Friday, September 30, 2022

TASTES LIKE CHILDHOOD

Over on one of the pipe forums, someone mentioned that they mixed Captain Black Grape and HH Rustica, and man oh man is it delicious! No. Captain Black Grape is a pipe tobacco that does NOT taste like tobacco at all, doesn't bite, and reeks phenomenally of grape soda. It is not an adult tobacco.

HH Rustica is entirely adult tobacco. I have two open tins.
It will take me a while to finish it all.

Captain Black Grape has been discontinued, and is achieving cult product status among the basement dwelling degenerates in the pipe smoking community. Naturally I did not comment underneath his post, because I don't want to attract their attention. I have NO need to be beaten to death by pierced and tattooed Gandalf wannabees.
They're heretics, and probably unstable.
Men of dubious morals.

Pervs.
Besides, there's Captain Black Watermelon now.

I smoked nearly a dozen bowls of test batches of CB Grape when it was still in development; mercifully I have been spared the watermelon incarnation.

There's also key lime pie pipe tobacco.



I spent all day yesterday in discomfort from the Bivalent Covid booster shot. Nasty froo froo aromatics (ie: grape, watermelon, key lime pie) would NOT have made that situation any more bearable. But the bowl of C&D red Virginias did.
Jolly good stuff, that. B'emmes.
Medicinal.



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Thursday, September 29, 2022

BEAN MUCK

According to an internet test, I am "outgoing, cheerful, adventurous, and unique". Which is a load of hogwash. Or that's the dating app version my imaginary alter ego would like to spread. If anything, I am a heretofore unknown species of scorpion.
Scorpions are known for being nurturing moms.
But not pack, swarm, or herd animals.

And that 'nurturing moms' bit doesn't count either.


Ten years ago I signed on to a dating site. Nine years ago I closed that account. Everyone there was "outgoing, cheerful, adventurous, and unique". And they wanted to raft down the Amazon with a supportive vegan while walking a golden retriever on a moon-lit beach.
Some of them had meaningful tattoos. Soft music.


I have a suspicion that most of them would be averse to the restaurants I go to, uninterested in the things I like, object to my smoking a pipe unless it was in LOTR format where I act like Gandalf or a Hobbit, and upset over my tendencies to culturally appropriate without the proper worshipful attitude.

Also, I do not river-raft, lack a dog of any kind, and haven't been on a moonlit beach in very many years if ever. My tattoos are meaningful entirely by their complete non-existence.
Emotional support "dog".

And as for that Amazon thing, the closest I wish to come is seeing the movie 'Fitzcaraldo' again. You do realize that they have brain eating amoebas, Chagas disease, dengue fever, dysentery, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, tuberculosis, dozens of mosquito born illnesses, poisonous bugs, violent locals, and Jair Bolsonaro down there, don't you?

Butch heathens dancing samba and winning soccer games.

[A good friend who passed away recently spent quite a bit of time in Brazil, till he escaped from prison. He didn't enjoy it. Said it was worse than being in Vietnam or Rhodesia. I think he kind of liked Rhodesia.]


The national dish is bean muck.


Here is a short list of culturally appropriated terms for medical issues and conditions which are commonplace in the Amazon Basin. Bad basin.

Acute renal failure: 急性腎損傷 ('gap sing san syün seung').
Acute tubular necrosis: 急性腎小管壞死 ('gap sing san siu kun waai sei').
Anemia: 貧血 ('pan huet').
Candida albicans: 白色念珠菌 ('paak sik nim jyu kwan').
Chagas disease: 恰加斯病 ('hap gaa si peng').
Cholecystitis: 膽囊炎 ('daam nong yim').
Cytomegalovirus: 巨細胞病毒屬 ('keui sai baau beng dok suk').
Dengue fever: 骨痛熱症 ('gwat tung yit jeng').
Dysentery: 痢疾 ('lei jat').
Feijoada: 厭惡嘅爛泥糊豆糞肥 ('yim ngok ge laan nei wu dou fan fei').
Hemoglobinuria: 血紅素尿症 ('huet hong sou niu jeng').
Idiopathic compression of the median nerve: 腕隧道綜合症 ('wun seui tou jung hap jeng').
Jair Bolsonaro: 雅伊爾·博索納羅 ('ya yi yi·bok suk na lwo').
Jaundice: 黃疸 ('wong taan').
Leprosy: 痲瘋 ('lam fung').
Leptospirosis: 鈎端螺旋體病 ('gau duen lo suen tai bing').
Leukocyte: 白細胞 ('baak sai baau').
Lymphatic philariasis: 淋巴絲蟲病 ('lam baa si chong beng').
Malaria: 瘧疾 ('yeuk jat').
Malarial hemoglobinuria: 瘧疾嘅血紅蛋白尿 ('yeuk jat ge huet hong daan baak niu').
Monomorphism: 單態射 ('daan taai yek ').
Mosquito borne illnesses: 蚊子傳播嘅疾病 ('man ji chuen bo ge jat beng').
Naegleria fowleri: 福氏內格里蟲 ('fuk si noi gaak lei chong').
Onchocerciasis: 蟠尾絲蟲症 ('pun mei si chong jeng').
Plasmodium falciparum: 惡性瘧原蟲 ('ngok sing yeuk yuen chung').
Poisonous bugs: 毒蟲 ('tuk chong').
Tuberculosis: 結核病 ('git hat beng').
Urinary tract infection: 泌尿道感染 ('bei niu dou gam yim').
Verruca: 蹠疣 ('jik yau').

Violent locals: 嚎叫嘅野蠻人 ('hou kiu ge ye maan yan').

Please note that NONE of these terms are actually relevant in San Francisco. Incidence of 'black water fever' and other tropical ailments is quite uncommon here. Almost unknown.
But I'm prepared. Just in case.

I will NOT be rafting down a tropical river in the moonlight with a fluffy dog.
I am NOT "outgoing, cheerful, adventurous, and unique".
I'm actually kinda pissy and I smell bad.
Like tea and pipe tobacco.

Stupid internet survey.



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I AM FRIENDLY AND HUGGABLE

But I totally feel like crap, and the stuffed animals are keeping their distance. The fifth Covid shot yesterday is like having a mild dose of the flu -- last time it was (mostly) over by tea time, I'm counting on it being okay by then today -- and I know that if I mention this to the rightwingers and sceptics I have to deal with at work they'll pull an "I told you so" and steadfastly refuse their boosters.

Not that I'm particularly concerned about their well-being. Just don't want any of the old festering rectums to croak.

In their case I'm not all heart, I'm all spleen.

I shall suggest to my apartment mate that she get hers pronto, but on a Friday, so that IF she stays home I won't have to deal with it, except in the evening, when it is likely she'll already be asleep. When she feels miserable I feel like I should be making weak tea, and chicken soup, and my nurturing side, such as it exists, disturbs me when it manifests itself. "What is this thing", I say, "that lives inside of me and humanizes the savage beast that I am?"

"I did not ask for this. How inconvenient!"
Then I wonder if I should add some ginger to soothe, and lessen inflamation.
Should I bring over one of the two Totoro? Both?
Perhaps a fuzzy frog?


A while later I go out to smoke. It puts the mind at ease.
While being beneficial to the short time memory.
And vastly improving concentration.
Lizard breath.



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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

DOUBLE THE SUPERPOWERS

While I was finishing my after-lunch pipe I ended up near the clinic. So after emptying out the ashes I went and got my bivalent booster and my flu shot. As I left I thanked the nurse, and mentioned in passing my cigar huffing acquaintance the dumbass who doesn't trust the vaccine and always claims that flu shots give you the flu.

He also believes in apple cider vinegar.


1st. shot: Moderna, April 1, 2021.
2nd. shot: Moderna, April 29, 2021.
3rd. shot: Pfizer, November 17, 2021.
4th. shot: Moderna, April 13, 2022.
5th. shot: Moderna, September 28, 2022.

Three flu shots since this whole thing started. I'm five-geed, magnetized, and micro-chipped up the wazzoo. And Bill Gates plus the Bilderbergers now know the exact details of my Mc Nugget buying habits as well as how I feel about space lizards.
If the nut-ball collective is to be believed.

Not planning to mention this on my Facebook page, because of a friend in Israel who has echte emmese emunah in apple cider vinegar, and doesn't quite understand science. Not quite a dumbass, but he's trying. He's not fully Qanonical yet.
I really wasn't thinking to get this done today. Was of a mind to schedule it maybe next week Monday or Tuesday, but when I was happily puffing on the last bit of tobacco I decided to go in and inquire, was told that no appointments were necessary just walk in anytime and they asked did I want it done today. "Why yes", biting the bullet, "that would be lovely".
I am needle phobic. Needles are better than they used to be.


"Shoot me on up, I'm readier than I'll ever be!"


Had cake with my tea later. After grocery shopping. As a reward.



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I AM A PORKCHOP MAN

Ein Freund hat mich erinnert an Jägerschnitzel. Breaded porkchops, mushroom gravy (mixed mushrooms sauteed with onion, flour added, stock, a twist of black pepper). The gravy is one of those things where successive additions and simmers enrich the flavour. Close the kitchen door when frying the chops, so as not to set off the smoke alarm.
Garnished, customarily, with fresh parsley.
It's German food at its finest.

[Merest pinches thyme, chives, and orange zest for depth. But that's just me.]


Also, methinks, suitable for a chachanteng. Given that HK people love porkchops and sauce, which actually is one of the three set lunches at the place where I will be lunching later today, frequently with a mushroom sauce, their variation of Jägerschnitzel, but not so named.
蘑菇豬扒飯 ('mo gu jyu paa faan').
But what I'm thinking of having is the club sandwich and fries. 公司三文治和薯條。
Which is not one of the three sets, but they do an excellent version.

Seeing as chachantengs are geared toward the quick lunch or dinner customer, a schnitzel is a very logical choice. Everything but especially the sauce can be done in advance, dump the breaded cutlet or chop into the hot oil once it's ordered, and slather the mushroom gravy over it once you've plated. Big scoop of rice, and some obligatory veggies to garnish because the office worker's mom will castigate him or her otherwise (also helps digestion), and voilà.
Plus a cup of milk tea for renewed energy.
And a cigarette.

Result: a happy person near Yue Man Square.


Jäger means 'hunter'. But the pork is domestic. The name probably refers to the mushroom sauce. Mushrooms - forest - hunter out there making the best of a bad day. Probably.

Customary accompaniments are pommes frites or potato salad. The German office worker would then also be happy, but in a chachanteng you should expect rice or spaghetti.


No, rice is NOT the appropriate accompaniment to a club sandwich.
French fries are. Chinese people are traditionalists.



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IT REALLY WORKS!

Earlier my legs had felt like crap while stumbling up and down the slopes of the hill. But on the way home tonight, they felt fine. The difference was caffeine and colder temperatures. To be precise: cup of strong tea before leaving the building, half a coke at the burger place, hot tea at the beatnik bar, and another hot tea at the karaoke bar. So I was hepped to the tits, and had energy to spare. Caffeine counters arterosclerotic difficulty when walking.
The colder air definitely also helps.


It is doubtful the four active teevee screens had any part in it. Sports, a Chinese kungfu series (episode 31), some stupid teen avengers or teen dingbats show on the third, and Hong Kong pop music videos on the fourth. Mercifully no one sang, despite there being about a dozen white people in the place, one of whom was holding forth authoritatively to the Cantonese gentlemen next to him, despite not knowing beans about the subject he was lecturing them about.

The great advantage of spouting idiotically when there are Chinese in the room is that most of them have tact and diplomacy. And do their damndest to keep their faces quizzical and attentive looking even when they're hearing complete horsepuckey.

"Do tell", they seem to express, "this is absolutely fascinating".
Rather than my own Dutch habit of showing a sneer.
We Dutch and Dutch Americans are not known for being subtle about other people's dumbassity. I've gotten better over the years, and have learned to keep my mouth shut, even when that chap in Marin opinionates about medicine, politics, or social issues -- only one time did I sort of indicate that putting up with his inane rambling was driving me up the wall, and I don't think he quite got that -- and I'm also good at playing along with the artistic types and poets, though I try to escape their chatter as fast as possible. But it's fairly certain that the old Republican blowhards in the back realize that I hold them in exceptionally low esteem, and consider them damned well mentally defective.

In those matters too does caffeine play a useful role.

My companion the bookseller is a believer in caffeine.
Though on our weekly pubcrawl he does not indulge.
I shall commend him for his extreme tolerance.
It would drive a lesser man to drink.



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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

HOW TO STOP DROOLING

If you look at many review sites, you notice that people take pictures of their food. Which is understandable, because their loved ones cannot pose so appealingly, and often detract from the dining experience. Especially kids. "What is daddy doing?" little Molly will ask, to which the answer is "making food porn".

What's 'porn'?

"Errm, eh, urk, mmm, urh; it's what your uncle Walter has an unfortunate addiction to, just like crack cocaine, that's why his marriage to Gertruda went down the tubes and he got divorced. It's also why he didn't get custody of Herbert and Winthrop."

The internet was invented for three things. Conspiracy theories, kitten pix, and food porn.
Which is why absolutely nothing gets done in offices anymore.
And why the pandemic was a blessing.
Work from home.

I do not take pictures of food.
I draw it using Paint.
RECENT FOOD ILLUSTRATIONS

It's probably better for my cholesterol. I've only eaten two of the items pictured above in the past month. What I had for a snack two hours ago was a hot apple turnover with banana ice cream on top. Fruits and vegetables are the key to healthy living. No, I didn't draw it, I was too busy enjoying it.

In order, left to right: sweet and sour pork (rarely if ever a sober choice), Hokkien oyster omelette (delicious, should make it again sometime), chili beef (great over rice with gravy), sweet and sour chicken (three billboards on my way to work suggest that everyone in San Francisco loves it. Who are these people?), choi pou faan (a Shanghainese quickie), a bacon cheesburger with melted blue cheese (mmmmm, delicious), a toasty Vietnamese sandwich (and I probably should have one again soon), and a Chicago Italian beef sandwich with jus (which I have never ever had, but you can get them in San Francisco now, so I should).


Seriously, I pity little Herbert and Winthrop, living with that bitter ass Vegan, Gertruda. They'll probably need therapy when they grow up, as well as scads of lovely food porn filling up all the available space on their hard drives.


Better not let your supervisor catch you viewing food porn.
She'll want to drool over your shoulder if she does.
Probably why your drycleaning bill is so high.



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TEST RESULTS AND REASONABLE AVERAGES

Per research posted on the internet, people who drink their coffee black are more likely to be psychopaths. Both the emperor Nero and Tiberius were black coffee drinkers, that theory holds, and just look at what they did. Accordingly, I shall assume that the last ten callers from American Benefits (eight gentlemen with Indian accents, two ladies who sounded remarkably like your worst Filippina nightmare) prefer their coffee without dairy.

Most of the time I add milk and sugar.
Sometimes I fly psycho.


You shouldn't take all "research" seriously. I suspect that the coffee thing was the direct result of someone looking for evidence to support their theory or fondly cherished belief, likely to poke their significant other who said something glib and snarky at six in the morning.

"Sweetheart, you are bonkers."

You're probably better off not getting up at six in the morning. Or, if you do, make sure you have unfettered access to both the kitchen and the bathroom. I suspect that all those people who get up that early to walk their dogs are, at that time of day, functionally insane. Which is why when I'm talking a stroll for an early morning pipe I tend to twitch and gibber from half a block away so as to give them fair warning that if need be I can outcrazy them by a bucket load, and please don't make any rude comments about the evil smell of tobacco dears.
There isn't a judge or jury that would convict me.
For the life of me I cannot understand how my apartment mate can immediately after waking up physically co-ordinate making her hot beverage, preparing something to eat, AND turning on her computer for more tidbits about Harry and Meghan (aka "Old Ginger Bollocks" and "Harry's Wife"). For me, mornings are about sweetness and light; NOT tiresome third rate celebrity attention whores like those two. Who probably drink their coffee black.


That's another reason to leave the house with a pipe to watch dogs pooing that early. So that I don't have to hear that stuff. Good morning, how are you, did you sleep well, I'm going out for a smoke, see you in a bit. That way I'll also avoid the first call by the Indian and Filippino Spam call workers ("hello, this is Sarah from American Healthcare Advisors on a recorded line"), who are in a different time zone and hepped to the gills on black coffee so that they can attentively and assiduously mine their victims for useful data.

Sarah, REAL healthcare professionals don't call at six in the buggery morning.

Unless they see that the results of recent tests show that you are carrying a space alien baby that any moment could rip its way out of your chest OR have fast developing cancer of the vasilikoid malakas. Neither of which are likely, as I had my most recent tests (part of the yearly check-up) over a month ago.


It was quite overcast when I had my first smoke this morning. The only sweetness and light was represented by dog poo and dog pooers. It's now bright and mostly sunny, a balmy sixty four degrees. Time for another pipe, and a cup of tea. I'll check on the turkey vulture in my bed to see if he's still quaking with fear over what the other small creatures plan to do with him, or whether he would like a hot apple turnover. In lieu of a little girl hamster who looks exactly like a juicy meatball. See previous post for clarification of that statement.
THE TURKEY VULTURE




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WHY A GARBAGE BAG IS NEEDED

The turkey vulture is sleeping, fitfully, in my bed. He had a very rough night. He believes, with considerable justification, that the others are planning to do him in, sneaking up on him with a disposal bag and a hammer. He heard them discussing it, after he had happily offered to eat the giant friendly spider, and the blue-faced sheep. Who happen to be the she-sheep's stud lover boy friend and adoptive younger brother respectively, though he completely ignores their importance in the household, considering them a repulsive buggy nuisance and an irritating simple minded pest who probably eats too much.

He has, at times, completely dastardly ideas. But he's quite transparent and completely ineffective, so there is no real reason to worry. He made his proposal with verve, at length, in normal conversation tones, quite oblivious to the fact that the other roomies over in my apartment mate's bedroom could hear him and were listening in. Their "plotting" in response was deliberately loud enough that he heard. He quivers in terror. Why are they so evil? Why do we have bad creatures living here? Why are they being so mean to him?
SYDNEY FYLBERT, WHO IS JUST A SWEET INNOCENT TURKEY VULTURE

If, or when, they come over flaunting their garbage bag threateningly, I shall borrow it for the empty tobacco tins littering a corner of the teevee room. It's cluttered here, good grief.

Dunhill Elizabethan Mixture. A rather nice ribbony mixture of New World tobaccos, in the same ballpark as Dunbar and Dorchester.
Dunhill Medium Flake. Both a reliable standby and an enjoyable indulgence.
Dunhill Royal Yacht. A sock in the jaw if you are not careful. With an eccentric topping.
Erinmore Mixture. Depraved. And enjoyable because of that.
Esoterica Tabaciana Dorchester. Ruch and full, tang of Perique.
Esoterica Tabaciana Dunbar. A remarkable product, complex and creamy.
Germain's Brown Flake. Good. Good.
Germain's Medium Flake. Solid satisfaction.
MacBaren Virginia Flake. Virtually the same as the 4th. Generation Virginia. Roughly broken flake.
McConnell Folded Flake. Grows better with time, intially strikes one as fairly light.
Orlik Golden Sliced. A solid and dependable fall-back position, mild-medium pressed Virginia. Grassy and plummy, can be delightful.
Rattray's Hal O' The Wynd. Very nice stuff, mostly reds.
Rattray's Old Gowrie. One of my faves. Medium, deep and satisfying.
Rattray's Marlin Flake. Rather identical to some itterations of McConnell Folded Flake.
Rattray's Brown Clunee. Goes well with strong tea.
Samuel Gawith Best Brown. A very rewarding medium, nice and plummy, with depth.
Samuel Gawith Full Virginia Flake. Good solid tobacco, something old men smoke.
Samuel Gawith Golden Glow. A bright Virginia tobacco, quite intoxicating.
Samuel Gawith Lakeland Dark. Remarkable. Full flavoured, smooth, with Kentucky leaf much softened by steam pressing. Smells and tastes extremely old-fashioned, like the nineteen forties and fifties in combustible form.
Samuel Gawith St. James Flake. Delicious, once it gets going, but damned hard to get lit.
Samuel Gawith 1792 Flake. Takes me about a year to go through a tin, reason being that queer tonquin oil. Smells like concentrated root beer.
Wessex Red Virginia Flake. Decent and rather innocent, not particularly memorable.
Wessex Brown Virginia Flake. It's okay. I enjoyed it.


Plus a whole bunch of Cornell & Diehl empties. Some extremely good stuff, especially the Virginias. Also a number of Greg Pease tins. Which I smoked with great enjoyment.
The Fog City Collection is well represented.


The turkey vulture doesn't smoke, he finds a pipe hard to clench in his beak. But he does occasionally "borrow" one of my pipes as a touchy-feely object.

Especially when he joins me for coffee in mid-morning.


Most of the others hate tobacco.



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Monday, September 26, 2022

LOVELY ACCENTS

Phone call: "Hello? My name is Alex, calling from American Senior Insurance, how are you doing today?" Answer: "I'm doing splendid, Alex, I shall not answer any personal questions, nor will I compare any insurance rates." He hung up. Making Spam calls from Allahabad is expensive if they aren't going to produce workable data.

Remarkably, the same situation resulted when Sarah from Senior Medical Benefits in Cebu or Makati tried to go over some things with me.


I am a consistent man.


Just because my name and phone number have appeared on your miraculously tailored list does not mean that I will give you any more time than the streetcorner loonies I occasionally encounter when out in public here in San Francisco. Calling me is making eye contact, in a way, and unless you are a charming woman with obvious intelligence and a curious sense of humour, or a crusty old fart who is well read and has truly interesting questions, and the evidence in BOTH cases (young lady, elderly fossil) indicates that you are sane and have recently (sometime in the last twenty four hours, more or less) bathed and changed your clothes, the response you are likely to get from trying to strike up a conversation will approximate "NO". Fishing calls do not qualify.
If out of the blue you said "that smell reminds me of my favourite Latin (or geology, algebra, mediaeval Netherlandish / Anglo Saxon) tutor in college, what tobacco are you smoking?", my answer would very likely be longer, and given in a more friendly tone.

How I deal with beginning conversational gambits depends, very much, on circumstances. Claims that you are calling from "The American Health Department" are, ab initio, going to result in "NO", or something similar.

NO.

But do please keep trying. I've made a lot of telephone calls myself, for legitimate reasons because the companies for whom I worked had established mercantile relations with other companies, and I know how little moral support you get for your daily grind.
I am a warm and caring individual. I nourish you.



The world revolves around your oyster.



Over fifteen Spam Indians called so far this morning.
I'm barely on my second cup of coffee.
Only one Filippina.



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GOAT CITY: REFLECTIONS ON fOOD

Today's SFGate has an article about Yank Sing, a dim sum restaurant in the financial district that some locals sneer at because it's a bit higher price than many dimsummeries, and has a bougie ambiance. I do not sneer. I appreciate it for what it is. A welcome boat in a storm, an emergency room in the middle of a battlefield, and damned fine place to have a civilized lunch. I have eaten fabulously well there.

Consider the options: do I want to risk foodpoisoning at a hipster burrito chain that's had a health scandal half a dozen times in fifteen years, or dig into some excellent dim sum? Should I go stand in line at a salad joint that charges fancy prices for artistically presented rabbit food, or dig into some excellent dim sum? Do I want to surround myself by yuppies swilling very mediocre cappucinos with their toasted mediterranean eggplant sammiches while yakking on their cellphones, or dig into some excellent dim sum?


Do I want a splendid carnitas burrito with salsa picante regular rice no beans at a taco truck, freshly made by someone who still doesn't speak English after TWO WHOLE MONTHS in the States, or dig into some purely excellent dim sum?

Actually, both of those options sound fine.


一盅兩件
"One tea steeping and two items" (describes the perfect lunch, in Central).


Every single time I've gone to Yank Sing I've had a wonderful time. There should be large sign outside the place with a huge red cross indicating that restorative life saving treatment is offered within. If you've read more than a few of my little scribbles on this blog, you realize that I speak passable Cantonese and tend to eat Chinese food a lot, and that I hang out in Chinatown often, because it's sort of my home neighborhood. And also, as a typical Dutch cheapskate, I don't like spending money. But I like Yank Sing, and recognize that they do a fine job and offer lovely altenatives, even if you can escape the Financial District and eat elsewhere.

If your skeevy cousins from New York are in town, go have Thai.

When your favourite elderly uncle from Vancouver visits, go have some excellent dim sum. Heck, take the day off and drive him and the brood all over, visit Golden Gate Park, the museums, and the bridge. But have some excellent dim sum at Yank Sing first.
I rather wish they were within walking distance of where I usually hang out.
But there are some nice alleyways nearby where one can smoke.


YANK SING
49 Stevenson Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
415-541-4949



That's easy walking distance from the old office, and where the pipe and cigar crowd used to hang about around lunch time. As well as where a good taco truck was parked. Near Market Street and the Montgomery BART station. Two blocks from a Peet's, if you needed real coffee instead of that Seattle yuppie slop.
The only reason for the pipe illustration above is that I've had it longer than dim sum. Bought it while I was still a student. It's an excellent smoker, and I'll probably have it with me the next time I have dim sum. It will be a splendid afternoon.
Lazy. Golden. Well-spent.



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Sunday, September 25, 2022

THEY'RE "SPIVY" AND KIND OF STRONG

A friend came by with five packs of a cigarette I have been keen to try, but which isn't imported because fifteen years ago we legislated against the keeps-on-burning paper which we had invented nota bene and which the rest of the world still thinks is a brilliant idea because it doubled cigarette consumption but we outlawed because less than half a dozen elderly drunks set fire to their wine and pee soaked mattresses over a three or four decade period -- obviously that's a crisis, we must protect the public -- and because the rest of the world thinks that cigarette paper that keeps on burning is all right, very few European cigarettes can be imported into the US dammit.

Damned disapproving puritanical freaks.

Wistfully I remember the Roth-Händle, and Reval Cigarettes.
As well as Khedive, which were divine.
Also St. Michel.


BELOMORKANAL
The black rectangle obscures a horrific photo meant as warning, so that Russia's draft age population will be scared off tobacco. Rather ghastly, and too horrific.


Papirosa from Russia, which are two thirds paper tube, one third tobacco. You pinch the tube to make a semi-filter. The tobacco reminds me of some of the cigarettes which used to be importable (till we changed the regs about the paper). These are very nice. But over half of the people I showed them to kept bringing up disturbing things, totally irrelevant, and something tells me I shouldn't show these to my apartment mate.

Northern Californians have important opinions about many things WHICH MUST BE SHARED! They're nearly as bad as the Dutch. Not that I would know about that .....

I'll just hang out in a dark alley smoking these with my imaginary bottle of cheap vodka. Perhaps there's an abandoned mattress there I can set fire to for warmth.



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Saturday, September 24, 2022

AND HERE IS WHERE IT GETS INTERESTING

The organ in question is roughly similar in dimension and appearance to a plum, an apricot, or a kumquat (金橘 'kam gwat'). It is considerably larger than a loquat (eriobotrya japonica), which used to be called 蘆橘 ('lou gwat), hence the English name, but nowadays is refered to as 枇杷 ('pei paa'), and used in cough medicines such as the famous King To Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa (京都念慈菴川貝枇杷膏 'king tou nim chi am chuen pui pei paa gou').
You've seen the bottles in chinatown or on your grannie's dresser.

There are also throat lozenges from the same venerable company, the tins of which are recognizable because they have graphics and decoration identical to the boxes that the bottles of cough syrup come in.

The organ is fairly common, many people have it.
It apparently keeps on growing throughout life.
Much like your hair, earlobes, or nose.

John at work expressed curiosity and quirks when it was mentioned, and an old friend would rather go through life blissfully unaware of its existence, so for the benefit of both those gentlemen, here is a helpful diagram.
Some men go through life never knowing what a wondrous thing it is.

Sometimes a small tangerine.

VOCABULARY
Bladder: 膀胱 ('pong gwong')
Klewt: 睾丸 ('gou yuen')
Prostate: 攝護腺 ('sip wu sin')
Rectum: 直腸 ('jik cheung')
Seminal vesicle: 儲精囊 ('cyu jing nong')
Urethra: 尿道 ('niu tou')
Vas deferens: 輸精管 ('syu jing gwun')



Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa has been found to have noteworthy benefits to people suffering from throat irritation or the common cold. Smokers will find it useful also.


Please do discuss these matters with your personal physician. He or she will welcome your questions. A persistent cough is nothing to sneeze at.

Or perhaps it is.



Important disclaimer: Plums and apricots are among my favourite fruits, I have little actual experience of fresh kumquats or loquats, and I have never needed to discuss any of this with my doctor.


Note: a friend mentioned walnuts as an important comparison. The problem there is that ALL important glands look precisely like walnuts with the right lighting.




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Friday, September 23, 2022

PASSING TIME

Tea yesterday included a pastry recommended by the counter woman, because it was fresh out of the oven (啱啱出爐 'ngaam ngaam chut lou'), and indeed totally delicious. And great with hot milk tea. A preserved duck egg yolk nestled in lotus seed goo within a flaky pastry crust: 蛋黃酥 ('wong daan sou'). I can hear your arteries creaking at the sheer wallop of cholesterol. I also had a ham and melted cheese bun (火腿芝士包 'fo tui ji si baau').


Yesterday's eating was more in the snack category than any real meal, and probably not as healthy as a medical person would desire. One of such was, in fact, at the bakery buying over a dozen pastries, probably for the graveyard shift at the hospital.
Who all would snack fattily well.

She looked like the kind of person in whose presence you watch your tongue. Which we are capable of. One of the reasons I like hanging around in Chinatown is overhearing random scraps of conversation. Our manners may be polite and acceptable, but our language is sometimes unvarnished. Veering, dare I say it, on sailor-like eloquence and point.
Don't call it vulgar. All these words have perfectly writable characters, which means they are hallowed by tradition. Even if sometimes not found in nice church-going dictionaries.
Cholesterol (膽固醇 'daam gu seun') is ruder than many other words.
As bad as speaking Mandarin or Fujianese.
Or English!



All of my medications have Foreignese names. When I list them off I sound like I'm spouting gibberish. That's one of the main reasons every discussion at the pharmacy, while it may begin in Cantonese, eventually devolves into English. Chinglish. Cantlish.

I like that bakery. Went there one day after I was released following my exploded appendix. Needed caffeine, a snack, and a smoke after that. Sadly, one cannot enjoy one's pipe in the ICU while hooked up to an intravenous bottle.
The very next time I have an appendectomy (闌尾手術 'laan mei sau seut') I'll make sure they know I want a smoking ward. It will speed up recovery and make the time pass quicker.



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Thursday, September 22, 2022

THE INDIANS REALLY AREN'T THAT STUPID, ARE THEY?

The spam phone calls on behalf of American Senior Whatchamacallit have shifted to people with Indian accents entirely. Even though they introduce themselves with very Gaura names.

"Hello, my name is Smith, I'm calling from American Senior Compost, how are you today?"

Oh I'm splendid, Smith, this is a spam call isn't it?
[CLICK]
Fine, Smith, fine. What are you trying to sell me?
[CLICK]
I'm spectacular today, Smith, and I'm not interested in comparing rates thank you.
[CLICK]
That's a personal question which I don't want to answer, Smith.
[CLICK]

Smith-bhai instantly wigs to the fact that this call is going nowhere, and hangs up.
Smart fellow, that Smith.
Quite unlike Dalisay or Jennibeth calling from a suburb of Manila or Cebu City, who cannot seem to get it through her thick head that I am not going to tell her how much I'm paying for insurance, what my age is, or whether I've got Medicare or any health issues.

Maribel or Lusilyn are kind of stupid. Pushy, and stubborn, but dim as a fifteen Watt bulb (isang labinlimang Watt na bombilya). Dumb as a fencepost. Walang utak, siya. Ulol.

All spam calls today have been Indian.
The Filippinas have given up.



I'm starting to quite enjoy this. At some point I'll ask Smith questions about biriani, mirch ka salan, and his favourite spots for mithai and chai after work.



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MINOR DIFFERENCES

A fellow pipesmoker posted a video to a pipe forum of which both he and I are members. The video featured a well-known Dutch pipesmoker -- no, not myself, and not the "Dutch Pipe Smoker"; there's more than just two of us, you know, it's a big world -- lecturing about Peterson's Perfect Plug.

Which I tried once.

Didn't like it.


Anyway, Jan Kusters, the pipesmoker in question, seems to enjoy it, and I ascribe that to his peculiar Swedish Chef tendencies, which to a very limited extent I share.


PETERSON'S PERFECT PLUG

[Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv_3jdEt9mw.]


Other points we have in common, besides smoking pipes, are that he also likes tea, and we both speak God's own language, which gave birth to the Bible, the plays of Brederode and Vondel, and the vibrant prose of Johan Fabricius.

Not quite sure how the Swedish Chef fits into all this.

Anyhow, I'm heading out to have tea now.
Might have an answer later.



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THREE AND A HALF STARS!

Pursuant a recent internet thing about the sweet spot for Chinese restaurant ratings being three and a half stars, which made some good points about restaurant reviews, SF Gate wrote and article containing a list of SF 3.5 star Chinese restaurants.

San Francisco's most 'authentic' Chinese restaurants
[According to viral TikTok]


It's prolix and verbose.


Here's their list:

SF’s 3.5-star Chinese restaurants
-Soo Fong Restaurant - Bayview-Hunters Point
-Mandarin House SF - Bernal Heights
-Makli Restaurant - Castro
-Red Jade - Castro
-China Live - Chinatown/NorthBeach
-Great Eastern Restaurant - Chinatown/North Beach
-House of Nanking - Chinatown/North Beach
-House of Xian Dumpling - Chinatown/North Beach
-Hunan House - Chinatown/North Beach
-Mister Jiu’s - Chinatown/North Beach
-Lai Hong Lounge - Chinatown/North Beach
-Little Szechuan - Chinatown/North Beach
-R&G Lounge - Chinatown/North Beach
-Yuet Lee - Chinatown/North Beach
-Z&Y Restaurant - Chinatown/North Beach
-7 Mission Restaurant - Financial District/SoMa
-Fang - Financial District/SoMa
-Henry’s Hunan - Financial District/SoMa
-New Ming’s - Financial District/SoMa
-Yank Sing - Financial District/SoMa
-Jo Jo’s Cafe - Ingleside
-Big Lantern - Mission
-J&E Restaurant - Mission
-Mission Chinese Food - Mission
-Wild Pepper - Mission
-Golden Horse Restaurant - Nob Hill
-Tai Chi - Nob Hill
-Eric’s Restaurant - Noe Valley
-San Wang Restaurant - Pacific Heights
-Eliza’s - Pacific Heights
-Kingdom of Dumpling - Parkside
-Ming’s Diner - Parkside
-Old Mandarin Islamic - Parkside
-Old Pier Hot Pot - Parkside
-Riverside Seafood Restaurant - Parkside
-S&E Cafe - Parkside
-Shandong Deluxe - Parkside
-Sunset’s Best Seafood Restaurant - Parkside
-Win’s Restaurant - Parkside
-Ling Ling Cuisine Restaurant - Portola/Excelsior
-Beijing Restaurant - Portola/Excelsior
-Emperor Palace Restaurant - Inner Richmond
-Hong Kong Lounge - Inner Richmond
-Taiwan Restaurant - Inner Richmond
-Chili House - Inner Richmond
-China First Restaurant - Inner Richmond
-The Claypot House - Inner Richmond
-Five Happiness - Inner Richmond
-Green Island Restaurant - Inner Richmond
-Hakka Restaurant - Outer Richmond
-Empero Taste - Outer Richmond
-Top SF BBQ - Outer Richmond
-Kirin Chinese Restaurant - Outer Richmond
-Shanghai House - Outer Richmond
-Superior Palace - Outer Richmond
-Tsing Tao Chinese - Outer Richmond
-Shanghai Dumpling King - Sunnyside
-Dumpling Park - Inner Sunset
-May Lee Chinese Restaurant - Inner Sunset
-Noriega Cafe - Outer Sunset
-Ming Tai Wun-Tun Noodle - Outer Sunset
-Hong’s Kitchen - Outer Sunset
-Tak Kee Lee - Outer Sunset
-Golden Kim Tar - Tenderloin
-King Kee - Union Square
-Buffalo Kitchen - Visitacion Valley
-Lazy Susan - West Portal


These are all clickable on the SF Gate page. Not here. Because I am lazy and none of these places are in my rotation. Which includes restaurants I shall not mention because I do not want to encourage my fellow Caucasians.
My criteria for restaurants are idiosyncratic. Do they have dumplings? Do they have Hong Kong milk tea? Do they have Sriracha? Do they have something impossibly high cholesterol? Do they have congee? Is there at least one thing on the menu with salt fish? Is there a bitter melon dish on the menu? Are there dishes written in Chinese on the wall that they were unable to translate into English for whatever reason?

If yes to at least half of those, it's worth a try.
If most of them, definitely a shot.


And if all those criteria are met, there is a very good chance that they will understand me when I speak Chinese. Not that that determines whether the food is good or not.



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ZERO UNPRINTABLES

A map of Europe was given with the translations of how various languages say "zero f***'s given". Which in Dutch (my other native language) is: "It shall be me a sausage" (het zal me een worst wezen). I'm not at all sure how we came up with that. We like sausage. Pursuant which I will mention that a recipe I gave here years ago for a type of old-fashioned sausage did not go over well because of the prime ingredient, most of my readers being English speakers, Anglo, and queasy about many things.

You've seen Brueghel's paintings, yes? For a Dutch speaker, those are the equivalents of little butterflies and pretty flowers.
Trust me on this. Chocolate box art.

Probably an excellent advertising illustration for sausage.

Some of our most splendid and beloved paintings show sea battles with the Spanish, or French, or English. Gore in the waters, burning wreckages, drowning foreigners, and naval desolation. Heart stirring, juices flowing, colouring faces and brightening eyes. Dutch art is not for the faint-hearted. Except for Vincent Van Gogh. And he was a bit off in the head.

It's what you do when your landscape is flat. And mostly water in any case.

And your water is filled with howling bodies.



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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

FLYING WITH THE BUZZARDS

Faithful readers will without doubt recognize my keen affinity with turkey vultures (buzzards), seeing as I've mentioned the little dudes numerous times on this blog. Actually, one particular one. A few times. Particularly his hunger, and desire to eat the imaginary little girl hamster (Clarissa) who visits during the day, because she looks like a small Italian meatball.

She's very sweet, and his drooling approach always results in him being swatted.
The other roomies have a fond regard for our guest. Him, not so much.

Never-the-less, our little avian friend has certain charms. As do his wild kinfolk circling in the aircurrents over the freeways in Marin, eyes sharp for roadkill down below, or perhaps little children flung from fast-moving vehicles because they were hanging out the window with their pink, pink, pink tongues lolling.

Kindly note to out of towners: stay away. Life here is more dangerous and surreal than even Fox News warned you. There are daemons in the hills, and cannibals roam freely.


It took me several years to recognize that those birds above me were turkey vultures. From a distance their features are not so evident, one has to go by the silhouette and wing shapes.
The city is filled with tourists. Europeans, and people in town for Dreamforce, an annual self-congratulatory business convention. Different silhouettes, just as recognizable, and qualitatively much the same as haphazard road kill or juicy meatballs.
Even from a great height.


Can't say I care much for conventioneers.


Exception: The geologists, who every year came to town waving their little rock hammers desperate for human contact after months in the wastelands tapping and weighing.
While avoiding scorpions. And gila monsters.



Lunch and tea were at places which, mercifully, our visitors have not discovered, and would be loathe to visit. Unless they had spent some time in Hong Kong, perhaps, and had gotten fired from several jobs there for not maintaining the pretenses of class and racial separation deemed necessary in that place, totally ignoring the office staff keeping the business running profitably, the medical staff treating our ailments, and the mercantile staff providing the substances so necessary for sustaining us in the mad hurly burly of modern life.

That disparity has unfortunately has clear echoes in modern America. Especially here in San Francisco. Where restaurant and clerical workers, engineers, and hospital staff, particularly surgeons and specialists, are overwhelmingly "ethnic". And in the case of the latter, Asian.

The crew that keeps you from crashing are Chinese American.



Enjoyed two pipefulls while lurking around Chinatown. Delightful. Quite near three people discussing business, who were not triggered in the least by the smell of tobacco.
They mentioned Hong Kong several times. Not that I was listening in.
But of course I was.



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AND A LIVE GOAT

It would be no exaggeration to say that many (most) San Franciscans are heartily sick and tired of Salesforce. And Dreamforce which is their daemonic cult-like love extravangaza currently ongoing. And Plugforce, their cure for insanity, constipation, self gratification, and local real estate politics. A building which is visible from Marin.

The streets are filled with devotees from all across the country, their eyes glazed over, their breath smelling of expensive cocktails the night before, their horrid offspring or elderly relatives stumbling abreast and blocking off sidewalks near Macy's.
Dreamforce is Tuesday through Thursday.

Today marks the celebration of the Autumnal equinox. On stage at Moscone Center will be Marc Benioff sacrificing a live goat and Lenny Kravitz.
Matthew McConaughey!
The dead will rise, the blind will see, and there will be a laying-on of hands.
There will be ecstatic singing and wild dancing.
Get set for the giddy!

Naturally I expect momentous things. I have been told that "business is the greatest platform for change". Which is true; certainly the entire Third World was completely transformed by capitalism. Why, just look at the impact of the spice trade, conquest, piracy, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, plantation economies, the Great Post Road across Java, the Opium Wars, America's conquest of the Philippines, and the embargo against Cuba. Change!

Change is good.


Florida and Texas are living testimonies.


Personally, I'm avoiding the crowds downtown, as there is only limited spark in my cattle prod, and the battery is failing. Plus my bullwhip is in the shop. I hate orgies.


Lunch and teatime will be quiet affairs at places all the outsiders will not discover.
With a bit of grocery shopping and good pipe tobacco in between.

And perhaps I can find some fresh goat for a curry.
Garlic, peppercorns, clove, and cardamom.
Something redolent of the tropics.
Elsewhere.



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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

GOOD THINGS TO STICK IN YOUR MOUTH

A commenter underneath an essay a few years ago remarked angrily that there was nothing here anymore that catered to his particular political and spiritual interests, all I posted about was good things to stick in my mouth (food, beverages, and pipe tobaccos). Quite true. Largely that was due to the nasty things people in his group said about me. As well as the fact that many people with whom I once shared the same ideas seemed to have lost their minds and were no longer as open as they once had been.
There had been an attempt to dox me, whereupon I scrubbed that FB page of everything, just like I did elsewhere when someone there said something impossibly vile.
I have become a sensitive man. As well as sensible.
And not nearly as social as before.

By the way: If you remove the FB post, all the comments -- and there were very many, some of which were vicious -- disappear. Including the dox attempt. It's something to keep in mind.


AND NOW FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

A meeting with the nutritionist at the hospital three years ago concluded with an agreement that dietary change would start with baby steps: fewer cookies. I had mentioned to her that often there were cookies in the teevee room where my and my apartment mate's computers were. This was after I had detailed all the wonderful things to eat within two or three blocks of her office, right before her lunch time. She may have been weak and green afterwards. Roast duck, roast pork, baked porkchops on a bed of spaghetti covered in melted cheese, steamed pork patty with salt fish, mui choi kau yiuk, black bean spare ribs, preserved egg in a flaky pastry crust, steamed barbecue pork buns, lo po bing, egg tarts, cake ....

[Roast duck: 火鴨 ('fo ngaap'). Roast pork: 燒肉 ('siu yiuk'). Baked porkchops spaghetti: 焗豬扒意粉 ('guk chü baa yi fan'). Steamed pork patty with salt fish: (鹹魚蒸肉餅 'haam yü jing yiuk beng'). Mui choi kau yiuk: 梅菜扣肉. Black bean spare ribs: 豉汁蒸排骨 ('si jap jing paai gwat'). Preserved egg in a flaky crust: 鹹蛋酥 ('haam daan sou'). Steamed barbecue pork buns: 蒸叉燒飽 ('jing chaa siu baau'). Lo po beng: 老婆餅. Egg tarts: 蛋撻 ('daan taat'). Cake: 蛋糕 ('daan gou').]

My test results came back recently. My blood pressure is back to normal, cholesterol level is very good. So naturally I am thinking of something nice to eat which would be celebratory.
As well as spectacularly ill-advised.
The Hokkien Oyster Omelette (蚵仔煎). Which, sadly, cannot be had in Chinatown, because it's not part of the Cantonese culinary world. They don't do that. But they should.
It's chockfull of yummy cholesterol.

It's something I know how to make, and I'm a pretty good cook. But I don't want to go to the trouble, I'd rather someone else did. An oyster omelette with rice, hot sauce or sambal, and strong milk tea would be lovely for lunch, or any of the meals throughout the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight eaties).

The social environments in which it can mostly be found outside of Fujian and Taiwan are Manila, Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Semarang, Singapore, and Penang. These are all places where I am presently not, and the climate in those cities no longer suits me. I find it impossible to move when the temperature is in the nineties.

I think my doctor is pleased that I won't go there.
As well as the nutritionist I saw once.

South East Asia is stuffed with bad things to eat.
Tempting, yummilicious bad things.
Mmmmmmmmm.



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