Tuesday, April 30, 2024


Late afternoon I had claypot rice (煲仔飯 'pou jai faan') for lunch. And, per two ladies at the opposite side of the room, you don't often see Caucasians eating claypot rice. Whereupon the proprietess clarified that the Caucasian in question had been sporadically coming there over the years, and had in fact ordered off the white board, because the actual dish in question wasn't on the English menu. Also, he speaks Cantonese.

[There will often be things on the Chinese language menu that aren't shown in English, because it is, very realistically and accurately, assumed that Caucasians have no interest in them, will ask a lot of difficult questions, and demur.]

Shortly afterwards I was explaining that no, I wasn't particularly smart. There had been plenty of time, and, erm, well, I am no longer a youngster.
Also, I collect dictionaries.

I should also have mentioned that the internet (網路 'mong lok') frequently is a good source of info on languages, provided you cross-check and effectively reverse-search (對證 'deui jing'; 查對 'chaa deui'; 查看 'chaa hon'; 覆核 'fuk hat') .

[For example, "welcome" is 歡迎 ('fun ying'). "You are welcome" is 毋客氣 ('mou haak hei') or 唔使客氣 ('m sai haak hei'). Though you'll note that the second person pronoun is entirely absent, and there is no actual verb there. A quick glib web search might have you saying something berserkly off-kilter when you were just trying to be polite.]

But I assume that they've already discovered that about the internet.

Claypot rice is white rice cooked in a lidded earthenware casserole with robust foods placed on top so that the rice is perfumed by what's above it, and made a little crickly-crackly by the heat underneat, which is then amplified for drizzling a little soy sauce in along the sides when it comes off the fire. Frequent inclusions are Chinese sausage, marinated chicken or duck, and salt fish. It is very Canto, very Hong Kong.

Once Caucasians understand the operative paradigms they often like it well enough. But it is reflective of and specific to particular social and cultural environments, and if you don't swim in those waters it rarely speaks so much to you.

It's also very San Francisco.

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Monday, April 29, 2024


When you think about it, pipe terminology is distinctly queer. Billiard. Bulldog. Panel. Pear. Squashed tomato. Tiger stripe. Virgin, de luxe virgin. That last meaning, often, that it's a well made piece of fine blemish-free briar polished but without stain or colouration added, relying on the excellence of the wood to make it attractive. Not, as a pervert would expect, a young lady or man of either or whichever gender wrapped in tissue like a bonbon.

Many companies have over the years used the term 'virgin'. Not with any sexual or skeevy connotation even implied. It's a nice piece of wood. We're rather pleased with what we did with it. Here, admire this. Now pay us. Please pretty.

I mention this because I'll have a saddle stemmed billiard Virgin De Luxe in my coat pocket later today when I head over the hill. Along with a companion piece, from the same factory, and nearly the same shape (slightly larger), taper stem, natural. So technically also a virgin.

Both have the patina of age and use.

Lovely little things.

Neither pipe is particularly collectable, as the stamping makes clear. They are Comoy off-brands, so technically not flag ship pipes, and sold cheaper than the company's top of the line. Same excellent workmanship and attention to neurotic detail but not show off pieces except to aficionados of that maker.

The most important thing is smokeability.
Because some companies over-use the term 'virgin', leaving pieces unstained that would benefit greatly from colour, there are virgins which look drab and unexciting. Much like a few Danish manufacturers who excessively use two-tone finishes on wood which has absolutely bugger-all to redeem itself other than no fills, and shouldn't be highlighted so. For that the bruyere finish from Dunhill, Parker, et autres, would be better. Perfect for Calabrians.

Comoy chose their briar well. Before being subsumed completely into Cadogan Investments, they were absolutely top notch, and even afterwards for a number of years a Comoy pipe damned-well guaranteed a good smoke and sound aesthetics.

Both of these pipes are probably as old as I am.
Ergo good smoke, and sound aesthetics.

Despite not wearing a tweed coat today, because it is too warm by half, I shall look 'tweedy'. Tweedish. Fog in the channel, Jerry over the South Downs, pip pip, oops bugger I crashed the Piper at Sek Kong Airfield oh well, can I tutor you in some Latin miss? Oh, there goes a grouse, shoot it shoot it. Bally good show, I say, what.

A faint hue of tar, tea, and tobacco colours my environment.
Or perhaps that's machine oil and plane fuel?
These delightful virgins.

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Sunday, April 28, 2024


The dumplings were fine. Lovely. Should have left it at that. And not augmented them with panfried pickled vegetables chilipaste hot oil, a smoked brat, cheesy crispies, and fine Italian pastry. A slow browsing dinner such as a teenager would eat. The guts, as you probably know, are not a teenager. I enjoyed it going down. The pipe I later smoked outside wandering the neighborhood while dodging drunks and silently sneering was also good.
The coffee I had made upon returning home wore off by nine thirty and I was in bed by ten.
By which time the uproar in the digestive realm was starting.
But it did not interfere with sleep.

[The sneering is a natural result of growing up. Given the age gap, I disapprove of everything. This weather, for instance. I really do need to talk to someone. Back in my day we didn't have weather such as this. Feh, the modern world. Kids!]

Stomach aches are a frequent occurence in the several hours after taking amlodipine besylate. Unfortunately. Nevertheless, modern medicine is truly miraculous.
If I had been born a century ago I would be dead by now.

I had weird dreams last night.

I wonder why.
A good thing to remember is that when you encounter people who are older than, let us say forty years of age, they are probably Karens at heart. Mentally bellyaching. We disapprove of everything, the manager will hear about this, damned car teenagers radicals rightwingers pup tents students bums cheap champagne suburbanites.

Back in my day, sonny boy, unwashed high school drop outs did not get drunk on two dollar dessert wines by eight in the evening. No! Never. They waited till eleven o'clock, and they had been to college! Young people these days just don't have standards!
Well, some college. Intro to Philosphy at Community.

I've grown up. My eating habits haven't.

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Saturday, April 27, 2024


What does the average Dutch American multi-lingual middle-aged pipesmoker living in the Bay Area want when he gets home from Marin? I feel that I am in a position to answer that, what with being representative of the type. I want some coffee and not to talk to anyone for about twenty minutes at least.

See, I've started taking my daily amlodipine besylate at tea time. Late tea time. Around five o'clock. Which means that irritability -- always a factor because I am a rather ornery sort even at the best of times -- and painful aching of the pedal extremities both start kicking in on the bus, and I'm in a fragile AND horrible mood when I stumble off at around seven thirty.

On the plus side, I can fall asleep more easily now.

I was afraid I'd have to cut out coffee in the evening like a decrepit old limp biscuit, such as many of the people I know, but once I figured out that it was the bloodpressure pills, life improved considerably. There is a renewed glow to my mien now. Yay!

That cup of coffee after returning home gives me the vigour to go out and despoil continents, enslave their peaceloving nature worshipping peoples, dig mines with robots on one of the moons of Saturn, eat the dodo to extinction, and start a dinosaur farm in wildest Africa.
Netherlanders are men of blood: rebels, brigands, and incendiarists.
Also dumplings. Dumplings help immensely. My apartment mate got some dumplings from the new place around the corner, and they were very enjoyable. Dumplings are the new ramen. Everybody has discovered them now. White San Franciscan America has discovered them. Of course, the resident Toisanese speaker (apartment mate) and Cantonese speaker (multi-lingual Dutch American pipesmoker) already had great familiarity with dumplings ages ago -- we've always been ahead of the curve -- but this neighborhood now has dumplings within claws reach. So it's a considerable improvement.

This area is also known for the local donut place, a late night cult favourite, and as a Dutch American I feel somewhat responsible for the millions of people killed by too many fatty fried snackipoos for too many years. Heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, sugar jag insanity, gout, and just sheer stupity. But proud too. Genocide is in our DNA. We taught the natives scalping for fun and profit, our kinfolk wiped out an entire island in the East Indies for sober business reasons, distant kin coined the term 'apartheid', and we introduced English settlers all over to edible food, bad beer (a direct ancestor of mine was brewmaster and miller in New Amsterdam), and sugar jags coupled with acid indigestion, both of those last mentioned being caused by donuts. Go ahead, eat an entire bag of them.
We also introduced gin to the English, and their society has not been the same since. Their urban working class found their lives enriched and enlivened by the new beverage and became an object lesson for societies around the globe.

Quite a list of achievements.

[NOTE: Demented old lady outside the donut place on my way home this evening. Quite an unprintable vocabulary. Calmly, clearly and very loudly enunciated. Intelligible for over a block. A credit to her ethnic group (white). Such diction! And she had made an effort to apply make-up before leaving the house today, not very well and certainly without sound judgement, but she believed in being presentable. Fit for the social hurly-burly. Probably needed a donut and a drink.]

We were quite "efficient" in Atjeh, Bali, Jawa, Suriname, and West Africa.
Caffeine and sugar had an awful lot to do with that.
La mission civilisatrice.

Afterword: much of this essay was inspired by someone recently accusing me of being a collaborator and accomplice of genocide because of my support for Israel. Okay. What of it? The Israelis are amateurs in that field. Rank amateurs! They are far too humane. We Dutch are professionals. The Levantine and Syrian Arabs wouldn't exist any more if instead of the British and Zionists, we had been involved. Nothing but sweating backs in sugar cane fields.

Anything else you want to blame me for?
I'll go Dutch on you.

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Friday, April 26, 2024


That noise outside while I was drifting awake? Turned out to be the streetsweeping vehicle. Not actually an owl. But it had sounded ike an owl, so the mind's ear was fooled. I presume that there are owls in this part of the world, but I have never seen one here. Unlike many other creatures they tend to hide.


Cute fearsome predators that we know from that video clip can outsmart an eagle. So presumable also a number of other raptors. They're pretty high up on the ladder. Because of the owl's association with Athena, it is considered the symbol of wisom and filosophy.

[Athena, mor or less, is the same as Miverva.]

Given its nocturnal habits, it should more properly be seen as the symbol of pizza.
At least in the United States, where we all know pizza.
More than wisdom or filosphy.
Sadly, the Greek place on Polk Street where generations of squiffy invalids late at night stuffed themselves on cheap slices and wedges of spanakopita has changed considerably, and no longer has any connections to the original owners. Since it tried going mainstream as a real restaurant rather than a snarfing spot for nigh time inebriants, I stopped going there. Spanakopita with hot sauce was a delight for many years.

But of course I'm seldom out that late anymore.

I have become an older and wiser man.

Also, Polk Street is a howling wilderness after dark now. I blame the younger generation, loose morals, the Trumpites, and gluten-phobes. As well as many more groups that I dislike for whatever angry old man reason. Walla walla shouting savages! Get off my lawn!

And bring back cheap greasy eats!

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Thursday, April 25, 2024


So my bright and optimistic idea of getting out of the house relatively early for a haircut, lunch, and afternoon tea, all punctuated by some relaxed pipesmoking (two Dunhills picked out for that, both somewhat chubby billiards) came to absolute naught. What had been a minor stuffy nose yesterday blossomed into a major head cold with shades of minor flu-like symptoms, drooling, sneezing, snottering, and very slight aches in some parts. Even a hot shower did not improve matters, though it did wonders for my mood. Basically, I spent the majority of the day in bed feeling remarkably like a stale slab of pizza.

With occasional trips to my computer and the internet.

That was mainly to pick fights with dreary rightwingers in Nevada, Missouri, and Mississippi. All of them solid Trumpite garbage slagging San Francisco.
Much like Putin's robots.

I may have suggested that certain diseases endemic among cannibals were common among their kinfolk. Hard to tell, as they didn't have a wealth of family and friends.
They might have consumed them already.

Especially the bitch from Baguio.

Whose business failed.
There is probably evidence that drinking bad American beer gradually leads to brain rot.
The breweries have an interest in surpressing the data, for obvious reasons.
Even among morons a loss in points would eventualy be noticed.
Folks locking themselves out of the trailerpark.
An increase in accidental Iowa.

Oh well. A large number of the rabid anti-vaxxers have undoubtedly died by now, hidden among the over two million excess deaths during the pandemic, so we're ahead.
Some of those goobers probably injected bleach directly into their veins.
Or snorted aquarium cleaners and horse tranquilizers.

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It takes about five hours for the twitchy ache in my lower legs from the amlodipine besylate to diminish sufficiently that I can sleep. I timed it yesterday, as well as previous days. Pill taken after tea-time. I won't say that it's a pain in the you-know-what -- it is a medicine after all and so presumably good for me with tonnes of benefits -- but it is a pain in the you know what.
I'll have to time it rather precisely when at work so that the discomfort and loss of energy doesn't start before we have closed the doors in the evening. Takes about an hour.

It is okay to be an irritable zombie on the bus with all the other worker bees.

I'm rather amused by the warnings on some of my pills.

Don't operate heavy machinery, don't get pregnant, may cause dizziness.

I think I can promise you that I won't get pregnant. And let's ignore that bit about dizziness, as there are no tightropes at work, and I haven't fallen off the ladder yet. The only time I've gotten dizzy there was last year when I came down with Covid and it affected my inner ear. My equilibrium went out the door, I spent the next three or four days at home banging into stationary objects and moving walls, and did some of my best drawing and sketching.

Despite the benefit, I do not wish to catch Covid again. So I'll buy another box of masks sometime today. After I've had some congee and a fried bread.
Rice porridge in mid-morning is always enjoyable in C'town. The tourists have not shown up to block all the sidewalks by dawdling and clustering, grocery stores are not crowded with shoppers yet, the crusty old retired folks aren't out and about, and the sun hits the streets just right. If I get out early enough I might even get a haircut. Ah-Ming usually doesn't have any appointments before noon, and his coffee has kicked in so he's alert and chipper.

Clippity, jook, and a pipe smoked after.
Minor shopping, early tea.

The place run by the round-faced woman will not be crowded.
Only a limited selection, but it's clean and bright.
Plus the milk tea is bracing.

And I'll be home again before rush hour.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024


Tea time, as regular readers know, is very important to me. But instead of going to one of my regular places I gave it a miss today. I just didn't feel like being the hairy savage on display. "Oh look, he can babble in Cantonese! Clever monkey!" Besides, the two or three American born fellows who drop by late in the afternoon have not been there as often, and the last time one of them went off on a bizarre tangent that was distinctly uncomfortable. Weird political crap about the Pacific and the United States. Given that he is in his seventies and has a snooky bit upriver from Canton, that shouldn't surprise me. And it doesn't.

He know which side of his pants the butter is on.
And he won't piss in his own porridge.

Besides, I'm still miffed at being a kwailo instead of a human.

Did tea time by myself at home. Our landlady (Toisanese American, born here) had gifted us some delicious pastries, and I made myself a cup of milk tea.

Had lunch treated like a human. Upgraded bus card treated like a human. Grocery shopped treated like a human. Offered an old auntie on the bus my seat treated like a human.

Also picked up latanoprost at the pharmacy treated like a human.
An advantage there is that I do not complain about things.
And know their procedures at this point.
In two languages.

Of course, to villagers and many younger American born folks that isn't quite what I am. And to speakers of Shanghainese and Mandarin, because I did not bother to learn how they speak, I am not worth bothering with.

To the folks at the herbalist I visited (pills to aid digestion), I am a fabulous creature worth showing off. Probably because they know I can read, and are still pleased that I used their products to stay alive before I had health insurance. They also consider me human.

Not just your typical honky.

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Figuring out where to have lunch some days is a bit problematic. Not today -- that's already mapped out -- but specifically Mondays and Thursdays. The problem is that I have certain favourite dishes, and require either sambal or Sriracha. And I'm a cheapskate. Which is a Netherlandish characteristic that despite being an American and having spoken Yankee English all my life I have not shook. I just don't like to waste my money.

Anyhow, Chinatown is only a few blocks away, and I can read the menus.

Many Dutch have a facility for languages.

Given that I also like milk tea, of which a good version is not that easy to find, that rather limits my scope. At one chachanteng on certain afternoons a group of Toishanese old codgers hangs out whose attitudes repell me, and I only go there now at times when I'm reasonably certain that they aren't there. Another chachanteng has a waitress who does not quite understand the dynamic, a third has crowds, at which point something may go slightly haywire. Plus a prosperous middle-aged businessman regular who I sense has a sneer.
At one place a Cantonese speaking Caucasian will get treated like an anomaly.
Which I am, of course, but y'all don't know the half of it.

Like many people who are somewhat on the spectrum I pursue things that interest me to the Nth degree. In consequence, a number of us have knowledge sets that go rather deep, and eventually learn not to talk too much lest we frighten off the neurotypicals who got too close.
Look, we know that we're not entirely normal, okay?

But would you mind terribly not rubbing it in?

Just give me my food and cup of milk tea and let me stew in my corner. Don't forget to say 'hi' if you recognize me, but otherwise go about your business like normal. For the most part, act like I'm the gecko on the wall. Smiling occasionally when licking my eyeball, eating the odd fly, and most of the time keenly observing everything around me.

I tip well. I want to be remembered favourably.
But I might just stop going to a place.
When treated like a freak.

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There are several artists rolling over in their graves right now. One or two aren't dead yet, but never mind. Rolling. Among them Frank Sinatra and Amy Winehouse. Because the Alaskan gentleman singing made everything sound like the doleful lament of a waterbuffalo pining for its wallow. It was a painful and intensely personal statement. When not singing, his droning voice at the far end of the bar grated on the ears and made veins near the forehead throb.

It had, however, a desired effect. It drove everyone out of there in stages. Leaving only a Chiuchow winedrinker (潮州酒鬼), my friend the bookseller, myself, and the grieving buffalo's soulmate except neither man knows it yet, as the only people in the place besides the person behind the counter. Whose life, necessarily, is surreal.

All in all, the perfect capstone to a very good day. I got a lot done, and had tomato porkchops with rice and sambal (番茄豬扒飯、參巴醬) at the San Ho Lei Wut chachaanteng (新荷里活茶餐廳), in late afternoon, before poncing around the neighborhood a bit with my fancy pipe, looking quite gay and dashing for an old git.

After a few hours at home I got back down to Chinatown for another pipe.
Smoked in the quiet while waiting for the bookseller.
People watching.
If you're into Asian women, the Chiuchow winedrinker informed me, there is no better place than Hong Kong. The women are splendid. I did not tell him that crass consumerite designer handbag freaks were not my thing. I will not buy anyone a handbag. And, for the past few years, I haven't been interested in anybody, or even thinking about it, so as a subject for conversation, discussing the female gender of Hong Kong is a nonstarter.
I should probably tell my barber that, though.
He's obsessed by the idea.

The one key advantage of Hong Kong women is that they presumably enjoy good food much more than vegans and people from Iowa, and they're familiar with though not actually tolerant of the fact that many men will smoke.

Of course, they might also be karaoke fiends. So they are to be feared.
You can probably tell that I don't know many of them.

Actually, none of the women I know are handbag idiots. Only one is a vegan.

I feel that clarification of this is important.

And while many of my favourite people are indeed women, I am not suited or suitable for an intimate relationship, what with being stubborn and probably peculiar. The entire left side of my bed, where there used to be space for a woman, is presently occupied by books, tins of pipe tobacco, and stuffed animals.

After not singing any karaoke ourselves, for the entire time it took to slowly sip a whiskey (the bookseller) and a tall glass of tea (me), we ambled over to the bus stop. His plans for his days off might be hiking in the hills of Marin, or taking the ferry over to Angel Island, or perhaps watching some baseball. My plan for tomorrow is to pay bills and call up the pharmacy for more latanoprost, then lunch at a place which, coincidentally, is staffed primarily by women, followed by a pipe, grocery shopping, a pastry at tea time.
And another pipe, before heading home to read.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2024


The first smoke of the day is accompanied by stumbling and dog poo. Not for me, as I am chipper and vibrant with hot strong coffee boiling through my tubes, but as a visual feast on the public street. Down near Polk the antisocials roam, either the ambulant wreckage of society or the young hipsters who do not wish to pick up after their hounds.

Stumbulant. A shiny portmonteau.

So all in all it's a darn good thing that little infants aren't walked for pooing purposes. I'll let your mind fill in the blanks as far as all the repulsive details. Which I'm sure it can.

No one walks their infant between five A.M. and six thirty. That's left to thoughtful types who wait for Rover to sniff, squat, and look satisfied, after which they bend over with a little olive green plastic baggie and make evidence of the act disappear.
Unless, of course, they're hipsters.

It's the sunglasses.
Having left the building and lit up shortly after seven, I was outside for that brief period when hipsters, street people barely awake, and young adults walking a child or dog overlapped.
So I headed in the opposite direction. See, fresh parents object to tobacco smoke (they're fine with poo and crazies), and the bums take one look at a man with a pipe sticking out of his mouth and automatically assume that not only am I a kindly avuncular sort, a vertitable blend of Santa and psycho-therapist, but surely I am a rich source of smokeables. Whether mojay or tobacco, they don't know. Let's importune and find out. My answer, both to tykes and bums, is 'no'. Might also give them a lecture about how it's bad for them but sooooooo delicious, back of the barn, when I was a teenager, the price these days my heavens but there is a greater and more exciting spectrum of choices oh my.

Talk to your doctor to find out if getting whacked out of your gourd on mojay and cheap dessert wines or malt liquor while living in doorways is right for you. It just might be.

You know, life is finite; it eventually draws to a close. As the light fades, you may well think that you should have had kids, done drugs, and wandered around with dark sunglasses on bumping into things and sleeping in doorways. My, a slice of pizza after two in the morning is yummy. Who am I to tell you? Just don't knock it till you've tried it, young man. Now pardon me while I walk hurriedly away to enjoy my pipe in peace and quiet. It's Rattray's Hal O'the Wynd this morning. A blend worthy of respect. I'm going for the gusto.

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Monday, April 22, 2024


A casual acquaintance suggested that using Latin and Greek terminology for scientific names of plants and animals reflected a Eurocentic male colonialist bias. Instead, he offered, that obscure nearly dead languages should be utilized, preferably spoken by many women.

To which I happily agreed, as I am all in favour of centre-staging unpronounceable shiznit and thus bringing more light to unknown or little known and fast disappearing tongues. Especially those that the speakers of have weird dietary practices and tattoos.

All hail the big burnt Sienna-hued mother goddess!

In whom, as a sceptic, I don't believe.

In keeping with that, I propose that a common waterfowl know all over the world henceforth be named the Ensu-munomakese Awonhoyetan Anafonoyeborodema.
Which, I feel, is clearer and more memorable.

A resonant appellation.

It's quite edible, I believe. Good with a fruit compôte. Or lemons and ledidi.

No clue why I immediately thought of podiceps. Perhaps because there are marshes all around the bay, and naturally a man wonders what dead seagull tastes like. Can they be prepared in a festive manner? Perhaps lots of garlic. My experience with using garlic in cooking fowl is that it ends up reminiscent of certain brands of salami -- it's that oiliness combined with dense flesh; the garlic disguises the grease nicely -- and seagulls are a renewable resource and widely available.
A diet for a dying planet.

That's why I urge you to serve seagull at your next July Fourth celebration. You have slightly over two months to experiment and come up with a perfect recipe. It will symbolize Martha Washington's bond with nature and her spiritual sisterhood with repressed peoples.
This truly will be a nation-building feast!

Better than hotdogs.

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Sunday, April 21, 2024


The title of this post describes the theatre to many severe prudes. Which, of course, is one hundred percent accurate. Far be it from me to disagree with the vocal critics of Euripedes, Phrynichus the son of Polyphradmon, and Achaeus of Syracuse. Primarily because ancient Greek is not my ticky, and I must therefore assume that they were all ruddy perverts, otherwise they would have written in modern American English.
Like Shakespeare.

One of the people I met recently was named Regan. The same as King Lear's daughter, who was cruel and ruthless. A bloodthirsty venomous powerhungry bitch. No, I didn't ask her if there were any similarities, as I did not wish to wake the psychopath within.

Given the nature of my job I must make smalltalk, at which I am rather decent. But the spectrum of people is rather varied, and some of them are batshit crazy.

For sheer self-preservation, the small talk can only go so far.

Marin is a warm environment for axe murderers.

Supportive. Comforting.
One of the people I see there periodically is, presently, unmarried and undating. His type for the last three likely prospects of which I am aware seems to be women engaged in alternative medicine and yoga who are dangerously neurotic.
It's a very Marin kind of thing.

At some point I expect to read about him in the papers.

I am a sensible man, and consequently don't date in Marin. I actually don't date at all, which is neither here nor there -- there are few broad-spectrum female food and crappy novel fans among my acquiantances, and none are on the list -- but especially not in Marin.
I've read 'The Serial', by Cyra McFadden. It's quite a cautionary tale.
Accurate and frighteningly true to life.

Someone I know ended up hitched to a woman more staggeringly loopy than him.
It was a match made in either San Rafael or Kentfield.
Most of his marbles are now missing.
Miserable Marinite.

There are reasons I live in San Francisco.
Trust me. Reasons.
Not Marin.

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Sometimes you wake up with an appetite for breakfast. And then you remember that you are in the United States where people eat plates of fried indigestible stuff OR bowls of sawdust and paper-hangers paste in the morning. Plus a lump of sugared starch. It's no wonder hip Americans have gone over to apple cider vinegar, manuka honey, and baking soda as the be-all and cure-all of quack miracle stomach nostrums that will solve all your problems.

Including imaginary ones and romance.

Personally, I would prefer it if decent Indian and Chinese restaurants were open and fully functional at five o'clock in the morning. Real food, hot and tasty.
Goes great with strong coffee and chilipaste.

Quite the perfect thing to wake one up and prepare one for the day ahead.

Sadly, Americans would probably prefer a can of cheez spray.
Add another layer to that left-over pizza.
Squooshy yellow spackle.
All in all, it's not at all surprising that both constipation and acid-indigestion are rife in this country. Frequently in the same patient, who looks like Honey Boo Boo on steroids.

I hear that some people have a pound of bacon in the morning.

To wash down that cup of watery Folgers.

Pork stirfried and sauced with garlic cloves and chunks of chili pepper, splash of sherry and a drizzle of oyster sauce, served with a pile of cooked rice.
Remember, chilies are a vegetable.
Good for you.

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Saturday, April 20, 2024


Because of work, I now know much more about haemorrhoids, prostates, and frequent urination. As well as old men and their bowels. And as of yesterday evening, thanks to a coworker, I now also know that another coworker has a flabby white posterior. Which shouldn't surprise me. Presently there is a mental image I will attempt to erase.
I did not need to know that.

[It's been a slow and almost imperceptible learning process. Data has been absorbed. Years.]

This was an hour after I had given a brief explanation of the Chinese seal script and related ancient forms of writing, using the term Oolong (tea) as an illustration. Words written with a soot ink laden reed on silk, derived from glyphs scratched oracularly on bone (ox scapulae) and wooden markers, or traced in clay prior to casting bronze vessels.

Hence the term for an early version: 金文 ('kam man'), literally meaning metal inscription, bronze bell script. In which style the two characters for Oolong appear below.

For all those weird caucasians who like tattoos of Chinese texts, I encourage them to have exactly this engraved into their flabby white posteriors. There are two characters, one for each cheek.

If a relative or loved one ever sees it, just tell them it means something spiritual and you've taken a vow. Been sworn to secrecy or something.

They are your totem animals.

It's deep, man.

By the way, over ninety percent of the people I deal with while at work have prostates. At least three of them are keenly aware of that. Two of them take five minutes to micturate.

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Friday, April 19, 2024


Surely everyone is pleasantly surprised that the SF Police have identified one of the people who torched a driverless taxi vehicle (Waymo) back on February 10 in Chinatown. We kind of expected the juvenile delinquents to get away with it, as they so often do. Now that we've caught one of them, lets throw the book at him. More or less.
The one shall stand in for the many.

He'll represent all the other shiftless gaddabouts who participated.

It takes a village to lynch a robot.

And, naturally, I have way more sympathy for the helpful machine with near human-like intelligence than the humans involved, who showed their worst post apocalyptic subhuman trash side by committing dangerous vandalism in a crowded neighborhood where, had things gone seriously wrong, emergency services would have had a hard time getting to the scene. White teenagers grinningly destroying something is not sharing the cultural traditions of a different group but more like deliberately raining on the parade.

Shan't even mention the punk with the skateboard.
A slimy little rodent.
Today's youth are largely arrogant whiny spoiled brats. As unfortunately are so many of their seniors, an example being the old dame on the bus who complained about modern people not making room or getting up for folks with walking sticks. My dear lady, on a packed bus hurtling toward oblivion (the Outer Richmond), perhaps some of the customary courtesies are less than practical? To get to a vacant seat one would have to hack through half a dozen innocent civilians standing in between with a machete on this vehicle, it's that dense.
And it's not like there wasn't opportunity earlier.

Some of us who carry canes (which I'm trying to discreetly keep out of sight and harm's way on this conveyance at this hour) are stubborn and would rather not sit at crotch-level with a whole bunch of strangers. So I'll gladly leave that to the utterly pooped and deserving twenty somethings, lord knows they have had a hard day at work what with the hints of caramel and raspberry vanilla wafting over the office cubicles from Steve's soy latte and Martha's vape pen, to say nothing of that Hello Kitty Perfume that Beth is wearing.
They need real odour experience.

Besides, I'd rather stand. I've got a pipe that's gone out in my coat pocket, which I don't want to tip and spill ashes. Standing keeps the bowl upright. If I desperately needed to sit down, then I would have eaten earlier, or dawdled an extra hour or so. Right at rush hour I know what I'm getting into. Eye-level with arse? No thanks, I'm not complaining.

There are over a hundred people on the bus. It's a little funky in here.

Today's youth are remarkably similar to kids back then.
So are their whiny grandparents.

They smell bad.

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Thursday, April 18, 2024


Rereading my old posts reminds me that I used to be immoderate. And at times over the top. I've calmed down and grown up since then. Nowadays I am the most boring degenerated Dutchman I know.

Quite staid. A sober man. Unindulgent in the least.

No wonder I'm not dating anyone.
It's probably time to admit to myself that there is no warehouse filled with guns and ammo for the rebels in the hills, or if there was, that I've lost the keys and the map, and my visas aren't up-to-date anymore.

My father, when he was in his thirties, gave up on airplanes and fast cars. The latter was because of my mother, who during the war years crashed three jeeps. I have calmed down entirely without the "encouragement" of a stubborn woman.

That is to say, I can't really run anymore because of a not-so-well functioning leg, and the cops would probably catch me now.

Sadly, I never put my knowledge of chemistry to good use.

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Sometimes you wake up with a hecka chonker. And you wonder "what is this odd indentation here, and why does it smell fishy?" Then it moves, and you realize it was merely a figment. Imagination, subconscious, those blood pressure pills. Ghost cat weighing you down.
The figmentitious beast yawned, and its digestive process was obvious.

Why did you feed it freshly caught trout? Why?!?

Because it was with you on that trip to Scotland, that's why.

I cannot explain why I dreamed of Scotland.

When I went to sleep I was wondering what to eat today. I've taken a scunner to a few of my favourite places, because the Toishanese who frequent those eateries are not the most agreeable bunch. When I greet someone I expect to be greeted back.
We've seen each other around for several years.
And I am not chopped liver.

How all of that segued into a Scottish vacation, where there is nothing to eat and everybody talks Glaswegian while putting steak sauce on their haggis baffles the heck out of me.
And after a while all bagpipe music sounds the same.
The ghost cat that haunts this apartment shifted in its sleep and disappeared.

Normally I catch it in the corner of my eye when half awake. This is the first time it slept on top of me. And I'm still wondering what to eat. Ideally, it would be a two-pipe smoking day in Chinatown -- early lunch, pipe, teatime, pipe -- but given that a few of the businesses I used to go to no longer exist, and five bakeries aren't where one can sit and dawdle anymore, it's a bit difficult. Boba tea places charge too much for beverages that are not worth drinking (too weak), and the number of hot and spicy Hunan-Sichuan eateries catering to the yuppie Caucasian crowd has increased at the expense of home town Cantonese.

There are two chachantengs which quirk my interest. But both are quite a bit distant, and would require multiple bus transfers. I'm a grumpy Dutchman with a bum leg, and I don't really want to travel out to the avenues, or Siberia, or Scotland. Not today.

Something I haven't eaten in a long time is 蝦膏蒸豬肉 ('haa kou jing chyü yiuk'; steamed fatty pork with shrimp paste), which you very seldom see on menus nowadays because it takes a while to cook, and as there are a high number of elderly people who have been severly spoken-to by their doctors it isn't as popular anymore as it deserves to be.

The ghost cat would definitely like it too.

Chunked streaky pork, minced ginger and garlic, shrimp paste, jigger sherry, teaspoon sugar, cornstarch, a drop or two of sesame oil, ground pepper. Mix well, steam for ten to twenty minutes depending on how thick you've cut the meat. Garnish with cilantro.
Great with rice and sambal.

Heck with it. Go get congee with a fried bread (粥與油條) somewhere, worry about tea later.
Red Virginia flake, plus a Dunhill bruyere and a shell briar.
Both very jaunty looking.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024


There is an air of distraction to the streets in C'town nowadays. People seem lost in thought, absent minded, somewhat out of it. And more people I've noticed are on the cusp of losing it. Possibly it's financial, there are more out of business businesses, and the much dimished economic vitality is palpable. Some of the old standbyes are now hollow shells. This is not the semi-prosperous community it once was. New businesses cater to a more Northern clientele, or strictly to non-Chinese consumers.

I bet you could make a fortune selling chow mein, chop suey, and designer ramen.
Plus dumplings, of course. Northerners and kwailo looooove dumplings.

My usual Wednesday chachanteng was not nearly as full as nomal. And midway through my meal a middle aged man started weeping. His parents remained silent. It was may have been something they didn't know how to deal with. Adult children shouldn't be fragile.

The teevee repair shop is long gone, there are several defunct businesses on that block. Two streets over, a long established herbal medicine emporium next to where Yong Kee (容記糕粉) used to be is now totally gutted; quite likely the elderly proprietor decided to retire.
It will probably be reborn as a bubble tea place for young mainlanders.
There are half a dozen closed businesses further down.
One of them used to be a nice restaurant.
No, I have no clue how I ended up with the pipe pictured above. Perhaps my friend Neil gave it to me, and I may have been abstracted at the time. It was probably sometime last year. It wasn't one of the pipes I smoked today. The first one was a Dunhill shellbriar, the second a Charatan Zulu. Both are over half a century old. Good smokes. I haven't painted either of them yet. Like the pipe in the picture, they represent a different time and place.

I suspect Dr. John was an off-brand of an English pipe company.

So many of the people in C'town are small and old.
Or the very young.

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There are more marginals sleeping on the street in the North-East sector these days. Spring is here. Of course, I said that many times over the past month and a half, and every time more rain and cold came, but I think it might stick this time. There was a large nearly naked black man riding his bicycle down Grant Avenue. That, surely, is a sign of rebirth. While waiting for my friend the bookseller I smoked a full bowl in the current pipe for watching rats in Spofford Alley. A rather comfy Dunhill Bruyere, billiard shape. Very suited to poncing around pretending to be an old-fashioned imperialist lackey.

Over the past week I've been conducting an experiment: take the amlodipine besylate right around teatime, so that the twitchy achey itch from the inside out in my lower legs doesn't keep me from falling asleep in the evening. So three hours earlier than before. It seems to be working, and I'm in a cheerier mood because I can sleep enough. I advanced the pill-taking time gradually each day so as not to throw everything off.

I may be a much better person for it.
All sweetness and light.

Yeah, I'm still a venomous old blister, but a much mellower one. I snarl far less.
And I haven't ripped anyone to pieces in days. Days!
The world is not ready for this.
The young lady subbing for Liaoning Auntie at the usual dive remembered that I drink tea, and automatically switched on the kettle. That is entirely because of her intelligence and attention to detail, NOT my kinder sweeter personality from the amlodipine time shift.
Uncle Orb-Weaver is NOT a nice person. Trust me.

I still dislike Vegans.

They taste bad.

By the way, there is no such thing as Gluten-free Vegan Beef Wellington.
Nor should there be. And don't even think of it.
People have been killed for less.
Have a salad.

A burger was eaten, tea and whiskey were drunk, and a Mandarin speaker from Columbia sang Abrázame. Great voice. Too much aftershave. Somebody should tell him that women will not fling their privates at him, he will not be neck deep in nookity wookity if he drenches himself with that stuff. But other than that, it was a splendid evening.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024


If you were travelling, you rather looked forward to the easy camaraderie and hubbub of the cafe on the platform, where you'd settle down for half an hour with a corona and unfurl your newspaper. Or it might be a bolknak; which looks more like a typical warprofiteers cigar than a corona, and has zeppelin or elliptic contours. While gleefully reading about some dreadful colonialist shenanigans you'd listen in to the discussion of racehorses at the next table, passing the time before the train came in a pleasantly funky atmosphere.

Here in the States, where most travelling was by Greyhound bus -- the proximity of a four hundred pound wino with fleas and reeking of Thunderbird being the thing -- you would sit in that frightful waiting room south of Market Street chainsmoking Marlboros instead. Or so I've heard. Far less enjoyable. You weren't looking forward to endless hours rolling through the cornfields of Iowa, and those stops in the middle of the night in grim burgs on the edge of the wastelands, with mothers changing their squawling infants diapers and everybody fighting for the last rubbery hot dog from the kiosk for two hundred miles.
While counting out their remaining cigarettes.

Things have improved! No more smoking inside, and there is no longer the reek of cheap booze either. Instead there are people shooting up in the bathrooms, because America has gone over to the opioids. Maybe someone is tweaking on meth in a corner, but unless these people piss on themselves, everything is cleaner and brighter. Why, there might even be a snackbar with gluten-free vegan options! It's so much better than those bad old days!

And, at the end of the journey, there is a six star chainhotel with pastel decor, easy on the eyes, clean sheets, wifi and cable teevee, and a sumptuous breakfast buffet.
Please, no smoking near the door. We have standards!

So you head over to the local graveyard with your pipe and tobacco, because that is the one place in town where earthmothers and Karens won't bother you.
Of course in bigger cities the municipal cadaver stash might be a very long hike away, but skidrow is much closer. And, the good lord willing, there won't be any anti-smokers among the human wreckage and failed pyramid scheme yuppies with needles in their veins there, hollering shrilly about how the awful stench of Elizabethan Mixture is harshing their mellow.
You light up, passing the match in a circular motion over the surface of the tobacco, and relax. Ah, life is good! There are no puritans or wheat grass freaks in this alley.
Say, did that heap of refuse just move? Is that a filthy bare foot I see?
Oh, well, as long as it stays asleep, no biggie.

Life is considerably more 'educational" than it used to be.
Please understand why I have mixed feelings about that.

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Monday, April 15, 2024


It speaks volumes that several hundred people staged a vanity protest on both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate, and, in a country with more guns than people, not a single one of them was shot. That non-fatality figure was duplicated all across the country.
I repeat: no one shot the egotistical nuisances.
We've come a very long way, baby.
Practically Gandhi-esque.

Meanwhile, organs for transplant were probably delayed, along with necessary surgical procedures, hundreds of people who had appointments waited in vain because their doctors or lawyers were stuck in traffic, workers at day jobs lost wages or were fired, students didn't get to class in time, and grocery stores didn't get their shipments and had to close early.

Flights were missed. Weddings and probation officer interviews got cancelled.
Babies were born in traffic, there were cardiac arrests.
Bowels and bladders functioned.

I repeat: no one shot the egotistical nuisances.

Pissy terror supporting heathen in Dublin, Glasgow, and London were probably disappointed. Greta Thunberg will spend the next week clenching her sphincter angrily. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib very likely weep tears of disappointment.

All over Berkeley and Oakland there are self-congratulatory orgasms.
Because I was off today, it didn't affect me in the slightest. I despise Berkeley and Oakland and wasn't planning to visit, and I rather wish that there were barbed wire blocking every BART entrance and exit so that those hosebags can't come to the city.
But there isn't, yet, oh buggery well.

At lunch I enjoyed chicken curry and a hot cup of tea at a restaurant, followed by a pleasant smoke in a pipe that absolutely screams old-school imperialist stomping all over the world's proletariat: a Dunhill shellbriar with a classic shape, made when there still were pieces of empire left. It was extremely enjoyable.

Gluten. Meat. Tobacco. And even more bombs.
Cue the Imperial March from Starwars.
Pom pom pom pompeddapom!

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