Monday, July 31, 2023

I LIKE THAT!

A late lunch (or early dinner) in Chinatown, followed by a very satisfying smoke around the corner from the restaurant. One table had caught my immediate attention -- obviously tourists from somewhere in the States, judging by the girth of the ladies -- and a subsequent table also drew my attentive eye and ear. Clearly European. Their clothing and body language said as much. Then I heard them discussing vegetarian options with the waitress. Followed by a question about shrimp chips. Which is a very Dutch thing. 'Ollanders for some reason love 'krupuk' ("kroepoek"; shrimp chips). Subsequent ear-stretching confirmed that indeed they were from the Netherlands.

The restaurant specializes in dumplings. Which, in the Chinese context, usually implies meat (pork) and / or shrimp. If they're in broth, such as wonton soup noodles (雲吞湯麵), the broth is based on meat and dried flounder (左口魚), so nix on vegetarian chances there also.

[雲吞湯麵 ('wan tan tong min'): shrimp and pork won tons in broth with thin wheat flour noodles. It's very Hong Kong. 左口魚 ('jo hau yü'; dried flounder") is often used after toasting or frying a bit to add a savoury taste to vegetables and stocks. Also a very HK thing, but more universal.]


I wished them "smakelijk eten" on the way out. Then a conversation with a todler closer to the front door. "阿叔,你哋講乜話?" "荷蘭語,佢哋係我嘅國家人。" "噉,點解唔講唐話?"
"因為佢哋唔係唐人街嘅。


The idea that there are people like myself who are unable to speak our language may have baffled him. Until now I've been the only Dutchman he's ever met.


What baffles me is that they had not asked for sambal.
Which is exceedingly odd.


Thoroughly enjoyed my smoke afterwards.
It was exceptional.



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AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE!

Yesterday on the way home I spotted a pick-up truck flying a huge American flag with two large signs that said: "Chinese fentanyl killing Americans" and "Boycot Chinese Products". This was in downtown Sausalito. Which is so close to San Francisco that you could spit. Let me just say that I hate Sausalito because it's an over-rated pretentious artistic tourist trap filled with plastic, but no matter.

Those signs indicate that things are starting to boil over. Which will impact on the lives of Americans of Chinese descent. It is highly unlikely that NOT purchasing Chinese goods could in any way have a positive effect, but it is very likely that small-town America will become, as it always has been, hate-filled, xenophobic, and racist.


Per the US Government:

Quote: "While Mexico and China are the primary source countries for fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked directly into the United States, India is emerging as a source for finished fentanyl powder and fentanyl precursor chemicalsent."
End quote.

SOURCE: DEA Intelligence report of January 2020: Fentanyl Flow to the United States

Further: "As Beijing and the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region (SAR) place restrictions on more precursor chemicals, Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) are diversifying their sources of supply. This is evidenced by fentanyl shipments from India allegedly destined for Mexico. On May 4, 2018, the Hong Kong SAR updated their drug law to control the fentanyl precursors 4-anilino-N-phenethyl-4-piperidine (ANPP) and N-phenethyl-4-piperidone (NPP) as well as the synthetic opioid U-47700. This matches China’s scheduling of ANPP and NPP on July 1, 2017. The move by the Hong Kong SAR is considerable, since synthetic opioids produced and shipped from China may transit the Hong Kong SAR en route to the United States."

----------

"Effective May 1, 2019, China officially controlled all forms of fentanyl as a class of drugs. This fulfilled the commitment that President Xi made during the G-20 Summit. The implementation of the new measure includes investigations of known fentanyl manufacturing areas, stricter control of internet sites advertising fentanyl, stricter enforcement of shipping regulations, and the creation of special teams to investigate leads on fentanyl trafficking. "


And also: "Mexican TCOs are producing increased quantities of fentanyl and illicit fentanyl-containing tablets, with some TCOs using increasingly sophisticated clandestine laboratories and processing methods (i.e., laboratory grade glassware, unregulated chemicals, and industrial size tablet presses). DEA, working in conjunction with Mexican officials, has seized and dismantled numerous fentanyl pill pressing operations and fentanyl synthesis laboratories in 2018 and 2019, highlighting the role TCOs play in supplying the US fentanyl market. Fentanyl is smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border in low concentration, high-volume loads, kilogram seizures often contain less than a 10 percent concentration of fentanyl."
End quotes.


Clearly, the solution to all of this is to concentrate the manufacture of ALL illicit substances in the trailer parks of the American Heartland, and the small towns filled with sub-literates and other unemployables that form the bedrock of this country and Florida. It is quite intolerable that America's gargantuan appetite for a cheap high should be satisfied by foreign criminal cartels run by people who don't speak English or worship Jesus!

An additional benefit is that the addicts who currently litter many of our urban areas would probably move back home to be closer to the source.
Just like the methaphetamine freaks.
And bourbon drinkers.


We already control the dealers and grass-roots distribution, and have the greatest number of end users; it makes sense to enrich our own criminal cartels and American big business too.

Foster entrepeneurship nationwide.

NOTE: American businesses have a long and hallowed tradition of selling drugs. One only need think of John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Company smuggling tonnes of opium into Canton, OR the great families and institutions of New England, who funded universities, libraries, hospitals, art collections and museums, plus steamships, railways, and mines, by investing in opium. Our industrial revolution could not have happened without that.



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A VERY ATTRACTIVE BEAST

There are several things that cause an urge to micturate. These are, in no particular order: bad timing, inconvenience, cold air, diuresis, the wish to know whether we are there yet, the sound of water, and a full bladder. When two or more of these occur, you have to go. Which is something tourists in San Francisco experience every day, and their consequent suffering is immense. Especially as many businesses have signs up which say that the bathroom is for customers only. Many tourists have a profoundly Scottish mentality, and will. Not. Spend. A. Penny. More. Than. They. Feel. Is. Necessary. We have chilly temperatures here (especially when compared to Texas), and there's coffee (nice, warming cups of hot coffee) everywhere. Which acts diuretically.

I woke up from a dream in which I was being chased by several friendly leopard sharks, with an incredible need to pee. I could hear my apartment mate happily splashing in the bath, and there had been a cup of coffee before falling asleep.


The leopard shark is a smallish predator which is not a danger to humans, though it is inadvisable to trail your pet crab, chihuahua, or bleeding hand in the water.
TRIAKIS CALIFORNICA

Apparently they are excellent eating, which explains why you'll see them ocassionally for sale on Stockton Street. But they are too much for one diner. Up to about four or five feet long, though usually caught specimens are only two or three feet. Still, that's a lot of fish for a single person.

I am not at all certain how my apartment mate would react upon finding a leopard shark in the kitchen sink waiting to be cut up. She's an adventurous eater, but yes um no. Possibly Dutch recipes for zeepaling (spiny dogfish) would be appropriate. In mustard sauce, or with white wine and fresh herbs. Maybe garlic and lemon, or a mushroom cream sauce.

And, like nearly everything that moves, great with sambal.



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Sunday, July 30, 2023

BIG WHITE BALLS

When I put things in the sink the other day, I also put the spoons used to serve out the lamb pilaf and the eggplant-whatever-it-was there. They had been resting on a little plate placed atop a small tub. There was goop on the plate. So that too needed washing. Underneath the little plate, in the small tub, was a beautiful white poofy ball. Which, several months ago, may have been a fresh fruit.

Sure, I suppose I could have cut it open to see what it had been originally. Sorry, I'm not that curious. So I simply left it there, because it was beatiful in its soft virginal covering of perfect fluffy mold.

Twenty four hours later it was gone. I grieve for that perfect mold ball.
She had disposed of it.

We have not spoken about this.

She will probably not gladly admit guilt.

She's the one who eats fruit. Not me.

I just admire its transformation.

An object of ghostly beauty.



AFTERWORD: I will fess up to the dried citruses here and there, though. They too are very nice. I keep buying lemons intending to use them, but over the years a few of them have dried up before I got to that. There's always a faint flower-like dry perfume remaining once the various citrus oils have left. Oranges don't perform so well, small tangerines are okay, some types of pomelo are spectacular.



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Saturday, July 29, 2023

HELLOOOO, KAREN!

There are two phrases from which nothing good can come, which, if you hear them, end all hope of a civilized conversation.

"I'm not a racist ..... "

That always means that they are. Some mega racist bullpucky is going to come out of that mouth.

"You people ..... "

it's pretty much guaranteed that something that should not be said will be said. Except, of course, when I use it at the incontinent old Republicans in the back room. Those people.

I am somewhat keenly attuned to the level of poison in our society, given that within the first year of being back in the United States a class mate informed me that they shot people like me where he was from (the Central Valley of California), and another time somebody screamed at me that I should go back where I came from (erm, I don't think he meant Hawthorne General Hospital in So. Cal). I still occasionally get to hear that last
After decades back in the States.

Listen, boyos, hell will freeze over before I go back to Hawthorne General Hospital (in Southern California). I got spanked there! Bad memories.
What the hell IS it with YOU people?!?

You can probably also understand why visiting the Central Valley (everywhere between the Oakland Hills and Staten Island is not an idea I often entertain.


Every day that I'm at work, I have to explain that I was two when we went overseas, I came back to the US when I was eighteen, and yes I also speak one of "those" languages. Thank you, I feel truly special now. This may be a contributing factor in my unsociability.
But actually, I love people. They're so round over here, and many of them smell like cheese! Having spent a few years in Holland, of course I love cheese!
I am not an anti-American bigot, honest
It's just that you people .....




It is, apparently, because I'm "foreign" that I did not give someone a cigarette while outside smoking my pipe. I am not American enough to understand how this logic works.

Ja, ik weet ook niet waar die kloojak het over had.



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Friday, July 28, 2023

FEROCIOUS TROLLS

The problem with this neighborhood early in the morning is that there are too many people wearing unsuitable clothes out walking their yorkies, pugs, and weird little French poodle outer space aliens at this hour.

When I am outside wandering around puffing my pipe trying to wake up with that first smoke of the day after coffee, the very last thing I want to see is a yippy little orc monster laboriously pooing while some young person in sports togs or ratty pajamas waits patiently by to pick up the stinky lumps. Canine peristalis in all its ghastly glory!

I wish they would do so at home.

Run him about the hallway till he goes.

There used to be more trees and wildlife here.
I flee the pervasiveness of toothy glow-eyed goblins.

In this day and age one must smoke outside.

Chase those trolls back indoors.

Think about the children.



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Thursday, July 27, 2023

JUSTICE WITH A BOTTLE OF HOT SAUCE

To my great surprise, I got picked to sit on a jury. No, not in judgment of some girlie poncing across the stage in a bikini with an accordion -- she's guilty, y'all -- but as one of a dozen or so peers of another person of a gender who is alleged to have done something for which there are witnesses and expert testimony plus two reserve jurors.

Some of us are not his or her peers. I sit in awe ofthese fellow jurors. They are extremely impressive yet humble people. I am not impressive, and fairly arrogant.

Case won't last too long, should be over before we're halfway through August.
Here is a picture of a fish (鱈魚 'suet yü'; cod fish) which has nothing at all to with the case, because I am not allowed to discuss this beyond mentioning that it involves a person, of a gender, who is alleged to have done something for which there are witnesses and expert testimony plus two reserve jurors.

However, I did find out one thing. Northerners do use too much oil, far more than Cantonese. Lunch was not bad, and the portions there are generous, plus a bowl of soup comes with all rice plate specials, which are reasonably priced. But 涼瓜雞 ('leung gwaa kai'; bittermelon chicken) really does not require a lot of grease in the pan when cooking it. Maybe that's for the Caucasians, but other than myself there are very few Cauckies who would even order it. And most of their customers are white, black, Filipino, or Mexican.

I enjoyed my meal, but I didn't have quite enough time for my pipe afterwards. I'll have to keep that on mind next week when the trail starts.
I'll probably revisit that restaurant next week. They're very hard working, and they're decent people. And their Mandarin is clean. Good diction. Will find out more about them, probably. Won't pack as much tobacco into my pipe for afterwards. Time constraints.


I tipped generously. They're hard working, and that is a horrible neighborhood.
And they have a satisfactory replacement for Sriracha.
盛記是拉差 。



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THE SCREECHING

Two homeless people sitting on the front steps when I stepped out for a first smoke. Both as wide awake as necessary for a surrealist conversation. Almost dada level.
Which, I would imagine, is impossible in a small town.

Naturally caffeinated.

Before heading up the hill I was questioned about that screamy sound the busses do when they pull away from the curb. It's always going to be an interesting day when you hear that. It's a presagement of something. And today, the fog has cleared early.

It's going to be warmish. Dress accordingly.

I'm glad that's been decided.
At such an early hour you will understand that I am not fully social, what with still trying to wake up and shift into my human form. And given that the day holds unknown terrors in a basement -- people all around me on their laptops and cellular devices in the jury waiting room -- fortification and steeling myself to not snap people's heads off is essential.

If am selected, it means a guilty verdict.

Let's get it over with.



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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

NOM NOM NOM OR NOT

Tomorrow I have to report for possible jury selection at civil court. Trust me, I'm the worst possible candidate. I smell bad, eat too much, and dress funny. Plus I grumble.
Suffice to say that I am not happy about this.

Civil court is in the skeevy part of town, where there are drug addicts, purse snatchers, tourists, bureaucrats, and politicians.

A nice Dutch American like myself has no business associating with that rabble.

And there's nothing to eat there. Good thing I got my regular eating places out of the way today and yesterday, because tomorrow I might get food poisoning or starve.

Please imagine a ravenous bird of prey looking for the least diseased wild animal in a filthy drug infested needle strewn urban wasteland.

One's civic duty is a hardship.
If it were all up to me, white collar criminals would all be hung.
Drawn, quartered, ripped to shreds, then boiled alive.
Especially if they're bourgeois and Christian.
Because of willful inconvenience.


Boiling would sterilize them at least.
Clean the devil out of them.
Render them edible.



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BUT IS IT COMFORTABLE?

Like many red-blooded young men, I have an avid curiosity about garments which I have no intention of wearing, ever. Not quite an obsessed fascination, but an intellectual and almost analytical approach. Kilts. Incontinence pants. Crash helmets. Hernia padding. Pink socks. Bras. Oh, and also Hello Kitty bandaids for cuts, scrapes, bumps, bruises, or contusions.

And, naturally, the considerable overlap between all those things.

Which I think is what gave us the 'utili-kilt'.

So it's with considerable interest that I note the difference between a brassiere advertisment in the side-bar of one news article and another. The first featured a typical American woman, almost an archtype -- evidence of bacon cheese burgers and yummy pastries -- followed by a petite non-American. The first ad caters to the grim realist in her thirties or forties, the second is aimed at a slightly younger more self-deceiving demographic.
Both articles were about Trump, by the way.

Subsequent articles in my news-reading were about lasagna, climate change and the temperatures of the oceans, the Navarro crime family, transgendered people (space programme), and Santa Barbara (that being the city in California, not the statue).

Yep. Bras.
Questions come to mind. Is it supportive? Does it fit properly? Is the material out of which it is made absorbent yet easily washed? Will it hold its shape after rinsing? Roasted three cheese garlic lasagna? What's happening in the Caribbean gulf stream? How constrictive is a space suit? Average temperature down there, and will that hosebag do any time at all?

These are important issues. A young man should have an active mind.

Young men should also take plenty of cold showers.



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THE HARVEST OF SOULS

Let's start off by saying that the singing was bloody awful. It took courage to stay there and put up with such bad singers pouring out their hearts and souls -- hearts and souls of such dankness and depravity that the fiery pits would have been considerably more pleasant and endurable -- but it was educational; karaoke will be the end of civilization as we know it.

On the other hand, while smoking my pipe much earlier, I had seen two adorable little girls, speaking English, accompanied by their mommie, speaking Mandarin. One of the things that always strikes me about little Chinese girls is how small they are comparatively.

These two were very pretty, cheerful, and well-mannered.
They were helping their mommie schlep stuff.

There was also a very disturbed person who passed me lunging and loudly gibbering. The little girls were not bothered by him, they're probably used to the occasional animated gesticulant white person off his rocker.

Much like I am.


The way I figure it, all the loose marbles in this country roll down till they hit the catch drain. Then they stay and get even loopier in the fog and wind, so glad that they finally got out of what is that place again. Except for the ones that run for governor of Arizona, of course.
That pipe smoked late at night in Chinatown is frequently the best smoke of the day. The bitter afternoon winds have died down, it's quiet and peaceful, and the tourist are not milling about blocking the sidewalk and being gooberish. Once or twice someone recognizes me and says 'hi'. but most of the time it's just me by myself, with the relatively rare screaming madman or non-Chinese hipsters passing by on their way to get a Chinese Mai Tai or sing karaoke and frighten little old ladies.


One imagines little old ladies sipping their Mai Tais contemplatively, not showing the disgust and existential despair brought on by white hipsters without any musical talent whatsoever. One feels for them profoundly.



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Tuesday, July 25, 2023

BUT ARE THEY ACTUAL TREES?

Having previously mentioned the Yellow Crane Tower, for reference purposes the poem by Cui Hao (崔顥) is posted below.

昔人已乘黃鶴去, 此地空餘黃鶴樓。
黃鶴一去不復返, 白雲千載空悠悠。
晴川歷歷漢陽樹, 芳草萋萋鸚鵡洲。
日暮鄉關何處是, 煙波江上使人愁。


Cantonese pronunciation:
Sik yan yi sing wong hok heui, chi dei hung chyu wong hok lau,
Wong hok yat heui pat fau faan, paak wan chin joi hung yau yau;
Ching chuen lik lik hon yeung syu, fong chou chai chai ying mou jau,
Yat mou heung gwaan ho chyu si, yin po gong seung si yan chou.
HANYANG TREE

昔人 = Sik yan; people of the past.
此地 = Chi dei; this place.
一去不復返 = Yat heui pat fau faan; once gone not returning, gone forever.
載 = Joi; year, anuum.
悠悠 = Yau yau; remote, distant, long or far, lasting for ages.
歷歷 = Lik lik; past occurence, historically, time upon time.
漢陽樹 = Hon yeung syu; hanyang trees, type of willow gloriously yellow in Autumn, a district of Wuhan.
萋萋 = 'Chai chai'; luxurious, abundant, rich in foliage.
鸚鵡洲 = Ying mou jau; Parrot Island. 鸚鵡 = Ying mou; parrot.
日暮 = Yat mou; at end of day, dusk.
煙波 - Yin po; smoke haze and waves; mist covered water.

Cui hao (崔顥 'ceui hou'): Tang dynasty poet, died 754.


An image search for 'Hanyang Tree' in Chinese turns up naught but lovely pictures of golden trees in Wuhan, in English less so but otherwise the same. There is no Wikipedia entry.
So it may be just the notable vegetation in that area (漢陽).
As well as an image in the mind.



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THEY LIKE BOXES

Perhaps I should not have had that last cup of tea before going to bed. When I woke up in the middle of the night the cat was on top of me, purring, then leapt to the floor and went off in pursuit of something I could not see. Now, even with the light from the lamp on the table in the hall corner, it's reasonably dark in my room, so there are shadows and indistinct shapes at the periphery of my vision, and it isn't unusual that I cannot quite make out what is there. Cats have more acute vision in the dark. It's the structure of their eyes. They have six to eight times as many cells for viewing in half light as humans do, which allows them to see much more when we would be quite lost. She saw something there.

The problem is that there is no cat here.
I do not have a cat.

A friend of mine in Israel has cats coming out of his ears, so to speak. Whenever a stray cat ends up in his neighborhood, he puts out food and water, which is very kind of him. They eventually become habituated to his presence, and often end up being an ocassionally pettable or lappable courtyard or indoor-outdoor beast. Some of them move right in and make themselves at home in the unoccupied nooks of the house, like behind a cabinet.
Or under the coffee table. For instance.
He's remarkably cat-friendly.
Too much caffeine gives me strange dreams. I did not wake up, and there is no cat.

I suspect that at some point there may have been a cat here, before I moved in. This building dates from before the war, who knows who or what occupied my apartment before we started living in this place. I know that five people were living here at one point; I cannot imagine how they kept from killing each other because it would be tight for more than two. Perhaps one of them was comatose all the time.


That could explain this non-existent cat. Cats like sleeping on warm bodies that don't move. Maybe it woke up moments before I did (or didn't), and saw a mouse.
Which also is not here.


I think I'll put out a box for it tonight.



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THE FASTIDIOUSNESS

While half-dozing, the turkey vulture (Sydney Fylbert) asked "hey, if I buy you a cake of soap for your birthday, will you promise to use it?" For some bizarre reason the bird seems to think I smell bad. This may have just been rhetorical, but on the other hand (wing) he does have the sensibilities of a small Cantonese woman approaching menopause. Which is most peculiar. There is only one such here. Surely he cannot have been talking with her?

While I was thinking about this, he informed me that soap was meant to be used and not hoarded like stinky pipe tobacco. Of which there is a large supply here, in sealed tins with dates written on the bottom. Many pipesmokers hoard a bit these days, because we know that whatever we like will soon be either outlawed or hard to get, or so thoroughly regulated that it will take a doctors praescription to lay our hands on it. Especially in the EU, where we're not, Canada (ditto), and California. Where we are.
And heavily taxed as well. Very expensive.
It's only going to get worse.

For the record, I do indeed use soap. It is difficult to shave without it. As both he and the small Cantonese woman who lives in the other room would know if they ever shaved.

If they did, they'd probably use my soap.
It would be unseemly to speculate on what they would shave, or when. Some women do. Birds mostly don't. That may be why the fine details escape him. Every morning, after my second cup of coffee and first pipe of the day I head into the bathroom to brush my teeth, shave, and shower. I relish all those activities, because I am a clean man, and they complete the waking up for the day. The order in which I dry my feet and between my toes is not fixed, neither is which side of the torso I firtst hit with the towel. The progression is set, however. Face, ears, and collar area first, front of torso, back of torso, legs. Feet lastly.

Some parts need a modicum of lotion because skin of my age tends to dry out and become itchy otherwise. And scratching is frowned upon in public.

If we had a cat, she'd be trying to trip me at this point, by rubbing up against my shins.

Fortunately turkey vultures are not so inclined. They're more concerned with stealing my wallet while I'm the bathroom, or poncing about with one of my fine briar pipes ("hey hey hey look at me, I'm a famous author and the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, Fellow of Pembroke College, at the University of Oxford!"). Quite often I have tell him firmly that the famous author and the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, Fellow of Pembroke College, at the University of Oxford would not be caught dead in my digs, OR steal my wallet. Largely because he's been dead for over half a century. And my weird language interests are Malayo-Polynesian and ancient Chinese, so the Dutch and Anglo Saxon reference material here is somewhat on the slim side.
He died before I started smoking.
I never even knew him.


Fine details are important.


Second cup soon.
Then shower.



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Monday, July 24, 2023

INCENTIVE TO BECOME LITERATE

They're pounding in the piles for a new Buddhist prayer hall a few blocks over. Which I can hear from my sheltered eyrie while smoking. It's right next to a daycare centre for Cantonese kids. Who must be terrified by the sound. "It's the boojums come to get us!" I imagine there must be whimpering and screaming. What the little tykes need, obviously, is a nice calming cigarette. Fortunately, I have exactly that. Made for delicate little hands, these fags are less than half the diametre of a normal smoke. Longish, and extremely thin. Perfect for them.

But aimed at an entirely different demographic. Probably the snarky and superior college graduate with a degree in Chinese literature, somewhere in Central China. Yellow Crane Pavilion ciggies. Very elegant and exquisite. I purchased a few packs of them last week.
No tax stamp, and rare in these parts. I don't plan to share them with the kiddies.
They're all mine. Gwan, piss off, ya little freeloaders!

黃鶴樓香煙
[Huang He Lou Xiang Yin]
At least until the day they can write down from memory all the words of the Tang Dynasty poem* by Li Pai (李白 'lei baak') bidding farewell to his good friend Meng Haoran (孟浩然 'maang hou-yin') which sad parting these smokes so delightfully recall.

故人西辭黃鶴樓
煙花三月下揚州
孤帆遠影碧空盡
唯見長江天際流


[Cantonese pronunciation: 'gu yan sai chi wong hok lau, yin faa saam yuet haa yeung jau, gu faan yuen ying bik hong jeun, wai kin cheung kong tin jai lau'.]

It is a firmly held principle of mine that one should not indulge in tobacco if one cannot read at a college level. For some of us this may be by our early teens, for too many others it never happens. A lot of people who vote and serve on juries in this great country are squidly out of luck on that score and we're forced to deal with their idiocy dammit.

We should send those off to fight in the robot wars.
Without a damned thing to smoke.



(*) 黃鶴樓送孟浩然之廣陵



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CLEAVERIZE THAT!

This morning my apartment mate tried to utter the sentence "I'm just a delicate little Asian flower" in a sweet innocent voice, and couldn't pull it off. Because, as you should understand, even though she's fairly petite, with fine bone structure, she's also Cantonese, with belts in martial arts, has weapons in her room, and scored tops in marksmanship years ago.

That delicate little Asian flower crap works best if you're a Filipina or Taiwanese and you're speaking to a sheltered waspy wasp-wasp. And even then.

Girl, I've seen you with the cleaver.


There are indeed 'delicate little Asian flowers' out there, but it's mostly in their minds. They're the ones who in an office would ask the IT guy why they can't see the rest of the spreadsheet ("do you see these arrows here? Just scroll over and click"), or on the bus will wilt winsomely because they had to walk TWO whole blocks (spongy and soft), or failed entirely at any type of physical labour, even moving office furniture to make their cubicle more comfortable and efficient because women don't do that ......

[Seductively: "please move my credenza". Sounds almost ready to weep. It's SO heavy!]


Perfect material for marrying a very white lawyer at least a generation older than themselves, and I know of three such who have actually succeeded at roping in law doggies and bringing them to heel. Gatverdamme.
THERE'S A CLEAVER IN THAT LOUIS VUITTON KNOCK-OFF

The image of refinement and feminine delicacy is sometimes entirely ruined by their zesty ability with hatchets and chainsaws. Especially if they're Cantonese. The well brough-up Cantonese female does not swear (much), but she's quite familiar with words and phrases that blister paint; she's heard them all her life simply going about her daily business.

Which, I shall claim, is also how I know exactly what that foul language means that I just heard someone say. Because as a well-brought up Dutch American with sensitivity and refinement I would NEVER actually say anything so crude. Yeah um.

Never. I am refined. Excrutiatingly so.



This essay brought to you courtesy of the 廣東話一門五傑 ('kwong tung waa yat mun ng git'; "the outstanding five"), that being the collection of words which are always bleeped in media because they might offend the pretty little ears of delicate flowers. Which you probably knew by the end of your first year in grammar school. Proof of the benefit that education brings.

Thanks to fine upstanding Christians, the innocent little kiddiewinkies in Florida will never learn them. They must be protected at all costs. Lest they feel triggered and might weep.
The poor wee blossoms.

Oh wait. There might not actually be any Cantonese in Florida.
There's probably nothing civilized there.
It's a horrid place.

Or so I've heard.



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Sunday, July 23, 2023

DRAW AN EGG

And add a beak and feathers. Sorry, I have no idea what his claws look like. Eggs at first do not have claws. Early on. Later definitely they do. And I'm basically trying to push recollection of the acrimony and vituperation by the angry right wing fossils in the backroom grumbling over their cheroots and digestive discomfort into the back of my head. They were screaming at each other about some damned movie. Not Oppenheimer. Not pink garbage. That other one with the phenomenal anti-Semite which was funded by dark Christian money.

It looks like this summer I shan't go to the movie theatre.
There is precrious little to attract my curiosity.
And pink is not my favourite colour.

Let's do a movie about the life of Harry Potter's owl after he finally killed and ate the kid.
Listening to those emotionally damaged and thoroughly loathsome Marinite Qanonites vituperating has diminished my enthusiasm about going to the movies considerably.

I just want to sit on my pet rock ripping small cretins apart.

Work has been psychically draining.

I'm off tomorrow.



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GLOBULOUS

For some reason I wanted to draw something round, red, and insectoid. My recent bug drawing have been sort of angular. And previously I've drawn threatening things, like mosquitoes and hornets. So something soothing, familiar, and, errm, comforting.
Not 'triggering' unless you are an aphid. In which case you are now hysterically screaming in a very high pitch, almost inaudible, and demanding to speak to your student counselor about the subject material.

This is NOT what you signed up for!

There ought to be a law!



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Saturday, July 22, 2023

PLAYING IN TRAFFIC

Not saying who, but a failed rightwing hosebag politician is afraid that Hillary Clinton gonna 'get' her. And she's had her brakes checked. Just in case. Which is probably a good move, because she's managed to make so many enemies in the last two years that damned well half the people in her state would want to 'get' her. And even if that were not so, Hillary Rodham Clinton would not be the number one suspect. Not even logically anywhere in the top hundred. Thousand.

1,287,891 / 1,270,774

But, of course, if you are a failed rightwing hosebag politician, gibbering paranoia and other forms of serious psychosis are, naturally, part and parcell of your deal.

So I'd advise her to look behind, frequently.
And watch for oncoming traffic.
Or, preferably, not.
Same also goes for the 'My Pillow' guy. More so, in fact. Because a good pillow makes a good silencer. No one will hear a blessed thing.

And he's a mighty soft target.

"pillowy."


Anyway, the Irishman in the backroom lost his shiznit recently and started screaming threats at a surgeon because the surgeon took issue with a particularly egregious Qanonite stream of bullpucky. The Irishman's sense of self is that fragile that any intelligented point of view sends him into fits. A few of the others are his enablers.
They have no pride.



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Friday, July 21, 2023

IT'S SOCIETY'S FAULT

Discussion yesterday about San Francisco's little drug problem. Which serves the very useful purpose of funding the salaries of non-profits with a solution, and the power lunches of the high priced non-profit professionals and public appointees tasked with saying important things in public. All of which, if you think about it deeply, becomes a feel-good farting extravaganza. Which is the core issue at play for most functionaries involved.
Good political PR, it's how America works.

Problem? What problem?
There are salaries!
It's win, win.

Now, as someone who doesn't know any drug addicts wrecking their lives -- heck, I prefer to not even associate with folks who self medicate -- there is little that I can say about the issue. No one, to the best of my knowledge, has overdosed in several blocks near my apartment, and while I knew some people who used methamphetamine several years ago, most of them have completely disappeared without a trace. The other two went back to Iowa, where presumably their families gently brought them back to the bosom of the church.
Supportive nurture from their relatives, plus thoughts and prayers.

Realistically, the problem ain't gonna get solved.
There are too many careers at risk.
Like everyone who moans about the pandemic of life-wrecking drug use, we had no easy solutions or intelligent insights. None. Nothing to offer. All we had to say, while noshing on sugared biscuits and hot caffeinated beverages, was that this society encourages addictive behaviours. After that we smoked a while in silence, before lamenting that not a single one of our favourite drinking holes permitted smoking on the premises anymore. I left when he brought up Dungeons And Dragons. Which I've never gotten hooked on.

And I needed more coffee anyway.

Damned addicts.



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Thursday, July 20, 2023

THIS IS ONLY A TEST!

Negating the benefit of my recent shower entirely, I smoked a cigar in the teevee room. So at present my skin, once clean and baby-like, has a faint perfume of musty old man. This pretty much makes definite that I will not find a nice woman to date today. I smell like her grandpa. Whom they buried five years ago. Before or after encasketing is not clear.

I'm counting on ventilation for several hours to disguise the smell from my apartment mate. As well as incense, and a pot of strong muck with ginger on the stove.

One of sixteen new cigars.
First taste upon lighting was earthy, mild, slightly fruity. Nice wrapper leaf. Corojo?

Burns evenly, regular ash. It's very well made. Not particularly thrilling, but an easy smoke. It's a respectable cigar. The tip tastes salty to the tongue. My interest fades about sixty percent of the way down.


Back to the bathroom to splash and wipe my face and beard.


It's probably time for lunch.



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IT REMINDS ME OF MY DAD

After paying I went outside and lit up the briar I had filled before my food came. A young fellow passing by complimented me on the pipe. For which I thanked him. He was about the age I was when I came back to the States, or slightly older. Precisely when a young man should be smoking jaunty numbers that look spiffing.

When one has eaten well, is filled with caffeine and enjoying the day, there's naught finer.

Even if a man is now considerably older.

As they say, 'mature'.


What I now realize is that someone remarking on the pipe is a perfect opportunity for one to be a crashing bore. Or, conversely, fascinate no end. It's an opening. And I should discuss the pipe with the young man (or young woman). Satisfy their undoubted curiosity.
"Thank you, sir (or miss). This pipe is rather like the very first pipe which my father purchased when he was at Beverly Hills Highschool. I borrowed it for a few months when I was that age. It reminds me of sunlit afternoons after classes, the back courtyard with books and a pot of tea, and scenes described in the novels of Vladimir Nabokov and Simenon. The company that made it, Kriswill, closed their doors years ago, but you should be able to find a Comoy just like it. The shapes to search for are Liverpool 233 or 436, Lovat 210 or 212."

"I'm smoking a medium Virginia blend. Do you like the smell? It's evocative. May I suggest Peterson Flake in the blue and white labelled tin, which is actually Dunhill Flake re-branded after the copyright holders decided to disassociate the name Dunhill from tobacco. Or Orlik Golden Sliced. Both are excellent flakes, and pretty much the standards for their type. There are also fine flakes by GLPease and Cornell & Diehl. Just as great with tea and a book."

Anyone who compliments a person on his pipe is manifestly a kindred spirit.
Which is exceptionally rare these days.

Three people did so yesterday in Chinatown.
Two men and one woman.
Remarkable.



TOBACCO INDEX


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Wednesday, July 19, 2023

IMAGINE FOG

So you dreamed about big glowing eyes, until an eructive sound startled you awake. Ribbit! What does that mean? To you? Are you a disciple of the frog deity? Do you have any flies to offer? Will the world end?

If you live in Italy, where every municipality is under a heat alert, are you drenched in sweat at night? Or are you safely embedded in a stream flowing down from the mountains, much cooler than the cities of the plains?

The first time I went to South East Asia I decided that as I obviously didn't need it while I was sleeping, I would turn off the airconditioning at night. Yeah, that was a stupid move. I woke up every two hours sopping wet with perspiration and cold. Five minutes later I'd be bone dry and overheated again. By the third night I kept the aircon on.

Almost none of the beautiful old dwellings in Europe have air-conditioning. That's strictly for effete Americans, like showers. We're depraved and decadent; bearable temperatures and armpits that smell baby fresh prove that.
At present it's about fifty six Fahrenheit (13° or 14° Celsius) outside, very pleasant. The fog should start rolling in soon. From the corner window of the teevee room I can see orange hued fruits on the trees behind the houses at the far end of the block. Too small to be citrus. They're almost certainly loquats (盧橘、金丸、枇杷果 'lou gwat', 'kam wan', 'pei paa gwo') which were originally native to the cooler hill regions of LingNaam (嶺南).


舊金山之霧

When I left for lunch I made sure to wear a sweater. I had tested the outside conditions earlier while smoking my pipe, and knew that without dressing appropriately I would have regrets. Precisely like the tourists I saw wearing shorts and tee-shirts. The elderly Cantonese gentleman I recognized on the bus was similarly dressed, the Caucasian lady librarian who lives nearby also. We're not crazy. We know that once the afternoon wind starts up shorts and tee-shirts lead to profound, soul-shredding regret, and existential despair.

None of the other customers at the extremely busy chachanteng were underdressed either.
I do know if any of them own shorts or tie-dye tee-shirts; the idea of some of the elderly people there poncing about with their gams naked is quite unseemly.
And I would far rather not imagine it.


Garlic and parsley butter fillet of sole baked in aluminum foil (蒜蓉焗龍脷 'suen yong guk lung lei') with rice and broccoli, a hot cup of Hong Kong Milk Tea (港式奶茶 'gong sik naai cha'), and Thai-style hot sauce (泰式辣椒醬 'taai sik laat jiu jeung').
Heaven is filled with fully dressed people.



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HIT WITH A PICKLE

While smoking my pipe last night I overheard a bit of the conversation of four very nice young men about a sport. "That's probably where people hit each other's balls with a pickle till one of them faints." Pickle ball. I'm imagining this catching on. It sounds like a great spectator sport, especially if silly costumes are obligatory.

Competitive golf stopped being interesting when the players no longer wore theatrical freak get-ups. Strolling after a dimpled little ball is much more interesting when the players have brightly hued plus-fours, loud argyle socks, really ugly sweaters, and oversized working mans caps or tam o'shanters in vile colours. Golf has become too serious.

Earlier, I had happily recognized a gentleman I had not seen in several weeks in my own neighborhood. He is not anywhere close to compos mentis, and I had wondered if something unfortunate had happened to him. Very likely he's played too much pickleball in his life.
He's mind probably never was what it used to be.

I had worried about him.
He's ethnically Chinese, but he speaks -- in so far as he actually says anything at all -- native English. I always wish him a good evening when we pass each other. Sometimes he's more alert and upbeat, but his sentences trail off after the third word. I've heard him muttering to himself in Cantonese, but it makes as little sense as when he expresses himself whenever we've met on the street. He's taken care of, which is clear from his clothing.
But he's not capable of taking care of himself.
Also, gets lost easily.

He must live in my neighborhood, but I've seen him over in Chinatown many times. That might be where he grew up. He often circles the same blocks all day.
When he's out and about.


When I returned from the weekly visit to low places I encountered him again walking down the street, looking baffled and pensive, out of it. Third time in one day. Greeted him each time. As one would do. Recognition means salutation. Glad to see he's still okay.


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