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, July 28, 2017


Television phenomena that have gone right past me include sports, Doctor Who, American Idol, Startrek, and Game of Thrones. Actually, I haven't watched television for several years now, though my apartment mate seems to want it on most of the time, what with being obsessed with murder and blonde women behaving badly.

It isn't that today's teevee entertainment is so much worse than what was on during the legendary golden age, which, truth be told, was unwatchable.
It's that as a mode of edutainment it never offered much.

Pornography, trash fiction, animals, material goods.

The promise of broadcasting is that it would offer us what we really want to observe: naked Japanese playing with rambunctious kittens while gossiping about the latest paranoid conspiracies and consumer products, lovingly filmed by cameramen with a doctorate in soft-focus food photographs.
As well as quarreling intoxicated blondes, for the women.
Entertainment for the whole family!
It never delivered.

A conversation among cigar smokers yesterday established, for the record, what made a television series qualify as "epic". Women's underwear, worn by women, plus quotable insanity. If you think about it, that also at the heart of great artistic achievement.

Well, other than Michelangelo's 'David'. But I'm sure the backstory makes up for that.

What holds David's attention so raptly? Women's underwear, of course!
Off to the side, worn by paranoid conspirators!
Who are probably Japanese.
Mighty queer shiznit.

Television could have brought this into your living room.
Instead, you got the real housewives.
And Gordon Ramsey.

I'd watch that.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017


The shape is classic: the Derry, that being an elegant billiard with a thin shank and tapered mouthpiece. It feels very nice in the hand. In the coming weeks I shall smoke Stonehenge Flake by Greg L. Pease in it while poncing around SF Chinatown and North Beach.
A good pipe, if you will, for summer days.
New stem by Schulte in Florida.

[Stonehenge Flake is well worth stockpiling.]

Like Comoys, Loewe and Company represent a standard that Dunhill aspired to have. And, like Comoy, the once beloved brand has been diminished by Cadogan's ham-handed approach to business.
Dunhill is no longer as good as it once was either.
There are fewer pipe smokers in these days, and both the level of skill required to make pipes as well as the labour involved in harvesting and curing briar now command higher pay (hence the stellar one-ofs made by American, Danish, and Italian carvers, et autres).

[Loewe & Co. was founded in 1856. Comoy in 1850 or shortly thereafter. Alfred Dunhill turned his hand to vending pipes and tobacco in 1906. Charatan, founded by a Russian Jew in 1863, supplied Dunhill with pipes for a few years. Sasieni founded his company after working for Charatan and then Dunhill in 1919. Apparently Alfred Dunhill grew to despise all of his competitors in the pipe business, and like a typical British snob referred to them by opprobrious terms.]

From a badly composed pre-war advertisement:

"The gift of a Loewe is a compliment to a man's good taste. A Loewe is the aristocrat of good briars. Hand-made by craftsmen proud of their skill in fashioning Loewe briars. A man appreciates the beautiful grain of its old matured briar bowl and its stream-line mouthpiece hand-cut from Para Vulcanite."

"Give a man a LOEWE -- it's a gift you will be remembered by."

End cite.

That's some fearfully horrid copy writing. My teachers in grammar school would give it a failing grade. On the other hand, they smoked fairly shitty tobacco, whereas we have some damned fine stuff, including Dunhill and Pease. Dunhill was largely unfindable in Dutch tobacco stores when I was growing up, Greg Pease had not even discovered smoking yet. Dunhill's blends were nearly ruined by the Northern Irish during the eighties.

[Carreras International bought Alfred Dunhill Ltd. in 1967. Rothmans bought Carreras in 1972. Rothmans moved pipe tobacco manufacturing to Murrays factory in Belfast in 1981. Twigs, stems, and crud. In 1999 British American Tobacco finally killed Rothmans. Since then the tobacco has been manufactured by the Danes, who understand quality control.
The blends are worth buying again.]

I was thinking of smoking Dunhill Dark Flake in this bowl, but the weather is not suitable at present. Dark Flake requires rainstorms, whereas Pease's Stonehenge Flake is perfect for warmer summer weather, foggy evenings, flowery summer frocks, and sweaters late at night against the cold.

Stonehenge Flake is NOT suitable for dingy blondes.
It is a lovely product for sensible people.
Goes very well with hot beverages.
Hong Kong style milk-tea.

In four or five months I'll probably enjoy Dunhill Dark Flake in this pipe, at which time dingy blondes will still not be suitable, and milk-tea will be enjoyable for entirely different reasons.

The pipe smells of fratboy party vodka right now. I cleaned it thoroughly while waiting for my apartment mate to free up the kitchen.
Her non-smoking goofus boyfriend will eat well this weekend, when she takes stuff over to his place for dinner.
Why would anyone date a non-smoker who can't cook?
I truly cannot understand that.


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Who yells at a little girl? Who, in particular, yells at a little girl with cake in front of her, telling her to hurry up and scarf it down pdq because time is a-wasting? She's ungrateful, this is taking too long, how damned inconvenient! Of course the little girl silent wept, and didn't finish her cake. And the mom passively allowed her husband's relative or whatever to be a bitch.

[Anger, hatred, venom, and sheer bitch-ass meanness combined in a sustained rant, directed at one small child. Possibly because she was a useless girl-thing, probably also resentment towards the expenditure.]

I would have interceded, but my Cantonese is not good enough to read that women -- both women -- the riot act. Evenso, what is the use of bringing two little girls to a bakery for some cake and then screaming at one of them?

As you can tell, Cantonese women can be real assholes.

It looked like very nice cake too!

Adorable tykes.

The auntie, or whatever the heck she was, in addition to ruining the little girls' enjoyment of some cake ALSO ruined my enjoyment of an egg tart and a curry turnover. I hope she dies of something painful, gets shoved into an urn, and that the urn is forgotten on public transit and dumped.
She's a horrible bad-tempered virago.
Rancid old sow.

No one will ever lament her passing.
Especially not little girls.


Their flaky stuff is delightful and totally worth going into Chinatown for, and during the season they also have an extensive selection of mooncakes. Plus they do Hong Kong hot lunches, like baked spaghetti with mixed seafood, or fried chicken wings & fries, and macaroni. the ladies behind the counter are too young to be your mom, but eternally young enough to be your old classmates from school. A hometown kind of place, our kind of place.

['wing hing bing-kaa chaa chaan teng']
1068 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 981-0123.

The appeal of the place is not limited to Chinese folks. Three young Euries were happily devouring chocolate gateau when I left. While discussing the queerness of toast, beans, and scrambled eggs for breakfast, which one of them had eaten that morning (that being the English fellow; the other two were from Eastern Europe).

Trust me: the cakes there are quite excellent.
You need to dawdle over them.
Maan maan sik.

Just don't go there with vicious bitch auntie.


Knowing that my apartment mate would be monopolizing the kitchen, preparing food for her boyfriend last night, I purchased a Vietnamese sandwich before going home. He has eaten her food nearly every week for several years, I have not been so blessed since the summer of 2010.
When she's doing so, I haven't had my own cooking either.
Honestly, it is extremely irritating.

[Olivier Salad: chunked boiled potato, carrot, dill pickles, peas, eggs, celeriac, onions, chopped chicken & ham, apple, with salt, pepper, and mustard, dressed with mayonnaise. This is something I haven't eaten.]

She is, of course, oblivious to how I feel about this. What with being totally, innocently, Aspergers. It would hurt her to find out.
So I have never explained it.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Best and worst line I heard recently was "ooh sh*t here come da gorilla", said about an angry black female behemoth approaching a cop swinging. This in a video sent to me by one of my more sensitive "pals" who told me to control my new girlfriend. Which, plainly put, is absurd.
I would never date anyone bigger than the cops.
Or meaner.

More foul-mouthed, maybe.

Straight-shooting women can be utterly charming, particularly if they look totally sweet and innocent while putting a painful word-burn in the ears of someone who did not expect that.

[FYI: There is no girlfriend.]

In response I sent back a link to the video entitled 'Family Guy Little Red Riding Hood Massacre', in which Stewie plays Little Red Riding Hood, and Peter Griffin is the lunatic going house to house murdering people.
I asked him to guess what I was thinking at that moment.

He responded "you like Meg Griffin".
Disgusting pervert.


It's tourist season. I've already heard very large people from elsewhere asking what something is, while pointing at edibles in Chinatown, after ascertaining that the counter woman does not speak fluent international English. When she then clearly enunciates "linyung baau" (蓮蓉包), or "mui choi kau yiuk" (梅菜扣肉), they look more baffled than ever, albeit so happy that she responded, and resolve to accept that answer while firmly rejecting the idea of buying some. This charade continues until they spot the can of Coca Cola. Aha! we will buy ONE can of coke! The minuscule profit from this transaction will recompense you for the five minutes you wasted on the seven of us, good woman, while three people impatiently waited behind the blockage we formed that they could not get past!

Linyung baau is a lotus seed paste filled steamed bun. Very good. Mui choi kau yiuk is thick cut streaky pork cooked till tender with salt-cured brassica and a thin jus, also very good.

Many tourist groups resemble the Griffins from Family Guy.
Except they aren't as lovably idiosyncratic.
Or adventurous.


Both of these are tasty and maybe you should try them. Mui choi kau yiuk over rice is a very satisfying lunch, linyung baau can be a splendid early morning or afternoon teatime snack. Nix the soft drink.
Carbonated beverages are bad for you.

I hesitate to suggest anything else.
Many of you have limitations.

Neither of these contain salt fish or octopus.
You're thinking of Mediterranean food.
Perfect with fizzy beverages.

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What does the peculiar man do on a day off? He gets a haircut, has a bite to eat, smokes his pipe, and goes down to Sue Bierman Park to commune with the parrots. And hears his barber say to someone else that he does not congress women. Which is, strictly speaking, not entirely false.
There is a singular lack in my life.

My barber probably thinks I am at the very least gender-weird, because he has never heard me mention women in any way.
Not in my life, nor as an interest.

He has never seen my eyes scoping out female charms.
Of which I am an avid fan.

But discussing those charms is not, usually, a sound conversational gambit in any language, unless one is the Dirty Vicar of Monty Python fame, who proudly exclaims:


["Yes indeed, I find the grounds delightful and the servants most attentive, and particularly the little serving maid with the great big knockers, and when she ..... "]

Unless one is a man of the cloth, such a statement is considered gauche.

Having never discussed breasts in Cantonese, I am somewhat at a loss for words in case I ever need to explain to my barber, or anyone else in his presence, that, like the Dirty Vicar, I like tits.

Until mere moments ago I did not know that such things were called 乳房 ('yiu fong'), as in 我鍾意乳房 ('ngo jong yi yiu fong'). Confirmed by a google search on the term 乳房 that brought up 奶子 ('naai ji') in addition to pictures of cake, alarm bells, face masks, George Bush and Vladimir Putin, plus brassieres and a man wearing a bycicle helmet.

鍾意 ('jong yi') is the verb 'to like' in Cantonese.
Like very much: 好鍾意 ('hou jong yi').

The only time I used that verb yesterday was when my barber exclaimed over the cured meat (臘肉 'laap yiuk') which I purchased three doors up that it was overly fatty and probably unhealthy.
But I like fatty meat!

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017


A curiosity. The Netherlandish speaker is occasionally guided amiss in his internet searches, because not everything is in Dutch. Which is a very great pity, and one wishes it were not so, but seeing as an awful lot of garbage has been written by severely demented people living in the United States and paranoid folks from everywhere in English, perhaps that is a good thing. Translation programs do not provide transparency; "is it nonsense because of the limitations of the translator, or is it really batshit?"

Some things just cannot be effectively translated.
The flavour of the writing goes to hell.
It is best read as written.

Among such is the prose of a Dutch pipesmoker and master of many things, Janneman. In spare and sober prose he lays out details for the curious, and particularly I would direct your attention to this article:

Anyone looking for descriptions of tobacco would do well to read it.

The article describes the types of leaf used, and what the blends are that can be made of them in an orderly and informative fashion, leavened occasionally with dry wit.

"In de loop der jaren heb ik mijn eigen smaak leren kennen, en ik weet bijvoorbeeld dat ik erg van Latakia hou, en whisky is een prima uitvinding maar hoort naar mijn idee in een glas en niet in tabak. "

[Translation: In the course of years I have learned about my own taste, and know for instance that I really like Latakia, and that whisky is an excellent invention but belongs as I see it in a glass and not in tobacco.]

------ Janneman, 14 Feb., 2009

I agree.

It is, and it doesn't.

He also recommends that you keep a notebook.

Which, sometimes, this blog is.


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Although I work in Marin, I am of two minds about the place. One part of me revolts at the conceptual world of Marinites, another part looks at them like an entomologist scoping out a revolting new bug.
This is strangely fascinating. Do I smash it with my copy of Mosquitoes of California (by Richard Mitchell Bohart and R. K. Washino), or put it in a jar for cooking later?

Other than the Mexicans who blow the leaves, there are probably few sane people there.

Marin is a hotbed of poo.

Berkeley is worse, of course, and San Francisco is a little better. Not too many pretentious gits have the stamina to live here. We look at the rest of the Bay Area with distaste, and wish that they would go away.
Medication doesn't work.

In essence, I do not like people. That is to say, I do not like the poof-brained airheads that most people are, and on my days off I relish not having to deal with self-absorbed entitled pricks.

If I were a mosquito I should become a vegetarian, or move to some part of the country where there are fewer pot-smokers, hippies, food and vaccine phobes, new agers, or artistic types.

Unfortunately that might be Texas.
Which would be horrid.

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Far be it from me to speak ill of our beloved leader's recent political speech to the boyscouts, during which he outlined his plan for arresting Trotskyites and expelling Mensheviks from the hospitals of our great motherland!

All hail товарищ Trumpsk!

Let our enemies tremble!

A stirring hymn:

Марш советских танкистов


Be glad that heroin is now so cheap that all can afford it. For most of us a heroin habit is the closest we'll come to medication, and infinitely cheaper that healthcare will soon be.

The convinced and righteously resolute political fervor fair drips in bucketfulls from this inspiring video. Like steaming blood.

It is great friend of the people Putin's favourite song.

Of course also much beloved by маршал Trumpsk.

Forward, Boyscouts of America, into the storm. For Wisconsin, Michigan, and Merry Christmas! Grab 'em by the pussy! Jamboree!

Here nice example for boy scouts: march now!.
Also then dance!

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Monday, July 24, 2017


Tonight is, by sheer necessity, carnitas burrito night. By which is meant that my apartment mate is dominating the kitchen cooking up stuff to take over to her boyfriend's apartment later in the week because the poor little shmoo can't cook worth diddly, what with being a typical modern waspy Californian Russian Jew. Lord only knows how those people survive, or what they eat. Gefilte fish ain't part of the programme once your this far out west.
Neither, apparently, is brisket with a nice salad.

Fortunately other than a symbolic appreciation for kosher, he doesn't have any food hang-ups. He's more or less a meat eater, and sort of on our side of the fence about gluten, as well as kind of enthusiastic about fish.

He can not stand salt or chilipeppers, and has the usual goofy ideas about nutrition which one expects from a neurotic middle-class white Californian, minus the new-age nonsense and star-gazey food-cultism.
So he's cool with normal sources of protein.
In addition to gym-clown kibble.

In the past I may have mentioned that my apartment mate, despite being of East Asian (Cantonese) ancestry, has no problem whatsoever with dairy. Butter, cheese, milk, yoghurt, cream ..... it's all good.
Her pet shmoo is lactose intolerant!


Carnitas is made by braising pork (Boston butt) in lard and spices on low heat for about four hours. The end product is tender, juicy, and delicious.
It can be used in several ways, but for a bachelor like myself the simplest approach is to head around the corner to the local tacqueria and request a serving of chopped chunks with rice, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and vegetable matter, rolled in a flour tortilla. No beans. Not strictly speaking, the typical Michoacanese treatment, but with generous splashes of hot sauce it is total gustatory heaven.

If they made a decent chile verde, that too would be perfect. But the only people who do that are either New-Mexicans or myself, as pretty much everyone from south of the border prepares weird green muck with tomatillos, which are a fine vegetable, let us not dispute that.
They just aren't very suited to anything at all.
Certainly not simmered Boston butt.
Which is the chosen meat.

Chile verde with tofu is an abomination.

It has been ages since I prepared carnitas or chile verde at home. There is scant point in doing so, as all I need is one serving, rather than ten pounds of tender cooked pork. I'm not running a taco stand.

The place close at ten o'clock.
I had better get a move on.

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This blogger is not a rugged individualist, but sometimes he feels like it. What will prompt this is the sensation of pain. Rugged individualists often poo-poo namby pamby comfort, and relish minor physical suffering.
I do not relish it, but sometimes I take it for granted.

There is a small cut on one of my fingers.

Teensy weensy, less than an inch.

Yesterday I managed to get the following substances into that cut, entirely without trying:

Coffee. Hot soapy water. Glass cleaner. More water. Cigar ash. More water. Frat-boy party vodka (used for cleaning out filthy briar pipes and mouthpieces all gunked up with tar). Pipe stem gunk. Wax. Both red and white buffing compound. Water. Salt. Bleach. Zippo fluid (used to strip grease from woodgrain). More vodka, and more water.
More glass cleaner.

When I got home, more water. More soap. More water. Tomato.
Sriracha hot sauce. Then more water.

You know, when wounds heal it's a frikkin' miracle.
We rugged individualists understand that.
It happens all the time.

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Thai monks and their incandescent lifestyle:

Quote from that article:
"Monks behaving badly are nothing new in Thailand. The temptations of modern life have thrown up many examples of monks with unseemly wealth, monks taking drugs, dancing, enjoying sexual relations with men, women, girls and boys."

That says it all. Religious figures are often more fallible than the secular, because of the cloak of invisibility that their "holiness" gives them.

Gullible believers often cannot see the flaws of their spiritual leaders.

The modern United States has examples, mediaeval Europe was full of such, and the Far East is no less flawed.

"Men, women, girls, and boys."

Far be it from me to highlight religious low life.

Others have done that so much better.

Once a week the bookseller and I visit a place with two screens. One of the screens has karaoke for tipsy juvenile marketing department drooges, the other often has a Buddhist abbot with phenomenal eyebrows quoting stuff from translations. We prefer the old git with religious waffle. Indeed, neither of us understand him well, though I understand him most.
But at least he isn't screaming.

Except for his robes, he looks pleasant enough.
A sober and likable old fart, though stern.
Probably a closet alcoholic.

Older and calmer than he once was.

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Sunday, July 23, 2017


Thanks to Social Media, I now know that one orthodox rabbi among my friends likes Heavy Metal music, another one takes photographs of cats, and a third makes atrocious puns. To put it differently, social media shows the all too human side of rabbis. That is a good thing!

My most recent Facebook posting shows that I am somewhat food obsessed: "Corn tortillas, bacon, tomatoes, chilies, Sriracha, cheese.'
It's what I had for dinner instead of a Vietnamese sandwich.
We've got the fundaments of a civilization right there.

[The Vietnamese sandwich place closed early today.
I really would have preferred the sandwich.]

My previous status questioned the acceptibility of "all natural and vegan" non-GMO Hunan dumplings. To real people, that ain't hardly edible.
To Chinese, that's white folks food.

My favourite rabbis could not eat at my house. They would have to operate under the presumption of a chezkas treifus. It is also quite likely that they would raise their eyebrows at all natural non-Gmo vegan Hunan dumplings, because there's just too much crap going on right there. If you are calling it "Hunanese", and it is blatantly and demonstrably so far from Hunanese in any way that even would make sense to a Hunanese, it cannot possibly be named Hunanese anything. So that is a lie. What else are you lying about?

If you deceive the public about what it is, you can also be assumed to be untruthful about ingredients and methods of preparation, as well as whether the kitchen where this weird shiznit was constructed was ever kashered.

If the label says "vegan" "no Gmos", and "Hunan dumplings", at least one of those things has to be hogwash.

The container also says "ready to eat. Serve warm or cold."

How about instead 'serve not at all'?

It's unfit for rabbis.

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As you may know, Hong Kong people have a mouth on them. Which sometimes means that common terms are, if translated into English, surprising. Like the term for a white woman: 鬼婆 ('kwai po').
At its worst possible interpretation it means 'daemon hag'.

Go ahead, do a google image search.

The results are startling.

Remarkably, very few if any of the first hundred results or so will be a Caucasian female. To turn up white ladies, you should substitute the term 鬼妹 ('kwai mui') instead, which means 'daemon younger sister'.
Be forewarned that some of them will be wearing bikinis.
And cleavage may (will) be evident.


In all honesty, I am somewhat disappointed with google image search. Just for a test I typed my own name in, and instead of my own handsome visage, preferably with a jaunty pipe and a twinkling eye, what came up was innumerably photos of some decrepit old fossil who used to be on teevee. The parade of wrinkled skin was only alleviated when someone wrote a blogpost about getting her hair coloured at the salon of someone who shares the exact same name as me and the ancient geezer.

Change "somewhat disappointed" to "peeved".

The person who had her hair dyed looked like someone I might date. In my field one seldom sees people like her. Instead, I get the self-entitled wreckage of lives badly lived, and their wives.
Who are mostly 鬼婆。

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Saturday, July 22, 2017


On Thursday I swilled tea all day and was moderately high as a kite by evening. This was while at work, where I also smoked my pipe and said nasty things about and to cigar smokers. On Friday I got up late and drank coffee and smoked till early afternoon. I also caught up on the news, seeing as I neither use Facebook while at work nor spend hours on the internet when dealing with cigar smokers.

[Thursday: Greg Pease's Stonehenge Flake and Regents Flake, Samuel Gawith's St James Flake. Pu Erh tea. Friday: St James Flake, Luxury Bullseye, and Dunhill's Nightcap. Strong coffee, auf Türkische weise.]

Today I acted reasonably social, and smoked.
I didn't insult anybody grievously.
Though tempted.

On my days off I live like the badger. Obviously I am very fond of Wind In The Willows, but rather than seeing myself as Ratty or Mole (or, lord help us, Mr. Toad), the badger appeals to me. A solid individual, not particularly social, who occasionally likes company. In this metaphor normal human beings are like the field mice, and cigar smokers are weasels.

The problem is food. Good food requires company. Either one prepares a banquet and requires an audience, or one seeks interesting variety and must go out to eat. I no longer cook very intensely -- dinner Thursday was pork, chilipeppers and bellpeppers, cooked with chilipaste and currypaste, then seethed with stock, over noodles -- and on Friday I went to a place where they know me and I can sit in the back observing other people.

My job puts me in frequent contact with cigar smokers. They are not small and cute, and I am no longer thrilled with their antics.
On my own time I usually avoid them.
One cannot eat with them.

It strikes me that Kenneth Grahame's beloved book does not tell us what any of the characters truly felt about breasts. That's probably something we should be grateful we do not know, though we can presume that Mr. Toad was not particularly hep on them, what with being non-mammalian and a sexless egomaniac to boot.

[And a cigar smoker.]

Anthropomorphic heroes have parents, but no sex life of their own.
This is just an observation; do not read anything into it.

Let us take for granted that if a main character in Wind In The Willows was female, she would probably also enjoy a pipe, as Badger, Ratty, and Mole do. Or conceivably a cigar, like the Toad. Queen Victoria is reputed to have liked a big fat cigar now and then, by the way.
Queen Victoria was sexless.
Thank heavens.

I fear I know way too much about the reproductive cycle of cigar smokers, and rather wish it weren't so.

They are born, they discover cigars at roughly the same time that they start torturing puppies, they commit bestial pornographic acts in early adulthood, and become more disgustingly perverse as they age, then they die as respected members of the Republican Party.
Or commie dictators.

Just so you know, many cigar smokers have an incomplete appreciation for members of the opposite gender; they like them like they like their food: big and brutal. They are creatures of ooze and slime. It is entirely unknown whether they have any refined sensibilities at all.

Pipesmokers are different.

I need to associate more with the field mice.
Some of them are very good company.

And, I believe, they like food.


On Facebook a discussion on Friday mentioned Chinese restaurants, which apparently are nowhere better than in New York. Why, the lobster sauce shrimp and eggrolls are just fabulous!

Here are some links to Chinese food elsewhere.

HK French Toast and Milk Tea

Little Cart Noodles


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Friday, July 21, 2017


In a move that can only be applauded, Justin Bieber has been banned from China. The People's Republic took this step because of his behaviour, not his appalling music. Evenso. They should be praised and emulated.

A hostile and perverse foreigner:

"The news came in a statement from the Beijing municipal culture bureau, answering a question from a fan about why, with the singer about to embark on an Asia-wide tour, no venues have been scheduled in mainland China.
Justin Bieber is indeed "talented at singing" came the reply, but nonetheless it would not be appropriate to allow him to perform, because of what it called a number of incidents of "bad behaviour." It did not elaborate on exactly which of Mr Bieber's run-ins with the law it was referring to."

[SOURCE: "Bad Behaviour".]

The best that can be said for Bieber is that he isn't Nickelback.

Or, lord-help-us, Lady Gaga.

Further, from the article cited above, "Justin Bieber will be performing in Asia as part of his Purpose World Tour from September, and will be playing in Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia."

Many Chinese fans will be disappointed.
My piles bleed for them.

By the way, the expression 'my piles bleed (for someone or something)' expresses sarcastic disdain. Unfortunately trying to find this explanation on the internet brings up many serious articles about certain issues which are in their own way amusing -- very educational, to be sure -- but in no wise relevant.


The Dutch word for haemorrhoid is aambei, which makes it sound like a fruit, and kind of juicy. The Chinese equivalents are 痔核 ('ji hat') and 痔瘡 ('ji chong') which refer to a nut-like shape and a tumorous quality respectively. The character 核 (' wat, hat') is used in in the expression 核突 ('wat dat'), meaning very ugly, and the name for the walnut (核桃 'hat tou'), as well as several hundred terms having to do with nuclear energy and engineering. The Mandarin Wikipedia article for the condition is far longer and has immensely greater detail than the Cantonese entry; perhaps those Northerners are more afflicted?

Their diet may be a contributing factor.

When I was still a child living overseas I thought that what was meant in that expression was a timber or pillar driven into the ground for building support, necessary in so quaggy an environment as the Netherlands.
As fully explained in this Wikipedia article: Deep Foundation.
Remarkably, there is no equivalent essay in Dutch.
Despite the clear derivation of the concept.

Piles are quintessentially Dutch.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017


Oh lordy, she's talking back at the stupid Americans on television! The blondes of wherever are getting smashed in Mexico or Costa Rica, and misbehaving something horrid. On behalf of all of us sane Yanks my apartment mate is embarrassed. In a minor way I am too.
But not much. It's sort of intellectual, and distant.

I am sure the hospitality industry in Latin America has seen plenty of rich disreputable Norte Americanos, nothing surprises them anymore.

A drunk is being lifted out of the shrubbery.

The bystanders are holding glasses.

Someone is lying down.

Having worked part-time in a restaurant for several years, I already know what wine can do to the idiot classes. And, having been out late at night rather often, I have seen and heard much that is repulsive.

[It was a North Indian restaurant,  so, "yeh gauraon talli hain"]

Do NOT urinate in the agave patch!

Crazy American bitches.

I have never been to Mexico. But if I go, I shall be sure to learn enough Spanish to be able to explain to whoever I encounter that the trashy folks are not with me, and not my relatives.

"Estas gronchitas son de Canadá, te aseguro."

In her words, "messed up white ladies".
A diplomatic way to put it.

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After the friendly greeting, her second sentence indicated that to a certain extent there is a predictability about me and my food preferences.
So, just for the hell of it, I did something quite different.
And shot myself in the culinary foot thereby.

['sai m-sai tai choi daan ma']

"Do you need to see the menu?"

Well yes, thank you, I think I will order something I have never had before.
Which I did, and I shouldn't have. Even though I knew every word in the name, and what they meant in combination, it was a mistake.

I could have many other things. Perhaps the pork slices with mustard green, or the spare ribs. Noodles with mixed meats. Or even what I originally intended to have: roast duck rice.

And the waitress tried to warn me, telling me that it contained XXX.
Stubbornly, I went ahead and ordered it anyway.

As these things go, it was probably a splendid example of its type.
But it's a part of the XYZ that is best avoided.
By us delicate white people.

No, not going to mention what it is called, or describe the various bits. Or even where I had it. Because I don't want to be the only lofan that makes that mistake.


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Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Somewhere in Suzhou (中國江蘇蘇州 'jung gwok gong sou sou jau') a computer server sent visits to my blog. Which baffles me, because I cannot for the life of me figure out what would interest Chinese people here. Indeed, Chinese script is often used, but entirely in an English-explicative context, aimed at people who speak English as their first language. I presume that Chinese-speakers have their own formats for cruising the net and looking up random things. And while I often view Chinese sites and read articles, my doing so is anomalous behaviour fuelled by a curiosity which I do not expect to be shared or matched much.

Now that I am free of the bucket, I explore the world.
From the comforts of my arm chair.

Somewhere in deepest darkest Jiangsu a machine-intelligence is following some of my moves. There may be humans adhering to its reading recommendations, but I doubt that.


Before it became a modern electronic and clothing manufacturing powerhouse, Jiangsu province (江蘇省 'gong sou saang') was already densely populated and agriculturally rich. After its inclusion in an expanding China two and a half millenia ago the region became a fundamental part of the core. Around fifteen centuries ago the Grand Canal (大運河'daai wan ho') was completed, linking north and south in trade and cultural exchange, by the early Song Dynasty (宋朝 'sung chiu') the rise of a wealthy bourgeoisie fuelled literary scholarship and the arts.

Suzhou is famous for its gardens, cuisine, and lovely women.
I cannot attest to the latter; female beauty is subjective.
Nor really to the first, having never been there.

But food, yes. Jiangsu food is excellent.

Little fried yellow eels. Squirrel fish. Hairy crabs. Fried buns.

Frazzled eel in gravy (响油鳝糊 'heung yau sin wu': "ringed oil eel paste"): yellow eel small-chunked, seethed in oil, sauced with winter bamboo shoot, ham, rice wine, soy sauce, garlic, and sugar. It's deservedly famous.
No proper Suzhou or Shanghai restaurant should not have it.

Clear broth sharksfin (清湯魚翅 'ching tong yü chi') is also a superlative representative of Jiangsu-Zhejiang food (江浙菜 'gong jit choi'), but many white people might kick up a fuss at the senseless death of so lovable an animal, so restaurants in America probably will not have it. Chicken, rice wine and bits of ham for a basis of refined stock, with ginger and scallion, strained, featuring the sharkfin. Garnished with a little flat-leaf parsley.

What I really like, however, is something that one can easily find: 韭菜水餃 ('gau choi suei gaau'), which are chive dumplings. Common enough, but the Suzhou-Shanghai approach is the best. Delicate skins, refined filling, and then steamed instead of boiled. Wonderful!

Right where Jackson crosses Kearny there used to be two Shanghainese restaurants, one with refined dishes, the other serving noodle soup. They are long gone, and there are fewer Shanghainese in the Chinatown area. The merchant who sold music tapes in the basement space there retired, the tailor making elegant qipaos (旗袍 'kei pou'; "banner gowns", meaning both cheongsams and looser old-style garments) is also history.
The Shanghainese students at the croissant place?
Probably far elsewhere.

The odious brat who found two hours of Chinese class every week onerous probably now has odious brats of his own. In the suburbs.

By the way, I highly recommend the Bund Shanghai Restaurant.

640 Jackson Street,
San Francisco, CA 94133.
Phone: 415-982-0618

Great chive dumplings, superlative pork dishes, spicy fish, eel, and chewy noodles. It would be a perfect spot for a cozy date with a food aficionado, but I'm just guessing, seeing as I haven't gone on a date in sheer aeons.
It's empty between lunch and dinner, but can get bustling.

What I find particularly noteworthy is that even the Shanghainese speakers here understand my Cantonese, and there are a few folks from Hong Kong on staff. As a single man dining in Chinatown, that is incredibly nice.

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The tech-support service with whom I contracted a while back does not seem to understand why most people use computers. This despite being exposed to several clients over the years. No, my dear Delhi-wallahs, computer owners largely do NOT examine the mysteries of the universe and search for deep philosophical meanings.
We use this device for recipes, kitten pictures, and pornography.

Or, if you wish to expand that; food reviews, recipes, news, Wikipedia, kittens and other lovable animals such as weasels and Singaporean otters, social networking, Chinese dictionary searches, conspiracy theories, and pornography.
Plus Dutch and German.

There is no Wittgenstein here.

My apartment mate uses hers for pictures of pretty things and the occasional e-mail. Or animal videos which I send her.

They are baffled that I do not electronically bank or pay bills on-line.
Nor do I internet-shop. There is little personal information to steal.
And impersonating me would be pointless, as middle-aged five foot eight inch tall Caucasian pipesmokers with neatly trimmed beards and deep-set grey eyes who live in Northern California are a dime a dozen.

I have never posted a photo, finger print, biometric, or my address. Honestly, all I use this thing for is food reviews, recipes, news, Wikipedia, kittens and other lovable animals such as weasels and Singaporean otters, social networking, Chinese dictionary searches, conspiracy theories, and pornography.
Plus Dutch and German.

Other than Facebook, the last three internet actions before going to sleep were visiting Google Translate, reading the news on the BBC website, and hitting up Wikipedia.
Same this morning before blogging.
I am a boring man.

Oh, I also read about 紅燒豬手 ('hung siu jiu sau').
Pictures as well as recipes.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Sometimes you have to wonder what other people think. Especially when their native language is Toishanese, they use Cantonese with customers on a daily basis, and not infrequently have to attempt Mandarin. And English is something they learned, and mispronounce, by fragmentary rote.

They're probably thinking that Caucasians are odd fish.

The woman behind the counter looked quizzical when a departing customer said "sheeh sheeh". The first thing I though was 'lion lion' and 'stone stone', but almost immediately I recognized what was actually meant.
I have the advantage because English is a native tongue.

Then another customer asked what something was called.
She answered that is was shrimp rice.
But he was referring to the cilantro rice-sheet roll which he had just purchased, which is yuen sai cheung fan (芫茜腸粉).

After I had finished my meal a lovely white family of eight walked in, and one of them shyly asked where they could find Peking Duck. This was in a cafeteria, with choices of plate lunches, steamed dim sum, baked items, congee, and oil stick. Obviously wrong, but who else to ask?
The question proved baffling to counter auntie.
Her answer was equally so.

When necessary, I jump in to clarify matters. But only when this will not be misconstrued. In indirect consequence of which they now have the English phrase "black pepper beef rice-noodles" on one of the sheets on the wall behind the counter.


It's probably beef sirloin or a rather similar cut.
But the Chinese words are quite clear.
Black pepper cow willow.
River powder.

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Unlike many Democrats, I do not spend my time composing hit-lists of all the vilest Republicans in local, state, and federal government. I figure that eventually those things will sort themselves out; Mitch McConnell, his wife, and Alex Jones will die in a conflagration when the bong they smoke in their little Christian love-dungeon explodes in a fire ball.
Or something like that.

I have scant respect for Republicans.

When not at work, I seldom interact with their kind.

Fortunately, here in the city they are few, and endangered, although sometimes a stray from the rest of America stumbles around.

Like many residents of the city I really wish our mayor didn't pander so to the hospitality industry by trying to attract conventions and tourists.
Most of us do not depend on prostitution for our livelihoods.

Yesterday I read Yelp reviews of some of my favourite places. The most hateful ones were by visitors from elsewhere. Apparently we just don't meet the high standards of people from places like Wilmington, Milwaukee, Memphis, and Detroit. Or all of the Midwest.
My piles bleed for y'all.
You are precious.

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Monday, July 17, 2017


One of the truly great things about the woman who used to be my date every Friday night, and is still my apartment mate, is that she loves cheese. What makes this remarkable is that her love interest for the last half dozen years has dietary issues -- he's white, lactose intolerant, neurotic, and apparently can't cook worth diddly -- and she herself is Chinese (but not lactose intolerant in the slightest).

See, that right there explains why we still live together and not with other people. Unlike most of English-speaking San Francisco we don't have bugs up our asses about gluten, meat, dairy, or gmos. We enjoy food, and neither she nor I worship kale, turmeric, or protein supplements.

Naturally, as the resident white person in this household, I consume more vegetables than she does. Vegetables are wonderful with fish sauce, or bacon, or chili paste. Or all three of those.

Tonight after coming home from Marin I did not feel like cooking. So I had cheese and crackers, and a large cup of strong coffee. She's asleep in her room right now, but I note that the bacon supply has been abundantly restocked. Good-o!

Tomorrow morning I shall briefly wake up when she fries up breakfast for herself and watches one or two more episodes of a murder series she's been following before going to work. Then I shall drift back into slumber, with the lingering fragrance of limp-crispy pork influencing my dreams.

When I get up for real later in the morning, I shall have a pipe and some Virginia flake with my coffee. I never eat breakfast; caffeine and tobacco are sufficient to get me started.

We're probably stuck with each other as apartment mates for life, because the alternatives in this city have food hang-ups, ideological problems, and multiple mental issues. Besides being totes "spiritual".

Or are vegetarian schizos who do drugs.

And think that cheese is murder.

Bacon is from the devil.

Tobacco is evil.


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An internet Caledonian has very strong opinions about soft-boiled eggs, and consequently believes we Americans are hopeless, because we don't have egg cups. I say "we", even though I possess an egg cup, as I feel that on the whole he is right. We Americans hardly ever eat soft-boiled eggs. Somewhat less often in fact than hard-boiled eggs (we are gehakte eier mavins like you wouldn't believe, mmm, eier salat on New York rye!), and far, far less often than we have scrambled eggs or omelettes.

Americans make really horrid scrambled eggs and omelettes, by the way, it's damned well barbaric! There's a difference between "runny" and "rubbery", and it's NOT just the spelling!

But anyhow, here's a ranting Scotsman.
From Twitter.

moth dad @innesmck:



okay all you people asking me what an egg cup is better be fucking joking i swear to god


jesus fucking christ

and don't even get me started on the fact american eggs need to be refrigerated


serious life hack, tell your farmers

ok ok seriously though we did not go through 300 MILLION YEARS OF EVOLUTION to have an egg just roll around on a fucking plate

AND HOW DO YOU KEEP THE YOLK IN? does it just pour everywhere or do you have to hold the egg upright, or...? what is your game there?

alright, so what i'm hearing here, and this is pretty upsetting news, is that americans DO NOT SOFT BOIL THEIR EGGS

I am going for a walk, this is too messed up

so many hard boiled eggs
just solid fucking eggs
rolling around on plates

and also WIND THE FUCK BACK UP because apparently a bunch of you americans who said you did have kettles meant STOVE TOP and that is fucked

okay look i know i got emotional here but if nothing else i try to be an educator, so americans, for your own good, you need to know

1. electric kettles are good & cheap & boil water in 2 minutes here and you can never be fully trusted if i do not see one in your kitchen

2. when you boil eggs you need to stop before the yolk gets hard and then put it in an egg cup and cut the top off and dip bread in it

I know I can trust you all to accept and learn from your mistakes, I understand, we are all still growing

3 I believe in you

never fucking test my patience like this again, though, jesus christ


[SOURCE: Mashable: America, this Scottish person wants you to stop eating eggs wrong.]

He has a point. Other things at which Americans fail are English breakfasts, American breakfasts, any breakfasts, coffee, tea, and beer.
Plus herring. Y'all really bad at herring.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017


This man is a purist. Joong contain glutinous rice, fatty pork, peanuts, a salted egg yolk, and a slice of lap cheung. Plus a pinch of salt. Some people add dried shrimp and dried scallops, but these are not necessary, and make the finished product too busy. Same goes for dried black mushroom, which you also don't need.

Some people use lokdau in lieu of peanuts.
The Taiwanese do horrible things.
Shanghainese are worse.

Furthermore, while your mom's delicious joong are indeed a family treasure and wondrous, there is no need to make a huge fuss about them. Copy her recipe and methodology only if you really want to. Otherwise simple buy them from an auntie on Stockton Street or a restaurant. It may take a few experiments before you find the right source.

As a heathen, you can naturally expect me to have my own way of doing them. But I do not make them myself. Why should I fuss with wet bamboo leaves and curing my own eggs? Instead, I have a favourite source. They're probably not the very best possible, but they suit me just fine, and I rather like the folks who work there. The joong can be heated up at home when I'm peckish, to be eaten with a sambal of chili paste, orange juice, and fish sauce, all simmered briefly till gloopy with a little oil.

You are quite horrified, I can tell.

I told you I was a heathen.

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What better way to celebrate our freedom from tyranny and the rule of despots than with a sweet dessert? This concoction is sure to please.

One pound cake, cut not too thick.
Four to six sweet oranges.
One pint of heavy whipping cream.
Quarter cup of sugar.
Half a teaspoon orange essence.
Grand Marnier.

Line the bottom of a glass bowl with sliced pound cake. Juice the oranges after rasping the zest thinly. Slice the zest fine, simmer in water for ten minutes, drain and rinse.
Over a low flame stir the sugar into the juice until well dissolved, add the softened zest and essence. Pour evenly over the sponge cake slices and let it soak in.
Sprinkle Grand Marnier over the cake (optional).
Whip the cream till it forms peaks, dollop into bowl, and set to chill in the fridge until after the July Fourth barbecue.

Yes, you are correct; this is actually a trifle. A true fool is cream or custard folded into cooked pureed fruit. But no fruit solids are used here (unless you add Mandarin Oranges in syrup) to the mixture, and in any case the person consuming it will mess it all up when eating.

You can also use yoghurt.

But why?

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