From which I conclude that white parents consider their offspring expendable. Which they very well may be. They certainly aren't unique or precious. Sad.
But stupid white folks are indeed a renewable resource.
We aren't likely to run out this century.

Bear in mind that there is no racism in this statement. I am Caucasian.
My kind have produced Louie Gomert, Donald Trump, and MJT.
Plus whole hordes of equivalent garbage.
Repeat: renewable.
Dammit.

[Naturally almost all of the unmasked travellers on the Golden Gate Transit buses are white. Proves my point nicely. Same with SF MUNI. It's like boarding a petri dish on wheels. Or living in Florida and Texas. I see stupid people. ]


On the way back from work there were over twenty unmasked white people on the bus. Most of them tourists. Why is it that the ONLY people to consistently mask up and take precautions for themselves, their fellow passengers, and their kiddies, are East Asian Americans? Why?

One particular specimen took a seat right behind me. My age, but unkempt, smelly, muttering to himself and grunting, and occasionally asking people for coffee. I moved.
When I got home my feet hurt and I was in an atrocious temper.
I should really get that peripheral angioplasty rolling.
And spray Febreze at random people.
Or Bactine.

[ATTENTION: Product endorsement! Two of them! Useful! Febreze and Bactine! Yay!]


I have it on good authority that if you spray both Febreze and Bactine at tourists they go back to Texas or France. And some of them just dissolve (poof !) into a cloud of sulfurous smoke.



Now, speaking of clouds of smoke......



Underneath a recent post (Palmetto Balkan Review) a reader (Baby Harp Seal) said... "Dude. Couldn't wait, eh? What's with the weird reference to seal script in this review? Also, two misspellings in this morning's blurble. I am surprised."
End quote.

The accusation "couldn't wait" probably refers to the quickness with which I smoked a bit of Cornell & Diehl's limited edition blend Palmetto Balkan, seeing as it wasn't released till the eighteenth of May (five days ago) and immediately purchased three half-pound cannisters. Somewhat unseemly behaviour, perhaps, let others also have a crack at it. Damned good stuff. Since acquiring those three cans I've smoked a whole lot more from the open sample tin, and in all honesty I'm perfectly comfortable not letting many people have a crack at it.
Too many hipsters and smokers of shite out there. Yes, I love all of my fellow briar enthusiasts, but no. Many of them are hosebags with low standards.

The "weird reference" to seal script in that essay is because I'm presently revisiting a favourite subject, in an obsessive way. As I do with many of my favourited subjects. Such as pipes and tobacco, for instance. And surely you noticed the terms "evocative, rich, and stimulating" as well as "a depth and strength that's altogether extraordinary"? This also applies to Palmetto Balkan. For the last three days I've been smoking nothing but.
It's good damned good stuff.
As some of my friends will agree. They are unique individuals with excellent taste.


Regarding that tobacco, note that JimInks has also already reviewed it.
He says it can be an all-day smoke.
He's right.


As for those misspellings, I have taken care of the problem. Let us not speak of it again.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

THINK LIKE A LIZARD

The ideal temperature range is between 58 and 62. Fifty seven or lower and Raynauds kicks in, and at 65 degree I start whining. According to the internet, it's 49° outside right now ... which, clearly, is wrong. Because my fingers are working, and I don't need an electric rock in my terrarium.

Have your thing charged up.

My apartment shares that the evidence indicates that she has not gone into menopause yet. Which is information that I did not need, and don't know what to with either. But I suspect that it means that she will be in her bed all day today, and might call in sick tomorrow.
So in a sense it's a forewarning, and I may need to spend an awful lot of time outdoors tomorrow, when I'm off, because a man will want to let his mind wander undisturbed
And I'm not entirely social while smoking a pipe.

And I do intend to smoke my pipe.

So remember. 58 to 62.

When you step outside in Florida everything is horrifying.
Including the crocodile adventure farm.
Their wiring is off.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Saturday, May 21, 2022

PALMETTO BALKAN REVIEW

One of the first things to mention is the appetizing mouthfeel. Followed by cumulative taste sensations: creamy, tangy, mild fruitiness, coupled with an almost incense-like quality from the Cypriot, supported by the resins of the Turks. It's smoky, but this is not a Latakia bomb, strengthwise being in the same broad category as several Dunhill mixtures, as well as rather reminiscent of the mid to full range of Drucquer blends as those were in the seventies and early eighties, before surreal blend shift (components becoming unavailable and unwise substitutions being made), and years before Greg Pease's expert reformulations.

This is a subtle and pleasingly balanced tobacco blend which will, never-the-less, trigger the Berkeleyite vegan Guatamalan hippie rag wearers in your household. They'll probably burn sage and force you to do ayahuasca to expell the evil spirit that has gotten hold of you, as well as dance with crystals and magic beads.

Be grateful that they will not do a nouveau native American ceremony that involves burning tobacco, chanting, sweating, and drumming. The tobacco suitable for that is mediocre crap purchased by Northern California suburbanites getting in touch with their spiritual side.


Normally I'm somewhat Cynical about limited edition smoking products and "small batches". But one tin was dented, so we sacrificed it and opened it up. I overwhelmingly smoke Virginia and Virginia Perique mixtures nowadays, having veered from Balkans a decade or more ago.
Haven't as a habit smoked stuff like this in years

So I bought some.
After sampling the product.

No spiritual people were harmed. But if they interfere with my enjoyment of this very nice tobacco, they quite likely will be. My spirit animal is a rabid skunk. A two million year old rabid skunk, to be precise. I savaged Princess Pew Bag in her previous incarnation as a noble woman from Atlantis.


PALMETTO BALKAN
Blended by Jeremy Reeves.
Cornell & Diehl.


Small batch, only three thousand (8 oz.) tins produced. Oriental (Izmir from 2019, Basma from 2018) leaf with red and bright Virginias and Latakia. An easy and enjoyable smoke, for the fan of medium to medium full English and Balkan blends, very reminiscent of splendid products from years ago.


And yes, Totoro likes it also. Ten years ago he would often join me on the roof of the office building after a Saturday getting more done on a day off than with all my coworkers around during the work week. Since then, he's been a great team player. With educated tastes.
This pipe tobacco makes me think of things.

Imagine a PHD candidate smoking this regularly while checking the footnotes in her thesis. Something impossibly in-depth about the deliberate overlap between visual representations and secondary meanings in Chinese seal script texts (篆書 Chuan Shu), particularly in Stone Drum Script (石鼓文 Shi Gu Wen), and what the influence of this was on later calligraphers.
I would in relation thereto most especially draw your attention to Wu Changshuo (吳昌碩), a deservedly famous modern master of the brush, who also carved seals.

His archaic script calligraphy is evocative, rich, and stimulating. It has a depth and strength that's altogether extraordinary.


I've had a lot of caffeine between when I first sampled it and now.
It's highly probably that I'm not entirely sane at present.
Some crash and burn is to be expected.



TOBACCO INDEX


==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Friday, May 20, 2022

IN WHICH THE YOUNG ARE BAFFLING

There were four tables with only Chinese diners. One table with only white diners (well, one diner; me). And one table with a Chinese woman and a white guy. Which was the only table with cell-phones in use. That table confused me.

'Dude, you're eating dinner with a young woman, can't you at least act like it? She dressed for the occasion, whereas you look like a schlub. And you didn't shave in at least two days.
I mean, if you had shaved, and dressed neatly (poor is okay, provided it's presentable and clean), it would look like she meant something to you. As an example, I have shaved and showered and these clothes are more than fairly decent. I've dressed like I want to be treated; you look dissipated. Did you even bathe yourself today?
'

'And you, miss, why are you seeing this putz?'

'And put your phones down!'

Honestly, that waiter was an absolute prince. Even spoke in English to both of them, so as not to embarrass the dumb dingo. Given that people tip like misers in Chinese restaurants anyhow, he need not have bothered. Probably felt a measure of co-Chineseness with the young woman, all men (and women) are brothers (siblings) and all that, and he may have qualities which being a genius she can discern though no one else can.

An older Chinatown person would have assumed the worst.

She's being blackmailed! Yes, that must be it!

The last time I had a meal with a Chinese person (my apartment mate), I could tell that the restaurant owner was observing us with fascinated curiosity, and scarcely put at ease by my speaking Cantonese. 'How delicious! An elderly rapscallion and a sweet young thing! Ooh!' There wasn't anything like that going on, but my apartment mate looks ten or twenty years younger than she actually is and very much like an innocent good girl, whereas I look like a knowing old sot. Especially by comparison, in harsh lighting.
But at least I can act like I'm a gentleman.
And I'll dress properly.


Obviously my stern questions above were not uttered out loud. It's none of my business, and if she sees something in him that the rest of us don't, more power to her.
Both of them are very lucky.


And that roast goose was absolutely fabulous. Haven't had it yonks, so it really seemed even more delicious. Plus the plateau of glistening tender baby bok choi on which it lay was a great foil for the savoury oily flesh. Great food, delightful surroundings.
Jade-like greens, goose fat, plus plenty of hot sauce.
And a cold glass of milk tea also.
Hoo boy!


As an afterthought, here's the seal script version of 夓 which I mentioned in yesterday's post. Did this after I came home. Consulted two dictionaries and an etymological reference.
Seal script is derived in the main from the Zhou bronze script, and was used till roughly two centuries before the start of the common era. It is ancestral to the modern script, by which I mean the brush-written characters in daily use for the past two thousand years.
More pictographic, yes. That does not mean instantly intelligible.
It's a specialized field nowadays.


This version of 夓 is based on versions in both the bamboo slip script (簡牘) in use from 1200 BCE till after 400 BCE, and the lesser seal script (小篆). It was great fun to do.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

Search This Blog

THOUGHTS ABOUT CIGAR SMOKERS

What this society needs is churchpeople going on regular tours of low places to spread the word of god. Not because habitués of such places ...