Thursday, February 29, 2024

WELL I SWEAR

When I got back, a disgruntled froad (offspring of a frog and a toad - it's furry) was glaring at me from his perch atop the stack of books in the left side of my bed. Why, he asked, had I not brought back any beetles, and if it was wet outside, why didn't he have a doorkey to enjoy a fresh shower out on the steps?

These are both minor oversights, my friend, and you really don't want to be out there. It's cold, and there are loonies.

To be honest, I can't let him out on the street. He's a hamsap, and he might come back with a poodle or chihuahua. Saints preserve us. Randy little green flippery guy.

It wasn't raining when I left earlier.


For some reason, the ladies at the pharmacy seem to actually like me. Maybe it's because I'm cheerful and enjoy dropping by for my refills. And do not swear or grumble in Toishanese, unlike many of their visitors. Which is understandable. Unlike five years ago I am no longer dying, for one thing. For another, I don't even speak Toishanese. And while I can express myself pungently in Cantonese, English, and Dutch, I tend not to do so very much.
Especially not with the nice women who are giving me medicine.
Besides, I am not at death's doorway nowadays.
That helps the mood an awful lot.
One thing I do wonder about is if the slightly demented Hong Kong woman at the back of the chachanteng where I had lunch ever needs medication. For things other than her scrambled mind. Every other sentence was tiu nei lo mo or nei lo mei, ah. Sprinkled in among all those were a few pok gai etceteras, as well as once or twice ham kaa chaan. She's someone I've encountered before, distinctly unbalanced. She's not normally quite so loud.
Or cheerful; she laughs like a psychopath.

Despite her irritating non stop goobus noises, I enjoyed my lunch immensely.

I am so glad she can't recognise us kwailo from Adam.

Sometimes we all do look alike.

We planned it that way.


[Pok gai: 仆街。Ham gaa chaan: 冚家鏟。]

And yes, there must be hundreds of white dudes who smoke a pipe after lunch in Chinatown. Gracious. We're all over the place. All those handsome pieces of wood. And white guys who smoke pipes are all conversant in Cantonese and can read menus too. It's just like Hong Kong before the handover when the public school boys were still in charge.


After lighting up I strolled southward toward the bus stop a few blocks over, and noted that the sign that begged uncles not to smoke with sixteen feet of the doorway at one shop has been replaced with a standard boiler plate request, and that several other places have notices about job availability. Only two of them bilingual.

各位叔叔們, 門口16尺範圍, 不准吸煙 。

Aunties, of course, should feel free to smoke anywhere they damned well want outside. It's all about empowerment. Many of the most celebrated women of the past were smokers.
To maintain your girlish figure, reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.
20,679 physicians say "Luckies are less irritating".



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BERKELEYIZE THEIR MOTHERS

Not a day goes by that I am not glad that I do not live in Berkeley. The only things good there during those first few years back in the States were sex, book stores, pipe tobacco, and an exceptional steak house. Sadly, neither of the latter two items mentioned exist there now.
As for the first, she moved to New York, and that is all I need to say about that.

The tobacco shop was Drucquers, which existed from 1924 till 1990.
There are still some bookstores in Berkeley, on Telegraph.
And steak is now an imperialist construct.
Pasty-faced vegans rule.


Greg Pease's re-created Drucquer blends are available in better places than Berkeley, new and used books can be purchased elsewhere -- there are excellent bookstores all across the country as well as locally -- and the food scene in San Francisco means that I never need to touch non-imperialist vegan muck ever. Mmm, dripping hunks of meat!

Perhaps, today, I should feast on yummy dead pangolin while smoking my pipe and whipping the poor starving Gazan peasants sweating in my sugar cane fields. I have a white linen suit and a Panama hat just for that purpose.

Oh wait. The weather's off. Need a fur coat instead.


There is very little in my preferred neighborhood in San Francisco that could possibly appeal to Berkeleyites, and other than a few limp-wristed Caucasian Buddhists, there is nothing New Age here. If you are vegetarianly inclined, just eat around the lumps of meat. For the gluten phobics, we have rice noodles in beef soup. Also, cheese covered porkchops on baked rice, that doesn't have gluten. Order the rice, avoid the baked spaghetti. Although cheese-covered chops on spaghetti is more popular. You can chant something spiritual while you wait.
If you're from the East Bay, make sure to have a bath before you come.
Oh, and leave the ethnic clothes at home.
They smell bad.
If, from the foregoing, you deduce that folks from the other side of the Bay Bridge get my goat (mij godganselijk de pip geven, so to speak), you may be right. Fortunately they rarely cross my path now, except when there are murderously screaming activist mobs down on Montgomery Street or marching down Market such as during APEC, so they don't interfere when I gasak some roast duck over rice, for instance, or a hearty plate of siu yiuk fan.
Or, hypothetically, a steak. Nice juicy steak. Mmm, mooooo!
I wonder if there's a nearby place where I can get foie gras.
It's been a while since I've had that.



By the way: "de pip geven" (to give the pip) refers to dyspepsia.
Same inspiration as 'agita' or 'agida'. Berkeleyitis.

Plastic! We need more plastic!



This essay inspired primarily by a news article that mentioned Berkeley.
And only distant secondarily by the weather.



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WARMTH, PASSION, AND THE DODO

One of the all-time best lines I ever wrote on this blog was "there is no rampant perversion here, I need to stress that". Friends and neighbors all agree; I am not rampantly perverse. Though sometimes it is subtly suggested, much like Prince Herbert's musical talent in Monty Python's Holy Grail. I am probably the only person that you know with thick woolen boxer shorts on under my kilt. Warmth, modesty, and plain common sense.

Which will come in handy this weekend, when it promises to be very cold and wet.
Woolen boxers will be good then. A bit scratchy, but it's a trade off.

I am really not looking forward to that.

The storm, that is.

Yes, I know that being a descendant of generations of Netherlanders and New Amsterdam Dutch means I should thrive in those conditions -- we tromped through the frozen swamps of Nova Zembla hunting the dodo to extinction wearing nothing but greasy whaleskin gloves or something like that, you've seen the paintings -- but I'm a delicate hothouse flower, Californian, and I want sixty two or sixty three degrees.
This weather, I am not a fan of. I would rather be wearing silken undies and lounging on a beach, or something similar. Well, not a beach; that's too public. Maybe a private island. The key thing is that I have a pipe in my mouth and there is an opened tin of aged red Virginia flake nearby, as well as a nice cup of tea. And a reference library. Wikipedia.

Like everyone I thrive on too many details.
In-depth data is my life.
Wikipedia.



My tasks today are picking up refills from the pharmacy at Chinese Hospital, and, assuming they might need a bit more time, heading over to a chachanteng for lunch, and a hot cup of milk tea. What can probably be taken for granted, because of the weather, is that the sniffy bunch of elderly Toishanese will be fewer than the last time I had a snack there.
They're loud, and I think they dislike me.


Must be that faint personal perfume of raw herring and whale blubber.
And that my ancestors were brigands and incendiarists.
We Dutch are surrounded by bad auras.
Adventure and romance.
Dodos.



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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A DISASSOCIATIVE OUTLOOK

Thanks to a friend and fellow pipe smoker, I shall henceforth associate Robert Frost's poems with Greg Pease's Haddo's Delight, which is a full bodied mostly Virginia tobacco compound that wallops me, and wich I rarely puff. But I love the smell when someone else smokes it.

Allegedly it is redolent / reminiscent of cocao and figs.

Like everything with more than just a smidgeon of air-cured Americans, it's a kick in the jaw for me. So I heartily recommend it for other wimps, as well as tough manly creatures with greater tolerance than myself.


HADDO'S DELIGHT

A blend of Virginias with perique, plus unflavored black cavendish and a little burley. Slight rum topping. Earthy, faint sweetness, piquancy.


Okay. No sh*t. It IS a good product.


Like Haunted Bookshop (by Bob Runowski), many of us old codgers are intellectually quite fond of it, but if poked will sorrowfully admit that we have an open tin from years ago that we occasionally look at balefully, but haven't been able to finish. It's good. Damned good.
But we're wimps. Bolder intellectually than in real life.
It is a lovely unseasonal spring day today, in the low sixties, scant breeze, and rather than continuing to glare at those opened tins, I shall head out to C'town for lunch and shopping. Anything with Burley is better for stormy weather, which is en route and will wallop us from tomorrow onwards. Wind, precipitation, torrents, a gale. Frost. Hail. Bitter wet nasty weather. It's expected to be in the forties over the weekend. See, this is why civilized people don't live in Alaska or the Mid West. It's soggy and frigid there. And they eat bland food.


I'm rather looking forward to actual Spring when it finally arrives.
Butterflies, wild flowers, and bunny rabbits. Plus tulips.
Those ARE tulips in my picture, aren't they?
It's been such a long time.
I've forgotten.



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WANING GIBBOUS

Hot chilipeppers are something I like. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, however, when two dozen drunken yutzes are attempting to karaoke them, no. I'd rather have my eyes plucked out with red hot tongs. My compadre is of the same mind. So we headed elsewhere. We had already struck out regarding the beer place ("closed for maintenance"), and the staff at the burger joint were still dizzy from the crazed metal chair assault last night.

Our usual last stop of the night has been discovered by more yuppies and a passle of goonish local types. We may have to call it a miss more often than not henceforth.
We still go there for old times sake. The current owner is nice.

We ended up at a place I know relatively well. It used to close at nine, when Junior's wife would drive by in the stationwagon to take his drunken rear home. It's on the third owner since those days, and better run than before. Cleaner and saner too.

In my younger years I liked a bit of insanity. Now I prefer somewhat more temperance and rational behaviour in my surroundings. San Francisco is further from obliging than ever.
A mellow Virginia in a fat billiard briar earlier, while listening to distant shouting. From three blocks away the ruckus on Broadway near the clubs is almost negligible, and the stupid people rarely come this far into the neighborhood after dark. But one can hear them distinctly when they are less than two blocks away. Young white marketing and sales department types are, on the whole, very loud.

Three days ago the moon was quite lovely. Tonight it wasn't quite so spectacular, waning gibbous, but still nice. Rugby-ball shaped. No clouds. Probably the last pleasant weather before the storm rolls in. So people were out getting their thing on and their steam off.

The reason I didn't draw a moon in the illustration above is because it was not visible from where I smoked my pipe. Wrong angle, too many buildings.

We'll probably end up at that final place again soon. It's saner, calmer, and brighter, and they have both Guiness (on tap) and Jameson's whiskey. I, of course, had a cup of tea.

No problems sleeping because of the caffeine, but an hour or so before dawn I'll probably have to get up to pee. That usually happens.



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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

OLD TIMES LIKE THAT

There are reasons why I don't like working with Filippinas: no real intellect, and they engage in psychopathic blithering. That said, two of my favourite coworkers years ago were Filippinas. They were extremely capable, efficient, and intelligent women. Representative quotes: "Kiss mah toe, bitch!" and "I drank the entire thing!"

Contrast that with "the black sesame flavoured soy milk keeps your hair black".

A huge number of them are nearly as nuts as suburban white women.
But more likely to be in a butterflies and flowers phase.
An entire Hello Kitty gestalt.


Yeah, you know, I knew Hello Kitty before she was famous, when she was just a furry little slut down on eigth street sharing Thunderbird with the winos and demanding spare ciggies and quarters from passing strangers. She's changed man, she's changed. She's become a feline Karen, all pretentious and bitch ass, wearing designer shit and thinking she's all that.
Whenever I passed by the Kearney Street steps she'd be there, and growl at me "hey man get me a hamburger" or "gimme a quarter". A bit of a pest really, but the fruit flies liked her.
Her raggedy clothing was a rich source of fermented pastry crumbs.

Eventually social services tried locking her up.
A few years after that, she'd gone clean.
Became all pretentious and shit.
Forgot her old friends.


But I remember her when she still smelled of rotten apple.
I miss North Beach the way it used to be.



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CULTURALLY SENSITIVE EATIES

Three people I know swear by apple cider vinegar. They claim it promotes health, and makes them feel better. Yes, they're white. How did you know? One of them (the accident prone one) was sick more often than not for an entire year. Despite the vinegar.

I should mention that I had roast duck stirfried loofah and rice for dinner yesterday.
With tonnes of chilipaste. It was splendidly greasy and delicious.

There wasn't a single drop of apple cider vinegar in sight.

A tablespoon of chilipaste per day is healthy!

Up the ante by doubling that.

Quadrupling.

All of this comes to mind because someone on Facebook proudly posted a picture of a dish he made with bittermelon, and I was reminded of all the things that I like to eat which are filed under the "do not bring this to an office pot luck party" heading. The only acceptable food for an office pot luck party is tofu and brown rice casserole, which is vegan, culturally sensitive, and shows that you care.

And absolutely NO chili pepper in it.

That's far too ethnic.
Also, it might remind easily traumatized people that the Dutch not only were instrumental in spreading chilies to poor unsuspecting cuisines in distant outposts, but enjoyed eating highly spiced food in their rysttafels while wipping the natives without mercy in their many colonies. Yes, chilipeppers are both imperialist AND cultural appropriation on a monumental scale.
How insensitive of you, you heartless Dutchman. You're brutal!


The ONLY acceptable flavourings are salt, pepper, and ranch dressing.
The latter strictly vegan, for the lactose intolerant individuals.
And quite possibly made with apple cider vinegar.


Say, did someone mention tacos?


By the way: while waiting for the bus yesterday after tea-time in C'town, a very large tranny and a total screaming loony walked past in opposite directions.
Which seems like a totally San Francisco thing.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.



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Monday, February 26, 2024

IMPROVE THE WORLD BY VOTING

For various reasons I am mighty glad that attorney Chesa Boudin is no longer in office in San Francisco. Although I am largely in favour of many liberal policies, laxity on drug offenses and random crazy violence is something which I oppose. Far left attitudes regarding those poor suffering criminals and their traumatic pasts win no favour with me.

We got rid of Chesa Boudin two years ago. He never-the-less still serves as poster boy for the idiotic tolerance and coddling of criminals in San Francisco.

Which is a problem we still have.

I note, by the way, that there are now THREE marijuana dispensaries within a few blocks of my apartment. That may have something to do with the increase in insane behaviour I have noticed recently. I do not particularly like being called a space alien organ thief by a nutter on the way home, and while he was too uncollected and un-coordinated to do anything about it, I do wish that his stoned ass would go play in traffic. And, like criminals who would benefit from the experience, be denied incarceration or medical attention.

It's only a matter of time before someone shoots one of these druggies.

Oops, I'm sorry. Self medicated individuals.

It's therapeutic!


Just like there should be no charges for the criminal, there should be no hospitalization for wounds they suffered while committing the act. Their unfortunate childhood should excuse them from the restrictions caused by hospitalization. Bleeding out is, in the final analysis, what liberation looks like. The average price of a shotgun shell is sixty cents.
A small price to pay for de-traumatizing the poor perps.
Surely you remember that driverless Waymo vehicle torched by white jugend in Chinatown?
As yet, I have not heard of any arrests. So if any local business owners in that area decide to invest in therapeutic materials (60 cents) to treat hooligans and deter (60 cents) repeat acts of disaffected youth vandalism, I will probably see no problem with that.
Sixty cents: it's a small price to pay for peace of mind.
As well as a surefire cure for pot heads.

60 cents.

Please note that I'll be heading to the polls on the fifth of March. And while I shall largely vote for the liberal and democratic side, I will bring my middle-aged angry pissant attitude with me into the booth.



Also, I am still pissed at the berserk idea to put a home for allegedly recovering addicts right in the middle of Chinatown, in immediate proximity to places where families with children, as well as elderly people who don't speak English, live. A magnet for every criminal in the Bay Area, just chockfull of potential customers and repeat offenders, is not what that neighborhood needs. Put it INSIDE a police station, or next door to City Hall.

Try doing that again, and it might burn down before it ever opens.
That's just a prediction. And quite hypothetical.
I do not own gasoline.


Fremont and Emeryville are good places for that.
Close to plentiful job opportunities.
And their relatives.



Night sticks, tranquilizer darts, and teargas.
That's what this city needs.
Lots of that.



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BOILING PECULIARITIES

One of my neighbors is staggeringly neurotic, I have realized, in a manner that is almost typical for her ethno-cultural group. No, I shall not be more specific, lest I be accused of harbouring typical white man biases regarding them or their kind -- and no one wants to be accused of blockheaded praeconceptions anent Fujianese Chinese from South East Asia, for instance -- and I will add that that particular segment of world society and their neighbors are often filled with sweetness and light, and little butterflies, pretty flowers, and Hello Kitty.
Which is nice. They can be very warm people. Them and their neighbors.
Sometimes (but rarely) psychopaths.
Berserk.

As a Dutchman, of course, I am never like that.
We are remarkably sane individuals.
Quite normal.

If you ever absolutely need an island exterminated, hypothetically Banda, we can probably achieve that for you. We have skills, experience, and an unemotional approach to things.
We are rational people.

She isn't. Not quite. Veers wildly between a "hah and sniff" type arrogance, and a worrisome near-whimpering. Over ghosts of her own imagining. Which is very typical of her class and kind. Which I shan't identify. And that explains in a nutshell why sometimes a Dutchman needs an extra strong second cup of coffee following his first pipe of the day.
It is currently heading into the seventies (°F) in Banda.
There will be no precipitation today.
Very pleasant.
The Chinese word for coffee (咖啡 'gaa fei') and the Japanese equivalent (珈琲) are relatively recent constructs. Had the drink been known before the great age of exploration, it would have been written in Seal Script like the illustration above.

Caffeinated beverages, refined sugar, and tobacco, are blessings without which our world would be almost unimaginably different. The Aztecs would probably still be sacrificing tens of thousands of victims to the sun god every week, the Dutch would have to subsist on turnips and rotten fish, and the economy of Cuba would have only ONE trade good to export, instead of two. Which are marvelous. They have been blessed.
Nicaragua and Brazil would have nothing.
Poor bastards.

My heavens, that second cup of (strong) coffee is nice! It seems to demand that I fill another pipe (let's see, which one should I pick?) to accompany it. Perhaps a Charatan? One of the Dunhill shellbriars? A 1950's Comoy?

Suffice to say it will be a fine Virginia, and I'd rather not be disturbed for a while. If the phone rings, I shall answer it by barking "Wai? Hai pin go? Nei yiu mat ye, ah?" until the stupid Indian call-centre wallah hangs up.



It's been over four centuries since Banda.
Where. Nothing. Happened.
Nothing.



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Sunday, February 25, 2024

USEFUL INFORMATION, FREELY!

Yesterday evening, bus ride back to San Francisco from Marin. "When you are constipated", the old man begged to inform me, "you will find it harder to pee". This was certainly an odd conversational gambit. I sort of didn't want to hear more. "They designed it that way". They? Who is they? He continued "the medical profession, docters" Sensing a cocked eyebrow (purely mental, because I kept my face as expressionless as I was able), he ellucidated that since World War Two ended doctors had been heavily invested in laxative companies.

The worst thing you could do was see a doctor for your urinary tract issues.

Why, he himself had not been to see a doctor in years!

That's why he was going to San Francisco.

He needed, desperately, to pee.


Sometimes one wishes one could climb out of the window and just hang on to the vehicle, outside, where there is fresh air and no crazy Marinites.
Unable to resist, I asked "Emergency room?"

"No man, parade. Nothing makes you pee as good as marching bands and fireworks!"

Um, okay. Good luck with that then, sir.

"Happy New Year!



Because of him, all my dreams last night involved luxurious bathrooms with multiple doors and amazing tile-work, in various crowded festive restaurants.
Had to lock every door.




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Saturday, February 24, 2024

WEIRD SQUAWKS

There is a plan afoot to place a statue of SF native son Bruce Lee somewhere in C'town, probably in Portsmouth Square. How splendid! We don't have nearly enough statuary and markers cluttering up one of the few open spaces where local old folks can congregate without being bothered by crazed druggies and bums! Oh, wait. Never mind.

Anyway, it's a great idea. Bad bronze art has mass appeal.

And I am slightly miffed.

Yes, Bruce Lee was born at Chinese Hospital, which is an institution I know extremely well.
I myself have been treated there. An appendix. And nobody is proposing a statue of me, despite the fact that I was sentient when I entered, as well as when I left. Sentient!

This is probably because I have never made weird squawking sounds while wildly throwing punches at people. Not often. There are no witnesses.

In any case. Statue. Bruce Lee.
Perhaps because I was sedated at the time? Yeah, okay, that wasn't very manly of me, but in my defence, I had no choice. Medical people standardly sedate the patient before going into the stomach with a chainsaw to deal with an infected and exploded appendix. It's better for everybody involved. Keeps us from twitching and screaming while they're operating.
Less mess on the operating room floor. Prevents slippage.


Next time I have an appendix out, no sedation.

Expect me to squawk then.

Statue?



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Friday, February 23, 2024

WE NEED TO PROVIDE THEM WITH SNACKS!

There were very important people in town these past few days. Because of which, buses were rerouted, and helicopters flew overhead while I was in the bathroom shaving. Which shook my soapy water and trembled the window panes. Nearly cut myself.
This NEVER happened when Donald Trump was president!

Oh wait. There was a reason for that, at that time.

There weren't any very important people.

They didn't exist.


You know, I didn't even realize we had a bomb squad in this town.
There is nothing here to blow up. Texas yes, the entire state.
Alabama and Florida too. They're total dingoes there.
But we're all very clean and nice here.
Nothing goes boom.
萬綠陰

Did some necessary chores yesterday, then had fun with calligraphy on the computer before heading to lunch. Thanks to our gracious visitors, there were almost no other people in the chachanteng when I got there, even fewer an hour later when I left.
Probably the bus line thing.

Whoever they were, they don't eat with the common herd.
They can afford to avoid us like the plague.
And they are very important!



鄧石如 ('Tang Sek-yiu')
萬綠陰 ('Man luk yam')


First three words of a well-known masterpiece by Teng shi Ru (鄧石如), of which the first paragraph reads: 萬綠陰中,小亭避暑,八闥洞開,入簟皆綠,雨過蟬聲,風來花氣 "In the greenish shade there is a small pavilion to escape summer' blaze, with eight doors opened, and within a mat of green. After the rain cicadas sing and a breeze brings a fragrance of flowers".

I have imitated his style, but his command of the brush is infinitely better.
So I offer my apologies in his direction.



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Thursday, February 22, 2024

GACKED BALLS

For some reason I think of Lion's Head Meatballs as very Shanghai, along with a plate of braised eels. Now, Americans by and large avoid eels -- culinary ignorance and unfortunate stupidity -- but who doesn't like meatballs? Polpeta at Italian restaurants, gehaktbal in Dutch (hence the name of this essay, it's what my apartment mate referred to them as, when she saw the Netherlandish term), and 肉丸 ('yiuk yuen') in Cantonese establishments.

Rou wan.

Lion's Head Meatballs (獅子頭 'si ji tau') are comprised of nice fatty pork mince mixed with chopped shrimp (or crab powder) and egg white to bind, rolled into a ball larger than a baby's fist -- if it's a Dutch baby, that's plenty large -- up to a Guinea Pig in size, steam-simmered in a clay pot on a bed of small cabbages with a generous splash of sherry or rice wine and a jigger of soy sauce added. Turn up the heat fiercely toward the end to cook them well-done and reduce the liquid, serve in the pot.

I've rarely had it these in the last several years. There is little point in cooking something like this for oneself. And they are considered festive, often featured during New Years Eve dinners and on special occasions.
Yesterday I did not buy fatty pork. Instead, angled loofah and eggplant, plus ginger. Things that are simple and easy to cook, because when I get back from Marin on work days I don't want to spend much time in the kitchen.

You'll be happy to know that eels are also available in Chinatown.
Instead of Netherlandish "paling in 't groen", simply braise them.

Or do them with garlic, ginger, or black bean sauce.
Either way, flame them with sherry.
Goes great with rice.
And sambal.


And gacked balls.



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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

AND THE CAMELS THEY RODE IN ON

The events of the past year have, sadly, turned me into a more "obstreperous" person than before. What that means is that if you are a young Caucasian, a Brazilian, a Columbian, or an Arab, I will make presumptions about you which you may think are unfair. Tough.
If you are English, Irish, Scottish, or Swedish, double.

That discourtesy I also extend, in slightly lesser measure, to Oaklanders, Berkeleyites, Mexicans, and everyone from 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).


Life is just too damned short for more nuance.
And I'm so over most people.
They're flawed.
So. If you are in a limited sub-set of humanity, I will happily deal with you. That might be Chinese, Jewish, Italian, French, or Dutch. Old-school liberal, no raving lefties, no rightwingers. Preferably no Christians. No Berniacs, no Trumpites.

If you are Indian or Pakistani calling regarding funeral expenses, Medicare parts A and B, an extended warranty on my vehicle, accidents I may have been involved in the past two years, or solar panels, I wish you ill and have suggestions regarding that samosa you are eating.
I hope it's still too hot, and has sharp corners, yes?
Saudis and Qataris need not apply.
No DeSantis supporters.


Aur vo unta uteo sawara huway, unhen bi chodo.



Think of me as a white middle-aged version of Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction.
Though slightly more "diplomatic", and not as well-dressed.


Now, would you like a hot beverage?



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NO SINGING IN THE SWAMP!

The streets were rather quiet because of the weather. Only a young subcontinental couple canoodling in the recess of a bank, and two loonies making distemperate sounds at either end of the block. Slight rain. Enough to chase everyone inside. Consequently, that smoke turned out to be an excellent fifty minutes. I had an umbrella, as well as an overhang.

Up on Jackson there are two deep awnings where under each a street person was sleeping safely sheltered from the precipitation, and the weather has improved, temperature-wise, so there may have been far less drowse-discomfort than a few weeks ago. Also, because of this, my feet no longer felt like someone was killing me from the ground up.

A perfect day to puff one's pipe and have a spot of tea.
And a perfect night for a pint of Guiness.
Which the bookseller had.

Dublinesque.

Late lunch a few hours earlier, comfort food (滑蛋蝦球飯 'gwat daan haa kau faan'). Slippery egg scramble with shrimp over rice. Augmented with sambal, washed down with regular tea and a cup of Hong Kong milk tea. Happy camper food.
VARIATION OF DRAGON (龍) IN SEAL SCRIPT

It's going to be a good year, I think. The parade is this Saturday -- won't be there to watch it, because it takes over four hours, there are nearly two hundred thousand viewers lining the route, the restaurants will be packed, I'll be tired from work, and it will probably rain -- but it should be wonderful. So gong hay, y'all, and san nin faai lok.
恭喜大家,新年快樂!


One minor blessing -- a major one, really -- was that not a single person was singing at the karaoke place. It's bad enough when middle-aged Chinese men do it (kind of like Kahn Souphanousinphone), but excruciating when twenty-something white people try to.

Y'all sound like Herbert. But much worse.



Tonight's pipe was a Dunhill 59 F/T group 4 Bruyere. The postprandial smoke was in a Charatan 260 Executive, early Lane period. Medium flake both times.




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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

AN IDIOT FROM GUJARAT

It's thunderstorming and bucketing down right now. Expect a strongly worded letter to the editor! This is horrendous, how is a man supposed to do his laundry in this weather?
I am outraged.

Also, Jason from Gujarat or Andra Pradesh could have picked a much better time to call me about installing solar. Firstly, I am not the homeowner, so it ain't happening, not during a rain storm in any case, and secondly, I'm a snarky Dutchman and cussed him out in Cantonese.
After several choice remarks from me in response to his queries, he hung up.
He probably still doesn't grasp what he can do to his low mow.
Or that he is related to hamsters.
倉鼠佢嘅老母!

Dumb-ass Guju-wuju!

My hovercraft is full of eels.
我嘅氣墊船盛產有鳗魚!
One major reason I figure he's from Gujarat (or Andra Pradesh) is because it's remarkably damned stupid to stay on the phone and try to sell me solar panels when absolutely everything I said was in Cantonese, and obviously short-tempered to boot.

Ulu! Baifkoof!




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BAT COUNTRY

The judicial member thanked me graciously for my commiseration over Taylor Swift, George Soros, and the Bilderburgers stealing the Superbowl victory that was supposed to be theirs from the Forty Niners. Meaning that he probably didn't get that I was being snide / sarcastic / sneering about his and the others current conspiracy theory.

Often I feel like I should give sane people a warning when they come in: "Jullie kunnen hier niet stoppen, het is vledermuisland!"

The sane people would be well-served to learn Dutch, by the way.

No, I'm not implying that all Dutch-speakers are sane.
More so than English-monolinguals, though.
It's a well-known fact.


Jullie kunnen hier niet stoppen, dit is vledermuis land!


Soooo, the kommunees done stolen da Sooperbowlz. Okayyyy. This is a free country. You are allowed to think that. Freedom of speech and religion, no matter how crazy. And I'm sure that the judicial member believes something like this, along with Blobbo the Irishman, 'R' the Caucasian, and the neonazi Jewish member. One of those boys is married to a Vietnamese American Trump fanatic, and seems to have lost his critical thinking abilities entirely in consequence. There is not a shred of it left. Poor bastard.
Large parts of this country are vledermuis land. It's always been that way. All of Texas and Arkansas (same place, really, but one of them has barbecue) plus most of the Deep South.
And everywhere in Florida near water.


In other 'news' today: It's supposedly "International Pipe Smoking Day" today, something invented by the British. Naturally I feel like disobeying (though I probably won't). Also, I have taken to answering my phone in Cantonese ('Wei? Wei? Nei hai pin go? Mat gwai ye ah?' 喂,喂,你係邊個,乜鬼嘢呀) as I feel certain this will flummox spam callers from India trying to get my personal data, wrong numbers, The Fraternal Order Of Police, and Republican phone banks trying to get support. So far, it appears to be working.
Everyone has hung up.
掛好機啦。


Life is better when you speak Dutch or Cantonese.
It just is. Deal with it.


First pipe this morning was blonde Virginia flake in a Comoy sandblast. Very enjoyable. Despite needing an umbrella. There was howling in the distance from three different directions, not in synch. The street crazies had probably woken up.





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Monday, February 19, 2024

AND NO SINGING!

Here in the civilized world it has been a rainy day. During a brief clement break in the grim weather I headed over to Chinatown for a spot of milk tea and a pastry, to be followed, of course, by a pipe-smoke and a stroll. The bus back over the hill was not particularly full, because it's President's Day.

What's remarkable is how many people on the bus were NOT wearing masks. Almost all of the Chinese folks were, naturally, and a few others including myself. Which is as strong an indication as any that Chinese Americans get their news from reading, whereas many Caucasians watch Fox News and remain blissfully and stupidly ill-informed.

As you would expect, I do not watch Fox. Life is too short.
And I don't need any tacky golden sneakers.

Like the ex-president, I am unathletic in the extreme.
But I walk better, and have better posture.
It's a very low bar.
Fine red flake in a black sandblast that looks very old college, Ross Alley and Waverly Place. Late afternoon, still light out. Few people. A sense of dampness, but a mellow zephyr rather than the full wind tunnel effect closer to the Financial District.

I note that the Northern bun and dumpling place does not look like they will open soon. A pity. The weather at this time of year is perfect for such things. There's no signage yet either.


It has been a splendid day. Peaceful and quiet, away from the vicious bekvechting weasels of Marin. Senile old Republicans are a strain on one's tolerance, and I alway feel somewhat worn out after a day at the saltmines.

When I got home, my apartment mate was dozing in her room, evidence of trashy reading on the floor near her bed, stuffed animals carefully watching over her. She, too, enjoys a day away from rabid animals.


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STRANGE FACTS AND DISTANT LANDS

Many recipes on the internet have long mundane and downright boring narratives that add naught to your knowledge, interest, or desire to cook the dish in question. This is for various reasons (advertising and copyrights). How about putting in an introduction that excites? "While getting shot at by the Germans, Captain Nigel Penguin of the Royal Navy decided to experiment with lutefisk and turnips". And, like magic, you now desperately want to cook Royal Navy Mine Layer Lutefisk Casserole. Goes great with mango chutney.

Of course, not having any lutefisk, you make substitutions.
Tinned sardines in olive oil.

You change the name slightly, what with having no lutefisk. Royal Harbour Tugboats on Toast. And you add a dusting of cayenne, because it needs symbolic explosions.
Plus 'Gentleman's Relish', in lieu of Mango Chutney. They're similar, right?

British in any case.

Ten years later you run into 'Mordor Toast Crumble' in a charming Hobbit-themed Irish pub in Minnesota. Something seems strangely familiar, you can't quite put your finger on it.

It was invented, you are told, by Tolkien, as a snack while playing videogames. Back in that day they didn't have computers, and the early videogames were all analog instead of digital. It took days, there were long boring periods when castles were being built by hand.
A man needed sustenance!


By the way entirely: J.R.R. Tolkien smoked Capstan and ate Mordor Toast Crumble, William Faulkner smoked Balkan blends and dined on 'Skorpor med Torkedfisk og Peparediki, with a side of grits, and Georges Simenon smoked Dunhill's Royal Yacht when not stuffing himself with Moules-Frites Avec Mayonnaise et Sambales (he was Belgian, you know, and they are 'eccentric'). I bet you didn't know that! It's the overlap between authors and pipesmoking. If you're into hobbits, smoke Capstan. Southern writers and Clark Gable, Balkan Sobranie or Dunhill MM 965. Fine dining, Parisian bistros, and rainy weather, then deceptively strong peculiarities like Pipestud in Texas often enjoys.

All of this serves to bring up that the local pipeclub met again yesterday, and because Neil was absent due to lassitude and bad weather, there was no duck liver pâté.

No stinky cheese either. What IS this world coming to?
Though Neil's sparkling personality was rather sorely missed, Calvin and Bernard were in fine mood, and Joel happily showed me his modifications of two pipes, one of which now looks piss-elegant and very old-school English. Nice. Among the tobaccos enjoyed by the crew were Red Carolina with Perique (C & D) and the No. 8 Slice (L. J. Peretti), as well as various mild to medium British-style pressed flue-cured products and sliced coins.

I probably smoked too much. And I was high as a kite on tea.
So altogether I would say it was a splendid afternoon.
Perfect pipe-smoking weather outside.


We few, we happy few, we band of stinkers.



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Sunday, February 18, 2024

IT'S THE EVIL DUTCHMAN'S FAULT

Yesterday morning I had to argue with the turkey vulture, Sydney Fylbert, about useless old geezers. He desperately wishes to go to work with me so that he can "thin out the herd, and feast upon delicious fatty inner thigh". Which, he proposes, can be done in Marin. He'll just lure them out back, and I'll clop them over the head and carve off collops. Whenever I point out that doing so would cause deaths -- they would bleed out -- he pooh poohs my concerns. I should just cauterize the area, surely they will heal, and perhaps be ready to yield another juicy harvest in a month or two. Stupid Dutchman!

While the idea has a certain appeal, I feel it is impractical.
And I have no intention of going to jail for him.
He's plenty well fed already.

He is sad. No one understands. It's been so long, so long!
Won't I feed a poor starving turkey vulture?
Bad heartless kaaskop!

How cruel!
THE FEEDING OF THE TURKEY VULTURE

In China, he is convinced, they would treat his race differently. There is a grand hall there in the imperial capital dedicated to nourishing his kind, where officiants restore harmony to the universe by offering delicious morsels to the noble birds. Every day!

The Chinese, he avers, invented cauterizing! It's just my inferior qualities as an idiot damned 'Ollander that prevent me from doing likewise. The Chinese are a noble ancient civilization that understands how to maintain a proper work-life balance.

Sometimes I think he may be on to something. There was vituperation and calumny in the backroom yesterday, as the senile old fossils argued over Taylor Swift and George Soros stealing their Superbowl away from them last Sunday. Dastards! Black ops! It's all an immigrant plot! Deep state and Bilderburgers!

One of these days I might just have to bring Sydney Fylbert with me.

Peace, quiet, sanity. Harmony in the universe.
PRECIOUS RESEARCH

Sometimes when I come back in I find him doing research on the computer, like so many fine minds nowadays. Antivaxxers, red staters, percenters, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and carrion eaters like himself. How to home-butcher for fun and profit, the proper grilling of fresh meat, how flat the world is, and dealing with senescent old farts. See, the gubmint trying to keep the truth from people. But the facts are out there, all you need to do is follow the rabbit.

Stupid liberals. Hah!



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Saturday, February 17, 2024

SOME KIND OF WEIRD HINDUSTANI FRUIT

Four years ago I finally got a cell-phone. I'm a bit late to the party. Up untill the spring of the pandemic I had a land line, despite everyone telling me to get with the programme, join the modern world, "you'll find it incredibly useful, it will change your life!"

Yeah, okay, it's turned me into an incredible racist. All these Indians with exactly the same damned spiel trying to weasel personal information out of me. That is the ONLY thing the instrument is useful for.

You'll be glad to know that I already knew what 'bhainchot', 'haramzad', and 'chureil' meant, having worked with Indians for several years. No, I haven't flung any of those terms at the poor call-center coolies sweltering in their crowded phone-scam barracks. But I cuss quite considerably when I hang up. The entire subcontinent can at this point go piss up a rope.
The Brits never should've taught those dingoes English.
Or cricket.

I don't even Facebook by phone.

So no banking data there.

Nothing to hack.
Tamare mata hamster thi, aur tamara pita ne elderberi-gandha ati thi! As rude little boys committing vandalism in the chowk might say.


"Tamare mata hamster thi, aur tamara pitane elderberi ka bad'bu hati thi"


Elderberries!



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Friday, February 16, 2024

CREAKY SOUNDS IN THE MORNING

At the start of my work week I feel like saying something nasty. It's a mood thing. It will pass. But it highlights that underneath this calm even-tempered exterior I am an unpleasant person. A thoroughly grumpy undomesticated creature.

As you have no doubt realized.
Att this age, I have outlived my cuteness. I actually did that by the time I hit the double digits years ago, and it has simply gotten worse since then.


That may have been a mistake.



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Thursday, February 15, 2024

IT'S ALL IN THE IMAGE

The picture of the modern-day pipe-smoker is a man with a big but well-maintained beard, perfectly coiffed hair (touch of gel), an assertive mustache (slightly waxed), contemplatively puffing a full bent pipe. He is wearing a heavy dark suit that is slightly retro, looking assertively darned hip. A serious man. Perhaps with a martini.
He is both posed and poised.

A man who spends fifty to a hundred bucks every fortnight at a place with old fashioned barber's chairs, a tile floor, and straight razors on the premises. Which smells like good leather oil because there is a shoe shiner on the premises.
Plus faint hints of lavender and sandal wood.
Oh, the masculinity!


The nineteen fifties pipe smoker was clean-shaven and had a straight pipe.
At six o'clock A.M. he was scooping coffee into the machine.
Already fully dressed for the office.
Crisp white shirt.
A tie.
At present I'm wearing dark slacks, a plaid shirt over a tee-shirt with an image of an angry office lady red panda (Aggretsuko), and a grey sweater. The apartment smells of coffee and aged Virginias. I trimmed my beard and mustache yesterday and look somewhat evil.

I am not posed and poised. I am rumpled.


The pipe is a straight billiard shape 60 sandblast ('shellbriar'), group 4. It does not look like anything Gandalf, a hobbit, or a serious author would puff. It's something an engineer for the defense industries, or a junior electrician, a race car driver, or Clark Gable might smoke.

My old draughting equipment -- drop bow pens, compasses, proportional dividers, French curves, etcetera -- is within reach in the bookshelf behind me, and I'm wondering where my architect's scale is. I know where the mechanical pencils are. None of these have been used in over thirty years because CAD took over. Instead of up to five blue print machines (that smell!), over a hundred draughtsmen and twenty plus experienced engineers, you can get everything done with one engineer, a couple of trained monkeys, and a computer.

White shirts and ties are also things of the past.


Later today, after my lunch, I will look like your disreputable uncle Bertie having a smoke in a quiet alley in Chinatown or North Beach, safely away from sensitive souls, earthmothers, and Karens, all objecting to the smell, or that hipster with the full beard and polished hair who wants to know the distinguished provenance of my wherewithalls.

I do not own hair creme or aftershave.

Might be scowling.



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