Saturday, September 30, 2023

INTO THE ARMS OF VULTURES

There are times when the entitled Karens of Marin County get on my nerves, big time, and what I wish to do upon coming home is have warm caffeinated liquids and a snack, followed by a smoke. Alone. Without their nasty voices echoing in my head. I should point out that the Karens of Marin are mostly male, mostly middle-aged, and mostly claim to be self-made men (meaning that white privilege get them in the door, up the stairs, and past the toilet for the menials and peons).

Some of them would never leave Mill Valley. To them, it's the centre of the universe and manifestly where the unicorns will land. Everywhere else is not worthy, pale shadows, and the outer darkness. Possibly with the exception of Tahoe or southern France.

It's an attitude. They really think they are all that.

Southern Marin: ground zero of the cocaine revolution.


"Do you have a bathroom?"

"Of course we do! Consider our demographic: all of them are entitled old farts with bladders and prostates, who won't walk up the road to pee with the hoi-poloi, but would whine and bellyache and then take a leak in the parking lot to protest if we did not have a loo!"

"Gee thanks, you're a lifesaver!"


I'm a ruddy saint is what I am. Plus I provide free psychological counseling. "It's all the fault of your mother, and Fluffy is waiting for you on the other side of the rainbow, so hurry, for crapsakes hurry!" What I encourage them to hurry about is left purposely vague (because after all I'm a ruddy saint).
Instead of going into babysitting old codgers I should have been born thirty years earlier and made my mark in advertising for the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, which back in the day overlapped considerably. Just watch Valley Of The Dolls if you doubt it.


Reason I didn't was the cocktails. Those three martini lunches. That much gin on a daily basis would have killed me in childhood.



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Friday, September 29, 2023

MORE SMUGGLED LUXURY

Porkchops, milk tea, and the morning news from elsewhere on the telly in a restaurant with no tourists. It would be nice if they had more business at that hour, but it was still relatively early in the evening, and the tourist season may be heading towards an end.

And, truth be told, I prefer to have Hong Kongers and elderly local-borns around me. They're more likely to be happy with the food, and quieter too. The old gentleman at the next table over was relaxing with soup noodles and a newspaper, the two ladies next to him were enjoying a nice meal together. The waitresses seemed happy, not stressed out.

They had a reasonable substitute for Huy Fong Sriracha, so I was happy.
Plus the food is good, and I've known the proprietess for many years.
Slightly over an hour after I arrived, I paid my bill and left.
Early evening streets, rather empty.
At the place where they may be found I purchased two packs of Yellow Crane Pavilion cigarettes, with which I can ponce and posture elegantly when not smoking my pipe.
For that those cigarettes are perfect, as they are slim, with gold tips.
Lovely smokes. La la la look at me I'm so refined!
黃鶴樓香煙仔


Note to self: be more tolerant of the moronic space aliens on the bus.
Despite the frequent lack of sentient mental vibrations.
Some of them really can't help it.
Mars needs brains.



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Thursday, September 28, 2023

THE AGE OF ROMANCE

Recently I've been passing my memory cells over stuff I've smoked, particularly the cigarette brands with their colourful packages that once were common. English brands, Germans, and even obscure Dutch brands. Most of which no longer exist, because huffing coffin nails no longer has the romance and suggestion of refinement and adventure it once had.

Imagine unwrapping a fresh pack of Horses™ Virginia Filter Kings over coffee, and offering them to your crew. You had just finished an airdrop delivering teddy bears, tinned milk, and phosphor bombs to the rebels in Pongtaun, across the mountains, ensuring their continued resistance to government troops for another week. Life was good. Incendiary but good.
It was incendiary AND good.

And at least the engineer, Feodor Feodorovich, appreciated them.
Normally he chained Mahorka Shorties™.
Throat-rippers.


Jeanne with Senior Privileges calling about updated Medicare plans just got quite an earful.
I doubt that she was expecting a surreal lecture on the differences between flue-cured blond leaf versus sheer gavniok shreds from a factory in Komsomolsky, Akmesdjit. The first adds a saveur to that cup of Java (actually Celebes). The latter makes everything that enters your chewing hole for the next several hours taste like fertiliser. Camel fertiliser.

(Advertisement)
MIGHTY FINE SMOKES

You too could be smoking what manly men wearing Van Heusen wrinkle-free shirts used to smoke! Whether they were investigating squidgy bits or lab samples, OR flying contraband for an American government organization not listed in the telephone directory. Adventure!

[Let me point out that my recent chest scan showed no nodules or lesions. So I'm fine for another year. A great disappointment to the healthnuts reading this, I'm sure, as they scratch their nicotine patches pensively.]


Smoke premium quality leaf, Jeanne, not that orkskiy garbage that Ivan huffs.
It will leave your frilled gills feeling ever so much better.
Or whatever your breathing organs.
Years ago you got off the train at Schinkengehirnebourg Station. Stretched, then headed for the coffee shop at the end of the platform. Something hot, and a fresh pack of cigarettes, perhaps a foreign brand, probably made by Douglas Egbertson in Joure. Ah, heaven! The smoke and steam rising in tandem. Dustmotes dance in the shaft of sunlight slanting in from the louvers, businessmen in suits murmer at tables near the counter. A disabled veteran sits quietly near the toilet door with his crutches and pickelhaube showing his former life, as do the medals glinting dully, unpolished in so long, on his chest.

Yeah, I kind of miss the old days.
As well as the advertising.
Unabashed, class appeal.


You knew what kind of person you were when you smoked fags from the Heroic Leningrad Tobacco Factory. You were sure that it was healthier than that garbage the capitalists sold.



One thing that hasn't changed in modern times is the local news media concentrating almost entirely on news of interest to the white middle classes in the Bay Area. Almost like a small town newspaper still running columns by tired hacks like Herb Caen and Stanton Delaplane.
San Francisco is fifty percent "ethnic" now, gentlemen. Many of us don't care about French Restaurants, California Cuisine, or fabulous skiing at Tahoe. The latest musicals as well as fabulous vacations have very little impact on our lives, we're just trying to make ends meet.

We penny-pinch to afford our little luxuries.



Manuka honey, apple cider vinegar, and gluten-free zero carbon footprint delicacies describe a much more Berkeley-Marin-Palo Alto lifestyle. This ain't there.




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TRULY THE BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS

As you would expect, I have a soft spot for wildlife. It's on the left hand side of my bed, among the reference books and dictionaries, and speckled with the tins of pipe tobacco so essential for bachelor comfort. There are a huge number of fluffy entities there, including a hippo with a cane, a furry amphibian, a raccoon (Gunther) and his girlfriend (a charming and very feminine little lady skunk), a snarky and rambunctious spider monkey, and others.

And a turkey vulture. Who keenly wishes that I should harvest the fatty inner thighs of useless people to feed him, as he is dying of hunger.
"Why", he wishes to know, "has this not yet been done?"
Do I not understand the urgency of the matter?

I remonstrate that it's whatever o'clock in the blasted morning, the crack of dawn, bleak and early. Far too soon to start slaughtering random fellow citizens. But I might get right on it as soon as I've had my coffee.

Silently I wonder how the heck he has an appetite at an hour of the day when rational people (me, as an example) cannot even consider solid food, even if it is fresh, warm, spongy and juicy, and dripping goodness.


Breakfast is supposed to be just caffeine and a bit of nicotine, plus bad news from elsewhere read about on the internet. As well as Facebook, for the memes.

Enjoyed in an atmosphere of worshipful quiet and contemplation.

Though some of us must argue with birds.



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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

WHEN THE PLAGUE IS ALSO AN OPTION

It isn't surprising that the mahjong parlours irritate him, as they're noisy and deposit leaky garbage bags at either end of the alley that tempt and nourish the rats before the sanitation department picks up the trash. The problem being that elderly Chinese ne'erdowells like to eat while frittering their retirement away at the tables. Which means to-go-food, greasy paperplates, and unfinished snacks.

I don't think he himself has ever played mahjong. Local born Chinese of his generation aren't that type. Work hard, keep your head down, avoid wastefulness, alcohol, drugs, venereal disease, and white people. Make sure you live within your means.


There are, of course, certain names which are rarely ever mentioned. People who didn't do that. Men who drank, smoked, played the piano in low dives, or hobnobbed with politicians and gangsters. Women who danced in the evening. The boys who came back from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, and ended up pissed that their white fellow veterans had so many opportunities, despite, quite likely, being dumb as bricks.

[BTW: My father was often not considered a veteran despite having flown a bomber over Germany during the war. Because he had served as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. That was rather "foreign", you know.]



When American politicans talk about the good old days, a "kinder gentler era", what they are referring to is the period when Chinese Americans weren't allowed to cross Broadway or buy real estate in certain San Francisco neighborhoods, the unions didn't allow non-whites to join, and everybody was Christian even the Jews, or else. That started changing in the early sixties. Activists battered down the doors of privilege, but they were preceeded in their barrier-busting by generations of fighters breaking ground in many fields.

The term "kinder gentler era" is loaded and dangerous.
Cynical, elitist, and divisive.
Concerning the rats, I tend to sympathise with him. They're always an issue, everpresent. Unlike the local politicians, who only show their faces when there is something to be had in the neighborhood. So until people can force the city to arrange more adequate garbage management for the most densely populated part of the city, or there's an outbreak of bubonic plague which frightens the tourists, I would suggest felines.

Cats are affordable, pettable, and energetic.
Quite unlike the city bureaucrats.



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NOT QUITE SENTIENT, A MONKEY

There were several things in my head when I woke up this morning. Among others: a cross section of a leg looks probably like a slice of dry-cured salami with a large white spot near the centre; a kidney schematic; and Chinese people, especially if they think in Chinese, tend to ignore one and take one for granted, but often don't consider one a person.
If one happens to be non-Chinese.


The kidney diagram relates to something during my grammar school years. My parents gave me a fascinating book about human anatomy when I was eight or nine, I read through it with avid interest, internalized the illustrations, and at one point explained to my classmates how the urinary system functioned, with helpful handdrawn diagrams. The next day I got called in to the headmasters office, where once it was clear that no filthy pictures had been involved, the headmaster explained that parents had been disturbed, and their precious little shites were not ready for such things yet. Do me a favour, and don't do that again.

Y'all are lucky that I didn't talk about the squidgy bits.


In Dutch: Nieren, urineleiders, blaas, plasbuis.
Please remember that these are frightening terms, not suitable for little Catholic kiddiewinkies in the south and their ignorant parents, bless their hearts.


The Chinese thing comes in because of a recent restaurant experience. The waitress delayed considerably taking my order, one part of my meal came fifteen minutes after the first part, and I had to wait more than twenty minutes for my bill to arrive after I asked for it. Chinese customers who came after me got attended to right away, the old geezer at a nearby table ordered the same food as I did, considerably later, but it took mere moments to get it, and several customers who arrived well after me had eaten and paid before I did.
I had ordered in Chinese. And they know me there.

At first it didn't bother me very much.
Maybe the kitchen had a bad day?
And I wasn't in a hurry.

But it's been eating at me. I think I'll avoid that restaurant for a while.
See, I'm probably not a full person, and can't be interacted with.
So it's not worth pretending that I'm human.



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TRIPLE TEA BAG WHAMMY

There is something in town that includes men with tight pants, like the stretch-o-fabric still current for fashionable male clothing in awful primitive parts of the world like Kansas and fictional European countries, as well as a number of large fleshy women. Whatever it is, it necessitates country Western music. As well as a detour on the bus back to my street because of an event on Nob Hill. I don't know. Dress like the seventies?
Refugees from disco? A romantic night in Poughkeepsie?

While waiting for my friend to get off work I was treated to unharmonious caterwauling and the sounds of souls in torment from a block away. Other than that, and except for passing flocks of visitors, it was peaceful.

You know, groups of Caucasians can be quite noisy. Just like their ambulation takes up all the space on the sidewalk, their happy chatter and ruckus expands to fill all the silence.

Coffee before I left the house. Caffeinated beverage at the burger joint. Two teabags at the bar. And another teabag at the karaoke place. Wired to the tits about halfway through.

And probably not as good-natured as I usually am.
AN EVEN TEMPERED MAN

I tend to disapprove of kwailo in C'town at night. They are disruptive, and shatter the peace. My friend and I are quiet men, and not given to loud boister.


Both 'Sweet Caroline' and 'I believe I can fly' qualify as crimes against humanity.
The singing improved once a Chinese person got the microphone.
Albeit not by much.


Afterwards we walked to the bus stop enjoying the night.
As well as the blessed absence of fraternity boys.

We are both even tempered men.
Equitable.



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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

THEATRICAL HOWLS OF ANGUISH

The doctor's appointment went very well. All the tests came back good. So the issues seem to have been resolved, and I'm sort of completely recovered (except, of course, that I have a coronary stent and am taking bloodpressure meds). It looks like my nearest and dearest will have to wait quite a while before I stop tormenting them and they can divvy up my enormous pipe tobacco stash.

The fact that they aren't pipe smokers is only a minor problem.

I'm sure I can lead at least one of them astray.

Provided that I live long enough.

As I intend to do.


After leaving a hospital I went to a chachanteng for congee and a fried dough stick (粥同一個油條). Followed, as you would expect, by a satisfying pipeful of good tobacco.
There actually is no sealscript or jinwen variant of 粥 (congee), but it's what I had (just like after two previous medical appointments), so I created one. I'm fairly certain that it existed three thousand years ago, but it was probably called something else.
The character 鬻 (nourishment, children's food; childish; straightened circumstances) seems to be ancestral, but that's a bit of a stretch, although it does show 粥 as the phonetic element. 鬲 is a tripodal pot with squat hollow legs for cooking rice. 弓 on either side shows steam and cooking vapours. My guess would be that the character originally illustrated lamb pilaf being prepared, as the ancient version clearly shows a sheep 羊 inside the constructed word.
The theatrical howls of anguish, unvoiced but never-the-less very keen, came in upon my discovery that after my pipe smoke, bank visit, and shopping, the bakery where I wished to enjoy a cup of HK milk tea and a biscuit was closed. Which is most unusual. What with being tired after walking all over hell and gone shlepping stuff and being too warmly dressed for this weather, though not when I left the house when it was cooler, my legs hurt like billy-o dagnabit, and I was grumpy and kvetchy.

Please imagine purely mental foul language in every tongue I know.
One of which is Netherlandish. Which sounds like hairballs.
Coughed up by an extremely disagreeable feline.
"Caterballing", so to speak.


Headed home with grumbles.
No tea. Despondence.



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THEY ARE OUT THERE!

Did my laundry yesterday at the laundromat up the road. Which is nice and clean and has a mostly sane well-bred clientele. Except for a loony. This is San Francisco, and loonies thrive like mildew here. Even when he was talking directly at me I paid him no mind. His though processes were aloud, unfiltered. Especially when he thought he was the only person who could hear him. Fortunately his thoughts shifted tracks after the third or fourth comma, and listeners were more disturbed by him than he was.

Clean clothes, and glad I left.

Went off to Chinatown for dumplings afterwards. Two vegans sat at the table next to me, and found it nearly impossible to convince their waitress that shrimp were meat. Egg was meat. The Cantonese aren't crazy, and know that a certain amount of not strictly vegetable protein contributes to happiness and good health. If the white people are so concerned, why aren't they releasing eggs in the parks as a good deed? Be free, little zygotic entity, be free!

I counted the nutballs when I was smoking a pipe later. Seven of them in half a block from the restaurant.
All of them non-Chinese.

Many insane Chinese are so well behaved that they could run for Congress.
And if you ask me, I really think that they should.
Beats the nuts we have there now.
I'd vote for them.

THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO

I am very fond of dumplings. And very glad that the crazies on the street are not.



自由吧,小合子,自由吧!




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Monday, September 25, 2023

THE PERVERSION TAKE-AWAY

Research six years ago established that more Mississippi natives are drunk, horny, and yearn for Kim Kardasian, just before midnight. Presumably they've solved all those problems after that time window, possibly by trips to the internet or the men's bathroom at the bar where they're drinking. Or both, if they've figured out how to use their cellphones.

This is based on rereading one of my blogposts from from a while back where the search statistics for a popular website were mentioned.

Makes me glad I do not live in Mississippi. I would be scared to pee.

Which is very important in that state, for "reasons."
Diabetes. Sugar on everything.


Or cheese. They love cheese.


In news of the weird, China has more people with diabetes than any other country, which is not at all surprising given the huge variety of interesting sweet snacks nicely packaged in my favourite C'town grocery stores. As well as the delicious offerings at bakeries there, best washed down with Hong Kong milk tea (which is hot and sweet, just like your favourite starlets or Korean boy bands).

Also not suprising: Hong Kongers LOVE baked dishes of the pork chop on starch covered with melted cheese variety. The glue holding it all together is probably a sweetened version of tomato sauce, of which very many Americans are fond in canned vaguely Italian foods and pre-packaged supermarket pizza.
THERE ARE PORKCHOPS ON SPAGHETTI UNDERNEATH THE CHEESE

It's a miracle that San Francisco Chinatown isn't filled with rotund people. Other than the tourists, that is. From elsewhere in the country (you can tell who they are because they waddle, and are rather white).

I'm quite baffled that my favourite chachantengs aren't packed with folks from Mississippi and its neighboring states gorping on HK foods. It should be right up their alley, one would think. Maybe it's because Ding Dongs aren't available there. Which are the most popular junkfood where they're from. There is a fortune to be made, if only these eateries would supply those (possibly covered with melted cheese and a sprinkle of sugar for a nice browning effect) and put up a sign that said "we have ice tea!"



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IT'S NOT ABOUT TASTE, NOT EVEN CLOSE

When you are trying to escape Changi airport it's easy to get distracted by satai kambing. Then one of the members of the Sales Department sees you, and you never get out. You wonder whether you should have stayed and had another cocktail at the bar where that Australian surfer dude works. And you wake up sweaty and shivering. Credit the entire dream sequence to your high-blood pressure meds.

Which I was warned about, and which have been a semi-regular occurence.

[Sorry, the company insisted on your trip too fast to process the necessary travel paperwork. You still don't have all the proper documents and will have to stay at the airport for a few days. Hide out at near the food-court, there are showers somewhere near there. Yes, it is humid, isn't it? Can you live on pastries in the meantime? Good! There's sushi too!]


There was also a dream involving Nickolaus Copernicus and Johannes Keppler. Live and in person. At a very quiet collegiate café in Berkeley. From which we learn to not give barely post-mediaeval scientists or mathematicians stimulating beverages which they haven't had before. It makes them talk. And talk. And talk. Oh lord we're never going to get out of here! And we still have to go to the library! Coffee is a diuretic, it will make them pee, and the bathrooms on the third floor have been out of order since the exams, they'll panic!

On the whole, I enjoyed my years in Berkeley. It was an unusual environment.
One thing I do not miss is people talking about revolution, existentialism, and spirituality. Nowadays of course it's all about wheat products being evil and the root cause of all your problems unless the gluten is removed, and how it is possible with a hell of a lot of effort to make a non-allergenic totally inoffensive vegan pizza, possibly using quinoa.

It is, very fortunately, possible to live a completely comfortable life entirely without ever visiting Berkeley again. Which may surprise some people. You know, youngster, the bookstores there used to smell of pipe smoke, French fags, and Moe's cigars.


Sometime soon I'll have to search for the books on Naboloi Iggorot and other languages. They are somewhere in my room. Likely behind pipe-related stuff. Let us not dwell overmuch on mummification, a practise of theirs which takes several months. As a hobby it does not lead to fruitful conversation, and there are no fan conventions down at Moscone.

But it would be good if there were.



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Sunday, September 24, 2023

CAFFEINE ZOMBIE LOVEFEST

A friend posted about love being more important than religion, and what with not being fully awake, I misread the post entirely. It's a good thing Christians cannot read my thoughts. Or see them. Pitchforks. Suffice to say that the Folsom Street Fair is a visual feast for the entire family, and if you see your family priest there, check to see if he's dressed appropriately.
Or rather, what he's dressed appropriately for.

There's a medical office on my way to work which several times I thought offered 'Virgin Care'. This is San Francisco, and anything is possible. It's actually 'Urgent Care'.
My eyes tricked me.

[Virgin care is still a mighty interesting idea. Are they fragile? Do they require more or less watering and compost?]

As people get older, caffeine becomes more important. Don't rush out of the house in the morning before you're brain is up to speed. You can't possibly read any of the street signs accurately, and your physical coordination will be a bit wanky as well.
Questions and answers may be a bit off.

See virgins above.
Go ahead, have some more caffeine. It's good for the soul at this early hour. Especially at this early hour. Wakes up the brain. And absolutely full of antioxidants!

It will help you deal with the ugly dumb stuff out there.

On the street. With their poodles.



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Saturday, September 23, 2023

SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES

Not even when I'm giddy on caffeine will I describe myself as a romantic type. Roses leave me cold (stereotype flower), chocolates are good without any emothional connotations, and soft violin music merely irritates me. This, probably, explains why since my break-up over a decade ago I haven't connected with any members of the opposite gender. They're nice, and can be enjoyable to interact with, but I have neither been smitten, nor smote.

My best relationships, other than with the handsized she-sheep who assists Ms. Bruin in the administration of this househould (with a firm hoof when necessary, as the other creatures can be rambunctious), tend to be with intelligent sensible women who have interesting pools of knowledge and specialization. People who read. Who have pursued skills. A talmudisticly inclined academic, an illustrator who also makes mediaeval costumes, and a woman with an obsession for costume jewelry, about which she knows more than mortals are supposed to know. The deep knowledge. From the beginning of the universe when the brooch was first forged. You know, that brooch. The costume jewelry piece of immortality.

That last mentioned happens to be my apartment mate.
She also knows a lot about Joan Crawford.
The point is that beautiful sunsets like we've been having because there is smoke and particulate matter in the air from the Oregon wildires recently leave me cold. "Oh how beautiful", people will say, swooning, whereupon I head back inside for more of my hot beverage, or to pick up a pipe and stuff it for a quiet smoke away from couples getting all weepy and soft from the beauty of it all. So romantic! Those colours, that glow!

Then they'll have an intimate dinner in a charming little bistro with a vase of flowers on the table and a white tablecloth, after which he gets down on bended knee and offers her a ring. She blushes shyly, and bursts into tears. Melting! Melting! Other diners witnessing this get all glowy, it's so sweet, warm feelings! Meanwhile, some of us are sick to our stomachs. It's nauseating. You spoiled our meal, and now we can't get the waiters attention.
Sick romantic yuppie scum!


A recent dinner: 5 mg of Amlodipine Besylate. Coffee. 鹹蝦醬三絲炒米 (matchstick cut fatty meats, vegs, stinky shrimp sauce, and chilipaste, stirfried with rice thread noodle).
The apartment now has a faint whiff of South East Asian slum.
No rings. No roses. No sunset.


I would have shared it, but there was no romantically inclined college graduate present, keen to discuss a recent paper, or exciting discoveries in the field of igneous rocks.

We could have agreed that everything now smells of trees, plastic, wild grasses, and old tires in Southern Oregon. An old-timey fragrance. Twixt resin and petrochemicals.



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Friday, September 22, 2023

HEY, ARE YOU AWAKE?

There are times when I wished I had spent more time trying to learn Shanghainese. Years ago I knew several people from Shanghai, and if I had studied their language assiduously it would have stood me in good stead. Understanding what the two elderly ladies said would have been far more "data rich" than just imagining a series of badly translated subtitles.

It started when one of them dozed off at her table after kvetching. When the other one at a nearby table noticed, she reached over with her walking stick and gave her a poke.

上海毛蟹

Imaginary dialogue: "Hey, are you asleep? Don't fall asleep!" "I wasn't sleeping, I was thinking about food" (Chinese people often think about food, the same way rednecks think about beer, pickup trucks, and the city of Denver). "Oh yeah, what kind of food?" "Hairy crab and pan-fried little buns." "Hmmph, it looked like you were out of it, a senile moment hah?" "What are you waffling about? It was hairy crabs, I tell you!" "You wouldn't know a hairy crab if it came up and bit you in the hoo-hah!"

Point is, I have no clue what either of them said. Indistinct hissing and grumbling. Sounding for all the world like bad-tempered soda water siphons. They could have been talking about hairy crabs. Shanghai is famous for those.
BRAISED HAIRY CRAB

They both looked old enough to have been lively young things in slutty cheongsams dancing at a night club back in the fifties, when North Point was still a Shanghai in Hong Kong. They had probably been going to the same hair salon since coming to the States, likely brought over by relatives, by the time the dance halls, theatres, and boutiques established by exiles on the island were all closing and the community had melted into the surroundings. The hair salon is probably run by an old gentleman from Pudong, and caters primarily to other double transplants. There used to be several businesses run by Shanghainese in Chinatown.

There are no hairy crabs here. Nor Shanghainese nightclubs.

There were several more pokings with the stick.

And squawking or hissing comments.

Teatime was enjoyable.

Interesting.


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Thursday, September 21, 2023

AN OILY FISH, AND CRABBY OLD WRECKAGE

There is a new sign at the front desk at my eye-doctor's office begging people to not abuse the staff there. Subtext: if you're going blind or not wearing your mask properly, it ain't our fault. Well, probably mostly the latter. Elderly Chinese people expect a certain amount of leeway because they've reached such an advanced age, and some grouchy old geezers do not understand that the mask isn't meant for mere chin support. Sir, just because you're slackjawed you don't need to keep a sling holding up your nearly non-existent chin or those folded wattles. Please keep the mask over every organ with which you breathe.
Yes, that includes your nose.

[Note: some old fossils are not as deserving of 'respect' as they think they are]


I may be imagining the dialogue here. For all I know somebody dropped their glass eye and panicked. Or couldn't see the clearly marked bathroom key and a disaster happened.
Every time I've been there the other clients were elderly. So who knows?

The good news is the eye pressure has lessened slightly (Latanoprost), and there is stability. So it's probable that when I finally kick the bucket I'll be able to look everyone full in the face at that time. Slightly more with the right eye. Not even a trace of glaucoma there.
Cataract surgery maybe in half a dozen years. Or maybe not.

Every time I see a medical person, I tend to reward myself. This morning that meant a pack of State Express ciggies from a store four blocks away, followed by breakfast at the chachanteng near the eye office.
Sliced pork liver congee, a yautiu, and milk tea. Enjoyed this while watching the local news on the telly. Too many motorbikes in the city centre of Kwangchow, a lovely alley ruined by garbage cans that smell horrific (problem "solved" by putting tall plastic barriers around the spot, with "lucky" slogans on them to distract folks and improve their mood), now we will interview the father of the child that was swept away in the flood, drowned and lost forever so sad, and the variety of mooncakes this season is staggering, as well as their prices good gracious what is this world coming to?

And coming up, we'll talk with a witness to a violent incident.
Name changed and face misted out. For reasons.

Programme sponsor: a herbal medicine company. Dan Shen (丹參 'daan sam') tea.
Dan Shen is something I used before my insurance kicked in.
It proved to be a life saver.

The teevee was meant to be background noise, but I had a good view of the screen and enjoyed the news immensely. I may have been the only person paying attention.


Pipe smoke afterwards while wandering about. One of the fish merchants on Stockton Street had 石狗公魚 ('sek gau kung yü'; sebasticas marmoratus, dusky stingfish or false kelpfish) for sale, which is a remarkably goofy looking thing. Ugly. It is delicious braise-steamed with ginger and scallion plus sherry or rice wine, or in a broth with tofu chunks. Whichever way, sliced fresh chilies may be added if you wish. And whole garlic cloves.



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QUIET LADY FLATS

Because my downstairs neighbor in the front apartment broke her hip several months ago, and is still walking problematically -- she's also older -- whenever I head across the hill to Chinatown to shop for groceries I usually bring her some vegetables. She's Hokkien Chinese from Jakarta, so I have a fairly good idea about what she used to eat. There are no vegetable shops nearby that carry that. Because Anglos don't eat squat; carrots, potatoes, lettuce. What the heck does one do with lettuce?

I mean, if you have a ranch dressing addiction, fine. Hidden Valley loves you.
You're severely twisted, and there are therapists lying in wait.
They know with what to bait the box.

Personally, I cannot understand why Anglos won't touch bitter melon, mustard cabbage, wai saan, wu tau, or many other things. Such as yard-long beans. Which are great stirfried with garlic, chilipaste, and shrimp sauce. Or in mild curries. Or with fish chunks. Or cooked with little bits of fatty pork and some fermented black bean paste. Very versatile!

I gave her some yesterday when I returned.

You could even cook them American style, like stringbeans.
You know, simmered till they're grey and limp.
KATJANG PANDJANG, BERWARNA HITAM
[Black-coloured long beans]


If you are very white, you can also cook them with tofu chunks in a bland liquid, vegan stock or whatever, and they can take a great deal of abuse, so you probably can't cock it up.


All of the residents in my building except myself are Chinese ladies. I am the only man here at present. There aren't many tenants. It is, consequently, a peaceful place. The downstairs front apartment woman and I are the only ones who speak Indonesian.

Yard long beans are quite excellent cooked with Dutch or Indonesian style sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis) and sliced chilies, or simmered in coconut milk with a dash of Maggi and a handful of fried peanuts thrown on top when done.

Also: braised with several chunks of nice streaky fatty dried fish, garlic cloves, green onion lengths, sliced green chilies, plus turmeric and a dash of rice wine.



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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

IT SMELLS LIKE GRAMPAW!

Someone on one of the forums asked about enjoyable aromatic mixtures. Naturally I didn't respond, as what with being a severe and disapproving puritan regarding souped-up pipe tobaccos, I would have nothing but bile to spew and might get banned. The road to hell is paved with aromatics. As well as the soft spongy skulls of the perverts and redneck hicks who smoke them. Every extremist movement in the world, ever, had habitual smokers of aromatic pipe tobaccos among its ranks, often in key positions.

The Huns, Christianity, the Crusades, Flagelants, Witch-burning, Southern-Baptism, Vegans.
People who drink Starbucks syrup Frappuccinos grow up to smoke aromatics.
The Trump Whitehouse stank of Vanilla-Cherry Cavendish!

Mar-a-Lago? Mango rum and caramel.
Goes well with stolen documents.

Clean-minded people only smoke Virginia and Perique compounds, or nice Balkan blends. They have nothing to cover-up with stanky fruit flavours, there are no moldering corpses in their closets, and their bed sheets are changed regularly.
I'm just saying.

Of course if you wanted to cover up the fact that you killed your in-laws and sold their body parts, certain popular aros would do very well. And judging by the fact that there are so many people who say "oh I love the smell of that pipe tobacco (indicating the fruit-loop sog-shreds being huffed by a drooling degenerate over there in the corner), it reminds me of granddad", there are a huge number of Americans descended from brutal psychopaths.

Aromatics are the largest category of pipe tobacco smoked in undemocratic hellholes like Western Africa, New Delhi, Syria, Afghanistan, Moscow, and Mississippi.

It explains why so many people adore Erinmore Flake.
I have over a year supply of it, by the way.
For the occasionall filthy pleasure.


That reminds me. I should do laundry soon.



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CAMEL STARFIELD

This evening a young fellow of the Fratboy persuasion explained to me, sincerely and fervently, that I have a beautiful voice. Then he proceeded to do karaoke, as his turn had come up. The lyrics, insofar as I made any sense of them at all, were gibberish verging on bizarre romance, but mostly quite incomprehensible. This followed a rendition of Sweet Caroline, so it was an improvement of sorts, albeit no less nasty.

Kahn Souphanousinphone has nothing on fraternity members getting drunk in a Chinatown bar where karaoke brings in customers. Many of whom are Caucasian, and very very big.

I was born to slay giants.
I am mediaeval.

Several hours earlier I had noticed an old white haired woman at the bus stop on my street singing loudly. Also gibberant lyrics, quite insane. And not a good singer. There are too many crazy bad singers in this town. A couple of hours after that a loony on Grant (都板街) and Jackson (昃臣街/積臣街) was arguing with a street fire alarm call box.
He was white, but fortunately did not sing.

Not all the white people in San Francisco are defective.
But most of the defective people here are white.
When I left my apartment earlier to bear witness to singing, and observe the rats in Spofford Alley (新呂宋巷), the turkey vulture had asked whether the person I was meeting for drinkies had fatty inner thighs. And if so, could I bring back one? He was so hungry, he hadn't eaten all day (a blatant lie).

"Are you going to bail me out if I get arrested for doing something psychopathic?"

"Of course I will! Eventually I shall need a second thigh!"

Whereas karaoke is just a crime against humanity, harvesting body parts is immoral, and more than a little ethically dubious. And shouldn't be done, especially to old friends.
This is something I instinctively know.


I shan't mention the singing glandular freak frat boys to him.
He would probably recriminate me if he knew.
Surely no one would miss them.


He'd be right, but still 'no'.


There weren't any rats in Spofford Alley. Just a very well-fed looking feline.
The creature looked suspiciously satisfied with life.



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Tuesday, September 19, 2023

GENDER ROLES

For many people who read the comics pages in the newspapers from the late eighties till the mid-nineties, Calvin is their hero, and they wish they had a friend like Hobbes, who frequently either co-conspires with Calvin, or physically attacks him when he returns from school. Because Hobbes, is, of course, a tiger. And tigers are known to eat little kiddies.

Hobbes is the most realistically portrayed character.
Particularly fond of tuna fish sandwiches.
Not too much mayo please.

In several ways I identify more with Hobbes than with Calvin. Mostly because he thinks that Susie Derkins is a "hottie". Which is absolutely the case.

She's adorable.
TOTALLY NOT A BAT-FACED, BUG-EYED, BOOGER-NOSED, BALONEY-BRAINED, BEETLE-BUTT!

After all, who wouldn't like a brilliant girl next door who excels at schoolwork and clobbers pests? And she's a deft hand at hurling objects and water balloons.
It's the paradigm of perfect womanhood!

Hobbes has never mauled Suzie.
Which is understandable.
A true gentleman.



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ESPECIALLY FOR CHRISTIAN WOMEN

A number of things displeased me recently. My mental state after putting up with screaming yutzes of the suburban senile fool variety may have been a contributing factor. Among many other reasons: moronic comments about California, The Jerusalem Post, sneering remarks about San Francisco, what the Republican Party is doing, some prominent political figure turning her name into a verb for vile behaviour at a crowded venue ("Lauren Boeberting": giving a Lauren Boebert), and Lynette claiming to be with the Medicare Department at 'Healthcare Benefits' calling me to be pushy about Medicare parts A and B.

And of course the entire state of Florida. Which is the Christian promised land.
Also, filled with Moms For Liberty.


Now, an additional factor is some bloody Persian engineering doctoral student in Arkansas where life is nasty, brutish, and filled with heart-clogging junkfood and the redneck inbreds that live upon such things trying to corner the market on Esoterica tobaccos, but that is neither here nor there.

So, for the benefit of everybody, here is a schematic of Donald Trump's brain.
Please notice that his Ivanka appears to be painfully swollen.
It's wedged among the adipose tissues.

A friend confessed recently that my rarely posted medical diagrams disquieted him, and he feels an inclination to skip those essays. This picture is not for him. But many people in the Maga part of the country would do well to dwell upon it, internalize it, and mount it in a little altar in their bedrooms for worship and offerings of incense.


To research Trump's brain, I had to read up on other political parts.
As one would.

So there may have been some overlap.



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Monday, September 18, 2023

HEAD SOUTH TILL YOU'RE SAFE

Imagine that it's the end of a long day. And that you are taking the bus from Marin back to civilization. What you really want to do is light up a pipe and stroll through the industrial area for a while, relaxing, perhaps thinking about tea or a cocktail at the end of your walk. But you realize that as a petite miss it would look odd, and unfortunately you do not have a pipe.

Plus, this being California, children and little old ladies would be triggered.
And rear up full Karen, squawking in outrage.
Especially the white ones.


If I knew her, and thought it appropriate, I would offer her a pipe. Not a cocktail, because that would be suspicious -- especially given the disparity of our ages -- but I am sure that even in Marin, probably somewhere in Sausalito, there is a place where one can get a nice pot of tea and some biscuits. Which would be just the ticket. I'll have to look that up on the internet.

She has very nice hands. From my seat I can see them holding her cellphone and scrolling through her messages. When she's not talking to the woman next to her.

Yeah, no, not going to break the ice. I qualify as an older man, and it would consequently be way too skeevy. But I can imagine her holding a pipe while reading a book.
Perhaps enjoying a queer old-fashioned tobacco.
Do people still read books these days?


Earlier today I had been remembering Thomas Y., one of the last people in Marin to smoke Erinmore Flake. He was a survivor of internment at Stanley Fort during the war. He passed a few years ago. My coworker mentions that whenever she drives past his house, she can see that his garden is reverting to jungle, it used to be so lovely, and the Jaguar in the driveway is covered with dirt, dust, and leaves. The other smoker of Erinmore I saw regularly is probably gone also. He was crusty and could barely walk the last time I saw him.

That was mostly prompted by my first pipe at work this morning.
A Peterson 69, which is the favourite shape of one of my Facebook friends, who has several in different finishes, and has boldly admitted to smoking and enjoying Erinmore. Of which, by the way, there is an open tin near the chair where I am sitting presently. One of the familiar rectangular enamel tins from two decades ago. For the last several years it has only been available in European regulation round tins, with paper labels.

The best thing about working several days is that final bus ride back to civilization, after which I'm off for a long "weekend". Real food, and no snooty suburban dingos.
Plus books, and cups of Hong Kong Milk Tea.



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