Sunday, March 31, 2024


Among my favourite authors are George Orwell, Somerset Maugham, Evelyn Waugh, Rudyard Kipling, H. H. Munro ('Saki'), Vladimir Nabokov, and Georges Simenon. Five Englishmen, a Russian, and a Belgian. As a teenager, the last four were my constant companions.

One long summer break in England we stayed at a farm in Devon. It rained most of the time, and I holed up in the smoking room for whole days with my books and my pipes.
Honestly, I had a fine old time. England is lovely when it's miserable.
Tea, tobacco, a good read, the sounds of weather.

Much like the Netherlands, where we lived.

I always found it somewhat regrettable that Priem's bookstore in Valkenswaard did not have a good selection of English books. Their clientele was mostly Dutch speakers who at that time were not as fluent in English as they have become since.
The tobacco store very near Priem's was, sadly, more snooty than the one where I bought my weekly supply, yet did not offer any products like Balkan Sobranie or Dunhill.
Or even a decent selection of Virginia flakes.
They catered mostly to smokers of soggy aromatics.

In the words of my father: "good pipe tobacco does not smell like a Turkish bath house".
Or like a Parisian Bagnio. I'm not sure of the phrasing.
I don't think he had visited either.
The point is, he had standards. Not only in tastes, but in personal conduct, and the people he liked or disliked. It probably was not a generational thing. One can think of many people from that era who lacked moral fibre and were rank opportunists, downright criminals and vulgarians. Heck, the entire postwar period was littered with flaws and garbage.

None of the people with whom my parents associated were like that.

It's a question of gallantry and a generosity of spirit.
Really, about how a person treats others.

There are several people with whom I come into regular contact whose political thoughts repell me, damned well make me despair of society every truly getting out of the stone age. But fundamentally they are sound, just stupid and crazy. So I do not actively dislike them.
Only a few are bounders. Whom one should treat courteously and deal with like a professional, but keep at considerably more than arms length.

There are four whom I like. All four are retired, clear headed, and intelligent.
Profoundly decent people with a gentleness about them.
They're also liberals. Might not be coincidence.

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Saturday, March 30, 2024


As you would expect, I have spent the entire week being horrified at all the blasphemy. What happened to respect? Calling Easter 'Nobby on a stick', and stating that it commemorates when Frodo threw the ring into the fires of Mount Doom, is horrifying. Nor is it the start of the grilling season, even if you like kebabs. It isn't 'toad in the hole day' either.

It's bunny wabbit day. Period. Spend the entire day watching cartoons.

Also, feeding the little turds caffeinated beverages and lots of candy will endear you to them. The capstone is to tell them before the egg hunt that they have to find them all quickly lest the dinosaurs hatch and eat everybody. Hyperactive paranoid little frights running around wailing will ensure that you NEVER get invited to such a pointless family event again.
That's really what you wanted.

Next time, we're renting the movie 'Aliens'.
Which is also a Christmas film.

People have been wishing me a happy Easter all week. This is something that as a childless atheistic religion hater is something in which I may not be fully vested. Especially as my standards in chocolate are extremely high.

When I came home from work I was quite pooped. My apartment mate, who is a Chinese American non-Christian and thus not vested in the holiday, was doing internet research. When she inquired about my day, she wondered "what sort of cigar Jesus would have smoked". I was tempted to ask "before or after?"
Whether your into bunnies or eggs, or a complete unbeliever, nothing says Easter celebration like a good cigar. I hope your ashtray overfloweth. Don't litter.

And don't let the ravenous critters get you.

Havana be with you.

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Friday, March 29, 2024


Well, sleep was sheerly awful. Legs. My cardiologist tells me that there is a solution for that. Yet I hesitate, because I'm walking more, my energy levels are up, I'm perky, and surely I can beat this. The discomfort kept me awake for several hours, and I had fitful dreams. So tonight I should have no trouble falling asleep. What is needed, obviously, is more walkies.

During work today, more tea.
And stronger brews.

The chances of being gibberant by evening are stupendous.
In fact, it's pretty much guaranteed.
A sure thing.

For reasons which are unclear my dreams were of hotter weather than we are presently having. There is another round of storms coming in, it should be rainy much of the day, and the temperature will be on the cusp of awful. Easter and Chingming coincide this year. So my apartment mate will be heading out at some point to sweep the tombs, burn palaces, and place fresh flowers.

Which is something I know about, but have never attended to. My family graves are not here.

My relatives wandered a bit. Many places.
I am the only one in San Francisco.
Much has turned to dust.
Some people I know have scheduled a trip back to their home village for the next two or three weeks. First "vacation" in years, their shops are closed for the duration.
They'll be refreshed and cheerful when they reopen.

Their customers understand.

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Thursday, March 28, 2024


A few years ago, my regular care physician and I had an informative talk about kangkong (ipomoea aquatica), sidetracking from my tobacco use and other horrible habits which I may have and lets not go there. What with him being Chinese from Indonesia, and myself a Dutch American with very Indo tastes, the overlap was outrageous. Chili paste, shrimp sauce, and peanuts. Let's not talk about my smoking, and all I need to further add is that the discussion with the nutritionist that same year was also extremely enjoyable: roast duck, bakeries, chachantengs, and dim sum, within a block or two in every direction.
That is to say, I enjoyed the conversation.
It was just before lunch time.
She may not have.

The hospital where both of them work is in Chinatown. Most of their clientele is not Caucasian with a keen interest in food.

Once you leave, after your appointment, you head down Trenton Alley till you are a discrete distance away, then you fill and light your pipe, and start thinking about where and what to eat. Which will probably cause them despair. Both things. Despair.

You just won't tell them. Leave them under the impression that you are a severe Calvinist like your ancestors, with reserved abstemiousness coming out of every pore. Damned-near a vegetarian, and always seeking to reform your decadent ways.

Yeah, okay, I don't think they were fooled. They are both Chinese, in their fields they have to be realists, and they're very well aware that ninety plus percent of the people they see in their professional life are probably lying throught their teeth about some of the things they do. What with being Chinese. Some of those old fossils probably reek of fatty pork, roast duck, and salt fish. Still licking their chops as they say "why no, doctor, I never touch pastries or salty snacks!" Then adding, for good measure "and I still walk a lot each day!"

What they don't say is that manoeuvering a cumbersome stroller while simultaneously trying to light up and carry the plastic bags of leftovers from the duck restaurant where they sought fortification for their medical appointment was a royal pain in the gand. And why AREN'T strollers or wheelchairs fitted out with a cup holder and an ashtray, dammit!

Back in their day ...

Yesterday I bought another bottle of Lee Kum Kee Peanut Sauce (李錦記涼拌醬 'lei gam gei leung pun jeung') just around the corner from the hospital. Peanut Sauce (花生醬 'faa sang jeung') is a necessary component of my cooking. Very Dutch. They also had salt fish (鹹魚 'haam yü', but I remembered that the best salt fish I bought recently was at a shop less than one block away. Mmmm, fatty pork with salt fish!

Anyhow, the point of this essay is that, per a recent news article, the tourists trade here is suffering because San Francisco is considered too dangerous nowadays. Visitors don't come anymore because they are afraid of muggings and high crime. They might be inconvenienced, strong armed, or feel threatened.

Their trepidation is justified. Why, I know hundreds of people who have been mugged and shot and are now walking around dead with drugs coursing through their veins! Every single person here is bleeding! The hotels are infested with crack addicts, there are fresh puddles of fentanyl on the streets, and methamphetamine sellers lurk in corners of every city park and shopping mall. Our statuary is infested with rats. Bible salesmen flee in terror.
Rabid orphans roam the streets, ready to bite people.

Our coffee is too strong, every one smokes, and our food will kill you!
Please stay away! For the love of everything holy, stay away!
There are dangerous snacks everywhere!

Zombies! Leprosy!

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Wednesday, March 27, 2024


It irritates me to see very large white people in Chinatown. This is probably because I am bigoted against humongous Midwestern heffalumps. Every one I know eats like rational beings -- one minor exception: a woman in the East Bay who sometimes goes through pints of icecream late at night, to assuage her despair at the bone-headedness of people in that part of the world -- so seeing folks with eating habits that take sweet 'n sour pork out the hands of starving babies in Africa is painful.

All over equatorial Africa there are little children wailing "oh, I wish I could eat some sweet 'n sour pork, but the Midwestern women took it all!" And then they weep themselves to sleep. It's very sad.

On the other hand, I can understand why their SF resident college grad kids became vegan.
Massive guilt over their mom and aunties horrible eating habits.
And the sweet 'n sour pork hunger in Africa.
Those poor porkless orphans!

You know, sweet 'n sour bean mulch is NOT in any way Chinese.
Probably entirely a white folks invention.
But Spam™ and instanoodles?
Very Hong Kong!
Lunch was at a chachanteng in Chinatown, and it wasn't sweet 'n sour pork. I don't know if that place even does sweet 'n sour. Anything. They probably do, because if a Midwesterner wanders in they want to feed the poor elephant. "One big bucker of sweet 'n sour and one bucket of fried rice coming up! And a diet coke."

The kitchen is a bloody disaster zone afterwards, but Miss Iowa is happy.
Her guts thunder their approval.

The illustration above is the New Territories in Hong Kong.
No rattlesnakes or poison ivy anywhere.
Very few Midwesterners.

As a white person, I need to clarify that neither I nor anyone I am related to have ever eaten a poor starving orphan in Africa out of the sweet 'n sour pork to which they were so looking forward and which they richly deserved. The last time any of us were in the Midwest was over a century ago. Before sweet 'n sour pork was a concept.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2024


Far be it from me to speak ill of the tone-dead. Nevertheless, that singing was indescribably bad. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Four songs. We left before they were even half-way through Lady Gaga and her horrid love life. Which, for some reason, I have to think she thoroughly deserved. I wish ill upon her.

Karaoke should be forbidden to fresh young things just out of college. It illuminates their worst sides. Makes people despise them and their intemperate behaviours.
They should limit themselves to facesucking in public.
Perhaps while humming.

This blogger has never been a fan of Lady Gaga.
I've probably heard everything she did.
All of it is regrettable.

The evening started well enough. Bus over the hill, a very pleasing bowl of tobacco in a fine briar, not very many people on the street, almost none of them tourists. And while the burger joint was densely crowded, refreshments were got very nearby.
Including Mexican Coca Cola. Real cane sugar.

The beer place was too crowded, we gave it a miss.
One of the Dutch cities for which I have a soft spot -- my brother lived there for several years, and a favourite antiquarian book seller is located there -- is Utrecht. In which, on good nights, drunken students may fall into the canals, which probably has a deleterious effect on their efforts to sing karaoke. Pneumonia kind of hampers an ability to offend by excesses for a while. As does the turbid water into which the university person plunged.
San Francisco does not have that advantage.

There are no tree-shaded canals here. No coble-stoned bridges over cold black water. Nor any steep embankments down which an inebriated songbird might flailingly roll, ending up soaked by freezing effluent and requiring medical attention. It is very sad.

It's something about which I do not think often.
Evenso, it's a profound source of regret.
Utrecht. It is quite a lovely city.
Charming, civilized.

Never before has karaoke been so painful.

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Recently a commenter asked "do those bally Australians ever wash themselves or stop drinking till they're stinko? Except for those times they hunt down sheep to bugger?" This was under an essay titled SEA SHEPHERD TERRORISTS ATTACK JAPANESE VESSEL, where I took Aussies, New Zealanders, and a Dutchman to task for being sanctimonious dumb twats. As so many of them are. It was written fourteen years ago.
Many of them still are dumb and sanctimonious.

I'm glad to see that something so meanspirited I wrote long in the past still has avid readers. That's immortality, folks. Another essay from that period which should be read in tandem was ARE AUSTRALIANS DUMBER THAN KANGAROOS?. It's commentary on commentary.

My opinion of most of the rest of the world is very low. I've said perfectly horrid things about the English, the Irish, the French and Germans, all the Scandinavians, India, Pakistan, the Malay world, the entire Middle East, and many others. My thoughts about my own particular group -- Dutch and Dutch Americans -- are not flattering in the least, and I despise much of California (I'm in San Francisco) and the people who live there.

The less said about the Scots, the better.
Cat-strangling barbarians.

Still, is there ANYTHING positive at all one can say about people whose sole culinary landmarks are spaghetti sandwiches and a horrible yeast extract eaten at all hours?
The spaghett-O-wich. On par with Iowa food. Truly a remarkable testament to the ability of Anglo-Saxons to survive atrocious conditions and a ghastly cultural environment.

It might be nicer if it were breaded and deepfried.
Though that is doubtful.

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It is beneficial to have representation from a broad range of cultural origins and etnnic backgrounds in curricula, museums, and professions. In the hospital where my primary care physician works there are men and women of all possible backgrounds in almost every kind of position, for instance. Cantonese, Hakka, Hunanese, and Mandarin speakers. There was also a subcontinental -- she may still be there -- and I've even heard rumours of a Shanghainese surgeon there too. So the care there is excellent!

Same goes for the people on the streets in that neighborhood: I've noticed Italian, German, French, Dutch, and Haitian Creole being spoken alongside the common tongue (Cantonese), as well as several dialects (Mandarin, Shanghainese, Hailam, Hakka, Hokkien). And also something third-worldish that sounded like 'wugga wugga', plus Slavic, and Hipster.

We all benefit from this incredible spectrum.

Of course, most of the tourists get in the way and ask stupid questions (it takes up to seven folks from Alabama and Iowa to buy ONE can of soda), but if people don't ask questions, how on earth are they supposed to learn?
Besides, everything comes with a fried egg if you just ask.

As an older white male (the same gender and race as Shakespeare), I welcome inclusion! Admittedly my bookshelves are filled with the writings of my kind of people, but I feel it's just a matter of time before there is far greater representation there by literateurs from Africa, South America, Australia, and Wugga Wugga than at present. Even Alabama and Iowa.

Still, there are times when I feel that the best thing would be to build a long barrier along the frontiers to keep the Turks, Mongols, Dzungarian Tatars, Tibetans, and folks from Alabama, Iowa, and Wugga Wugga out. And personally I don't really care that seven of you must pool your hard-earned Rubles to purchase one single can of an overly sugared soft drink, or are scared that a sweet biscuit you can't identify might poison every generation of your visiting family including morbidly obese Aunt Ellie who only speaks in a Tennessee brogue.

There are already too many people like her.

What we absolutely do not need are any more vegans, gluten-phobes, or whiny terrorist sympathisers from Berkeley or Britain. Or people with piercings or tattoos.
There are limits, and we do have standards.

Absolutely no Walloons.

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Monday, March 25, 2024


They were shortstaffed and consequently their well-oiled clockwork hiccoughed a bit. But I was aware of that; instead of the four waitresses normally on the floor plus a hostess, there were only two fully experienced ones plus a trainee. And somebody's father helping out as seater and host. Plus when I entered, they were crowded.

What I initially intended to get was dumplings. I love dumplings. But my eye fell upon salt fish and chicken bits with tofu claypot 鹹魚雞雞粒豆腐煲仔 'haam yü gai naap dau fu pou jai'), and I decided to have that. With rice (白飯 'paak faan') and milk tea (奶茶 'naai chaa').

The rice came fifteen minutes after the clay pot.

The waitress (Eva) apologized several times. Which she need not have done so much, because I could see that they were understaffed to a fare-thee-well. The milk tea wasn't on my bill, and it turned out she had comped it. I tipped what I had intende to tip (which would be around forty percent of the bill), factoring in the absent milk tea, so it was actually slightly more than fifty percent. I want people at the restaurants I like to remember me favourably, and I don't hold unintended mishaps against people when these aren't their fault.
Besides, I have worked in restaurants.

And I rather suspect that this isn't the best day they've had. By a long shot.
I hope both waitresses are still there when I go again.
The food was delicious, btw.
One of the pipes in my coat pocket was something Neil gave me two weeks ago, saying that he couldn't give it all the attention it deserved, and he knows I like Comoys. Older Comoys. A London Pride apple. It's a very nice smoker. Might be older than I am (and let's not get into details), which sits nicely between the teeth. Perfect for Virginia flakes.

[The other pipe was a Dunhill shell briar.]

Some fully rubbed Dunhill Flake (blue and white tin) was a perfect cap to my meal. My face was glowing happily by the time I got home, and that wasn't just the biting chill wind.

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In the years after I returned to the United States, the phone became a greater part of my life than before. We didn't have a phone in Valkenswaard -- it was sort of necessary for some of the businesses there -- and communication was usually face-to-face or written word matched by the same in response. But in the States it had already become the chosen platform for a conversations. Which did not work for me. Donald at Drucquers tried to get me up to speed in that regard, but it didn't quite work. Which may have been more my rudimentary social skills than anything else.

He enjoyed a good chat on the phone. I can still imagine him re-lighting his cigar several times while talking. I believe he was ambidextrous when on the phone; switching the machine from hand to hand when using a lighter or reaching for a soda.

That's something I am not quite able to do.

My left ear is my phone side. And I use it mostly at work, when I have to answer the damned thing. And by the way, I prefer voicemail. It allows me to consider things and compose my thoughts before actually dealing with the pressing matter that surely was the reason for the call. "Mr. Martin, you have a doctors appointment tomorrow on the fifth at nine AM, we regret to inform you that there is a flood warning in your area, the knee socks you ordered are out of stock, Uncle Joe is flying in from Manila on the tenth, and the nukes are headed your way, take cover immediately."

A fortified basement if the last would be good.
Sadly, I do not have such a thing.

Rose Street, Oxford Street, Monte Vista Avenue, and Ivy Street in San Francisco. Alhambra and Monterrey Park. That apartment in Oakland. All places where I had a phone, but did not use it often. When I lived in North Beach I only used pay phones and a beeper if not at work. During the time at Jasmine Techologies I didn't have a home phone, but I think I may have already gotten one again when I was at FWB. Not sure.
Now I do have a telephone. Three years ago I had to switch from a landline to a cellular device, because the lines had too much static. And I hate the damned thing. It woke me up this morning. Probably a scammer from India being medical or solar and trying to get my personal details. I did not bother answering, and I haven't listened to my voicemail this morning yet, or in several days. People who know me mostly talk by computer.

Remarkably, I'm fairly good at leaving messages. "Hi, this is Bernd Umber from Swensen's Kosher on Broadway, phone number digit digit digit, digit digit digit digit, area code digit digit digit, the hundred pounds of Nova Scotia salmon you ordered will be here on Tuesday, and we've charged your Visa for the forty percent deposit as per your instructions last Monday the tenth of March. If you have any questions, please call me back, B. Umber from Swensen's Mortuary at digit digit digit, digit digit digit digit. Thank you."

Actually, very few of my friends or social circle know my number.
I hardly ever use the telephone socially.
There is no romance.

Don't call.

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Sunday, March 24, 2024


As I understand it, what happened in Moscow Friday Night was a peaceful act of resistance to oppression, a courageous strike against the Crusader Zionist imperialists, and the happy natives are now free to express themselves. This is what liberation looks like. People in Dublin, Glasgow, and London, will hold mass demonstrations in support.
Om, shanti shanti shanti.

South Africa is already preparing a case against Russia at the International Court of Justice. Naledi Pandor, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the South African government, has promised that every Russian who fights against Khorasan will be brought to justice. "Khorasanis are tearing down the walls of colonialism & apartheid, they are a beacon for us all", she tweeted, before spontaneously breaking into a happy dance.

University profs all across America expressed quivering joy at these events.
The air at several Ivy leagues schools is dense with pheromones.
At Harvard and Princeton it reeks of mating behaviour.
Being, as you know, not only an old white male but a frightful neocolonialist to boot, I spent the day sipping tea, smoking a pipe, and sneering at places like South Africa, Dublin, Glasgow, and London.

As well as many hours hunched over the buffing wheel, dealing with several Larsens, Preben Holms, Bjarnes, and Stanwells, and others. Which now look splendid, by jove. Beautiful. And I enjoyed a sumptuous neocolonialist lunch of left-over pizza, invented by the spiritual natives of college towns but culturally appropriated without credit ages ago.
And globs of Sriracha. Also culturally appropriated.

The fine tobacco I enjoyed put me in touch with the auras of the American Indians my people helped slaughter and taught scalping. It was a profoundly mystical experience.

Naledi Pandor Is preparing another legal case.
Which you'll hear about here first.

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Saturday, March 23, 2024


It doesn't take much. Someone made casual mention of J's outburst about anal sex last week, mere minutes after his arrival, and for the next half hour the screaming conversation in the back room was about anal sex, bowel incontinence, and vomitting. All three of those are linked in their minds, and there had been a regular who exploded in the bathroom a few times, but with a bit of luck we'll never hear from him again.

One of them is now worried about lung cancer. What with his cigar habit. Cheap stogies. So he asked the neurosurgeon about cancer tests, hoping for a simple and clear answer, and got a short but comprehensive lecture about various types of cancer because of different cells. And what are the early signs of cancer? Sometimes entirely unnoticeable. That's why lung cancer is such a killer. The victim might not be diagnosed until too late.

The concept of many different types of cell, millions of cells in the body, and no clear warning signs early on, will keep him up all night. And seeing as he does not read very well (jumps to conclusions), doing his own research is distinctly not a good idea.
Anything can go wrong, Roger. Anything. And there are millions of cells in your body. Millions.

This illustration is an over-simplification, no those aren't the real colours, shapes, or relative sizes, and those terms are names we gave these parts because they are in fact different, although to the unassisted eye it would all look like a miniscule blob of liver pâté.

Please don't do your own research, Roger. You'll end up with a recipe for chicken liver pâté, and you'll get that wrong too. I've heard you talk about food. It was painful.

For crap's sakes, Roger, stop examining your stool.
There's a time and a place for that.
It looks like !!!, okay?

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Friday, March 22, 2024


Among the nature which we have and you don't (if you are not an American) is the fabulous turkey vulture. Appearance-wise a close cousin to both Benjamin Franklin's favourite bird, as well as the thing we settled on because it was big and majestic and ate fish. They circle over the wilds of Marin County, they roost on some lady's back deck in the Santa Cruz mountains, and they visit my friend John in Georgia on a weekly basis. And they go to Berkeley.

Except mine. He's snoring right now and cuddled up against a teddy bear.
Because he's rather a wuss and citified.

Fierce and majestic, he soars over the waste lands.

I've actually never seen a wild turkey vulture up close. The nearest I have been was when a specimen swooped within fifteen feet of me at the bus stop along the freeway, probably one with bad eye sight who presumed me to be dead and edible.
Both of which I am very much not.
Naturally I let out a squawk, and flapped my "wings".
Go away, little fella, shoo shoo.
No food here!

See, I am a smoker. And that means that animals, like Berkeleyites and Vegans, would die if they ate me. My flesh is loaded with toxins, and glows in the dark if you leave bits of it out on the mudbanks for the wildlife to eat. Trust me on this.

Anyway, they like fatty inner thighs.
I don't have those.

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Thursday, March 21, 2024


When I came home it was to discover that my friend John in Georgia was entertaining the turkey vultures again. Another animal has croaked at the edge of his property. For turkey vultures, he's a godsend. His mere presence attracts dead things, they flock from all over. Zombie wild animals have chosen him as their messiah.
And the buzzards may feast!

Nothing is better than the warm friendship of happy turkey vultures.
He is profoundly blessed.

Meanwhile, the turkey vulture sulking in my bedroom is wondering when some of the old cigar-huffing codgers I tend to every week are finally going to shuffle off.
He's hungry, dammit!

Isn't there a ledge I can shove them over?
He prays for their demise more than I do.
I can hear him grumbling from where I sit.
There aren't nearly enough turkey vultures in this city. According to a doom and gloom article today in the SF Chronicle, there are so many people expiring from overdoses of recreational substances here that it's practically a zombie apocalypse downtown. And yes, now that you mention it, I have seen the coroners van TWICE in the last twelve months. One of those times may have been for a recreational druggie on Van Ness. I didn't ask.

I have not mentioned this to Sydney Fylbert (the resident turkey vulture).

He'd demand to know why I had not carved off choice collops of fatty inner thigh for him.
And he scoffs at any mention that harvesting cuts of meat from human corpses might be against the law and get me in Dutch with the police.

No, I shan't explain to them that I am a Netherlander and that doing so is part of my colourful native folk religion. Which he avers it is, surely I know that, and I shall insist isn't, despite what you may have heard.

Any rumours you've heard of Americans disappearing in Amsterdam is purely hearsay.
They are just dawdling on the way back to the trainstation.
Drunk, or stoned.

Okay, so a few of them may have drowned in the canals while blotzed.
That's normal. They would have died when they got back anyway.
And they were probably from Pittsburg, so no great loss.

There are no turkey vultures in the Netherlands.
We have other way of disposing of corpses.
And coincidences are perfectly normal.

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Woke up with two things floating through my mind: brands of butter, and my brilliant cousin's kid the Hollywood guy. And also the question whether elephants (as are sometimes used in movies) are lactose intolerant, or actually like butter. Not too many Chinese like butter. Unlike melted cheesy goodness, which features on top of some chachanteng dishes which would horrify your doctor, and which I've seen little old couples dig into with great relish, butter does not, to the best of my recollection, show up in anything served in Chinatown. Not even in their version of chicken à la King (雞皇汁 'gai wong jap') over rice.
Which, properly made, starts of with a bechamel.

My landlady, who lives on the groundfloor, obsesses about it.
She's Chinese American. Loves rich buttery goodness.
Yummy French pastries, ooh!

Another thing that floated into my head was 'why peas?' It sometimes seems that some restaurants have seized upon peas as the great splash of vibrant colour to make a dish more visually appealing. A bright textural element that unifies the world. From stewed porkchops on a bed of spaghetti covered in melted yellow cheese to ma po tofu and fish fragrance eggplant, what ties them together is a generous spoonful of cooked peas.
It seems very English of them. I don't understand it.
Something that also struck me is that you don't often see meatballs at a chachanteng. Odd. You'd think that like the Dutch, Pakistanis, and Italians, they would swoon over something so delightfully round and delicious. And potentially cheese-covered (not my style, but okay).

Meatballs in a mustard-sherry sauce, over rice. Mmm.

Yeah, don't tell your doctor about that either.

Unless she's invited for dinner.
Left for a walk after the first cup of coffee, with my oldest Peterson Bulldog in my beak, and meatballs in my head. Looks like it is going to be a gorgeous Spring day. Gotta get a few things done before my workweek, but otherwise not a smudge in the sky.

Need to buy dimsum items later. Some for my landlady, some for the Indonesian Chinese lady in the front apartment, and some for my apartment mate. But that's after lunch.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2024


There are reasons to believe that San Francisco authorities suppress actions or prosecutions when it is expedient to do so. Especially as regards crimes against Asian Americans.

In 2021, Daniel Cauich stabbed Anh “Peng” Taylor (94 years old) multiple times in an unprovoked attack outside the building where she lived. Judge Kay Tsenin sentenced the perpetrator recently to five years probation and a behavioral and mental health program.
He was traumatized due to substance abuse and events in his past.

In 2023 Yanfang Wu (63 years old) was shoved to the ground in the Bayview District by Thea Hopkins and died in the hospital from her injuries. Police decided that it had been accidental. Thea Hopkins was arrested in early March of this year for savagely attacking another Chinese American woman. Ms. Hopkins, resident of Bayview, and clearly from a disadvantaged background, has had bail set at a paltry fifteen K.

James Lee Ramsey (a parolee with a multiple arrest history) kicked an 88 year old Chinese American woman to the ground in 2021. Mr. Ramsey had previous attacked an Oakland Chinatown resident from behind and briefly done time for it. The 88 year old woman suffered severe injuries and intenal bleeding. As of this writing I am having the damnedest time finding any record of a sentencing. He wasn't formally charged until two years after the attack.

Finding examples of anti-Asian crimes is easy. Finding examples of sentencing for those crimes is hard. Asian Americans might seriously question why that is so.

A pattern is evident.

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According to several influential people, as a white man I am sitting at the apex of power, and am responsible for climate change, oppression, the despoilation of natural resources in the third world, slavery and racism, as well as ready at the drop of a hat to invade other countries. Plus I caused plastics and the psycho-war vaccines.


I shall direct my minions to whip you all. Quite fiercely.
Smack the bloody bejazus out of you.

All your base are belong to us!

It probably doesn't help that the highschool to which I went prepared me perfectly for a long career in the colonial civil service, which at that point had not existed for over thirty years. That may be why I flunked Latin. It would have proven quite useless since we no longer controlled the fertile uplands where prized coffee beans were grown.
That may be why I avoid Berkeley. Too many little brown lesbian vegans running around anxious to intifada me and make bad coffee. I'm still obsessed and hurt by the loss of those fertile uplands. And the slave labour which made them run like a Christian country.

See, if it weren't for people like me (white man, not young, not 'awakened'), they could all run around getting meaningful tattoos, wearing their colourful handloomed clothing, singing happy songs, and being spiritually supportive.

I am a despicable and cruel master.

I enjoy that. Very much.

Those fertile coffee bean uplands continue to be a sore spot. I am traumatized by their loss. And desire nothing more than that you all suffer because of them. I want you to weep in the ruins of your ancient cultures and bleed precious petrochemicals and salt.
All hail Bilderburg.

Tyranny is better with bacon.

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While smoking a pipe in Chinatown a few hours ago it was impressed upon me that many more people are insecurely moored in reality, most of them white. I ascribe this to both the pandemic and the wide availability of pot in the great state of California. The first cause mentioned knocked many people out of their tried and true world of predictability.
The second shifted their focus, specifically this evening.

There were three nuts in Spofford Alley. Caucasians.
This did not impact the mahjong players.
But disturbed the rats.

It just seems that more of my fellow white folk are bats than there used to be. And that's beside the great number of folks in the red states who haven't been sane since the Bush Presidency. You know, the ones who were convinced that a socialist Kenyan Muslim was going to take away their guns.

For many of those people, any sense of reality is just a pipe dream.
What, you thought Mike Lindell and Kari Lake were sane?
If so, you must be smoking something.
What I had in my briar was Cornell & Diehl's Anthology, the 2022 release. It was totally divine, and made putting up with crazy passers-by quite do-able. Even the man who loudly screamed some unintelligible stuff every few feet or so as he walked down the centre of the street. His cries faded into the distance, and rather than quiet returning, a babbling idiot appeared. As well as half a dozen loud white tourists.

There were other ambulatatory oddities.

The bookseller enjoyed his vacation. One of his hosts, a mutual friend, suffered a bad bout of food poisoning while he was there, and he got rained on several times, but it was even so very relaxing, and he's glad the weather here has shifted into early spring mode. As well as, though he didn't say so, that he missed Saint Patrick's Day entirely. I know his thoughts on that score very well.

The beer place was too crowded. The karaoke joint was bearable.
There was a cold breeze on the way to the bus stop.
No drunks or loonies waiting there.
A pleasant change.

One thing we discussed was Icelandic Bee Honey.
It's crikey cold in Reykjavik.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2024


Left early today to get a haircut, visit my bank, and have lunch. All in Chinatown. Two pipes in my pocket: a Dunhill redbark Lovat and a Charatan Supreme between a Dublin and a Zulu in shape. Plus a pouch of tobacco. After my haircut, on the way to my bank, I dodged sundry skeevie jeebies while smoking the Lovat. Then I headed over to a welcome place where they know me, to enjoy 韭菜湯餃 ('gau choi tong gaau'; chive and pork dumplings in soup). Their soup broth is excellent. There's a hint of toasted or fried dried flounder which gives it the necessary savoury echo. Very nice.

One thing I like about that place is that your rarely see any other Caucasians inside, and the specials written on the white board are all in Chinese. That tends to mean that requests for sweet 'n sour pork, General Jor's chicken, and kung pao beef are infrequent, those dishes are not their specialty. And catering to goofy Midwestern food preferences is not something they need to do. Mercifully, there is no cottage cheese on the premises.

There is chilipaste. It's a good substitute for cottage cheese.
And much much better with your dumplings.
Trust me.
The first pipe of the day would have been splendid with some Vietnamese drip-coffee, but sadly there is no secluded courtyard with a corrugated roof over one side of it where one might sit for an hour smoking while enjoying one's beverage on Nob Hill. Or anywhere near to it that I know. It's a severe cultural failing of this city. All over this neck of the woods there are Dutchmen who wish to enjoy the springlike weather in a shelted locale with strong coffee and a pipe. They cannot. They are bereft. They blame the modern era and all the tattooed vegan greeners who have taken over. Oh woe! Is nothing sacred?

Anonymous said...
Regrettably, the hippies of old are now waving Pally flags and their grandchildren are monsters who demand intifada for the world. Tomorrow (Tuesday, March 19th) I head out towards SF’s C’Town for a haircut at a place on Jackson. I am looking forward to HK milk tea and snacks at New Hollywood afterwards.
9:14 PM

A very remarkable coincidence. I had also planned a haircut for today, and I am quite fond of the New Hollywood.

The Dunhill redbark finish (a sandblast with deep crimson staining) is not one of which I am particularly fond. It's a bit bold and vulgar. Unless it's that new dye formulation, which fades to a washed-out sandy pink, and looks remarkably silly.
The finish does not affect the smoke.

One Dutchman. At least one. And maybe only one.
It's an important demographic never-the-less.
My complaint reaches up to heaven.
There must be justice.

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The algorithms have my age group targeted. I'm starting to see prostate stuff on my social media, and I don't like it. I did not sign up to Facebook for news about my prostate.
Please ignore my prostate, bitches, it's fine, now piss off.

Of course my phone calls are all about medicare companies (India), solar panel deals (India), home security services (India), and burial programmes (India). All delivered by chipper young call-centre drooges named 'Kevin', 'Matthew', 'Jason', or 'Christopher'.

My medical stuff, solar stuff, home security stuff, and funeral stuff are also fine.
Same instructions as the prostate stuff: Piss off. Bitches.

For the past few weeks I have answered every phone call in Cantonese.
Confident that Sunil, Rajiv, and Manesh don't speak that.
前列腺 ('CHIN LIT SIN') or 攝護腺 ('SIP WU SIN')

Of course they don't know what the prostate is either ('paurush granthi' or 'prostetam'), and though I could send them a helpful illustration, it will be ages before they need to worry.

Waai, nei hai pin go yan? Nei ge chin lit sin yau me mantai?
Ngo hou dung sam, ah, gou sou ngo do di, m koi!

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One cannot spend all day in bed. One must get up and do things! International man of action! Well, strictly a local man of action. Plus one must start the day with coffee and ambulation. "Oh doctor, I'm getting more exercise, I'm walking much more." When I told him that, his face lit up. "With my pipe, because I cannot smoke inside." His face fell. Oh disappointed medical man, my heart bleeds for you.

There were strange dreams just before waking. A train station, industrial fumes, a motorbike near Stratum in Eindhoven where people drank till the wee hours, because students at the Technical University have appetites and, like many Dutch, function best when blotto.

When I came back from my dawn stroll con une belle bruyère, avec feuilles de tabac rouge de Virginie, during which I saw a fellow walking yin and yang dogs (exactly the same build contrasting fur colours), there was a turkey vulture on the edge of my bed smacking his beak; he had heard and smelled my apartment mate fixing herself breakfast and wanted some. He had slept on my side of the apartment because he's been behaving badly and the roomies in her room needed a break. He kicked all night.

Ah, that second cup of coffee in the morning, it smells like victory. Industrial!
Yesterday, John who lives in Georgia wrote: "I just took Hazel outside, a huge Radice in my mouth. As I got into the yard I was hit by a nasty stench. A few more steps and at least 8 buzzards lifted, just outside of my fence. Damn those are huge birds! They found a dead deer to eat. I’m unsure of what happened to the deer but it could have been hit by a car and struggled from the road to the perimeter of my yard. I’m sorry for the deer but thankful for the visit with the buzzards - who are still happily munching away." Which certainly caught someone's attention! The turkey vulture perked up considerably.
He wants to hear more. It all sounds so lovely!
Is there any left? Can he come over?
The idea of food is so nice!

It's a darn good thing we feed him regularly. The local pet population might suffer otherwise. "Come here, nasty little teacup poodle, come closer!" The claw holding the cleaver twitches imperceptibly. "Come to Uncle Sydney little fellow".

No one wants turkey vultures feeding off teacup poodle corpses at the perimeter of their yard. What would the neighbors think?

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Monday, March 18, 2024


In many ways I am a severely disapproving sort. I dislike tattoos, piercings, patchouli, raggedy tee-shirts, potsmoking, public misbehaviour, inappropriate nakedness, and alcoholism, and displays of religion. Plus mascara. Today I witnessed all of that.
People leave a lot to be desired.

San Francisco is a hotbed of hippies. I had hoped that we had hunted them to extinction.
Sadly, I was mistaken. It's a profoundly diappointing thing to realize.

When I got home I found junkmail from a church inviting me to Easter Services. My attending would be a frightful idea. You can probably imagine many reasons why.
Where did you hide those eggs? Poke poke poke.

Were y'all on drugs when you came up with this cockamammie narrative?
I'm thinking ergot poisoning. Frequent, and recurring.
An egg-laying bunny rabbit.
Y'all nuts.

In other news, late lunch was excellent. A cup of milk tea, and Hong Kong style ma-po tofu. Which is by no means vegetarian, and requires a bottle of Sriracha hot sauce on the table.
After that I hid out on a quiet street with my pipe for a while.

All in all there are too many highly individualistic people in this city. And I am certain they are all unique, creative, and caring intelligent people. Their tee-shirts express their philosophies and exquisite taste in punk music or commercial enterprise. You can tell that they are brilliant by their interesting tattoos, all of which mean something. It's 'deep', man.

Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plumage!

I get exposed to too many humans during working days.
How on earth did we ever get to the moon?
We're hardly clever enough.

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