At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Friday, March 23, 2018


At twelve forty or there abouts I really should not be smoking my pipe in the teevee room. But it is subtle, and she will not wake. Which is good; my roommate does not know, or need to know, that since ten o'clock I have been thinking about the flobbly wobbly tittywinkies of some random feminine person in the bar.

I do that a lot. I may successfully pretend to be a gentleman. But I'm still a dirty old man. As I have been since my teenage years.

The young lady in the bar was trilingual.
Which is ever so ... hot.

On the other hand, this queer mixture of Irish flake and ribbon Virginia is also "smoking". And though I may be rancid, I am also a realist. My pipe will keep me happy, whereas the titty-person will likely fall for a hairy savage half my age. As indeed they always do.

I remember the young ladies at the noodle restaurant.
And acknowledge that I am not their type.
Original troglodyte.

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Thursday, March 22, 2018


There are times when I am surprised at what is considered a fit conversational subject among men. Which I shall now discuss.

If you are not a man, please close your eyes till the end of this post.

Yesterday evening someone made me an obscene proposition, this afternoon one of the cigar-smokers asked if I had watched Stormy Daniels' sex-tapes.
The answer to both 'queries' is 'no'.
To the first person, it's because I am straight. Please don't take it personally, and you happen to be intoxicated. Stop mentioning your penis, I am sure you have one.
To the second, why on earth would I be interested in anyone Dunglump humps?

I'm a bit old-fashioned.

What I think of body parts is nobody's business unless the recipient of that data is naked, and what I say is both positive and gladly received.
In a spirit of happy playfulness, of course.
As well as unmarried and female.
The recipient, not the data.

All the nudity to which I have been exposed in the last several years has been accidental, rather than deliberate. If it is ever deliberate again, which would be nice, it would be best to mutually decide upon a time and place.
And, of course, she should be unmarried and female.
In a spirit of happy playfulness.

You may open your eyes now.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018


This is one of my favourite places to eat, so I will not mention the name because some people would search for it on Yelp and read shitty reviews, likely by tourists and slope-browed ignoramusses, slagging the restaurant and criticizing them for not doing sweet and sour pork properly. Like it's always supposed to be done. As they know very well, from eating at some hole-in-the-wall in West Anoos, Kansas. And then they might think me crackers. Or hou mou tei-si.
Because I like it.

While I ate, I observed the other diners there.

Two countryside salt-of-the-earth types slowly ate their feast, with the bottle of red wine they had brought. It was too far to see the label clearly, probably a Californian pinot noir or merlot, but they enjoyed their drinks and their conversation. They were there when I came, still nibbling when I left.
Occasionally I heard sounds that only Toisanese make.
They were contemplative, not loud.
Calm fun.


A table of elderly people drifted in, the first one there having ordered for all of them, then angrily phoning the others when their food was turning cold.
I had wondered why she had so many dishes on her table, but after the last one arrived it all made sense. There was a little tension there, and their conversation was "subdued".
"Here I am, providing all of this food, and you mannerless old mofos took over HALF AN HOUR to park the goldarn car!" Implied, of course, but not stated. The ladies probably did some shopping while walking over, the man took ten minutes longer to get there, so he may have dropped them off. Before or after the cell-phone viciously exploded.
Probably not the best of social meals.

An old couple at the table that the white yuppie chicks had vacated. They seemed happier than the table of elderly types, far more alert than the white yuppie chicks, and spoke city Cantonese.
No booze, lots of tea.

[飲食順序好重要:湯水先,再來蔬菜和肉,同飯。The order of the meal is very important; first soup, then the vegetables and meat dishes, plus rice.]

And lastly, a man, a woman, and their pudgy little girl. Fried crab. A whole steamed fish. Garlic stir-fried stalky vegetables (mm, smells delicious!). And then yet another plate. By that time I was marveling at the nice things they were eating, and envious of the child happily tucking in. They did not look like they were celebrating anything, nor were they dressed for an occasion. Just a regular family dinner. But a very nice one.

"Oh don't bother cooking, let us just go out and have crab and steamed fish over at that place. And garlicky stirfry veggies."

How wonderful to be that little person, with such parents.

My own meal was a simple something over rice.
Basically a lunch-plate special.
Though good.


Chinatown at twilight on a rainy day is the perfect place to smoke a pipe after dinner. Here and there under awnings another person pauses with a cigarette, over at Luk Fook they're re-calibrating the roll-down shutters, and a few people hasten home with food purchased or head towards restaurants in groups. Along Washington the eateries are brightly lit.
Because, food, you know. Food.
Especially when it rains.

Please note: pronouns aren't necessary when contextually the whom and what are perfectly clear. Hmm?

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018


And you should run for the hills, because they will destroy your shopping malls. Can't trust those Vongols! And it's only because of Democrats and the Rothschilds that they were even allowed in.
Plus: Obama is a Bilderberger.
As well as a lizard.

Um, yes. Several days of work in a prosperous enclave to the north of San Francisco leave me convinced that Dunning-Kruger is spreading. And that Republicans, whether or not they are Christian gun-nuts and racists, or just well-to-do fatheads, are all karmically bleeding from the anus.

Even though nicotine has proven benefits to the cognitive processes and boosts short-term memory, those cigar-chomping weasels aren't getting enough of it.

On Sunday, while my colleague and I were trying to ignore the sober Irish psychopath and his buddies in the lounge behind us, a friend brought linguini con vongole for lunch.
In addition to vongols, there were also gambers in there.

[Is there any reason why English should NOT take over words from other languages and tame or butcher them? In Italian, clams, shrimp, mussels, crabs, oysters, and other bivalves are vongole, gamberi, cozze, granchi, ostriche, e altri bivalvi.
In Dutch and Flemish: mercijners, garnalen, mosselen, krabben, oesters, en andere schelpdieren. Chinese: 蛤蜊,蝦,貽貝,蟹,牡蠣,同其他啲雙殼類 ('gaap lei, haa, yi pui, haai, maau lai, tong kei taa dik seung hok leui'). Yes, I know shrimp are not lamellibranches. But in English we include them in that menu-section.]

Discussions of food and pipe-tobacco were, quite probably, the intellectual highlights of my work week, which ended yesterday. Not the cigar crowd.
A non-smoking space alien would have not found intelligent life there.

There was enough linguini con vongole for dinner, and a late night snack.
I am totally vongolled out. Perhaps for the next two days I shall concentrate on fatty pork in Chinatown. And a complete absence of cigar-smokers.
It will do wonders for my gout.


Last night, while Sue, Lucy, Haley, and their boyfriends, crooned sultry love ballads at the karaoke bar, I smoked my pipe below in the portico. No, I do not know those people, but I remember their names. The street outside was empty, except for an unstable street person with a visible plumber's crack, who overturned a trash bin and then built a shrine with discarded fruits, soda cans, and packing tape, in front of a neighboring business.
It is wondrous what you can do with a banana.

A drifting odour of pot reminded me of Marin.

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Monday, March 19, 2018


This blogger is old enough to remember when personal computers were only a dream. Same with cell-phones. Not that life was any better then, but it was different. The tail-end of the bell-bottom era. Quite frankly I do not remember those days with any great affection, though I will stoutly defend the glory of that bygone gilded age.

I still do not have a cell-phone. There is a landline to the phone underneath the table in the television room, which my equally Luddite apartment mate and I share.

The only calls I get are either for her, or people asking me for money.

"Please sir, the Peruvian Saw-toothed Butterfly only needs forty dollars to survive. If you don't contribute now, it will go extinct!"

Further conversation establishes that "butterfly" is a gross misnomer. It is actually more like a mutant piranha with wings. Or a clever stratagem to pay rent on an office near Modesto, modest salaries for five full time staff, and a very handsome emolument for a qualified director or not-for-profit socialite opportunist working in the charitable field.
Saw-toothed is apt, however.
And hungry.

My piles bleed for the Peruvian Saw-toothed Butterfly.
I will send it my thoughts and prayers.

In the past twelve months, I have received four phonecalls to me personally. One from my aunt in Canada. Two from my bank. And one from work.
My apartment mate receives a couple of calls a week from her sort-of-ex boyfriend. Sometimes she tells him not to call for a while. Not that she hates or dislikes him, or on the other hand still gets along with him. But they are both Asperger, much more than me, so they occasionally need someone they understand to talk to, and they think rather similarly. No offense to any Aspy's reading this, but it's like listening to two hyper-intelligent oysters describing the last bit of gravel they suctioned.

[My affliction is somewhat different. When certain people -- a very large number, in fact, make conversation, the thought running through my head is "please shut up". These are often very nice people, probably quite likable, charming even, to normal folks ("neuro typicals"), but anything more than a minute or two of their company does something.]

Neither her nor I have much of a social life, but we hardly use the telephone as a substitute. She has slightly more social-traction than I do -- that being aforementioned gravel talk, plus local living relatives -- but I doubt that either of us need much more than we get.

We're okay.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018


One of my friends, a likable gentleman of the same generation as myself, who is a prosperous restaurateur, has a Chinese girlfriend half his age.
He's sold a few of his establishments, and currently is semi-retired.
His friends undoubtedly are worried. Has she got her greedy claws into him? Is she bleeding the poor old rich bugger dry? What on earth could those two have in common? They're so different!
She's only half his age!

I am not too worried. She's Cantonese, so they have food in common. And whatever concerns I might have are diminished considerably by my crazy faith in the suitability of a middle-aged man getting a second chance at romance with someone vibrant, sparky, and half his age.

No, I'm not jealous. Though I could well be. But the fact that she isn't white argues very much in her favour, because the chance of her being vegan, vegetarian, gluten-phobic, flavour-hating, organic, self-diagnosed allergic to good stuff, or similar white woman food nuts, is far less than otherwise.
If anything, I am curious about their meals together.
Fatty pork? Fresh seafood? Oyster sauce?
And what does he cook?

Surely they eat together.

I myself am rather fond of what are called tea restaurants (茶餐廳 'cha chan teng'), by which are meant the places that serve Hong Kong variations on Western Food and local convenience dishes, often including spaghetti and macaroni dolled up easy (fried egg and sandwich meat).
Quick stirfries and rice, fried noodles, soup.
Toast, club sandwiches, won ton.
And stuff with cheese.

Two popular items are "white sauce and cheese fresh seafood baked rice" (白汁芝士海鮮焗飯 'paak jap ji-si hoi sin guk faan') and "cheesy curry fresh seafood baked rice" (芝士咖喱海鮮焗飯 'ji-si kaa-lei hoi sin guk faan'), which are extremely similar, as the base of either is cooked rice lightly fried, with a bit of egg added, cooked seafood with gravy put on top in an oven-proof dish or casserole, the whole baked till hot, then a handful of grated cheese strewn over it all and the dish put under the broiler till bubbly.
Cantonese are inordinatily fond of fresh seafood.
And, as it turns out, cheese.
Cream sauce.

Hot bubbly goodness.

Both of these, plus baked Portuguese chicken rice (焗葡國雞飯'guk pou gwok gai faan') and baked tomato porkchop over rice (番茄豬扒飯 'fan ke chyu-baa faan') can be got at tea restaurants in American Chinatowns, but you may have to hunt a bit. Or you could make them at home. The recipes are not complicated. Just look them up on the internet, and wing it.

Egg-fried rice. Generously sauced main ingredient.
Plus mushrooms, bell pepper, etcetera.
Bake. Add cheese. Broil.

If you are me, you will probably include bacon.
As well as Sriracha.



The reason why they are called "tea restaurants" is because the beverage of choice is tea. Specifically, hot sweet milk tea (奶茶 'naai cha'), which will get you back on your feet again and fuel your active life-style, whether you are a sleep-deprived student, harried householder, or ambitious aspirant capitalist presently holding down three jobs.

I am none of those.

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Screw it. Let the bitch burn. I'm tired of bailing out the ruling class. So the deficit is going to go where it's never been before. Why should I care. Worst comes to worst, I'll take the Glock out storage and visit the folks in Tiburon.

I know several prosperous people who would benefit from lead in the gut.

The dismemberment of rich Republicans is a possibility.

It's a heartwarming concept.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018


Yesterday a man who looks like a vicious leprechaun fired Andrew McCabe a few days short of Mr. McCabe being eligible for full retirement after many years of capable service to his country at the FBI.
The question that must now come to mind is: why, now that Trump and his butt-boy Sessions have politicized government employment, would anyone want to join in the future? How is that in any way fit service?
Only Sarah Huckabee Sanders can answer that.
The understudy for Jabba the Hut.
Actually, she can't.
She'd lie.

In any case. Mr. McCabe released an eloquent statement after his dismissal, which makes clear exactly how we are to understand the adulterer in chief's actions.


The investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has to be understood in the context of the attacks on my credibility. The investigation flows from my attempt to explain the FBI’s involvement and my supervision of investigations involving Hillary Clinton. I was being portrayed in the media over and over as a political partisan, accused of closing down investigations under political pressure. The FBI was portrayed as caving under that pressure, and making decisions for political rather than law enforcement purposes. Nothing was further from the truth. In fact, this entire investigation stems from my efforts, fully authorized under FBI rules, to set the record straight on behalf of the Bureau, and to make clear that we were continuing an investigation that people in DOJ opposed.

The OIG investigation has focused on information I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As Deputy Director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the Director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter. It was the type of exchange with the media that the Deputy Director oversees several times per week. In fact, it was the same type of work that I continued to do under Director Wray, at his request. The investigation subsequently focused on who I talked to, when I talked to them, and so forth. During these inquiries, I answered questions truthfully and as accurately as I could amidst the chaos that surrounded me. And when I thought my answers were misunderstood, I contacted investigators to correct them.

But looking at that in isolation completely misses the big picture. The big picture is a tale of what can happen when law enforcement is politicized, public servants are attacked, and people who are supposed to cherish and protect our institutions become instruments for damaging those institutions and people.

Here is the reality: I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey. The release of this report was accelerated only after my testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed that I would corroborate former Director Comey’s accounts of his discussions with the President. The OIG’s focus on me and this report became a part of an unprecedented effort by the Administration, driven by the President himself, to remove me from my position, destroy my reputation, and possibly strip me of a pension that I worked 21 years to earn. The accelerated release of the report, and the punitive actions taken in response, make sense only when viewed through this lens. Thursday’s comments from the White House are just the latest example of this.

This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally. It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the Special Counsel’s work.

I have always prided myself on serving my country with distinction and integrity, and I always encouraged those around me to do the same. Just ask them. To have my career end in this way, and to be accused of lacking candor when at worst I was distracted in the midst of chaotic events, is incredibly disappointing and unfair. But it will not erase the important work I was privileged to be a part of, the results of which will in the end be revealed for the country to see.

I have unfailing faith in the men and women of the FBI and I am confident that their efforts to seek justice will not be deterred.


If there was any doubt that Trump and his lackeys are sleazy unprincipled sacks of festering garbage, this should settle the matter. They are. They are the kind of people you should not under any circumstance associate with. Their vicinity is polluted, their company puts one beyond decent society.
Trump. Sessions. McConnell. Ryan.
The Republican Party.

And Louis Gomert, who is in a class of his own.
I mention him, lest he be overlooked.
As slugs usually are.

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It has rained for a week now, and the near-constant wetness has affected people's thought processes. Cold. Somnolence. Massive displays of public drunkenness. That last perhaps connected to a seasonal festival celebrating ethnic something. Wearing green. The police are having a field day.

Put another Protestant on the fire, dear, we shall have a cup of tea.

Northern California is a depressing place right now, and dipsomaniacs wearing soggy leprechaun outfits do not improve things.
Green spandex is not a good look.
If man is by origin a swamp creature, as evolutionary science suggests, you should all be naked.

On second thought, please don't. Pasty white flab undoubtedly smells like boiled cabbage. Black and yellow flab, ditto.

In celebration of Saint Patrick's Day, I should point out that almost the entire line of Peterson pipe tobaccos is shite. Very well made, but shite.
Repulsive testimonials to degeneracy.

A brief run-down, for readers not familiar with the genre:

ARAN: vanilla and floral perfume. CONNEMARA BLACK: cherry black Cavendish. CONNOISSEUR'S CHOICE: tropical fruits, vanilla, and booze. De LUXE MIXTURE: aromatic nut liqueur, vanilla, honey. FOUNDER'S CHOICE: rum, mango, vanilla. GOLD BLEND: hickory nuts, vanilla, cinnamon. IRISH DEW: vanilla, flower perfume, chocolate, whiskey. LUXURY BLEND: black Cavendish vanilla and honey. NUTTY CUT: macadamia nuts, coconut, rum. SHERLOCK HOLMES: assorted stone fruits and citrus. SUNSET BREEZE: Amaretto liqueur.
SWEET KILLARNEY: sweet caramel cream.

There are also Christmas and Holiday mixtures, plus Summertime blends, Special Reserves, and Saint Patrick's Day tobaccos. All of these products are aromatics. Mango, rum, vanilla, cream liqueur, honey, coffee, chocolate, and caramel. Lots of black Cavendish and cooked Burley.

Jayzus, ya heathens, Jayzus!

And stop blaming the Germans and Danes who make this crap for you, just admit that whorehouse smells are needed to overwhelm the putrid reek of your unwashed mildewed bodies AND the stink of cabbage.

It's all a form of escapism, writ large. The bog men yearn for the tropics.
Warmth, sunshine, and sultry perfumes.
I get it.

To properly mark Saint Patrick's Day, I opened up a tin of Murray's Erinmore Flake from my stash. It was over thirteen years old, and the tobacco sugars had expressed themselves upon the outer surfaces of the darkened slices.
Smoked the first bowl of it in a silver mounted straight billiard made in Dublin over half a century ago.

Had it with a cup of strong tea, while listening to the rain.
It was quite utterly lovely.


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Friday, March 16, 2018


In a just world, everyone involved in this corrupt administration would be in jail. Not a single one is fit to serve. Especially not the Keebler elf.
Let alone his pudgy-fingered pimp.


US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has fired FBI official Andrew McCabe, who had been accused of political bias by President Donald Trump.

In January Mr McCabe resigned as deputy director and was placed on leave.

He had been deeply involved in the FBI investigations into Hillary Clinton's use of email and Russia's alleged meddling in the presidential campaign.

He was sacked just two days before he was expected to retire, and could lose some of his pension rights.

In a statement Mr McCabe responded by saying he was being "singled out" because of the role he played in the aftermath of the firing of last year of then-FBI director James Comey.


Yes, Sessions 'did' it. But his cretinous boss ordered it.
Our Justice Department has been subverted.

By the way: The overlap between Republicans, the NRA, Christians, racists, and Trump-supporting psychopaths is so great that they are indistinguishable.

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One of the people whom I truly admire, an exceptionally bright and engaging Talmudist, posted the following picture on Facebook:

As a Dutchman, I "appreciate" the nod to my culture in the image above.
But I should really point out that the image below is far more accurate:

Late mediaeval, Northern Brabant, portraying a violent inbred possibly syphilitic virago pillaging hell. By Brueghel.

Brueghel lived in the territory of the Taxandria during the fifteen hundreds.
Taxandria is also Northern Brabant, south of Den Bosch.
Known chiefly as 'de vier kwartieren'.
De 'Meijerij'

Now, the earliest ancestor in my lineage was a peasant from that same area who lived more than two centuries before him. I am Northern Brabantine both by ancestry and by fortunate cultural happenstance; my parents moved there when I was still a wee lad.

Violent? Not really. Inbred? I can trace my family back on both sides to the same people. This is disturbing. Quite.

Syphilitic? Not Anglo enough.

Those cute little Dutch tykes in the upper picture wouldn't stand a chance. Ooh, they're so precious!
Kill kill kill kill kill.

Got genever?

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Thursday, March 15, 2018


If there is one thing we've learned from British television it is that penguins are smarter than BBC programming wonks, but no smarter than foreigners who lack any ability to speak English.

"The BBC Programme Planners surprisingly high total here can be explained away as being within the ordinary limits of statistical error; one particularly dim programme planner can cock the whole thing up."
End quote.


In other news, police in Uzbekistan are now forbidden to hide behind trees. Last week it was still allowed. Regular citizens, and foreign visitors, may hide behind trees. If a policeman does so, he might be demoted or fired. And it could affect his pension. This per the BBC.

I now know more about Tashkent than I did a few hours ago.

There are a surprising number of trees there.

It must fill police with yearning.

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In this town, even the large chunky women are cold and dessicated. She was built like a linebacker in comparison to my own slight self, but she radiated no heat when she sat down beside me, and the other bus passengers were equally temperature deprived. Except for a young Chinese fellow who smelled of cabbage.

It was freezing on the ride home. March has turned out bitter and arctic.
Hateful weather.

My body feels like ice cubes, and the concept of heat vampiring my fellow man -- well, the opposite fellow gender, that is -- is incredibly attractive. Except that I'd have to leap upon them to suck out their warmth.
And this bitter cold makes me sluggish.

Besides, none of them look good enough to eat.
Even bright young things look like zombies.
Green and pasty in the bus lighting.


Late lunch at a chachanteng. Roast goose over rice. Delicious. Added hot sauce to nearly every bite. Many restaurants in Chinatown buy Huy Fong's "sambal oelek" by the bucket now. Years ago it was hard to find sambal anywhere in San Francisco, now it is almost omnipresent.
Life here has improved considerably.
That goose was damned good.

When I got home I had coffee with ginger to warm the bones. And wore a bathrobe over my clothes. After an hour and a half I felt good enough to go harass the bartender at the joint around the corner.
He's thin, all bones, and freezing.
Slow night, cold place.
Vibrating corpse.

I think I speak for all of us when I say we look forward to Spring.
If it's warm enough, we may even be tempted to go naked.
Freeing pockets of stale air from our clothing.
The smells of cabbage.

It's set to rain all day today.
None of you get naked.
It isn't time.

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There is an over-ripe mango on the kitchen counter. If I did not know better, it would suggest that my apartment mate is a mid-thirties Anglo, probably Protestant, dippy, and blonde. Instead of a petite Asian-ancestried woman. Because, as everyone knows, mangoes should be green, hard, and sliced into long jade wedges to be eaten with a dab of shrimp paste and smear of chili condiment. Or oily sambal trasi.
That is very heaven.

Green mango, anchovy, and fatty pork.
Another favourite.

For most mangoes, ripe is the first stage of rot.
She will "enjoy" it in a day or two.
I ain't saying nuttin'.

No sambal.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018


A friend who was posted to Fragrant Harbour for several years is returning home to Blighty, and rejoining family and friends in Oxford and London.
It is likely that the future holds gardening, three martinis down at the club, and smoking his pipe outside in the weather because there are fewer places to light a bowl indoors in the modern era.

My guess is that within a few years he will yearn for a subtropical climate, while surrounded by the tumult and uproar of a teahouse, and muttering "damned tourists" at all the mainland interlopers.
Dim sum in the New Territories.
Or Central.

He likes rocky trails and storm-tossed coasts (how do you toss a coast?), so as a farewell to Hong Kong he should really visit Lion Rock before leaving.
Perhaps traversing the entire length of MacLehose too.
Terminating in Yuen Long for restoratives.
And a bowl of Elizabethan.

Better him than me. My legs hurt, and every week crossing Nob Hill late at night after cocktails in North Beach prompts my bile and grumbling.
Bugger it all, I am too old for this, where's my sedan chair?!?
I should be able rent one, for that once-a-week jaunt!
Plus guards, to keep the loonies away.

But a nice hot cuppa and a smoke at the far end sounds exceedingly nice.
If I were to open a business at the edge of Chinatown, it would be an all-night chachanteng (limited menu during the wee hours) with deep awnings and space heaters outside for the other tobacco fiends. Indeed, a totally evil plan, because it would disrupt the family schedules of several old men, as well as the sleep of nearby residents (because many elderly Cantonese gentlemen here play cards and carry on), and just to spite our population of young hipsters, the staff would not be fluent in English (or pretend so), and at night would include persons of a possibly dubious past.

The deep awnings and the corner mounted space heaters are an essential part of the plan. Like bars and cafes in the Netherlands, encouraging the smokers to stay, though outside, but comfortable, is a way of circumventing the health nazis. Even if the clean and smoke-free interior is empty.
Especially in inclement weather.
And the cold season.

Strong milk tea ((港式奶茶 'gong sik naai chaa'), of course. Hong Kong milk tea is very much like masala chai, without the masala.
It's EXTREMELY restorative.

Dunhill's Elizabethan Mixture is in the same ball park as both Dunbar and Dorchester, made by Germain under the Esoterica label. Tilbury, also an Esoterica product, is not too dissimilar, and if you like such blends you will find much joy in Greg Pease's entire Fog City Selection.
HH Mature Virginia is no longer made, alas.
But it was exceptionally nice.

A video celebrating Hong Kong, and a tune with which he's probably familiar:

東方明珠香港 -- 獅子山下 -- 羅文


He'll be back in England in April. I assume the climate will not surprise him. It rains a lot. Apparently Cantonese food in Oxford is quite good.
And there is even dim sum.

It always startles me when I discover that distant places where you would not expect it also have dim sum. But finding good roast duck (燒鴨) outside of San Francisco Chinatown is always a bit iffy, and an actual chachanteng (茶餐廳) is very rare indeed.

A good rendition of 焗葡國雞飯 is probably not possible.


The aroma of slightly scorched fresh ginger is extremely evocative, by the way, and adding a piece or two to stews is something I recommend. And nothing can quite duplicate Lee Kum Kee (李錦記) Oyster Sauce (蠔油);
it's Marmite for some expats.

Also, plant loquat (盧橘) trees.
They should grow there.
Perhaps a hot house?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018


There are evocative smells. Your elderly aunty's hidden lingerie drawer, for instance, or fermenting apples in a neighbor's yard. Both have an autumnal fragrance -- the first because of long forgotten maidenly fruitings, the latter due to late-stage vegetal sugars -- and, remarkably, whatever connotations they might have to dispassionate adults, to your childhood self they meant something much more innocent, and more 'other'.

Aunty used to be flirtatious! Who knew?

A completely fictional aunty, of course, and you'll just have to imagine the sultry perfume of French soap, a bar of which would always be there to chase away the moths, and a young lady's delicate perspiration when the military officer asked her to dance. He was just ever so dashing!
She blushed. And spilled some sherry down her cleavage.
Please do NOT imagine the cleavage.
Modesty, you know.

In the same way I enjoy my fictional aunty's wild side, I enjoy the products of McClelland Tobacco Company. Meaning mostly as an intellectual exercise. Especially that infamous whiff of vinegar (a natural fermentational effect), which some have likened to a ketchup reek, or barbecue sauce.
I found their flakes excellent, but often too dense to smoke.
Splendid products, marvelously well made.
And I shall miss them.

[One anomaly that I like entirely despite myself is the tobacco that Hello Kitty would smoke.
But an earlier phase of profound McClelland enjoyment produced dead camels.]

All credit is due Mike and Mary McNeal for keeping fine tobacco alive during a generation of dross. Their example undoubtedly inspired others, who have gained stature in their footsteps.

That said, I also enjoy other tobaccos as much, and probably more. It will take me many years to smoke the nearly twenty five pounds of various McClelland tobaccos I've stashed over the previous decade.
Sealed tins. I cannot enjoy the smell.
Not until I open them.

If you liked their Virginias, try Samuel Gawith's Full Virginia Flake, St. James, or Golden Glow. For the lovers of Latakia blends, Greg Pease has damned fine stuff, as do Gawith and Germain. And the Germans and Danes are making some very interesting blends, under several names.
Rattrays, McConnell, Zechbauer, Dan; all German.
Though mostly made in Denmark.
Orlik, as well as HH.
Et autres.

Even today there is still good tobacco.

POST SCRIPTUM: at present I am smoking an English flake in an old and very Londonian Canadian. It is very nice. I shall have to air out this place before my apartment mate returns in several hours, as she is not fond of the smell of pipe tobacco, though she seemingly doesn't mind the old fossils who smoke it. She has her own room. The door is closed.
A very stern Teddy Bear is behind that door.


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Earlier today the orange haired buffoon fired Rex Tillerson, and selected Mike Pompeo to replace him. Nah, I'm not going to say anything critical about Mike Pompeo's xenophobic comments on Twitter and elsewhere, because I really cannot. I too say offensive things.

I myself am on record as stating that Kansas is a syphilitic sore on America's political bottom, and I've called the president an orange haired buffoon. What I've said about Texas does not bear repeating.
Those people, especially Christians, revolt me.

Both Rex and Mike are more intelligent men than the president.

And considerably cleaner than him or his family.

But there is more than enough there to offend, and of the three, Rex was probably the only one you would not mind very much as a neighbor.


Every month the proportions of un-Americanism and loathsome cretinism in Washington shift a bit. They wiggle. Like worms and maggots.
It reminds one of dungheaps and rotting corpses.

I sort of admire Rex Tillerson, and will miss his stabilizing influence.

I am reserving judgement on his replacement.

Let's wait and see.

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Give him credit; G-Anne remembered my drink, even when it got wild. Amber ("New Amber") sang a few classics, Jennifer did something punk-o-gothic, and Paul sang three numbers while waiting for the bridge to open up. Because of a suicide attempt that ran into traffic and got splattered (as he had heard it), only one lane had been open till after eleven.
We had a lovely discussion about traffic accidents.
While he "paused" for an improvement.

Of course I didn't sing. For me it was a nightcap at the end of the day, close of the week. I was there with a pipe and spent much of that time downstairs in the portico, because karaoke is, very much like the yowling of randy tomcats, best appreciated from less than close quarters.
Like nearly outside while smoking.

My workweek consists largely of conversations that go nowhere. "Do you remember that thing?" "What thing?" "You know, that thing. The thing that, you know?" "Thing?" "Yeah, that thing!"

Thing, thing.

When I left it had started to rain, again.
I continued smoking once I got inside.
She was asleep, and wouldn't notice.

G-Anne poured me a courtesy smidgen. Upon leaving I lit the last pipe of the evening. Two days off. I shall not think of the 'thing'.
You know, that thing.
The "thing".

There were duck bones in the ashtray.
I had entirely forgotten.

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Monday, March 12, 2018


As it turns out, Gun-loving Bob was wrong about nearly everything. Remarkable for so reasonably intelligent a man, but as a Marine not at all surprising. Every single Marine I've ever met was "off" somehow. The sanest one was 'Rotor head', who got shot out the sky over Beirut.
His sense of balance was a little skewy, that was all.
'G-G' ("Gigi") of course is in a state of denial.
Has been for years, quite batshit.

Maybe the corps selects for that.

Anyhow, here it is, nine years later, over six years since I stopped talking to Bob-the-hose-bag, and Obama STILL hasn't come for his guns, nor is Sharia law any closer to being imposed than it was then.

I mention all this to illustrate that many normal people ("neuro-typicals") can be blazingly stupid, utterly off their rocker, or both.

[Excepting, of course 'Tinfoil Hat Steve', who isn't on the same planet as 'normal'. He probably never was.]

Especially in Marin County.

Where I work.

I am off for the next two days. My weekend.
I have been looking forward to this.

I am filled with a soft golden light.
According to some people.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018


One of the specialties of Hong Kong is typhoon shelter crab (避風塘炒蟹 'bei fung tong chaau haai'). In which that genuine typhoon shelter flavour (避風塘口味 'bei fung tong hau mei') is achieved by the generous addition of fried garlic and chilies. And I do mean generous; per pound of crab, use four or five heads of garlic (50 to 60 cloves), which you separate, peel, and chop. Soak it in water for an hour. Drain, pat well dry with paper towel to dab up the moisture, and fry golden-crisp. Remove from the oil and set aside, to be added to the dish when finishing the cooking. Soaking it in water first prevents it scorching or darkening too much.

Sometimes you don't have a crab. Shrimp will do. And noodles.
For 避風塘蝦炒麵 ('bei fung tong haa chaau min')。
Typhoon shelter shrimp chow mein.

In any case, the smell of the pre-prep (frying all that garlic) nicely hides the fact from one's apartment mate that one is smoking a cigar in the kitchen.

After dealing with the pipe club all afternoon, I needed something soothing (the cigar) and something bold (garlic and chilies) to restore my palate.
She, dozing all day in her room, didn't.
She grumbled a bit when I returned to the effect that she hated the spring forward fall back crap (summertime started today), and the fact that we'd have an hour more sunlight was precisely "meh" in her estimation.
Apparently she slept through it; no body told her about the time change.
She went back to sleep shortly after I came in.

She isn't a girlfriend, just someone nice that I trust, with whom I share quarters, but I've always thought she looked very sweet when asleep.

So I don't want to make her scream angrily by causing the apartment to stink of cheap cheroots. Hence overdoing the garlic.

A dish like 避風塘蝦炒麵 really also needs a handful of beansprouts for a textural effect, but not having that I used stalky mustard (芥菜 'gai choi') instead. As well as a smidge of oyster sauce.

The apartment reeks of garlic right now.
I think I'm covered.

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Dinner last night comprised coffee, whisky and cookies, before, during, and after a cigar. TWO kinds of cookies! One with nuts.

Calm yourself, please do not panic.

The cigar was gluten-free.

On the other hand, nothing was fair trade, green, organic, or supportive of any good causes. And the plight of the buggery rainforest or native people did not enter into it.

Oh well.

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Saturday, March 10, 2018


All week long fellow pipe smokers have crawled out from under their rocks, blinked, and finally realized that a company they respected, or perhaps even of which they had smoked the products several times over the years, had closed its doors. And that every last shred of tobacco had been sold, there was no more, nope, that was it. It all happened in less than a month, and they had been asleep the entire time.

"How could this even happen?" they wailed disconsolately, and "is it a plot? The end times?"

"Well, boys", I would ask, "are you ever on the internet?"

Or "do you do Facebook?"

Apparently, no. And they just cannot understand how one of the bedrock brands of their world could disappear. Why weren't they warned?
Why is there no revolution?

The company, of course, is McClelland, which for over forty two years manufactured stellar aged pressed Virginias, as well as a number of iconic tobacco mixtures containing Xanthi, Samsoun, Smyrna, and Latakia.
Very many tobacconists and pipe mavens relied on them.
They ran out of sources of Red Virginia.
And decided to retire.

[There's more to it than that, of course. Changing crop patterns and post-harvest processes, small family farms versus big tobacco, state discouragement of certain crops, and the FDA as the big Mac Daddy of anti-tobacco thuggery ... all coming to a head at the same time. For McClelland it was the perfect storm.]

The news spread like wild fire, despite the audience being dinosaurs.
Many retailers hadn't a clue till the phones started ringing.

The speed with which all products were snapped up when it became clear that no more would ever be made was a snowball effect. It went from the merest rumbles to enormous clusterfudge in less than a week. But for many of these unhappy cavemen I mentioned, it is still incomprehensible. Evil must be afoot. They forget that they are, in the grand scheme of things, rather small and insignificant, like insects.

While they were puttering around in their forest glade, happily puffing some exquisite mixture that only they had heard about, a few thousand members of pipe smokers' forums, clubs, and Facebook groups went into overdrive and purchased an eternity's worth of their favourite blends, plus several dozen cans of anomalies and mixtures they had meant to try at some point. Plus a pound of this, and a pound of that. When a significant segment of the customers buy up far more than their normal usage overnight, it is not at all surprising that soon nothing is left.

Perhaps you should get out from underneath that rock more often.
Sign up for e-mail and Facebook, at the very least.
Connect with your fellow neurotics.
Be more 'social'.


Oh, and develop some perspective. Pipesmokers don't count for a whole lot. The overwhelming majority of all tobacco leaf worldwide is turned into cigarettes. What little is left (less than ten percent) is divided among cigars (including cheap rotten stogies which are the largest category of cheroot by far), chaw, snus, snuf, nicotine patches, vape liquid, and pipe blends.
Of all this, cigars take up the lion's share.

Pipe tobacco is a mere fraction, and almost all of that will be aromatic shite.
Most pipe tobacco will be a few big brands, sold at liquor and drug stores.
The percentage of smokers who actually like quality leaf, unperfumed and undrenched, is very minor indeed, and their attention is spread over several dozen brands, a few hundred blends. Which are all unique though unimportant, and far too often labours of love.

Admit it: you are the only person who smokes Syphilitic Sailor Shag you know, except for that gentleman you met many years ago while traveling.
But he preferred Porn Starlet Plug, or Fat Slag Flake, Ready Rubbed.

The nearest pipe smokers in your neck of the woods ALL smoke Major Roughshod's Vanilla Cake, and collectively think you mighty queer.

Among the dozen plus active members of our local pipe club, maybe half liked McClelland occasionally, three or four smoked some of their blends semi regularly. Most of the pipesmokers I have met in the last decade, who wouldn't join a pipe club if you paid them, were perfectly happy with 1-Q, BCA, RLP-6, Captain Black, and Borkum Riff Bourbon, Cherry, Black, or Original. Which are all aromatic Cavendish mixtures. The second largest group consists of Half & Half, Prince Albert, Sir Walter Raleigh, plus rare ventures into strawberry mango surprise and vanilla melon custard.
Yes, that's probably more than ninety percent of them.
You can understand why I keep to myself.
Too many eccentrics.

On a personal level, I can sympathize with the Luddites and their loss.
But generally speaking my piles do not bleed.


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Friday, March 09, 2018


A recent article circulated on the internet examines the phenomenon of 'cat cafes'. That being places where one can get a cappuccino or a soothing cup of chamomile while interacting with felines. Who might not be in the mood, grumpy, or just plain bad tempered and averse to being petted.
Sometimes the little furballs freak out.

There are problems.

Two ideas spring unbidden:

1) Possum cafes -- they're adept at playing dead. Or maybe they are dead. You get to watch them from a distance. Don't touch.

2) Cat-girl cafes -- almost like real animals. The star-attractions should be encouraged to be there with free drinks and snacks (sushi in mouse-like shapes). No differences of age, gender, race, proclivity, size, or standard of personal cleanliness will be taken into account, for reasons of political correctness (and stirring things up). Hissy fits will be tolerated, as will long naps. Dating them is discouraged, because we don't know who they are or who they've killed. No children allowed.

If it's your personal sense of identity to be a cat, who are we to judge?

Or perhaps you just want to sleep dressed like an animal.

Some tomcats are huge. As well as mean.

They're cats.

Today is Friday, and I don't have to work.
I'll probably go to a pork chop cafe.
Therapy and a hot beverage.
It's so relaxing.

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Thursday, March 08, 2018


What keeps this blogger so tied to Netherlandish culture, language, and all-round Dutchness? Why is he so adamant about it, when logic would dictate that thirteen generations in the New World make him as American as apple pie? Or donuts? Is it something about the glory of being Dutch and sharing in all that beautiful history? Something comforting? Perhaps a profound sense of belonging? A combination of weltschmertz, existenzangst, identitätskrise, zweifelhaft, und gicht? A weltanschauung?


I can cuss in Dutch.

Today one of my Facebookers wrote: "Just got a tetanus vaccine and shoot now I have autism."

Of course he meant it humorously -- he's on the autism spectrum anyhow, as are a great many people with insight and wit -- but just think about this for a moment. What kind of buggered-up world do we live in when the irony and sarcasm of that absurd statement is instantly understandable?
Where some folks think that vaccines cause autism.

Swearing fluently in Dutch allows me to express myself in a way that doesn't blister English-speaking paint when confronted with idiocy.

I work in Marin, so on a regular basis idiocy surrounds me.
Along with yoga, gluten phobia, and healing crystals.

An ability to express myself venomously with hairballs often serves me well. And not just because of someone searching for an aromatic pipe tobacco made with pure fruit essences.

I'm sorry, Hello Kitty smokes clean flakes or Latakia blends, NOT candied crap. She's also had all of her shots, and she never participates in native healing ceremonies. Drumming and chanting give her the willies.
And like all cats she wants to push things off the table.
So your healing crystals are toast.

I smile while calling someone a unclean scrote.
And wishing cholera upon him. Fervently.

"Just got a tetanus vaccine and now I have autism"

Dutch. It's what keeps me civilized.

Er zijn laesies op uw schaamdelen.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2018


The sun warms up the ancient bones of the city, youth runs somewhat sluggishly rampant. It is still winter, but spring is not far off. After two cups of coffee and some internet socializing, a badger in his upstairs burrow settles down with book, tobacco and pipe, and happily twiddles his toes.

Differently expressed: I am smoking, reading, and on a third cup.

Revisiting, for your information: Indian Food: A Historical Companion, by K. T. Achaya. And yes, this makes me esurient. Quite. Sometime during the afternoon I shall head down to Chinatown for bittermelon.
I spent the better part of the morning futsing about with pipes, cleaning up rims and stems. That did not make me hungry.

Last night we discussed the bookseller's recent trip to Oregon, which largely seemed to revolve around books and women. What he had read, who he met on the train, and the old friend with her husband, kids, and an enormous dog whom he visited. An author. A reader. A painter.
A good time in the snow banks was had by all.

Oddly, I cannot remember the books he mentioned (there were three in particular). We also discussed the Twilight Series, which is garbage.
And The DaVinci Code, which is completely unreadable.

Regarding the latter, he lasted for only one paragraph, my ex-girlfriend and enduring apartment mate (who reads a lot, and still tolerates most of my peculiarities in a patient albeit sometimes exasperated way, as do I hers) got through nearly all of the first page, and I win the contest by suffering through one and a half pages of that jejune twaddle.
I take no pride in that.

All three of us would agree that there are some books that you must read. Mordechai in New York bemoaned the sad fact that he got through life so far without ever reading Little Women (by Louisa May Alcott), and I did not comment under his post because while I remember where it was in our bookshelves, I barely cracked it, and don't remember what little I saw.

On the other hand, I do remember Pilgrims Progress (John Bunyan).
During most of which I was looking for horrible stuff.
Dreary barely describes it.
Very long.


My list of a dozen books that a reasonably intelligent person would do well to digest is as follows:

Pride And Prejudice, by Jane Austen.
The Catcher In The Rye, by J. D. Salinger.
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster.
The Odyssey, by Homer.
Ada, by Vladimir Nabokov.
Catch 22, by Joseph Heller.
Heart Of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.
Burmese Days, by George Orwell.
To Kill A Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee.
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens.
The Dubliners, by James Joyce.
Of Mice And Men, by John Steinbeck.

I shall not argue why, because there are very many more than this. And you will kindly note that this list is extremely 'me centric'; I have read all of them. Which is why you must. They are good. So is Where The Wild Things Are (by Maurice Sendak), anything about linguistics, and a number of works translated from Dutch, French, Russian, Latin, and Chinese.

Repeated exposure to the Larousse Gastronomique is also a good thing.

The Wind In The Willows is a highly recommended lifestyle.

The Lord Of The Rings is a dubious choice.

Simenon? Good stuff.


Self-portrait, with a hat I hardly ever wear.

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