Sunday, December 31, 2023

HEADS THAT ARE SOFT AND SPONGY

That title describes either Marinites OR young turkey vultures like the one in our apartment, named Sydney Fylbert, who insists that no one has fed him today and then fondly smacks his lips in gustatory reminiscence of lunch. My partment shared her meal with him; tofu, asparagus, meaty bits, rice. But he claims he had none. Well, hardly any.
Just the merest glimpse and smell, oh it was delicious!

Not that he had any. He insists that it's the truth.
Smack, smack, smack. Mmmmmmm!

He also had some of my dinner when I came home. Noodles, egg, mustard stalks, and meaty bits. With chili paste, ginger, and diverse spices. Soup stock poured over.

Also, tofu can't be vegetable! It's so yummy!
Asparagus, too, is clearly carrion.
But he hasn't had any.
Ever.
Now, I suspect that tomorrow I will not feed him till later in the day. Because the first order of business tomorrow is finding a place for dumplings or wontons.
Dumplings are traditional new years food.
And delicious!

He'll have to be patient till evening.

I shall not be accompanied by Sydney Fylbert. Reason being that if the locals in Chinatown saw me carrying a turkey vulture around, they'd undoubtedly exclaim "oh, the stinky kwailo finally lost it, quite out of his mind!"

嘩,黐綫嘅臭鬼佬失咗腦了,佢傻傻哋!

Waa, chi sin ge chau kwai lou sat jo nou le, keui so so dei! They've seen enough white guys with marbles lost. They're traumatized enough already, they don't need any more.



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THE GREAT NORTH EAST

To the typical Cantonese person, North East China might as well be on a different planet. They aren't likely to visit, the food is strange and shows a lot of resemblance to English Cuisine (in that both are indigestible and might actually be inedible), and the natives talk funny, eat too much, and smell odd. Seeing as I will not be heading there anytime soon, or ever, I am in much the same boat. But their Mandarin is clear and intelligible. And the few natives of Liaoning I have met are all very nice. You know, normal people.

Plus they eat more rice than many other Northerners, and they do great pork dishes. As well as dumplings. So it sounds like a place I could visit, except I'd have to dress for it.
It snows there.

As a Dutch American, and having lived in Northern Europe, I am familiar with snow. Also, in my first year back in the States I visited kinfolk in Calgary for Christmas, and if you've seen the movie Cool Runnings when they first set foot into the Canadian winter, precisely so.
I have only visited Calgary once. For Christmas.
I am familiar with snow.
You can have it.
Two Shenyangers I have met are pipe smokers. I'm guessing that they don't rely on a heater in the garage to make that bearable during the cold season. So the plaintive messages from poor shmoes in the Midwest near the Canadian border during winter don't mean bupkes to them. "Hello, my wife won't allow me to smoke my pipe inside, I have to do that in the shed and the heater is on its last legs, how do you guys stand it?" Or sometimes it's the wind chill on the porch. Even the collapsing easy chair placed in the root cellar for daddy's comfort when cast out of the living quarters for smoking.

From the viewpoint of a resident of Shenyang, Ohio could just as well be on a different planet. Nothing in that cry above computes. Living in California, I know how they feel.

"Hello, my wife won't allow me to smoke my pipe inside, I have to do that in the garage and the heater is on its last legs, how do you guys stand it?"

Yeah, um, I live in a decent climate, dude.
No clue what you're on about.



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Saturday, December 30, 2023

BARELY MORE THAN A DRIZZLE-MAGEDDON!

It rained a little bit yesterday. For about twelve hours. Fairly intensely from noon till nightfall. Californians don't drive well in the rain. I expect that there were families on the road terrified that it was the end times. Loudly exclaiming "saints preserve us", or "whut in tarnation is happenin', mah" as their jalopies crashed and burned in mud puddles.
Mud puddles! Oh, the humanity!

None of that was visible on the freeway during my return journey. I believe the highway patrol used snowploughs from other jurisdictions to clear the corpses and the wrecks.

Fortunately I had gotten the electric reindeer back into his box before it really came bucketing down. The animal will be on the lawn again next year for the holiday season. Baleful. Sparkly. Glowing. A daemonic presence on the grass. Accursed beast.

Today was the day we took down the decorations at work. Necessary, because the various santas looked evil and no doubt were haunting the nightmares of the senile old farts in the backroom. The boss really gets into the spirit of things. Hence decorations everywhere, including the bathroom cabinets. Don't go inside, Saint Nick is looking at you!
He sees what you're doing, and he's making a list.
It's a good thing I don't drive, because I don't trust my fellow citizens here on the freeway even when it's dry. We're the state that invented road rage. Not drunk driving, that's more of a Southern thing -- endemic in Texas and Kentucky -- and rednecks hanging out of pickup truck windows yelling "yee haw" and waving hunting rifles is, I believe, a common traffic hazard in Mississippi and Alabama. They're crazy and inbred there, and 'yeehaw' is very probably the extent of their intellectual accomplishments.

When it's raining, Californians tend to overthink things.
Their driving suffers in consequence.


Rain here makes people do strange things. A bar tender I know complained on social media about the droves of people who panicked and stayed away. There was too much sobriety in his establishment, what with all the absentee alcoholics on a Friday night.

"You're not gonna let a little rain stop you from coming, are ya?"

Well, evidently, they will and they are.
Chickens.



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Friday, December 29, 2023

I BELIEVE THEY TAKE U. S. DOLLARS THERE

Percentage-wise, Chinese Americans are the single largest ethno-cultural group in San Francisco. Far larger than Dutch Americans, my own group. We're probably down near the bottom, along with African Americans, drug dealers, and Republicans. Oakland, with a smaller proportion of Chinese Americans, is damned well a hellhole, and Berkeley right next door could be better -- if it had fewer radicals, spoiled brat white kids, and riotous anarchists of whatever ethno-cultural strömung -- but it does have a sound tax base because of its make-up.

As you've probably guessed, I reside in the North East sector of SF. A few blocks away from the demilitarized zone, and far enough from the Tenderloin and the barbaric hinterland that stretches all the way south. Which has headhunters, cannibals, armed drug dealers, and hippie dissidents who would cut your throat as lief as looking at you.
That's rebel-held territory where I seldom go.

I haven't been to the Mission District in years. Nor Valencia Street. Too many artists and people who think of themselves as free-thinkers. It's the wrong part of town.
They are wrong about so many things.
Basically, it's a suburb of Mad Max's Australia, with bacon dogs instead of spaghetti sandwiches or meat pies avec le sauce tomate et la vegemite.
No crocodiles, but perhaps a few biker gangs.


I should mount an expedition to the place sometime. Recruit bearers, get all my shots.
If I'm not back in a month, firebomb the damned place.

Gemstones. Gemstones are mined there.
King Solomon's mines.



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Thursday, December 28, 2023

THE STUFF IN THE SHADOWS

Lunch time was rainy. So there were fewer people at the chachanteng than normal, and it was pleasantly peaceful. Afterward I stood a while under a nearby awning with my pipe before heading over to Stockton Street. Which was not crowded. The rain rather put a damper on people's out door activity. But it was crowded at the dried seafood place.

A middle-aged Caucasian man stands under awnings of shuttered stores smoking a pipe in Chinatown without exciting comment. A younger woman might severely lift some eyebrows.
I feel sorry for the female pipesmoker, who has to hide beyond the edge of vision.


Many of my fellow pipesmokers claim that this weather is perfect for pipe smoking. They love nothing better than lighting up and looking out over the autumnal view. Yes, but you are male, as am I. And you're remembering being able to smoke indoors. At the very least, you have an awning. A younger female pipesmoker has to think in terms of a tarpaulin, somewhere away from foot traffic. Like the middle of a city park, for instance, and even then she'll be bothered by non-smoking harridans telling her that she's totally ruining their day (they're in the middle of a downpour, for heavens sakes!), and a crazed street person will stick his head under the edge and demand "got a cigarette?". Or steal the tarp.

Heavy rain coat, stout umbrella, deserted alley, portico of an empty building.
If she perseveres, she deserves hazard pay.
THERE'S A TARPAULIN SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE DISTANCE


I have no such problem. But I sympathize. I fondly imagine that all over the city there are ladies hiding their indulgence from their kinfolk doing their best to remain invisible.
And I promise that if I encounter one, I will treat her to coffee.
Or any hot beverage of her choosing.


When I got to the bakery I was surprised to find so few people there. Dawdled an hour before heading out into the rain with another pipeful. That egg tart was dee-licious! Nice cup of milk tea. I'm guessing nonsmokers are soft, and easily scared by a little moisture. Even tourists visiting the city. Neither of the two elderly gentleman I expected to see showed up.

Maybe they were busy sheltering a woman pipesmoker.
Chivalry in action.



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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

It was a short nap. Slightly less than three hours. Soon after returning home from several hours out.

Strange dream. I was a younger woman, fairly petite, good looking and well dressed, with a lovely shade of crimson lipstick, attending an event near Union Square, but not wearing the appropriate footgear. It's surprising how fast you can walk in woolly socks! And I needed to get home, because I had forgotten my handbag which had my wallet and credit cards inside with which I could buy comfy loafers because in this weather with those wet pavements in this city with sloping streets especially, anything high-heeled would be unwise. My heavens, this lipstick accentuates my lips nicely! No wonder that old lawyer is leering at me.

Get away, you perv! I'm wearing woolly socks!

I'm still baffled as to how I ended up accidentally in the company of my boss, who had just gotten out of the hospital for something minor, and two other gentlemen -- Mr. Porchhanger and Mr. Boseman -- in a different place entirely. All of us were sober and well-behaved, so don't worry. Nothing skeevy likely to happen in any case, and there was a chaperone.

You know, I'm quite decent-looking when I make an effort.
Besides, bad lighting softens the lines.
As you know, I am not a woman, but something otherwise. I have a thing for women, though. Some of them. They can be quite nice. Indeed.

There had been a woman on the bus with kissy lips, but she carried a big formless fluffy handbag and I remember thinking that that was the silliest thing I had seen, and her companion had a ditzbrain vacuous look .....


See, what caused the peculiar dream was probably a small cup of strong coffee, espresso level, just before lying down, as well as Amlodipine Besylate. Because I didn't want to sleep too long. Just enough to warm up and relax the feet.


My dress was a dark colour suitable for evening wear. But sensible. Simple.
No, I don't remember what my bra and panties were like.
Being male, this should have interested me.
But I'm sure it was normal.
I am not weird.



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FARMING KALE IN THE HINTERLANDS

It's been an hour and a half since that dumbass started using a powerhose on the building across the block. There ought to be a law. I can't even hear my turkey vulture! And no, I don't care that the grime of centuries is finally being cleaned off. Probably in preparation for a a new ugly paint job and eventual sale of the property to investors, and conversion.
Outsider landlord companies in SF should be lined up and shot.

Especially if they inconvenience me.


By the way, the stupidest comment on Facebook today was "Autism is a Jewish invention of this reign of the antichrist. You are completely normal." Which tells you that the writer is a Christian, Republican, and believes in family values like pogroms, segregation, and lynching. So probably from one of the shithole states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
PERFECT PLACE FOR A STRIP MINE!

It's not that I despair over my fellow Americans, but I do despise a lot of them.

But I don't know. Maybe the author of "autism is a Jewish invention of this reign of the antichrist" is a timid young virgin in Mill Valley who believes in ancient aliens, or an ultra liberal potsmoking hippie of no specific gender living in a commune in Sonoma.
An anti-vaxxer with off-kilter dietary preferences, either way.

Could be the idiot across the block with the power hose.
There's just no telling.


"Autism is a Jewish invention of this reign of the antichrist. You are completely normal."


In any case I'm blaming the vegans. A brain needs protein or it starts feeding on itself. All those morons rioting at the Capitol building were because of the vegans, the pro-terrorist thugs in Union Square and Yale too, and gluten-phobic mobs pouring ketchup on fur also.
If you deny this, you are probably part of the conspiracy.
They've gotten to you man. You've changed!


Good lord, now there's a chainsaw!
Damned communist.



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THOSE AREN'T THE RIGHT NUMBERS!

Well, the holiday is finally over, but unfortunately some of these hosebags haven't gotten the memo. When we first passed the karaoke venue on the way to the burger joint, it was nearly empty. Which would have been quite ideal if that had held till we got there, but in the hour and half interval in between -- comestibles, cerveza, hot tea -- it had filled up, and the screeching rendition of 'Landslide' was audible from a block away.

Sometimes I feel like Herbert's dad.
And I long for Swamp Castle.
No electricity.


Ah, those good old days, son, when if you wanted the telephone, which was rotary back then, you'd throw rocks at the housekeeper to use it. You youngsters have probably never even seen a rotary phone or sprained your index fingers. Simple pleasures!
Sometimes you had to employ your toes instead.
Thumbs hadn't been invented.

Good lord, the city is filled with vacuous twits!
What is this world coming to?
There are more hoboes sleeping on the pavement in Chinatown and North Beach now. This season has not been kind to the crazies. Earlier I had heard a gentleman having a loud conversation with an invisible person. He got around a bit, first ahead of me, then behind, ahead again, down the block (where he stopped to slapfight other invisibles), and finally around the corner where he probably frightened the tourists outside a restaurant.

That's normal. It's traditional San Francisco.



NEITHER HERE NOR THERE

Also normal: The Christmas afternoon clerk at a corner market (Polk & Clay Liquor) thinking he could pull a fast one on the stupid gringo (me) then being rude and abusive when caught, shouting "f*ck you mother f*cker I never want to see you here again". Which he won't.
No, I shan't complain to the proprietor. For all I know, that's his cousin.
Or his catamite. Probably both.



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Tuesday, December 26, 2023

TOURISTS, SUBURBANITES, FOREIGNERS

Chinatown is awash with outsiders today. Almost like these people have nothing else to do. All of them seem flabby and disquietingly irridescent, reflecting their bad dietary habits. And highlighting how repulsive some of them are. Caucasians, Filippinos, Subcontinentials, Latinos, Slavs, and Scandinavians. Ah, those codfish-fed Northerners!
Cousins to folks in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The deity must like Minnesota, he made so much of it.


Not enough elderly Cantos, too many tourists, suburbanites, and foreigners.

A veritable forest of ambulatory squid.
While I dislike all those other mentioned groups infesting Chinatown, I like squid. Life would be so much better if they were squid, squishing about, with their large silvery eyes staring around them blankly.

Both of the place to which I went were devoid of outsiders. My barber, and a restaurant which does not appeal to Caucasians, Filippinos, Subcontinentials, Latinos, Slavs, or Scandinavians.

So other than having to dodge the aimles ambulatories from point A to point B, and after eating while smoking a pipe, it was pleasant. Cold. But distinctly enjoyable.

The weather has become more arctic. Double sock time.
The well insulated foot is a happy foot.
It is both here and there.


咖喱牛腩飯,奶茶。



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A HUBBUB IN THE QUAD

In the seventies a young man walked into a pipe shop in Boston and purchased a handsome piece of smoking equipment. One imagines that he was a college student, and wore a tweed coat, as was still thought of as properly academic in that day. Possibly he experimented with one or two fine tobacco mixtures from that shop before giving up on that handsome pipe, or graduated to a P.H.D. and properly intellectual French cigarettes.
The problem being, with that particular piece of smoking equipment, a stinger in it that made the draw much harder, and passing a pipe cleaner through it totally impossible. It was consequently hardly used when I found it, and didn't need much reaming at all.
But it took a bit of effort to remove that stinger from the tenon.

One-size fits-all factory stingers are a bitch.

The shape and a few other details tell me it was produced by Comoy, probably in the sixties or early seventies, though the stamping says L. J. Peretti, 'Rodney'. It also has 'made in London England' on the bottom of the shank.

L. J. Peretti was founded in Boston in 1870. It still exists, I believe.
Comoy made pipes for a large number of tobacconists.
Good pipes, though nothing special.

Comoy largely stopped doing pipestore pipes in the mid-seventies. At one point every decent shop in the United States had Comoy pipes with the shop name stamped into the wood. Recognizable shapes. You could map out pipesmoking in America by their briars.
The reason I mentioned French cigarettes is because they were overwhelmingly smoked in university towns by people in academia or the arts. And literate types. Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley reeked of them. They were harsh, full bodied, pungent, and the perfect thing to huff while writing the great American novel, your thesis, or reading Ulysses by James Joyce, which showed that you had the chops.

This pipe is a great smoke. I shall enjoy it while I'm in Chinatown today. Which I must be, because my apartment mate is at home and I cannot smoke here.
It is jaunty, and youngmannish.



NOTE: If you read Sylvia Plath you probably smoked English Ovals, if Nabokov, fine Turkish cigarettes. But Gauloises and Gitanes went perfectly with that cheap foreign liqueur you swilled with your equally high-minded young companions.
Or cappuccinos at the Med with Sartre.




APPENDIX: L. J. PERETTI

In 1870 Libero Joseph Peretti from Lugano started the Peretti Cuban Cigar Company. Within a few decades they were also selling their own pipe tobacco mixtures, which by the middle of the twentieth century were well-known and highly regarded. A retired engineer smokes their English / Balkan blends, which are excellent. Recently Nick had one of their flake tobaccos, which I very much enjoyed.

From the L. J. Peretti website:

AMPERSAND FLAKE: A semi-broken flake connecting the qualities of Bob Peretti's original artisanal Old Virginia Flake with a subtle hint of sweetness for today's pipe smoker. Medium in strength, with an excellent room note.

Other flakes which look particularly interesting are the 150th Flake, Boston Slices, London Flake, and No. 8 Slice. It is not unlikely that these will cross my horizon sometime soon.



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INFORMATION THAT WILL NOT SAVE YOUR LIFE

My apartment mate speculates about situations in the dermatology videos she is currently watching. It was bad enough when she was Amber Heard and Johnny Depp obsessed, but this is almost intolerable. She wishes I were severely afflicted so that she could experiment. And she fondly remembers my evil twin skippy (a sebaceous cyst) that went all wanky and necessitated a visit to a dermatologist. Is that area acting up yet / again? No, no it isn't. Stay away with that prong. Desist, crazed laboratory woman! I shall not tolerate any poking!

People far down on the spectrum either have rich inner lives, OR obsessively learn about things to the point where they are either tediously repetitive or absolutely dangerous. Ask me sometime about India, Malayo-Polynesian languages, Asian food, pipes and pipe tobacco, or fruit bats (chiroptera pteropodidea, NOT the indie rock band). For instance.

No, woman, I am NOT going to look up the potential uses of rare champagne as sacramental wine at mass while you watch pimple popping youtubes, I am not that interested and do not need to know, as the idea of wasting good plonk on random drooges is not part of my plan!
Just open another browser tab and do your own research.
Flip back and forth between windows.
In between exclamations about sebum and purulent drainage, she makes little bird sounds.
I am not like that early in the morning. Some minor grunting perhaps while I prepare my first cup of coffee and fill my pipe, then I silently stumble out into the arctic blast of a wintry dawn for a walk and a smoke, while the juices start flowing and the hydraulics of limbs and joints wake painfully up. Mornings were not made for pustules and papules.


Mornings, as every Dutch American male knows, and the people who live in the same digs should realize, is meant for hot coffee, scratching, a first smoke of the day in a favourite briar (perhaps a fine Virginia Perique blend), and quietly contemplating man's inhumanity to man, the urge pet dogs have to poo when the world is dark and asleep, and the peculiarity of Cantonese American women who have queer obsessions.

That walk with my pipe is, in fact, what I shall be doing in a few minutes. When I come back, perhaps the pimple video watching session will be over. She's taken the day off, so I must be outside at various times to smoke, and will probably head over to Chinatown for Hong Kong milk tea, a snack, and people who are not fascinated by keratin and sebum.
Well, they could be, but thank heavens they don't talk about it.
And you'll understand that I haven't asked.




GLOSSARY

Cyst: 囊腫 ('nong jung').
Free fatty acids: 游離脂肪酸 ('yau lei ji fong suen').
Lipidosis: 脂沉積 ('ji cham jik').
Papule: 丘疹 ('yau chan').
Pimple: 粉刺 ('fan cik').
Pimple, pus-blister, boil: 癤 ('jit').
Pustule: 膿皰 ('nung paau').
Sebum: 皮脂 ('pei ji').
Squalene: 鯊烯 ('saa hei').
Triglycerides: 三酸甘油酯 ('saam suen gam yau ji').
Wax esters: 蠟酯 ('laap ji').



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Monday, December 25, 2023

DYSFUNCTIONALS AND HYPERSOCIALS

There is more tension and neurosis than usual at Christmas time. For one thing, football is heating up, and people are overloading on sugar (so schedule a diabetes check for January, after the last of the Bûche De Noël is consumed, and all the cheap chocolates). For another, there is all the excess social life and cheer. Which means that by the time the holiday finally happens you are tense and frazzled. And far less capable of accepting the intense paranoid conspiracist crap that comes out of some people's mouths, now at an increased rate, a veritable flood, because they too are tense and frazzled.

"Pretty soon all payments will be electronic, all of the banks will fail, which is what the government wants. Everyone will be issued cards with chips, that's how the government plans to control you. If you disobey your allotment will be cancelled."

"The government planned cigarette addiction, so that the medical industry could make money. It's all about money. They gave away cartons of the stuff during the war, so that doctors and oil companies could get rich. You need to drive to store for smokes, you're wired and hooked, there are more accidents! It's all a plot."

"Art school is a scam. They teach you how to make realistic pictures to cover up everything that's really happening, they don't want you to see that!"

"Religion and Baby Jesus were brought to earth by aliens thirty seven thousand years ago. They also gave us radios, but we lost them."

Last night's dinner over at a friend's place involved three seasonally stressed individuals who deal with the public every day, seven avid readers, two cigar smokers, one pipe smoker, one angry ex-smoker, a person with conspiracy paranoia, and an art-curator.
Slightly over half a dozen people.
There was overlap.
As such things do, the conversation ended up being about food.

Durian was mentioned. For a truly unforgettable holiday, introduce your MidWestern kinfolk to durian. Years ago I would organize a durian event every year, not because I like durian, but because I enjoyed the bafflement and discomfit of people who had never before been exposed to a fruit with a psychotic attitude.

Conversations these past two weeks have been intense.

"Colonel, my men have been hiding under your noses for years."

"It's very lonely and cold up in the mountains, gringo."

"The corrupt police chief owns the town."

So yes, I'm glad the holiday season is ending. Had a good dinner (babka, broad rice stick noodles with barbecued pork, mixed vegetables, chocolate), it's been a peaceful day, quiet outside. I decided not to go over to Chinatown because too many places will be closed, the ones that are open will be filled with Toishanese enjoying a day off hogging all the tables and tourists dawdling over several varieties of fried noodles, fried rice, fried spring rolls, and sweet 'n sour dishes. I am not nearly social enough for all that.

Not at present. Nor normally, generally speaking.



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Sunday, December 24, 2023

THE TIME OF TOO MUCHNESS

While I was making a drawing on the computer and contemplating dinner (my apartment mate, a Cantonese American woman, having informed me upon getting home that there was food! in the kitchen), the doorbell rang. My landlady (a Cantonese American woman) was there with a cold box of meats and a large bag of various goodies for us for Christmas.

So, thanks to the first-mentioned person, I feasted on roast chicken and duck for dinner. There is still a tonne of it left over. And the right-side vegetable bin is now filled with four footed farm animals of various types. Thanks to the second-mentioned.

There is NO room in the freezer. Fortunately we've got the refrigerator set very low.
So things should keep a while.


Remarkably, I am not at all morbidly obese.
Despite Cantonese American women.
THE DRAWING ON THE COMPUTER

It is not at all surprising that the nutritionist/dietician with whom my doctor arranged an appointment for me four years ago was a Cantonese American woman. It seems appropriate. There may be a synchronicity between Cantonese American women and food.

My apartment mate evidently believes that I am thin. Thinnish. To quote: "L. (our landlady) probably thinks you are scrawny and need fattening up". Which, if you ask me, is absurd. Both of these women clearly weigh less than me, and even taking into account that typically Cantonese American women are smaller than Dutch American men -- even if one or two of us are normal size rather than the current crop of corn-fed glandular freaks -- if any one needs to be "fattened up", it is both of them. Seriously.


Did I mention that they clearly weigh less than me?


There is babka. And also butter.
Both of them like butter.



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Saturday, December 23, 2023

YOU ARE BORING, PENDEJO!

Nearly six years ago I managed to offend a whole bunch of folks who thought themselves wonderful people and talented singers. I haven't any idea how that happened -- most of them were shitty singers with huge egos, and if that wasn't bad enough, some of them were Filippinos -- because normally I am all sweetness and light, the mellowest of men.
Even at a karaoke bar. But keep in mind that I don't sing, and dislike Karaoke.

On social media there were some reactions when I finally called it quits.

Yesterday evening I enjoyed rereading their eloquence.


Herewith a selection:

You are so self-centered and frankly, cranky, rude and a narcissist. Check yourself. You don't get the world without giving out a penny. And calling ppl by their physical attributes... Kettle black. You are not the looker and your attitude doesn't make up for it. No one misses your bullshit. On a side note, you should check your prescription for your glasses because you are not seeing anything but blurred lines.
*
The reason we never said hi to you is because your such a fucking bore.
*
You are an arrogant boring fake. Nobody believes that riduiculous accent.
*
Fuck off and die fast, you stupid smelly small dicked British dickwad.
*
Your such a fucking asshole nobody wants you there, so good riddance. Please stay away. Pleas. Stay. The. Fuck. Away.
*
You really don't like anyone, and no one really likes you. Surprise.
*
We found out that you are an asshat. That's why. We never liked you. Your breath smells bad, you have lousy taste in clothes, your eyes are squinty and mean. Have you considered plastic surgery? You need it, you are uglier than a dog. Also, therapy for that speech defect, and a colestomy bag.


There were many more. The best bit was this:

I'm glad you're gone. Your presence was a bit of a downer, and everybody seems much happier now. We had so much fun tonight, it would have given a grumpy old fucker a heartattack. Or an ulcer. You should've been there.


Yes, most of them were a decade or more younger than me. Some of them a lot more.
Why do you ask?
In the last few years that I went there, it was so that I could smoke a pipe in the evening under their awning, without getting rained on. I would buy a drink, leave it on the bar, and go outside to enjoy the peace and quiet away from the crowd. I have since then mapped out a number of awnings and empty storefronts, and figured out how to use an umbrella.

The place in question closed down permanently a couple of years ago.
Filippinos don't frequent this neighborhood any more.
It's much quieter and calmer now.


I kept in touch with most of the bartenders since that time. Who were nice people, as well as saintly and patient. They were smart and had senses of humour. Sadly, two of them passed away in the intervening period.



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Friday, December 22, 2023

IT GLOWS IN THE DARK

It should get better. That is to say, it will be light earlier each day, now that the solstice has passed, and eventually this blogger will not be stumbling about in the dark outside, gingerly pawing my way forward after having lit my pipe so that I don't fall face forward into the dogpoo all over the streets of San Francisco.
Where everybody who doesn't have kids has a hound.
Sometimes even if they do have children.

Please do NOT let your brat defecate with your pet.
And neither should do so on my block.

At least not until April or so. When dawn will happen shortly after six in the morning, and old codgers and their briars can clearly see where the heck they are going.

Sadly, we don't have night vision.
In this neighborhood, I don't worry about violent drug users, discarded needles and crazy street people when it's dark. I worry about kids and dogpoo. We're very bourgeois here.

I'm more likely to stumble over a defecating toddler than a sleeping bum. There's a faint suggestion of luminosity, or a radioactive quality, to most pavement drowsers.
Whereas the young of almost every species are well-camouflaged.

You can't see them in the tall grass, can you?
Be careful where you step.



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Thursday, December 21, 2023

PROVE THAT YOU'RE NOT A ROBOT!

WORST funeral expense spam robo call ever! No, 'Hanna', I did NOT ask you to call me back, I do not intend to die, and my age is none of your damned business. It hung up on me.

Now, I personally have nothing against robots. Some of my best friends are machines.


In other news, fromage and spiritous substances have been acquired, so my Christmas shopping is done for the year. All that's left is three days of observing the mating frenzy.
It should be interesting. I'm always engaged by primates and their primitive passions. Supercilious, superior, and sneering. I am damned well intolerable at this time.
If I didn't smell so darn good, I might be unbearable.


On the other hand, I forewent lunch. First bite to eat was pastry after four o'clock (tea time!) over in Chinatown. While chatting with two friends and watching the staff bustling. Then a pipe smoked while wandering around the neighborhood afterwards. One shop has shut down permanently (they only opened four years ago), and in a different location a new store has recently opened up, with high expectations, all the good feelings, and very obviously scant "let's think this thing through for a moment" having been done.


Three more days, folks, and then bills and returns.
Enjoy the sharkfeed.



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A CLEAR MESSAGE FROM YEMEN

Quote: "We will not stand idly by if the Americans are tempted to escalate further and commit foolishness by targeting our country or waging war against it," Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said."
And:
"As long as the Americans want to enter into a direct war with us, they should know that we are not those who fear them, and that they are facing an entire people," al-Houthi said.
He warned the Americans against sending soldiers to Yemen, saying they would "face something harsher than what they faced in Afghanistan and what they suffered in Vietnam.
"
Source: Reuters - Houthi leader threatens to attack US warships

So, obviously, if we undertake punitive measures against Yemen, we should not send in the marines, but bomb the crap out of the country. No half measures. I would suggest enough explosives to affect their landscape, with nothing left but gently rolling dunes and fine powder-like debris.

The usual people will protest in our streets and universities, and we should prepare for that. Water cannons, truncheons, stun grenades, and teargas.
Plus National Guard troops in Oakland.


The first thing we need to do, the very first thing, is to cut all access routes into the country, leaving no way in or out.
PRESIDENTIAL PALACE, SANA'A

Yemen would make a lovely parking lot. So would Berkeley and Cambridge.
Please remember that. It's good to be alive.

Merry Christmas.



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LOW VITUPERATIVE EBB

It rained quite heavily this morning, which made getting to work more interesting than normal. Usually I zone out on the trip over, occasionally opening my eyes to scope out people getting on -- the cute young miss in downtown Sausalito, the lady with the white brimmed hat further down opposite the 7-eleven, or the goobus Persian hausfrau at Gate Five Road -- or to keep a wary eye on the crazies, which are slightly more numerous in inclement weather, because nobody likes being out of their minds in a downpour.

Today, having caught the earlier bus, I was able to view the hills west of the Golden Gate shading seawards in gloom and semi-twilight. Quite beautiful.
It was still raining when I got off and splish-splashed toward the holding pen for senescent righwing dipwads where I work. Got stuff done with furniture and a hot cup of tea well before any coworkers appeared, had a pipe filled with red Virginias going by ten fifteen.

It stopped coming down sometime after twelve, but it never brightened. A good day to be inside. The old crocks were quieter than they normally are, probably because the loudest irritant was absent. He may have melted in the rain. Or he's scared of the chemicals in the precipitation eating away at his bald spots, possibly leading to a mangy appearance and horrid itch. That is to say, a worse itch than usual.

So it was a good day.



By the way: According to my apartment mate, who has been reading up on things, everything that's good for you makes you fart. I found this out when I got home.





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Tuesday, December 19, 2023

TROLL INVADING SLEEP

It rained in the evening. Which would not have been a problem except that I was out in the weather smoking my pipe while waiting for the bookseller to get down to Chinatown by bus. Fortunately there are awnings and doorways. To a certain extent, I think of myself as the troll lurking in the shadows, ready to demand passage money, or haunt little childrens' dreams daemonically. Come here, small person, I have fine Virginia tobacco!

Whereupon, in his or her nightmare, the little tyke runs off screaming into the hills.
Never to be seen again. They know that tobacco is evil.
And obviously I am a bad man.
Troll.

They're not permanently lost. We can still hear them screaming.
But that tobacco even exists has scarred them for life.

The alleyways were brighter and quieter because of the rain. Outside a substantially empty building on Jackson, a sleeper turned over in his slumber, shielded from the wet by the deep overhang, further down the open late grocery which has State Express ciggies had already shuttered, and the parklets were empty, even outside open restaurants.
Apparently North Beach, just beyond Chinatown, is ground zero for fatty inner thighs. Few of which were evident, because of the inclement climactic conditions. A pity, because America is all about fatty inner thighs, which explains both the Midwest and Deep South, as well as why there are so many gyms and twenty four hour fitness clubs in the coastal cities.

Minor blessing: not a single person singing karaoke at the final stop of the night.

It wasn't raining when we left, and the people on the bus were few.
None of them were obnoxious or insufferable.
Nor riotously drunk.

There were no Santas or frat-boys.



NOTE: The pipe tobacco was a fine aged product from Cornell and Diehl, a blend of red Virginias, which smells remarkably like Limburger cheese in the tin, albeit a wee bit more refined. It's something I can heartily recommend to juvenile delinquents, young ladies being daring and scandalous, or mature people with praedilections hiding in doorways.
Carolina Red Flake, small batch, 2022 vintage. Excellent.



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MA PO TOFU

Because when it was previously posted here it was associated with the name of a notorious piece of human garbage, and that post got several views undoubtedly because of the food, it needs to be posted again without the connection to that man's name. He has nothing to do with it, and he's probably a nasty vegan to boot, so there is no need to bring him up.

MA PO TOFU (麻婆豆腐)

One block firm tofu (14 oz).
1/4 lb ground meat (preferably pork).
2 TBS hot chili paste.
2 TBS Szechuan hot bean paste (辣豆瓣醬; 'laat dau baan jeung').
2 TBS regular oil.
1 TBS chili oil.
½ TBS Szechuan peppercorns (花椒、山椒; 'faa-chiu', 'san-chiu'). roasted and finely ground.
½ Tsp fermented black beans (豆豉; 'dau-si') soaked and mashed.
2 scallions, cut to 2 inch lengths.
2 gloves garlic, chopped.
½ TBS soy sauce.
Quarter cup stock and a jigger of sherry.
Pinch of sugar, pinch of cornstarch - blended in a little hot water.


Cut tofu into chunks, blanch in gently boiling water, drain. Sauté the ground meat, garlic, and spicy bean paste in the two oils till the meat is no longer pink. Add the chili paste, dau si, and soy sauce, stir around to mix everything, then add the tofu, stock, and sherry. Cook, gently stirring (to prevent the tofu breaking up) for a few minutes, then add the fa-chiu, scallions, and the pinches of sugar and cornstarch which have been blended in a little hot water.
Stir a little longer and serve.

Berkeleyites and other vegans would leave out the meat. Or maybe substitute tempeh or tofurky. As the grafiti in Chinatown says: "no sugar, no salt, no msg, no meat = no flavor".

Goes great with gluten. Pehaps crusty French bread, for the sauce.
Or a nice mound of white rice. Never brown rice.
NOTHING goes with brown rice.



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HERRING AND MILK TEA

It strikes me that many people, younger ones especially, cannot wait for the holiday season to end, so that they can get back to the regular hurley burley of slaving at their salt mines without the danger of aunt Gertrude or uncle Roger insisting on hugging them at the family celebration. "Come here you little rascal and give auntie a kiss. My how big you've grown!" Whereupon, for the umptieth year in a row, they resignedly inform the old thing that they've already graduated high school and are the CEO of their own footwear company, and have been since the Bush presidency.

Grow some brain cells, you old bat! Uncle Roger, of course, is the elderly gay relative, who insists on kissing the female cousins, so that he can maintain the pretense of being normal. He doesn't want to shock anyone with his homosexuality. Kiss kiss.

Actually, we've known for years.

See, there was that time that he and uncle Stephen, who isn't actually a blood relative at all, were ... that one year ...

And that, boys and girls, is why you should go slow on the egg nog.
Often, there is too much nog, not enough egg and cream.
Someone doctored the supermarket carton.
Seeing as my nearest kin on my mothers' side are down in Santa Barbara, and my father's relatives live in Calgary and Princeton, I do not have to worry about holiday get-togethers, and need not watch my behaviour as I celebrate by myself. Instead, on Christmas day, I shall wonder which places in Chinatown are open so that I can have some milk tea and a snack, because with my apartment mate also off work, I shall not be able to ensconce myself in front of the computer with a pipeful, and act like a rotten vegetable while reading about other people's drunken behaviour and weird conspiracy theories.

If I had stayed in the Netherlands instead of returning to California, I would be wondering about herring instead of milk tea. Nothing says Christmas better in Holland than stepping out for some herring at one of the stands in central Amsterdam. None of which, sadly, are open that day. Because the Dutch are a religious AND indolent lot. It's that mediterranean side to their personality -- that's why they spend six to eight weeks every summer at the Costa Del Sol or in Morocco rubbing themselves with olive oil and acting like uncle Roger or aunt Gertrude -- and everything closes the heck down on Christmas.

I'll probably have fried noodles or something.
While thinking fondly about herring.
Which we don't have here.



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Monday, December 18, 2023

EAT, DRINK, AND BE PISSY

It really shouldn't surprise me, and I would be better off ignoring it entirely. But it irritated me, and spoiled my lunch, And I really should have learned by now not to enter an overcrowded chachanteng, because things happen then. Nor will I share this with my apartment mate. Even though it's her people and their unvarnished mouths.

Sometimes the Cantonese are densely crude.

Can't blame the two waitresses either. They know I speak Cantonese, and they are in no way responsible for the offensive crap that comes out of their customers' pie-holes.

Specifically, the frequent use, in casual conversation, of the term kwailo.

Not about me, but I was at that time the only kwailo there.

It's a rude term for white people.

Dammit, y'all.


I heard that term nearly a dozen times while there.

It made what should have been a pleasant meal tasteless, and I didn't even finish half of my plate of 榨菜肉絲炒米 ('jaa choi yiuk si chaau mai'; preserved vegetable with meat shreds in stir-fried rice noodles). Which, normally, tastes divine with hot sauce. Couldn't even find the damned meat shreds, and my cup of milk tea was cold when I drank the last of it.
Three major reasons I can't discuss this with my apartment mate is that she is not like that, she would be upset on my behalf, and it would totally spoil her pleasure chowing down on the cooked crab and black bean sauce stir-fried clams (煙肉青椒豆豉炒蜆 'yin yiuk jing chiu dau si chaau hin') which I made for her birthday. Which was actually a few days ago, but that was during my work week, so we're doing it today.

There is no reason, nor any usefulness, for her to apologize for the repulsive vocabulary of some of her parents' fellow-villagers. Nor would I want it. I don't apologize for white folks sometimes being poisonous blisters either.


Some of them just are. It's a talent. And that's the way it is.



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STAY HYDRATED!

Do people need to micturate more when there is rain during the night? It's a serious question. If they do, then perhaps they should drink more before going to bed to maintain proper electrolyte levels. Especially athletes.

[Please note: I have no idea what electrolytes do, and I'm too lazy to look it up. I'm sure Wikipedia has an informative article about that. Whatever. They're important. Various salt-like chemicals.]


This thought struck me at just after five o'clock this morning, when I had gotten up two hours before I intended to, and was in the bathroom attending to the call of nature.

Being a sane and sober man, I rely on caffeinated beverages for my jollies, unlike all the dissipanting savages down on Polk Street hanging out in bars.

This habit affects my interpretation of reality.

As well as my sleep patterns.
Naturally, as you would expect, I'm whacked to the gills right now on my second cup of coffee. It's only at moments such as these that I could possibly match my apartment mate for wide-awakeness and energy, seeing as she is an early person. I am a morning grump.
Kind of reptilian and slow because of the temperature and sluggish circulation.

Except for my bladder. Which is shown above.

Ideally, my perambulation with a smoke after that first cup of coffee would terminate at the apartment of some nice young person who would unlock her door and invite me in, saying "there are some extra books near the easy chair, make yourself comfortable while finishing your pipe, then put on a pot of coffee and prod me awake when it's ready. I'm going back to bed now". Soon there is gentle snoring from the other room.

What's perfect about that fantasy sequence is that it's not very social and takes into acount comfort levels and quietness, then glides gently into stimulation. And there is a throw rug.
For the easy chair. Plus it's indoors. Instead of outside in the weather.

The aroma of my pipe tobacco is "urbane".
That of the coffee is soothing.


Maybe she has a stack of old Scientific Americans or National Geographics.


NOTE: The illustration in this post is not actually my bladder, as you've probably realized, but the Brantas river flowing through Kediri, not far from Malang.



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STAY WITH ELECTRIC

Some drugs to which people become addicted, which may necessitate incontinence pants, also induce a high quotient of gibberance. Especially ...