China Rules

Regulators in China are really easy to understand: play ball by their rules or prepare for a high colonic with a Louisville Slugger.

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S. Patrick’s Revenge

The sun retreats behind the bricks of Fort Mason, but I barely notice the change in the room. The wood panels, the yellowed clippings, the dark oak tables glow under the lamps, and at the center of my vision sits a drink that almost defies me with its noxious smell.

It is an Irish Coffee.

Scratch that.

This is no ordinary Irish Coffee. This, as legend has it, is THE Irish Coffee, the original Columbio-Celtic concoction delivered as and where it was introduced to these shores sixty-odd years ago, thence to become a late-night mainstay of bars around America in a range of bastardized forms. I have had “Irish Coffee” a few times before and have even tried my own hand at making them, but after swilling consistently Gawd-awful concoctions of bar coffee and Bailey’s Irish Cream, I had developed a gag-reflex at the very mention of the drink.

And yet, here I am, at The Buena Vista. The salad and fish & chips are in my belly. All that is left is for me to sample the cocktail for which this pub is famous.

The drink is before me, alternately tempting and repulsive.

I gird myself, and take a sip.

The first taste is ridiculously smooth.

I cock my head. A fluke, surely. And sip again.

And it is even better.

My body and mind transform, turn inside out. I suddenly love whiskey and corned beef. My inhibitions leave me like they’re late for a train.

Another, longer sip. Well, okay, a slurp.

I check. All communications with my toes have been lost, and the lines are falling throughout my lower body. Somebody call the SFPD and the Coast Guard: there is an emergency here.

The hotel is two blocks away. I’m not sure I’ll make it. But at least I won’e feel cold.

I shake myself a bit, reluctantly discarding the temptation to have another while I still have a sense of direction. You know, like which way is up.

It’s 7:30pm, and I just barely retain the common sense to dread the dawn.

Now I know why people shouldn’t drink alone, and why we go into bars. With a drink like this, much less two, one cannot afford to be unsupervised at any time.

I pick up my notebook and rise slowly from the table. With great deliberation, I push my chair back in, straighten up, and walk carefully out the door and down the steps, and turn toward Hyde. I’m not walking, but floating on a mist of whiskey, cream and coffee.

Friday Indulgence

Western tri-tip sandwich. No cheese. Sweet-potato fries. Honey-mustard dip. There had to have been 8-10 ounces of beef on this, and the au jus was redundant. Never had to dunk once.

This was lunch.

Breakfast was egg whites on whole-grain.

Dinner will be an apple.

Thank you, Wood Ranch. It was worth 80% of my daily caloric allowance.

Even Indoors

The air conditioner in the Beijing office crapped out. The solution: open the windows for a few breaths of a breeze.

Unfortunately, that breeze comes with particulates. My colleague Max wears a respirator mask and, like the rest of my colleagues, keeps an air purifier humming next to the desk.

A functioning air-conditioner would make things better, and we’re working on that. nonetheless, I suspect that even if we kept our office at 68º F/20ºC, the masks would stay on.