Friday, May 31, 2024


So Trump was found guilty on thirty four counts, and all over the red states, particularly Marjorie taylor Greene's trailerpark, people were rending their garments, wailing about the end times and blood raining from the skies, and swearing that the south will rise again.
Plus trying to drown their sorrow and indignation in shitty American beer.
Here in SF, the news passed with barely a murmur.
We have better beer in any case.

Possibly the only person having conniptions was Ellen Lee Zhou, a perennial candidate for mayor from the loonie fringe, who is a Turmp 2024 MAGA republican and Jezus freak, living in an altenate reality, a raving antivaxxer who wants San Francisco to return to the lord.
She has our thoughts and prayers. Fat lot of good that will do her.
Maybe she should have some shitty beer instead?
Braindead Christian wacko.

Lines of Adderall sniffed off the adult diaper of history.
Soon to be an irrelevant has-been.
With old man smell.
Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.

Work will be interesting today. I'm looking forward to it. Batty right wing trolls and conspiracy nuts. Plus the two subcontinentals gloating into their beverages at the infuriated sputtering.

Anyway, Mike Johnson, a snivelling toad who hates America, has already spewed forth the approved party line about the trial and its outcome, and we can expext the rest of the traitors in the Republican Party to fiercely squawk and bluster accordingly. All the mayo-snarfing morons in the red states will no doubt swallow everything they say. So it's too early to celebrate. Sentence the bastard, then shoot any rioters.
Impose martial law where necessary.

That's something all rational people can get behind.

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Thursday, May 30, 2024


There are several American things that violently offend Europeans, per many articles on the internet. Food. Clothing. Tipping habits. Places. People. Cultural phenomena that prove that we Yanks have no culture, don't know about cuisines or darn well anything, are incredibly crass and vulgar, and, largely suck. We are, to put it bluntly, just bloody awful.

You know something? They can all go fudge themselves.
They invented Hitler and Stalin.
Plus lutefisk.

I mean really, Have you ever seen Vincent Van Gogh's famous painting "The Potato Eaters"? It's just depressing. Several scrawny peasant types dressed in rags sitting in a badly lit room dipping potatoes in vinegar. What life there was like before the post-war period.

Not even a Hershey Bar anywhere in sight!


The next time you throw a July Fourth barbecue, which you should do every weekend or at least several times a year because we are Americans and sneer at European methods of showing dates, and Eurocentric time anyhow, serve something with fried starch, melted cheese, and bacon. Plus green onions and hot sauce.
The Europeans forced ABBA on us, and we should never let them forget it.

They also invented disco. Worst time to be alive.

Well okay, I will admit that American processed cheese, Hershey bars, and "What's Up?" by the American rock group 4 Non Blondes, are almost certainly crimes against humanity, and will permanently blot our escutcheon, along with Bay Watch (which is unwatchable, so bad title a priori), but those are actually minor compared to European "achievements".

Anyway, the tourists are back in town. I keep hearing French, German, and Italian on the streets here. Let's welcome them with typical American hospitality, offer them bad pizza and perfectly horrid croissants, plus weak burnt coffee, lots and lots of carbonated beverages to counter their dehydration, brimming with ice to cool them down because they're overheated, and delicately whisper "sie können hier nicht anhalten, das ist fledermausland" ("Vous ne pouvez pas rester ici, c'est le pays des chauves-souris"/"Non puoi fermarti qui, è il paese dei pipistrelli") in their refined ears, to make their American adventure more surreal. They only came to see the buffalo and the huge wilderness areas anyway, our presence on this continent probably offends them.

And remember, if you speak to them at any time, they're likely to say "that's okay, we speak English". Because they thought that you were trying to speak to them in their language.
Even if everything you said was in English.


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When hearing about the volcanic eruption in Iceland, one naturally thinks of pizza. And there are parts of the world where pizza is a horrid abomination. Three offending countries come to mind: Canada, which invented Hawaiian pizza. Israel, where corn and tuna pizza is the most popular combo. And Sweden, with pizza Africana, which includes bananas, curry powder, peanuts, and chicken.

Okay, California pizza is pretty damned awful too. Not the real pizza, but that weird chain that does new age stuff. And the Netherlands once had split pea soup pizza with sliced smoked sausage, but that was more or less a tongue in cheek promotion which thank heavens never caught on. There are also New York (flat greasy roadkill) and Chicago (an oily acid indigestion casserole) which is blah goo served bubbling in a flat chum bucket.
But bananas, corn, pineapple, tuna, chicken and peanuts.
Good grief.

Shan't even mention people who have ranch dressing with their pizza.
I don't think they even qualify as civilized humans.
Tribal sorority slags from Iowa.

In lieu of ranch dressing, may I suggest hot sauce?
Left over pizza with Sriracha truly is the breakfast of champions.

Especially if there is anchovy and bellpepper on it.

The fact that there aren't any pizza restaurants open at six or six thirty in the morning, in this neighborhood, is downright a crime against humanity. It makes one think kindly of New York, where pizzerias are open twenty four seven. There you are, walking the poodle or smoking your pipe in the grim chill of dawn, when you realize that the perfect way to start the day is with a hot slice, cheese, salt, chilipaste. And why is that so hard to find?

Ranch dressing deserves to be burned.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2024


Lunch, tea, two pipes, shopping, and back home exhausted, for some more tea, the daily amlodipine besylate, and handing some veggies to my downstairs neighbor the Indonesian Chinese woman. Who seems often quite as mobile as myself, but is more of a recluse.
My right leg feels like it belongs to someone else. Or should. A right bastard.

It is probably sheer stubborness that keeps me from admitting that my cardiologist might be right and we might have to consider doing peripheral angioplasties on the lower extremities. The circulation is rather interdicted down there, and he says that these things rarely or never get better. Yet for the foreseeable future I am determined to prove him wrong. More walkies, and more uphill and downhill slopes, will undoubtedly improve circulation, I remain convinced of that. Deterination! Grit! Sotto voce cussing in foreign languages! Caffeine!

Also, there is a slight chance of relapse, the veins returning to their original constricted state, as per the surgeon who will actually perform the procedures. That and the deductible keep me from jumping at the opportunity for overnight improvements.

Besides, I would have to admit that I was wrong.
I'm a Dutchman. We're always right.
Besides, as long as I get in the minimum amount of walking I've set myself every day, things ought to be fine. which is two dozen blocks, more or less. And a few times up and down the stairs for smoke breaks. My former regular care physician would be overjoyed that I'm walking more.

Eating healthy is also important. Few deep-fried fatty snacks, and plenty of vegetables. Sriracha is a vegetable. And just in case, I acquired some more of it today to augment the stockpile which will carry me over till the supplies in the stores are stable again. Please note that I've shared it very generously with that tableful of diners at the streetmarket above.
They should be properly appreciative. Be well, little seafood eaters, be well!

Should go great with the fresh shellfish, sautéed eel with garlic oil, and thick noodles which they are having. Eels are good for the bones and tendons, as well as blood circulation. Whereas chilies are antioxidant, anti-cancerous, anti-aging, and slimming.
Besides being full of vitamin C and fibre! Good for your gut.

Also have some soup. And tea.

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Avid red-state readers will not be surprised when informed here that the micro-chips formerly in the frosting of cereals and also in infant formula -- put there by a group within the pentagon to track your purchasing habits and political tendencies -- are now in vaccines, that being a more surefire way of getting the majority tagged. Which is useful information. Unfortunately, these will, in some people, cause them to develop arm worms, which if unchecked lead eventually to death worms infesting the trailer parks and killing unsuspecting sheep. 

[Arm worms are a larval stage, much like face huggers.]

Freemasons, Bilderburgers, Chinese, and Dutch United Nations officials are all behind this scheme. It's the deep state. Seeing as the black helicopter plan had to be aborted because alert patriots found out about that during Operation Deep Helm ten years ago in Texas.

There are also micro-chips in marijuana gummies.
Which lead to face worms and gut cancer.
Always burn marijuana products.

Beware FEMA camps.

All of this per an authoritative sounding gentleman with an accordion on the bus. To whom the speakers of English within hearing distance likely listened quite attentively, and with great trepidation. We may have all feared what he might do with the instrument. The phrase "don't kill the accordion player" does not resonate, no tales or movies have been spun with that title, for very good reasons.

"Netherlanders invented death worms. Fact."

The Chinese speakers probably just ignored him. They're used to crazy kwailo by now, the city is full of them. And they are unpredictable. Which is probably why the old lady on Grant Avenue this evening crossed the street when she saw me, then crossed back once she was safely past. Yes, I do look like a quiet well-behaved old fellow, and I wear clean clothes, and might appear calm and bourgeois with my walking stick and pipe, but there's just no telling what I might do. She's probably heard things about people like me.

There was no craziness at the burger joint or the bar. Despite the huge number of Caucasian individuals. The temperature probably had something to do with that, as well as everybody still recovering from a long drunken weekend. The book seller did say some strange things, but it turns out I misheard him. At one point I was sure he had said that a coworker who is presently in Ireland had all the Guiness she could swim in.

Sadly, the karaoke singers were revisiting their parents' youth.
Nobody really misses the seventies.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024


When eating in Chinatown, everyone knows about stir-frying, pan-frying, red-stewing, and soup. As well as whatever that method is that yields the most popular category of Chinese food in the red states, namely first battering and deep-frying till crispy, then throwing whatever it is into a wok and saucing it with cornstarch, sugar, and various proportions of vinegar, soy sauce, red food colouring, and calling the result General Tzo's or kung pao. Which is not something most Chinese would touch with a ten-foot pole except to serve to folks who are incorrigibly Caucasian. It's also very popular in New York, I've been told.

Sweet and sour pork is a variation on that.

For a family of standard issue Protestants (mom, pop, two kids of alternate genders, a cat, a dog, a goldfish, and a new stationwagon), a well-balanced Chinese restaurant meal would be kung pao beef, sweet 'n sour pork, General Tzo's chicken, soup, egg rolls, and shrimp-fried rice. Don't forget the fortune cookies.

In fact, with the addition of burgers, pizza, a Brazilian steakhouse, and cream of mushroom soup, you will have the basis of International Cuisine as is available absolutely everywhere. Add bratwurst and Wiener schnitzel and the Europeans are happy too. Sorry, Netherlanders, but frikandel is hard to find. Apparently nobody else likes that. Perhaps have a burger?

Pineapple chunks are available upon request, I'm sure that there is a bottle of peanut sauce somewhere, as well as ketchup for the Yanks, and just wash everything down with beer.

[English people lament the absence of beans in a can outside of Britain. Sorry.]

Not having a goldfish or a stationwagon, I have avoided everything kung pao for years. It is tragic. And sadly, none of the places I go to ever give me fortune cookies. I haven't been to New York either. Yes, I know! I am so culturally deprived!
Most of the time I eat alone. This is not by design, but being not fully social, on the spectrum, and a middle-aged pipe smoking bachelor to boot, it was probably inevitable.

I suspect that later this afternoon I will probably end up at a chachanteng which I like, where what's on the wall board promises some fun eaties. In Chinese. Not because they are trying to keep the good stuff from the standard issue protestants, but because sometimes there are no good translations for that stuff, and they know their audience. Which is both Hong Kong and Toishanese, hometown folks. The character for which I gave a reconstruction of what it might look like in archaic script (篆書 zhuan shu), if it had existed then, is purely Cantonese, though Northerners would be able to pronounce it and based on context could guess that it had something to do with food preparation.

炆 ('man'): to simmer on a low heat briefly, incorporating flavours from the main ingredient(s) with some additions into a scant quantity of sauce. Basically stewed together so that it's sort of wet-juicy but not soupy. Sort of twixt braising and sautéeing.
The word isn't in most dictionaries.

I'll be there after the lunch rush has died down. It's calmer then, and I can observe other customers from two or three tables away, perhaps listening into their conversations, or speculating about passersby on the street. Afterwards I'll light up my pipe and wander through the neighborhood.

Seeing as I don't have either a goldfish or a stationwagon (new or used), I am invisible and quite unremarkable. So I hardly ever get noticed, and I am by myself.
Just a pipe smoking middle aged Dutch American.
A normal man.

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A good friend who is older and not as hale as myself has been missing in action. He has a pussycat with whom he likes to sit in the yard on warmer mornings than we've been having, smoking a pipe and having a cup of tea. There is a coyote across the nearby stream who eyes the cat. Which it probably thinks is just about pan-sized and would make an excellent breakfast. The cat is a 'she'. The gender of the coyote has not been determined yet, so it still has a choice of pronouns. And it does not concern me -- those things usually don't -- but if it makes a decision about the matter and voices it, I would certainly respect that.
As long as it identifies as a coyote, which it cannot deny that it is.
Biologically there is "coyote", and "non-coyote".
Everybody is one of those two things.
No argument possible.

The coyote is interested in the cat. My friend looks at the coyote. The coyote shyly stays away. It has reserve. My friend has reservations about the coyote and does not trust it. I am worried about my friend. I hope he's all right. I do not worry about the cat or the coyote, because I do not know them, we have never met. I trust both are well.

Obviously none of the above mentioned persons live in San Francisco, because we don't really have streams here, it being a built-up urban area and all. We used to.
Back when the Spaniards still ran the place.
Perhaps the morning is warmer outside the city, and suitable for sitting out in the yard with a pipe, a cat, and a coyote. And a cup of tea. It's about fifty Fahrenheit here right now, which is absolutely horrid. I'd rather have been in a bed soaking up a companion's body heat and arguing with her stuffed critters while smoking my pipe, perhaps with a cup of coffee and an ashtray on either bedside table -- remarkably, neither my apartment mate nor I actually have suitable companions for that, and both her bed and mine are up against bedroom walls so neither she nor I have more than one bedside table -- than outside freezing my arse off while bleakly considering cats or coyotes.

No, I do not know whether my friend has two bedside tables. I presume that he does, as he is married, but his wife prefers that he smoke outside, so the size of the tables is immaterial. It does not matter if they aren't large enough for coffee cups and an ashtray. Or teacups. If it's cold outside, the cat wil probably sit on his lap, and both of them can soak up each other's body heat. Sadly, the coyote will have to fend for itself. It will not be welcome in the warm heap of pipe smokers. Unless it brings its own pipe and tobacco, of course.
Pipesmokers are warm, welcoming social beings.

Yes, it was beastly on the streets while I wandered around with my pipe.
Raynauds phenomenon on both hands while out there.
I bellyached silently to myself.

Need more coffee now, and I'm going back to bed.

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Monday, May 27, 2024


It was crowded and painfully loud when I sat down. The loudness came from only one table, but they made more noise than the entire other side of the restaurant, where happy quiet parties and couples dines with serene calmness. I ordered dumplings and a cup of milk tea. While I enjoyed my lunch, three members of the wait-staff greeted me and asked how I was. I may be a customer of whom they are fond. This might have something to do with the fact that I am courteous, patient, and tip well. You see, I tip decently because I am appreciative, want to enjoy the place without stressing out the staff, and want the people who work there to be happy and remember me favourably when I go again. It's on my list of good places.
Also, because sofar I've always gotten my favourite table and prompt service.
When I went in I was in a black mood. When I left I was happy.
Dumplings have a beneficial effect.

[Also, I worked many years in the food service industry. So I know what a bunch of nasty blisters that people, especially out-of-towners who don't intend to ever come back, can be. And very often are.]

I can ignore a table having loud boisterous pleasure.
The cheerful ruckus added to the mood change.
As well as the excellent dumplings.

I had also taken the precaution of adding an extra layer under my shirt and sweater.
Two undergarments! Because it is beastly cold outside, and breezy too.
Frigid Spring weather we're having.
A friend lives out in the Richmond District near the ocean. When last we spoke he mentioned that it was darned well Arctic out where he is. I hope that the tourists go out to the beach in their colourful summery garb -- surely they've all seen Baywatch and expect California to be sun drenched and suited to slow motion running into the surf -- and disport themselves gaily out there. As tourists are wont to do. And as is expected of them. Speedos and sunscreen.

When I lit my pipe after leaving, I immediately sought out shelter from the wind. Excellent Virginia, a splendid briar, and frigid Norwegian weather. Two undershirts, a lumberjack overshirt, and a sweater. Plus a coat suitable for Autumn and winter.
Enjoy your trip to the beach, European visitors.
It's low fifties Fahrenheit.

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One wonders how the student protestors are observing Memorial Day. Probably with heresy and outrage. It must be grim in those pup tents. For people like myself, it means little other than to remember our parents and grandparents and their generation who did great things, endured much, eventually triumphed, and by doing so created the greatest era in American history. Back when the concept of the United Nations was new and bright, and we were justifiably on top of the world.

For the current crop of student protestors, who seem to be utterly clueless about very many things, it's all opaque. Things happened that were by their standards bad and to which they have no connection. Too much gluten and meat was consumed, marijuana was still illegal, and elderly white men exploited the poor blameless third world where otherwise nothing bad ever happened, as the happy peaceful natives were in touch with nature, lived in harmony with each other, built great monuments, and never even thought of exploiting each other or being mean. For sure.

Capitalism and the bourgeoisie had not been invented yet.
Until elderly white men ruined everything.
And outlawed dancing.

No wonder they're angry about stuff.

Because my apartment mate is home today (she's part of the system, and therefore probably co-guilty of exploiting the third world and forcing gluten and chemical additives on everyone, besides getting a day off), I shall perforce spend a lot of time outside smoking in public, and thus brutally killing the artistic and creative lungs of spiritual beings like third worlders and little children. And butterflies.

She's Chinese American. And we all know that Chinese Americans, as a model minority, are guilty of gluten, meat, and the enduring upshoring of the structures of oppression which keep the spiritual people of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the peace-loving Muslim world in sad bondage and exploited. As well as tied in to standard definitions of gender, office cubicles, and not dancing ecstatically with South African, Cuban, and Palestinian flags. Nevertheless, she objects to tobacco smoke. I thoroughly enjoy my pipe (which symbolically represents colonialism, imperialism, and the evil connections of college admins to Israel and the arms industry), and I intend to have a few bowls irrespective of the holiday and the third world. Plus some dumplings and milk tea down in Chinatown.

There are container loads of white tourists in town. Avoiding them will take effort. Fortunately the alleys and cul-de-sacs generally scare them. There might by opium dens, fan tan tables, and white slavers there, and hordes of secret society gangsters just waiting to cheat their white asses out of money, bodily organs, virginities, or precious fluids, and buy their Midwestern Christian souls! So if I just stick to the shadows I'll be okay.

I'll have two pipes (probably a Dunhill and a Charatan), plus pipe cleaners and a tamper with me in addition to matches and tobacco. And I'll watch out for the Mongolian Death Worm, which I've heard lurks there. So I'll be fine. I promise.

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Sunday, May 26, 2024


Remarkably, over a thousand people yesterday evening discovered a post I wrote fourteen years ago in which I took issue with New Zealanders and a damned Dutchman picking a fight with a Japanese fishing vessel in international waters, for self-righteous sanctimonious twat reasons. Issue taken also with the Australians. Who are objectionable simply on principle, because they talk funny, eat too much, and smell bad. That last because of sheep.
There are very many comments underneath that post.

It pleases me no end that people still occasionally read my witty repartee, opinions about cuisine, and my repulsed objections to what Australians and New Zealanders do to sheep. Although admittedly, fighting with Australians and New Zealanders in comment strings is easy, because it's often a battle of wits with unarmed people, and their command of spelling and grammar is that bad that half the time one can't make head or tails out of what they attempt to say. Even when they type instead of vocalize, they are often completely unintelligible and have rhetorical bad breath.

Pity the sheep and kangaroos don't have the vote down there.

I am immensely fond of sheep. Delicious, delicious animals.
No opinion about kangaroos. Probably taste like Vegemite.

Remarkably, I have no desire to ever visit Australia or New Zealand. Australia is filled with the ten most dangerous animals likely to kill you, people like Mad Max, and countless varietions on spaghett-o-Vegemite sandwiches and Pavlova, washed with bad chardonnay or Fosters, while New Zealand has pianos (shut up about the bloody piano) and hobbits, filthy nasty hobbitses, I hate them. Plus more Pavlova.

As I understand it, Pavlova is a giant marshmallow covered with whipped cream and canned fruits. American teenagers would probably like it. But those little deviants also eat junkfood and mac 'n cheese, plus bucket loads of fatty snacks and candy, so .....

Fosters is Australian beer.

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Saturday, May 25, 2024


During the late afternoon Martin dropped in, and we discussed his latest lovely aquisition. He had for a long time veered toward larger briars, but his current tastes are more in the Dunhill group three borderline group four range. Normal sizes. He smokes two pipes a day, but he loads them more than once. He smokes clean tobacco, and is quite as neurotic and anal about these things as I am. Which is excellent.
A clean pipe is a happy pipe.

Two of my favourite gentlemen had asked me to clean up their briars, and a third dropped off a Porsche Design semi-bent for servicing. They are all three splendid fellows, but judging by their smoking equipment, doing the laundry at their houses must be a horrendous thing.
I am mighty glad that I am not their helpmeet. Some women are absolute saints.

Yes of course I assume that their wives do the laundry
Somebody has to, and clearly they cannot.
Cleanliness is too complex.

Left to their own devices they'd eat off of paper plates.

Look, boys, the cold or warm cycle both work, provided you do it often enough and use a sufficient quantity of detergent. Drying, also, could be cold or warm. There are laundromats in most reasonably civilized countries, even in many frontier settlements here. Worst case scenario, contract a dhobi, especially if you have shirts that need ironing. Knowing a tailor is also a good thing. Sometimes those pants are too baggy around the waist and bottom, and professionally you don't want to look like a slob. There's always Mrs. Ma on Stockton Street, or Mrs. Kwan on the alleyway with the merchant who denies having cigarettes for sale even though his sign in Chinese clearly says that that is his main line of business.
Just don't look white if you ask about smokes, okay? It spooks him.

Sadly, Marin is not really a civilized place.
There are some things missing.
But, as you can see from the illustration, there is plenty of parking, and that fools people. Especially Americans, who judge the world by such things.

Yesterday the road to the bush (the rural districts inland where there are bugs, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and bears) was packed bumper to bumper with people taking advantage of the three-day weekend. So the city should be nice and quiet for the most part. Yes, tourists in all the usual places, but my neighborhood is not scenic or famously picturesque. On Monday I'll hike over the hill for dumplings in Chinatowtown and a smoke. With a bit of luck I will not need to use English at all, even to Germans.

North Beach is out of the question entirely. It is often filled with Italians, Midwesterners, and people speaking French or Arabic. And many people being artistic and intellectual.

Non possiamo fermarci qui questo è il paese dei pipistrelli.

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Friday, May 24, 2024


For the past several mornings I have woken up from dreams involving warmer places than this part of California presently is. It seems much colder than previous years at this time, but looking back over my notes that is incorrect. Last year in May it was quite unpleasant; the tail end of soggy. Also, it doesn't help that at this very moment I have The Big Lebowski playing in my head. Nice marmot!

Also, I dream of vast pools of coffee. Warm fragrant coffee.

Bogs, morasses, swamps. Buzzing insects hepped to the gills on caffeine. They are alive, and full of pleasure. Silky tofu. They've all got Folgers in their cup!

That can't be the effect of coffee last night before going to bed. I didn't have any.

So I'll ascribe it to blood pressure medication.

It is light outside.

One movie I do not wish to see, and there is no need to even think of watching it, ever, is 'Deliverance'. Which is the Grimms Fairy Tale version of an American coming of age story combined with Elvis Presley. As I understand it, it takes place along a river, so probably also reminiscent of The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer. I think drugs are involved. Tom Sawyer as written by Hunter S. Thompson. With adenochrome.

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.
Now that's a movie I could see again. The first time I saw it was the German dubbed version. Everything crazy sounds more remarkable in German. Which I remember everytime I hear European tourists on the street. Hier können wir nicht anhalten, das ist Fledermausland!

It is light outside, but not warm, not wet.
This is not a tropical rainforest.
There are no mosquitoes.
Nor fledermice.

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Thursday, May 23, 2024


For some reason which I cannot explain I thought about the Shanghainese girl this morning.
I knew her years ago, we drifted apart, and lost track of each other. I'm ashamed to admit it, but what initially got me to speak to her was her figure. In those days I was more "outgoing" about such things. What kept the friendship going was curry.

Both of us liked curry.

It never went beyond curry.

The entire point of it was curry.

For many years I worked part-time evenings at an Indian restaurant. Once the proprietor disquisitioned to a customer about the healthful properties of Indian food, why it was both miraculous and good for you, bapribap, oh my yes. This from a man who had three heart attacks to a man who had ordered murgh makhni (butter), chicken tikka masala (more butter), and butter drenched fresh hot naans to go.
Okay. Well um.

Yes, I still like curry.
The other day a customer at a chachanteng ordered curried fishballs (咖喱魚蛋 'kaa lei yü daan') for lunch. With rice. Which is unusual. Good chance he really likes curry.
Or was homesick for Hong Kong.

Like the Shanghainese girl, he was nowhere near overweight. Given how fond Chinese people are of fatty pork, melted cheese porkchops over tomato-sauced spaghetti, and flaky pastries made with lard, it is always remarkable how trim, sometimes downright scrawny, most of them are. My apartment mate, and my landlady who lives downstairs, are both Cantonese American women who love butter. And are by no means overweight.

Well, my apartment mate thinks she's fat. Hoo hah!
She does not know very many white folks.
Certainly none from the Midwest.

In my case, what keeps me reasonably thin is probably all that good healthy living, lots of chili peppers, and caffeinated beverages. And avoiding melted cheese on everything.
I haven't had a cheese covered porkchop in three or four years.

No, I don't know what I will have for lunch today. It's still too early to think about that.
I'll probably go over to Chinatown and see what looks good.
Maybe roast duck.

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Out near the frontier there are paths over the steep parts, and the army road does not give easy access to the overgrown areas. But the trucks do allow patrols, during the drier time of the year. Once the rains hit, all bets are off. Trails become mud, there are landslides, and people get lost in the overgrowth. But really, they shouldn't have been there. Snakes. Poisonous centipedes. Carnivores. And above all, ants and mosquitoes.

Why did they build the road? Was it just for the occasional foray?
Like a few other roads, it didn't really go anywhere.
There may have been a staging area.
Long since disappeared.
The rains.

Unless you have a generator, there is very little incentive to venture out beyond the grid. Airconditioning and consistent light are strong incentives to keep near populated areas, and prevent horrid skin infections. That does mean passable roads, and petrol storage.
Sources of clean water are also enormously attractive.

As are the numerous convenience stores.
Hot food, cold drinks, cigarettes.
Disinfectants, bleach.
There used to be more corner stores and laundromats in this neighborhood. Several of them have been replaced with pet groomers and yoga studios, indicating that twenty somethings don't drink alcohol, buy snacks, or wash their clothes. But they are in shape, and their dogs are fully shampooed. I'm not sure I'm entirely okay with that.

Also, the pandemic has made them dirtier.
Long hair and scruffy beards.
They look feral.

I have always thought it a very great pity that there is no cafe on a sunlit cul de sac in this neighborhood, with tables that catch the warm early morning rays. One could sit there and finish one's pipe with a glass of hot strong coffee, perhaps scribbling ideas in a notebook or absent-mindedly scratching an insect bite. But I can understand why that is. Dog owners, vegans, and people who have no taste in hot beverages would make it impossible, and Karens would complain about the occasional Dutchman with his horrid tobacco.

Gluten-free mufffins. Vegan Danish. Macrobiotic honey.
Greenly sourced beans from sustainable farms.
Overpriced very mediocre green tea.
And no ashtrays.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024


Having forgotten to pack the pillbox, instead of afternoon tea and a yummy biscuit at the bakery, I hurried home. I am rigid about scheduling, and after tea or tea time it's time for the amlodipine besylate, so that the ensuing fleshy itch in the calves and general achy very mild but nonetheless unpleasant flu-like symptoms, starting an hour to an hour and a half after the pill and lasting roughly for four hours don't keep me from falling asleep at a reasonable time.
I used to take it at around seven thirty in the evening. You can probably well imagine what that did to my sleep patterns.

Getting over to the bus stop on Sacramento Street was, of course, a pain in the .... where the leg begins. Meaning actually that both calves felt that they were being slaughtered for veal piccata. A tasty Italian American dish that takes little time to prepare, and features tender meat with a lemon - butter - caper sauce. Mmm, delicious.

Chachanteng for lunch, added money to my transit card, did some shopping.
Smoked a bowl of C&D Steamworks in a shellbriar billiard.
Contemplated my inhumanity to man.

I'm okay with myself. I just don't like man.
Contact with my fellow man happens too often for comfort.
Even having many of them nearby is a pain in the .... where the leg begins.
Do you see any man in the picture above? Well? No, you don't. Reason being that the scale of things there means that they were drawn exceptionally small. Because they are quite insigificant and overlookable.

The drawing is rather unimaginatively named "lake dawn". Because it depicts a lake.
More or less at dawn.

At dawn I take three supplements plus a statin and two bloodpressure meds. Then I have coffee while reading what a rotten place the world is on the computer, after which I load a pipe and head out for a refreshing walk. Perhaps screaming at people or dancing naked.
Or perhaps not. This planet and its natives leave a lot to be desired. Even the ones walking their dogs or rat-like chihuahuas for defecatory purposes. Perhaps especially those people.

I have taken the calcium channel blocker. Water is on for tea.
Now comes lassitude coupled with discomfort.
And an increase of oxygen.

This too, is a pain where the leg begins.

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Dawn came surprisingly soon. That is to say, normally I sleep a little late on Wednesdays due to intemperate behaviours the night before -- which really means behaviours by younger and sprightlier people getting squiffy in North Beach, frat boys and twenty-something marketing drones, because I don't drink -- and rise at a leisurely hour for a cup of coffee and a quiet contemplative pipe smoked when the day is already full. But, you know, the bladder.

When I was a young lad the bladder did not weigh so heavily on the mind. It took care of itself, more or less, and I cannot remember it being a pain in the sphincter. Although I do remember taking a leak against the church opposite our house on the market square in Valkenswaard. And one evening at the church in Aalst. Also Veldhoven. Plus the smaller church in Dommelen, several times. Also three different churches in Eindhoven.

This makes sense when you understand that churches in North Brabant do not get built in a wilderness. Most of the bars where young men gather are, in fact, short stumbling distances from churches. They are in the centre of things.

They loom, dark and inviting, almost begging the passerby to pause and think about life.

By the way: Our house opposite the church is now also a bar. So you can't go back, really, but you can have a good time there if you try. There are more bars on the Market Square than before.

It stands to reason that the women's room in almost any bar, cafe, herberg, or restaurant in the Kempen region is quite heavenly, because while the men can wander around outside and find relief near a random building, women cannot do so, and must take their pause in a warm brightly lit clean private area. The men's room is usually a frightful bog.

And if the business is run by Stientje ('Kristine'), a tough old lady who smuggled guns during the war, and butter, tobacco, and gin, afterwards, the women's room will be absolutely sparkling. With lace and pillows. Please do not ask me how I know this.

The diuretic effect of coffee takes between one and two hours to become apparent. Tea can take a while longer, and may manifest itself two or three times over a period of several hours throughout an entire night.

When I come home after work I drink coffee. No problem.
Diuresis happens before I feel somnolent.
Then I sleep like a baby.

I dreamed of church last night.
I am not a religious man.

I had tea.

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It seemed an echo of a Shanghainese place on Parkes Street in Jordan. Which is in Hong Kong. The combination of snow vegetable and pork shreds is very Shanghai, and they are much enamoured of thick softish noodles, which are actually wonderful with peanut-sesame sauce, chili oil, and wood ears. But as the base for snow vegetable porks shreds scantly stewed with thick noodles (雪菜肉絲炆粗麵 'suet choi yiuk si man chou min') it also works. Especially if one overdoes the sambal. As one does. Which I did. Delicious!

The other customers were an elderly HK woman who was having her afternoon tea with a sweet bun or scone-type thing, two women and a man who spoke with country accents, and a boisterous fellow with his wives (?) also enjoying afternoon tea, which is to say warm tofu pudding and coffee. Most of the seats in the chachanteng were empty, and the main daytime waitress had already left. The elderly fellow who is regularly there at the same time -- we have a nodding acquaintance -- did not show up for his coffee and bun in late afternoon.
I hope he's okay. It is hard to tell how much older some of these folks are.

On my way to my late lunch I had noticed several tykes who were going home with their grandads. Tiny little people, mostly adorable. Not quite as lovely as the infant sling-strapped to her mother at the landromat, who had the sweetest smile. Eyes focussed and curious.

Also in view at times were gigantic tourists, probably from the Midwest and South, where they grow "big". Dang. Shan't fat-shame. It's genetics. And lard, but mostly genetics.

Lunch was extremely enjoyable.

Later, after a brief nap at home, I met the bookseller at the usual place. I had smoked my pipe while waiting. He is not a pipe smoker, but will indulge in the cigarillos which I pack whenever we go on our customary pub crawl. Which is a very staid business. I do not drink and the bar where we usually end up changed hands and is no longer the venue for wild drunkenness and insanity by staff it once was. The current owner is not likely to rummage in the utility drawer for the Saturday Night Special and go after people, or engage in shotglass throwing fights with elderly delinquents. In fact, there may not even be a weapon in the utility drawer. I hope she's kept the baseball bat, though. What is a bar without a bat?
Especially a karaoke bar. Punishment is essential.
Crowd control.

The bookseller's birthday was today. He says he doesn't feel a day over what he was yesterday. Doesn't look it either.

A bit chilly out. Not horribly so. The large ceramic frog we had seen earlier had disappeared when we headed toward the bus stop. It was hideous. I'm guessing that some frat boy took it home, where tomorrow morning a brother will stumble over it in the bathroom, then shriek "what the heck is this ghastly thing, and what happened to my pizza? I had an entire pizza when I fell asleep last night, and now my pizza is gone! Gone! The world has gone mad!"

You know, I'm not too familiar with what Berkeley boys are like nowadays.
But I'm sure they still indulge in pizza orgies.
All students do.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2024


Whoever thinks nature is benevolent and harmless may need their head adjusted. Nature, usually, is malevolently apathetic. Homicidal psychosis is a natural phenomenon, as are also several highly venomous creatures who use their toxins for fun and profit, and to great effect. A black widow spider is a natural phenomenon. Highly succesful, too. Frequently no man in their household, lots of absorbable proteins, and many more soon where that came from, when the egg mass hatches.

Every time one flies back to California, when there are glowing patches thousands of feet below, one knows one is home. Forest fires tell us we no longer have to fear New Yorkers with their snooty attitudes; they quail before the ferocity of our natural environment.

Probably explains all the tourist blobbos in our urban areas sneering at drug addicts and the rabid homeless. They dare not go into the interior and contest the terrors that lurk there. Amidst the trailer parks and suburban haciendas, strip malls, and manicured lawns.

The inhospitable sasquatch mating areas.
A savage and terrifying wilderness.
Rattlesnakes and moose.
The East Coast is not like that at all. They have pounded both nature and the aboriginals into submission. The final straw was Yoko Ono performing. Nothing left but the cold silence of the grave, giant pet rats in their sewer systems, and squabbling over who makes the best pizza like pudgy well-fed British gentlemen.

These are things I often think about when on my way home from work I pass by a local East Coast pizzeria. I've had their food. It is good. But a flat greasy slice, if you look at it from the right angle, resembles nothing so much as fresh roadkill. A poor beast squashed flat by the thundering big rig of life, stuck to the steaming potholed asfalt of somewhere effing ghastly like Massachusetts or Queens. A rabid skunk, perhaps, now tamed by the sneers of some yobbo who talks like "that". And, the final insult, covered with "cheese".

Still, one agrees with Jon Stewart. It could be worse.
Chicago deep dish oily dough casserole.
Acid indigestion in a skillet.

I like pizza.

Dreamed of it last night.

There is nothing that says "New York" like Yoko Ono.

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Monday, May 20, 2024


It wasn't till I had lit up that I remembered that by the time I would finish, there might not be anywhere in Chinatown to have a cup of HK style milk tea. Both bakeries I patronize would have shut for the day. Since the pandemic, almost everyone closes at six. C'town, sadly, had become a bedroom community. And being at the top of Nob after five, even if I hurried it wouldn't happen.

What with being a bit of a loner, there wasn't a single place that suggested itself as a good alternative. And what with being neurotic and on the spectrum I didn't feel paricularly like venturing out of the shell to discover new things late on a Monday afternoon.

And why the heck am I trying to justify myself?

Lunch had been an easy plate of a mashed potatoes, chopped mustard greens with ginger sauteed till soft, and a grilled wurst. With mild spices, salt and pepper, and a hefty sploodge of sambal (between four and five tablespoons) added to the hot pan. Not reflective of any particular cuisine, but something a typical college man years ago in the Netherlands or Belgium would probably have recognized and liked. Stoemp, deconstructed.

Added benefit: the smell of meal preparation would drive the hint of tobacco out, and with the windows open there is no chance of my apartment mate suspecting that I spent the whole day puffing away. Plus it's a good thing she has a bad sense of smell.
Also, I had shut her bedroom door as soon as she left this morning.
So there is no way any of the stuffed creatures reek.

Unlike Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur, it is not warm enough to spend the entire day outdoors, there is no tiled area out back with a corrugated overhang shielding the man, his pipe, and a typewriter from the occasional rains -- there are no occasional rains here either -- and coffee shops that encourage college students to spend all afternoon in a smoke-filled environment poring over their textbooks, scribbling notes, and lighting up, such as Berkeley once had in abundance, no longer exist.

No hard-working college students. No kittens. No bearded intellectuals.
No smoke-filled cafe mezzanines reeking of Gauloises.

Yesterday afternoon two of my favourite Dutch Americans spent several hours being social with other pipe smokers. I observed from the sidelines. I cannot do that. Often, after roughly twenty minutes of butterflying-socially I will excuse myself.
Today was down time. More or less.
Much needed.

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One of the sad things about middle age, medications, and a less than optimum diet for the single man, is that mornings are frequently marked by a disquiet of the stomach. Coffee, although a great blessing, is not of any great help. It does, however, lead one to conclude that one would have made a great colonial administrator on the frontiers of empire: Upper Burma, the Khyber Pass, Greater Syria, and American Universities. All places where heathens, ghazees, headhunters, and illiterate savages would like to hold sway.

As a man exposed to much colonial history, Indonesian languages plus Latin, and accounts of early twentieth century conflict, I would have been anxiously awaiting my next shipment of books, newspapers, potted shrimp, thick cut marmalade, and fine tobacco, while organizing church raffles for the villagers drawn to Christianity and the benefits of literacy.

Otherwise known as keeping the horrid missionaries happy.

While strenuously avoiding their company.

When I first got to Berkeley many years ago, potted shrimp, decent marmalade, good tea, and sambal of any sort, were impossible to find. It was almost like some horrid Protestant commune! The only light in the tunnel was that exceptional tobacco was available.
Naturally I have read Kipling, Maugham, and Orwell. In addition to a lot of Dutch East Indies literature (the brightest spots in an expanse of otherwise dreary stay-at-home scribbling in the same period). From the fall of Napoleon till the nineteen fifties was both a dreaful time and a golden age. Since the hippie era, however, Western society has gradually become more self-righteous and puritanical, disapproving of nearly everything that is good. And Americans have always shied away from stuff like potted shrimp (no great loss) as well as any actual pleasures of the flesh. We thoroughly enjoy reading about other people indulging in such things then falling deservedly off their pedestals -- hence the popularity of celebrity biographies, pornography, and food writing -- but mentally most regular people in America would be quite at home in the Midwest or Tennessee.

That probably accounts for Maga roaches sneering at California.
We've got hot tubs, hot sauce, and hot weather.
It's self-indulgent, is what it is.
We are sinful!


Excuse me while I light some patchouli and dance around a craven image.
Okay, back now, sorry for the interruption.
It's a California thing.


Recently I acquired six bottles of a hot sauce for which there will be a several months-long production hiatus due to insufficient chili harvests. It takes over a hundred days of consistent hot weather to produce a satisfactory crop, and the region where that company sources their material from has been experiencing drought for a few years. Unfortunately it's become a cult favourite -- everyone except vegans in Berkeley and emotionally crippled savages living in the fly-overs has glommed onto their product -- and demand is too great to ensure a consistent supply of the prize condiment.

There won't be enough to re-start production till late August at the earliest.
Assuming that this year they have a decent harvest.
Which is a big if.


Time for more burning incense and twirling.
Surely you understand the need?


Six large bottles. That, plus several other chili producst, should keep me happy until supplies resume. Life in these parts is darned well unendurable without hot stuff. Chilies, as you know, are a valuable source of fibre, vitamins, and essential nutrients. And they make bland American food edible. It's like British food with far less grease.

I cannot for the life of me understand why we have an obesity problem here.

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